Ever hear of the 80/20 rule? I used to be a member of a Southern Baptist church, and this rule definitely applied there. 80% of the work is done by the same 20% of the people. So, when a new project or something would come up, and volunteers were asked for, a few minutes of strained silence would ensue before the same people would inevitably volunteer; which, of course can lead to burnout and disillusionment.
It’s no different with any other organization, whether it be a 12-step meeting or a community choir. Someone has to volunteer. Someone has to step up, take a risk, do something outside of his/her comfort zone (difficult for codependents because they tend to counter-balance, thinking they shouldn’t volunteer for anything, to take care of themselves).
This happened to me recently in my Choralaires group. One of the tenors, a gentleman, had been making the coffee for our break for . . . I think at least a year. It involves bringing the coffee supplies home with you every week, including the large coffee pot thingy.
The first week I was there he wanted to pass this mantle of responsibility and everyone was very quiet. I thought about it but didn’t say anything. Then at break I mentioned I might try and the next week it became my responsibility. I don’t know how long I will do it, but it gives me a stronger feeling of belonging, like I’m doing something to contribute.
Lots of people – often the newbies – make coffee at AA and Al-Anon meetings. It’s easy enough and gives one a reason to show up and help out. At least you know you have to be there because without you there’s gonna be coffee-less angry people. Not a pleasant thought.
Other people help put the chairs back the way they were before, or throw away paper cups, or meet and greet people at the doors. The possibilities are endless.
What will YOU do this week as a way to push out of your comfort zone?
I hope you are awake, Gentle Readers, because I need your advice this morning. There is an anniversary celebration at my “home” Al-Anon meeting, the Peace at the End of the Road meeting this morning. There will be a breakfast followed by an Al-Anon speaker, an AA speaker, and an Al-Ateen speaker. I’m psyched about it.
Except for one thing. The Al-Anon speaker will be Karen, and she’s someone who REALLY hurt my feelings at a non-al-anon function, trying to “school” me in how things were done (when there weren’t any hard and fast rules). Actually, she brought me to tears in front of a bunch of strangers.
I’ve since forgiven her, but still–my feelings are there, you know? I feel extremely uncomfortable around her and it’s hard to trust anything she says, it’s hard to trust mySELF with her for sure. I would never feel comfortable to speak at a table with her again.
I want to go SO BAD, but everything in me is screaming AVOID – be afraid, be very afraid. My ubersponsor will be there, but even that doesn’t seem safe enough.
What do you all think? PLEASE, I need some honest opinions, and I need them by at least 9:00 EST.
At least, that’s how it goes for me.
Take this blog for instance. I don’t know how many times I changed the “theme,” the basic looks of he blog before I finally settled on this one. And it’s still hard. Every time WordPress comes out with new themes I allow myself to “window shop,” but I do NOT buy. It’s tough love on myself. Sometimes I would get triggered to change my theme just by visiting someone else’s blog, and I’d think, “Dang! That looks SO good.”
Next thing you know . . . well, yeah. My blog had that same theme.
Now I’m having trouble accepting the niche I’ve made for myself with a blog based almost entirely on Al-Anon. Except for a few book reviews, my monthly CW Blog Chain and monthly Insecure Writers Support Group post, that’s what it’s about.
I am nearly finished with a 10-week Blog Course which has been telling me a lot of the opposite of what I do here. I know I will never be popular. I’ll never earn the Versatile Blogger Award, or The Sunshine Award, or all the lovely things that other bloggers are awarded.
But I’ve accepted my choice, because if it helps even one person who deals with an alcoholic or who struggles with codependency in his/her life . . . oh MAN, it’s worth more than all the accolades in the world. You know?
Dear Readers, you are my heart and soul. Peace out.
How sweet it is, indeed!!
Sunday afternoon I went to something called The Irregular Writing Meetup of the Mid-Michigan Prose and Writing Group. It was called Irregular because it normally meets on Tuesday nights in Ann Arbor.
A factoid about me: I have a touch of social phobia. So lots of times, I desperately want to do things, but I find myself unable. So far, there had been three times I keyed in yes I would be to the Tuesday night meetup, and hadn’t showed, out of nightmarish fear.
What changed this time?
1. I asked for help. I told my friends on FaceBook and my therapist and my super sponsor, and other friends about the meetup. I TOLD them I was scared, and what I was scared of. They wrote back encouraging words, told me things they know to be true about me and other writers, and made it seem a lot less scary.
2. I prayed. If you pray, of course, pray. I used to think it was silly to do this, because God already knows everything about me, so He would already know I’m terrified. But – it keeps me humble, and it also brings me closer to God at the same time. It helps me feel that conscious contact with something greater than myself. And I know He’ll be right there with me.
3. I saw it going well. I pictured it in my mind. I saw myself walking in the Cafe Ambrosia door, NOT tripping and falling flat on my face, sitting with the other writers, having intelligent discussion, laughing, supporting each other in the loneliness that can sometimes grip us . . . Try that the next time you want to succeed.
4. I left early enough to feel calm when I got there. Or – I tried to. It was my intention. But I left the house at 1:10 without checking my laptop for the address to input Stella, the GPS. So then I thought, “Well, I’ll just check at the 7-11 when I stop and get an iced tea for the road.” DUH. Last time I looked, 7-11 does not have Wi-Fi. So I had to hop back to my house and check it in the drive way. By the time I REALLY left, and was on the highway, it was 1:25. Stella informed me it would be 1:58 by the time I got there. It was 1:57. So there, Stella. But really, try to leave early enough so you don’t feel rushed – so that you even have time to settle in, by a coffee, set yourself up, the usual.
5. I relaxed and had fun. I really did. I don’t know how that happened, but – I thought the writing group was scheduled from 2-4 pm, but then when the group’s founder told me they all actually stay until 5:00, I ended up staying too! Usually, I’m the first one out the door.
Those are my steps to success. They worked for me, and I hope they will work for you. I truly had a blast, and I would be going tonight, but they are setting up for the Ann Arbor Art Fair tonight, and I would have to be crazy to go. The several people that ARE going maybe should be checked out.
Have a great day everyone. Peace out.
Yesterday we talked about how there can be a disconnect when dealing with codependency. A disconnect within ourselves, with who we are, what our own needs, emotions, and feelings are.
Today, I would like to present five ways to get to know ourselves better. There are, of course, many ways. These are just five to get you started:
1 Make collages: Any magazines will do. Family Circle, Redbook, Vogue, Cosmo, to name a few. Sit down on the floor or at a table with several magazines spread around and a pair of scissors. Then flip through the pages and cut out anything that speaks to you. Faces, places, objects, famous people, nobody in particular, babies, adults, old people, trees, whatever that resonates to you at the moment. Put the cut out pictures in a pile separately. Later, glue them on a large blank paper or perhaps begin a sketchbook of collages and date them, keeping track of how you have changed.
2. Journal. I suggest a blank, unlined journal, for several reasons, but this must be purely your choice. The reason I suggest an unlined journal is because sometimes you might like to draw or sketch out what you’re feeling. Sometimes there just aren’t words to describe what’s going on. There’s no better way to describe a black hole, for instance, then to draw a black hole. And sometimes I like to paste in special things I’ve found that have meaning. A goose feather that fell next to me while I was writing one day, for instance. With journaling, you can be exactly whatever. No one is grading it. No one checks your grammar, spelling
erors errors, or whether or not you mention them. It is YOURS and YOURS alone. Keep it in a lock box if you wish. Get to know yourself.
3. Create. Paint. Knit. Crochet. Make something out of clay. Write a short story or go big and write a novel. Getting creative can help you know yourself because the left side of our brains, which taps into creativity, also deals a lot with emotion. So GO, DO! Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Mistakes don’t count when you are using this creativity to know yourself. They don’t even figure into the equation. You might even consider paint-by-numbers if blank canvases freak you out. Yes!
4. Join a support group. Whether it’s Al-Anon or another support group, it’s important to find a place you’re comfortable to dig deep and TALK about yourself. When you talk in general about whatever the support group topic is, you will find yourself learning more and more about yourself.
5. Do the unusual thing. If you usually don’t walk during the day, WALK. If you usually don’t speak up for yourself, be bold for one day. Think about what you do, then do the opposite for one day, just to see how it feels.
As always, love you guys to pieces. Peace out.
When life is lived with doubts, or suspicions, even jealousies, it can be hard to believe one is loved.
When a 12-year-old, a 13-year-old, so desperately wants a baby what she’s looking for is the kind of unconditional love a child gives a mother and a mother gives a child.
The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.
I never knew what unconditional love felt like or looked like until I met my super sponsor in Al-Anon. She told me she would always love me no matter what. No one has ever loved me that way before. Not my mother, father, sister or brothers. It is so freeing, so life-affirming.
When I make a mistake in my recovery, when I stumble, or when I do something stupid, my first reflex is to think “____ is going to be upset with me…” but that’s SO not because of her. That’s me. Old history. Old stuff.
Unconditional love is erasing that, one mark at a time. It’s all good. She’s got my back.
Happy Sunday to you.
Withdrawal sucks. No two . . . okay, well maybe two words about it.
It’s been over 24 hours since I checked my blog stats. Now, before you start snorting Pepsi out your nose and all over your computer screen, please realize this is a very big deal for me. In the not-too-distant past, I’ve been known to check my stats anywhere from 1-8 times a day, to see how many likes I’ve been getting, what posts are most read, etc.
Even now, my fingers ache oh-so-bad to just click over and see how things are going.
Knowing where this comes from doesn’t make it any easier. Who do you know that had a fairy tale childhood, with a happily ever after ending? KNOWING is useless. I deal with it, I’ve forgiven it, let it go, “over with, done with, gone” . . .
Then stuff like this crops up, like a weed among the flowers, or . . . better yet, a flower that suddenly sprouts up through a crack in the sidewalk. Ever see one of those? I have. They are little miracles. They remind me that I’m not quite finished, and maybe I never will be.
But you know what? It’s okay. I’ve got plenty of time. Acceptance will carry me through for now.
It’s just okay.
The 11th step from Al-Anon states: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
According to Dictionary.com, the word ‘conscious‘ means: 1. aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts,surroundings, etc., and 2. fully aware of or sensitive to something (among others that you may peruse if you wish ). Some synonyms of conscious are understanding, sure, vigilant, watchful. Contact can be seen a few different ways: touch, actual touch; meeting between two people; a nifty friend or acquaintance who can garner you influence.
I’ve been trying to improve my conscious contact with God, and yesterday I wanted so badly to be in His will, but I struggled with my own anxiety and it felt like a huge risk I would be taking. It seems like such a silly thing to say now.
Since I’m going to be 50 years old in September, I qualify for the senior choral in my city. It’s a very big deal. It’s not just singing they do, but dancing, skits and small group duets and singing. There’s a big production once a year, and this year it’s about Broadway show tunes. I had been looking forward to it, but as my mom and I (she’s been in the group for years, approaching her 85th birthday this year) sat on the porch, just about ready to go, anxiety sank in my stomach like a serrated knife. It was that quick.
Mom suggested I go anyway, just to see what it was like. I wouldn’t have to commit, or pay the $50 fee until the next week. She was already sure I would love it, because everyone was going to love on me and not want to let me go. I was so anxious I ended up taking an anti-anxiety med before I left. All the way there I asked my mom questions. And I was so glad Tweetybird was clean, because we drove my car so I could smoke on the way. Yeah, now you know why I sing Tenor.
Well, I prayed and prayed as we walked in the door. I already knew God wanted me to take more chances and to get out into the world. I needed more friends, and these were good people, friends I could count on to stick with me through thick and thin. They had been there for my mother for several years already. Hadn’t He stuck with me through my anxiety with work at the Book Nook? What other proof did I need?
So I went in, and every hand I shook, I couldn’t help but blurt out, “I was so NERVOUS! I don’t know why I was so nervous, because everyone’s been so nice to me!” …even though I had pointedly expressed to my mother NOT to mention to anyone how anxious I’d been, on pain of death. ::eyeroll::
It’s amazing what can happen when we keep up that conscious contact, and we stay in at least what we hope is God’s will . . . He always gives us the power to carry it out. Whew! Slept 9 1/2 hours last night after that. Was pretty tired. But it was such a good experience.
AND . . . I ended up paying the $50 that very day. I didn’t need to wait. I also signed up for skits and small group singing. It’s going to be a bang-up production. Wish you were here!
Right, I was going to post more pics of Tweetybird. Well, I got sidetracked by preparing to write my novel, Where is Faith?, for Camp NaNoWriMo, starting tomorrow. I promise I’ll post pics tomorrow. Pinky promise.
Today I want to talk about a book I’m currently reading and about how a certain passage resonated within me. It’s a YA novel called Clean by Amy Reed, about a group of teens in a rehab together. They are asked to write essays about themselves, what got them in their situations and so forth.
One of the teens, Eva, writes so beautifully, she breaks my heart. Here is an excerpt: Do you remember? Do you remember being solid? Do you remember life before the hole? Before you were empty and needed to be filled? There was a time when everything was enough. There was a time you didn’t try to get out of your own skin. Remember.
I cried when I read that, because I do remember that time. It was when I was three years old riding my tricycle and when I was five years and my mom gave me a huge birthday party with all my friends over. I can see everything, smell the grass outside, see the trees in our neighborhood, all my friends smiling, I can remember playing red light green light, red rover (memories get mixed up, so I may have been older here).
Then there was the hole. Really it was a void. That’s why I picked that picture. It was a void so huge nothing could fill it. I tried to fill it with food, with fixing people, with trying so hard to be perfect, with trying to please other people, with anticipating every need. . . I even tried to fill it with screwing up in college when the other stuff didn’t work. I tried to fill it up with self harm and suicide attempts and dark, dark thoughts that would never go away.
Then two wonderful things happened. First, I became a born-again believer. That was a very good day. March 5, 1997. I don’t push my beliefs on anyone, but I’m not ashamed of them either. Then, I keep thinking it was longer, but it was only around September of last year, I found Al-Anon.
Now, I have that W- in front of the Hole again. I know and feel what it means to be whole. Not all the time, because sometimes I forget and slip back, but most of the time. And it feels . . . FANTASTIC.
Met with my boss at the Book Nook. We went over some procedures, that I hadn’t known and apparently a few others hadn’t known either. She gave me a bag of yarn. I was so touched. It reminded me of my love for knitting, and made me want to go ahead and begin my Einstein Coat project. People can be so wonderful. I’m amazingly touched.
The world is an amazing place, I’m convinced of this more and more each day. Not only in the nature of its glory around me, but in the people I come in contact with every moment.
Yesterday morning, I went to my (previously) usual Blueprint For Progress 4th Step meeting, which started out much larger than it now consists of, which is myself and three other women. I brought the key to the church building I’d been given in case the group leader couldn’t be there, and nothing else.
My intention was to explain to them why I had missed four weeks in a row – because of the severe depression I initially went through, and then an inability to catch up. Our group started on January 2nd of this year and has continued every Monday morning at 8:30 EST, just before the usual Al-Anon meeting at said church.
Anyway, I intended to quit the 4th step group that morning.
Instead of accepting my intention, they told me how glad they were I was feeling better, and told me I was not very far behind. Apparently, they got distracted during the “Commitment” section, and spent three weeks on it instead of the customary one week. How wonderful for me! They so WANT me back! Weird, huh? I mean, for me. To be wanted like that.
Also, I lost my job at the library, and was granted a second chance, when I got honest about the depression and how severe it was. I had not shown up three times, and as there is no phone at the Book Nook desk, there is no one for me to call to say I won’t be there. As chance would have it, the coordinator of the Book Nook needed to speak with me the third time I no-showed, and e-mailed me to say they wouldn’t be needing me anymore.
Hence, my reply back, pleading my case, and her gracious and compassionate reply.
People truly blow my mind. They astound me in their capacity to love.
Have you been given a second chance, or have you given someone else a second chance? Please share (people love love stories).