Do You Like to Gamble? Why?

I am in Vegas this week to visit my son, granddaughter and loved ones. I usually make it to Vegas once a year for a vacation to visit family. I’m not sure where my thoughts are going on this post since it’s a topic that I’m just simply curious about. But I often wonder why we are the way we are and do the things we do. Not that I have the answers because I don’t, but I like to dive deeper into things.

A lot of people like to gamble. Whether it’s lottery tickets, bingo, slot machines, card games, or even raffle tickets. That poses these questions:

  • Does it have to do with our upbringing and games we used to play?
  • Did our parents gamble and did we learn from them?
  • Do we just think it’s exciting and fun?
  • If we win once, does that thrill cause us to continue to play?
  • Do we play because we honestly believe we will win big someday?
  • Is it an addictive behavior?

Gambling Memories of my Mother

My mother loved to gamble. My mother, grandmother and great aunt used to take me to play bingo. The first time I ever went with them I was in my twenties, and I won two games. Actually three games, but I didn’t call the last game in time because I didn’t realize I had a winning card. I was just learning so I was slow. I also won $75 on what they called a “pull tab”, which is another type of game found at most bingo halls. You can buy these while you’re playing bingo and they run anywhere from $0.25 to $1 per ticket. That first time “gambling” made an impression on me, especially because I won. I remember feeling the thrill of winning and taking home that cash. The feeling gave me the desire to play again – it was exciting!

When I was a young adult, my mother would plan weekend getaways at least once a year with my grandma and grandpa to go to Vegas, Laughlin, or Stateline. We would share the cost of a hotel room and a rental car, so it made it easier for all of us to go since we were not a wealthy family. My Mom and I worked hard, we paid our bills, and we liked to get away and have fun too.

Mom and I would walk around the casino and play slots, sitting side by side for hours. Back then we used real coins. I remember walking up to the hotel room with her laughing as we looked at our dirty hands from touching all the money. Those are memories of my mom and I that I cherish. It wasn’t just the gambling, but having that special time with each other. Plus, we love the buffets!

Mom and I only took the money we could gamble with and that was all we would use. We didn’t go overboard.

Gambling Memories of my Father

With my father it was very different. I never went to the casinos with him as an adult. But when I was a teenager, I remember he and my stepmother would go for the weekend to Vegas. My father was on disability and sometimes he’d get money from a lawsuit. He sued companies he worked for and ended up with a chunk of cash every so often. When he got money from a lawsuit he would go to Vegas and stay in nice hotels and play at the card table. Sometimes we would go as a family, and we would stay at Circus Circus. My younger brother, stepsister and I would play the kid games upstairs while they gambled downstairs.

When I think about my father and his desire to gamble, it doesn’t bring great memories. He never seemed to have any money, and when he had money from a lawsuit, I think he should have used it in better ways. I remember how he struggled financially. He would borrow from his mother, me, or whoever would lend him money. He’d take items to the pawnshop to pay rent. That type of stuff. I realize some of us may have to do things like this because times are tough so no judgment here. But where it concerned my father, I saw how he struggled and how fast his money went when he did get money. It just didn’t make sense to me that he would be so wasteful and use it to gamble.

My Gambling

So now I’ll talk about my gambling. Aside from my bingo win as an adult, I have memories of experiencing the thrill of so-called “gambling” when I was 10 years old. I went to the ice cream truck and bought a Charms Sweet & Sour sucker for 5 cents. When I peeled off the wrapper it had a cold sticker stuck on it and the ice cream man told me that I get a “free” sucker. I had one of the special ones that had the gold sticker on it (yes, just like Willie Wonka). I got so excited that I got two suckers for the price of one that I used the rest of my allowance to buy more suckers. I did not get another gold special one, but I did end up with a bunch of suckers.

Present day. I love to gamble and go once or twice a year. I don’t go to bingo anymore since mom’s passing. It just didn’t feel the same when I tried to go to bingo by myself. I would think about her and how she wasn’t with me anymore and it brought sadness. So, I just don’t go and haven’t gone in years…

I like to play the slots and I have fun roaming the casino, watching people, and just being free of all responsibilities like work, family, and home. If I put $20 in the slot and it gets eaten up, that kind of sucks. But oftentimes I could take a $20 bill and make it last for hours. That is when it’s fun. I don’t have to win but I want my money to last when I play.

For me, playing slots doesn’t have to be in a casino. I’ve played slot games on my cell phone where there’s no money to be lost and I rake in the pretend coins. So, is it really about winning money? Or do some of us just like to play slot machines whether real or fake?


I wasn’t sure where my thoughts were going to lead me in this post but my original question was: Why we are the way we are and do the things we do? This question evolved into: Why do some people like to gamble, and some don’t?

Is it upbringing? Or is it just our personality type? I have two kids that like to gamble when they get a chance and one that has never gambled and doesn’t care to. The one that doesn’t have the desire told me that she would rather buy a pair of shoes or go to a concert than waste her money in a slot machine.

For some people, the desire to win is so consuming that they may not be able to stop themselves. They will use all their money just in hopes that that next pull or roll of the dice is going to be the win for them. They use money that would go to rent, utilities, and necessities to live. Just for another shot at winning it big. This is when it is a problem. This is when it could turn into addiction.

Like in Hunger Games, “may the odds ever be in your favor,” they are probably not going to be. The chances of winning are not in your favor and more in the house’s favor. For a big slot win the chances are more like 1 in 5,000.

With my upbringing and exposure to gambling, I think it gave me a very realistic and responsible view because I saw both the good and the bad. It is such a stark contrast between the fond memories I had with my mother and the irresponsible behavior I witnessed of my father. This week I am going to enjoy my vacation and visit my son, granddaughter and loved ones. I’m going to eat tasty food and maybe see a show. And yes, I will do a little gambling. My reason is because I like to gamble, it’s quite simply – fun.

Links for help for those that may need it are below:

Popcorn Brain: A Nickname and its Meaning

Popcorn: a hard corn variety that swells up when put under heat and burst open creating a different version of its original self. The slang term for popcorn is being busy, active, or occupied.

Brain: A major organ contained in the skull which coordinates the sensations felt all over the body. Keeper of our intellectual, physical, and emotional memories.

I love to look up the definitions of words and I think we can learn and grow more by doing this. Words have deeper meanings and words can also trigger us in both good and bad ways. One of the things that triggered me was the nicknames that my father gave to me when I was young. He gave me two, but for this post, I will focus on one of them.

I had to be 6 or 7 when I was at the kitchen table with my mother, father and two brothers. I said something. I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember what my father said. He looked at me and said, “Uhhh… popcorn brain.” I heard some laughs from the family but what I remember feeling most was embarrassed. After the laughter, my older brother came up with a song and sang it,

“Popcorn brain…popcorn brain, Debbie has a popcorn brain.”

Again, laughter followed.

I don’t know why my father gave me that nickname or why he said it, but I know that I didn’t like it. I imagine that whatever I said must have been a random thought, and had nothing to do with the conversation at the table. That’s all I can think of as to a reason for my father to come up with that nickname.

I wasn’t outgoing when I was young, and as I think back to my childhood, I’d say I was introverted. I’m not sure what causes us to be extroverted or introverted. I’m not even sure if things like giving a child a nickname can create an introverted child, but I would think so. I think abusing a child in any way can have lasting effects. I also remember that after he called me that, I didn’t want to talk anymore. I felt stupid, and was afraid I would say something stupid again.

So here are some questions…Is a nickname good or bad? What do they mean and can they cause a trigger? Is it abuse, and can it cause a lifetime of insecurities?

After the night I heard the nickname for the first time, it stuck. It was something my father used often. My older brother occasionally would say it and I got terribly upset. I couldn’t tell my father not to call me that because he was the parent. I would tell my brother not to call me that, which of course when you’re a kid, makes matters worse. It just opens the gate to being teased on things we don’t want to be teased about.

Obviously none of my friends knew my nickname. It was bad enough to have to deal with it at home., It wasn’t a nickname I ever wanted, and I remember hating it. I know other people had nicknames, but they weren’t the kind of nickname I had. Nicknames like princess, slugger, angel face, doll. My nickname was degrading, insulting, and humiliating.

When I got older, I was bothered by how the memories of that nickname triggered me and how it was connected to me and my spirit. I did a deep self-analysis as to why. Just because my father nicknamed me that, it wasn’t true. It didn’t make sense to me, and I didn’t personally connect with it. Honestly, I saw it as emotionally abusive. It bothered me that I internalized it, and carried it around my entire life. It was often an emotional trigger and when the thought or memory popped up, I felt the sadness inside.

A decade ago, I decided to reinvent that nickname. I analyzed the word popcorn and I envisioned popcorn flying in all directions. It was like a burst of thoughts, and to me that wasn’t such a terrible thing. I am like that as I have a very curious mind. I want to know how things work and what they mean. When I was in my addiction back in 2002-2003, I became obsessed with defining words. I would look them up in the dictionary and rewrite them in a notepad or on index cards. When I did that, I discovered that words have different meanings. The same word can mean different things, and I gained insight into what they meant to me. I felt like I was redefining my own personal dictionary of words that I had in my head. I got a clearer understanding by looking deeper into them and what they represent.

When I thought about popcorn and how it could be defined as “innovative ideas popping out of someone’s mind,” I liked it. Thoughts that come flying, often a load of them all at once within seconds of each other, it’s just like popcorn popping. I like to think of myself that way, and so popcorn brain for me has a new meaning. I can connect with this new meaning as part of who I am. I’m a person who has a lot of ideas and who loves to dig below the surface to get a better understanding.

I think that’s how we need to look at things sometimes. If there is something that is sticking with you and you don’t like it, investigate the definition of the word or words and find a definition that works for you.

  • We don’t have to be what others think or say we are.
  • We need to remember that no one knows us better than ourselves.
  • We need to not let others define or judge us.
  • We need to figure out how we want to define ourselves.

Let others worry about their own lives, and we’ll take care of ours.

The other nickname that my father gave me was “Dumbie.” I’ve worked through this nickname as well, but that’s a story for another time.

Crossing Over Boundaries: The Meaning

Crossing: A place where two roads cross. the act or action of crossing, such as traveling across in an opposing, unfair or dishonest manner.

Over: Extending upward from, at a higher level or layer than.

Boundaries: Lines that mark the limits of an area or a dividing line. Limits of a subject or activity.

This website was created as an aid to assist all of us to grow and become the individuals we know we can be. The best versions of ourselves. When selecting the title, I thought about boundaries, and I thought about how many of us have had to deal with our boundaries being crossed. We also may have crossed other people’s boundaries without even realizing it. Learning about boundaries and setting healthy ones is vital to how we take care of ourselves and how we can be of help to others.

person reaching out and trying to see their boundary lines

Having boundaries means that we are honoring ourselves just as we would for any other individual, with our own needs, wants and desires that are our own. Everyone has boundaries but often, because of abuses we have suffered in our life we have put up walls to protect us and our boundary lines are now muddied and hard to see. We need to discover our own healthy boundaries and not feel bad because we will not allow others to override our own feelings and desires and do things we do not want to do.

How do we figure out what our boundaries are?

I tend to go with my gut. If something does not feel right and I feel myself pushing against it, then I take a closer look. I also must figure out if the walls I have up due to the experiences I have suffered in life might be causing me the discomfort I feel, which at times keeps me from doing things that would be good for me. So, when I feel something that does not feel good in my gut, I give myself time to analyze it. If someone is expecting a response right away and I do not know what response I want to give them, I let them know I need time. That is a BOUNDARY. Allow yourself to tell someone to give you time.

Example of setting a boundary

When we set healthy boundaries, we are protecting our time, energy and needs as well as the time of the other person. Example: We are asked to go to a concert on Saturday, but we really do not want to. We worked hard all week and we were really looking forward to just staying home, eating, reading, and watching television. But we feel “bad” because if we say no, then the person might be disappointed in us.

Answer: Just say no. They will still love and appreciate you.

Boundaries require clear communication

  • What do you want?
  • What do you need?
  • What you will and will not accept?
  • How you would like to be treated?

When others cross over our boundaries

We all have had this experience. It feels uncomfortable. We do not want to do it and yet we allow others to convince us to do something we do not want to do. Why do we allow this? We should never have to do something we do not want to do. We need to feel confident enough in ourselves to allow ourselves to just say no. It is not hard to do and yet many of us struggle with this very much.

Set up clear communication and stick with your decision

Sometimes we have someone who will not take no for an answer and so they keep trying to get us to change our mind. We need to be clear in our communication when letting them know that we do not want to do it and we will not be changing our mind. They need to respect our decision. Period.

Be clear in why you gave the answer you gave

Sometimes people in our lives are asking in the hopes of helping us and are not trying to hurt us. For me, if I do not want to do something because I do not feel like it, I let them know why I made my decision. People understand because they feel this way at times too. If we do not want to do it, let them know that. If you think you might want to do it in the future, let them know that as well. Be clear so they understand. Just saying no is not always enough and we should give the person a more complete answer as to why we don’t want to go, do it, or whatever it happens to be.

Unhealthy people

We have family, friends and even coworkers that may be unhealthy for us. The best advice I can give is to limit your time with them whenever possible. None of us need to be around unhealthy people and although it might be a close family member or friend, learning to set up boundaries that will help us and protect us is what is most important. Learn to detach and be okay with keeping unhealthy people at a distance. Quite possibly by setting a boundary like this, the other individual will begin to think about their actions, and they might be able to grow from it as well. If no one ever pushes back on them, then how are they to learn?

Being the best version of ourselves

Ten years ago, I thought I had come a long way and knew quite a bit about myself but now in 2022 I can see how much I have grown over the last 10 years. There is so much to learn in life and what I focus on and have focused on is my own self growth. If I can grow and take better care of myself, I am able to take better care of those I love. Always keep an open mind and realize that although you may know a lot, there is always more to learn. I can’t wait to see how much I will grow when I look back at my life in 10 years.