I went to a meeting this morning. I was so grateful there was an Al-Anon meeting on Christmas Eve morning that I could attend. The topic around the meeting was taking care of ourselves, but I heard a smattering of frustration and fear on the topic of holidays in general, my own included. I talked about how I was trying to remember the Three C’s: I didn’t cause it, can’t control it, and can’t cure it . . . and the Three M’s to avoid for myself: manipulation, martyrdom, and mothering.
It all comes down to the wisdom of knowing the difference between things I can change and things I can’t. It should be such a simple thing. All I can change is myself or things about myself. Period. Can’t change circumstances or other people.
Circumstances will be different for me this Christmas Eve with my family. I can’t control the outcome. I can’t control whether or not people have a good time, or are upset about something. I can control my own responses and reactions. That’s about it. There’s not a lot I can do otherwise.
When I think of the word detachment it helps. If I’m too enmeshed with someone or something, I can’t possibly back off enough to even BREATHE, let alone know the difference.
Have a great day today. Whatever you do, take care of yourself. Even if you just need to go to a quiet corner and meditate, do that.
Which brings me to our topic. What happens when we try to change things in our lives too quickly? In The Bright Lights of Broadway, we have cast members who are as young as me and as old as 96. Seven of the cast members this year are from an independent living facility. They are usually in the audience, but love it so much, this year they wanted to participate.
Like any other Broadway performance, we have a lot of costume changes in “Bright Lights.” For me specifically, there are three I have to pay attention to, and I miss some of the “all choir” songs because of it, which sort of bums me out, especially Ascotte Gavotte, which is from the musical My Fair Lady.
Anyway, the costume changes can get a little hairy even on good days. Joanne (from Independence Village), who is one of the plates in Be Our Guest, like me, and also one of the dancers in Wash That Man, also like me, got a little confused during our third performance and came out all dressed for Wash That Man when it was time for Be our Guest. So, she had on capri pants and a t-shirt, keds… And Gladys and I were wearing our black pants, white long-sleeved dress shirts, red vests, red bow ties, and hefting our plates on our backs. Not that the plates are heavy, just bulky and cumbersome.
That performance we went out with two plates instead of three, and it was just fine.
I think it can safely be said in life it happens often enough, when we try to rush change, we inevitably end up with something far different from what we expected, or we end up in a confused muddle.
Fortunately, we are usually more in control of our change than costume changes in between scene set-ups. We have time to plan, to think, to take a breath. We have time to pray, to tuck into our Higher Power for some much needed help.
I pray you are all well. Change just happens gradually sometimes, and we can move it along with help from God.
So sorry I haven’t been posting a while. Haven’t been well, almost had to go into the hospital, my doctor had to change a bunch of my meds, and on top of that I’m in a senior choral production of Broadway show tunes. So I have been very busy, very sad but with that fine-fine face that I know some of you will know what I’m talking about.
However, that’s not what I wanted to talk about today. Some kind of transformation has taken place in me through all this, you know, “stuff.” It’s made me stronger, braver, and not afraid to say the truth. Sometimes my voice shakes when I say it, but I still speak the truth.
It was never brought home to me more than Friday afternoon when a friend of mine, who was my sister’s friend first (so, you get that she knows both of us) called and asked how I was doing. Then she said, “How’s _____ doing?”
“_______’s great.” I said.
“What’s that mean?” she asked me.
“You know what?” I said. “Why don’t you call ______ and ask her what it means?”
“Oh, I will, I will, I was planning on calling her.”
Whew. I tell you, that was THE hardest conversation I’d had in a long time. This is someone who is used to pumping me for information about my sister. And in the past I’m ashamed to say I doled it out.
You know what? It’s not ME she needs to ask how my sister is doing, and it’s not my place to give out that information.
She never did call my sister. Not as brave as the average bear, eh, Booboo? It would involve apologizing for not being there for her in the past, and maybe she’s not ready to go there. I don’t know. That’s HER inventory. I’ve got enough on my own plate.
May I just say that I am boot-kickin’ proud of myself? So is my sister. I told her, in preparation for a phone call from this friend.
How have you been bold, bad, and beautiful lately? It’s show and tell time. So COME ON DOWN!!! W00t W00t!
That’s part of the inside of my car. The back seat is still pristine. My point is, I think a lot of times we get wiser from making mistakes.
Progress not perfection. I’ll clean it today.
Everything was set. I had just finished straightening out the family room, the kitchen was clean, the downstairs bathroom (the one I mostly use), my bedroom . . . I was as ready as I was going to get. And I was excited. My UBERSPONSOR was coming to my HOUSE!! You have to know that I never let anyone come over. Not my friends, anyway. Mom’s friends come over frequently, and family of course.
Then, my cell rang. It was Uber, herself. Plumbing problems at the house, she couldn’t get away, was it possible for me to come to her instead?
Now, I’d been to Uber’s house a zillion times. We often meet at her house. I didn’t hesitate, just said “That sounds terrific. I’ll be there in half an hour.”
A year ago, heck, six months ago, I might have said, “Are you kidding?” I don’t care if the roof is caving in!! Do you know what I’ve been going through expecting you to come this morning? Drop everything and get your butt over here right now.”
Yeah. Not very attractive or kind, is it? Uber would not have dropped a single thing, by the way. She would have listened to me rant and rave, then very kindly have restated her problem and her position and that she was sorry she couldn’t be there today. I love her so much!!
But I’m amazed – now that I can look back – that I’ve changed that much in a year. I can be spontaneous now. It’s okay. It’s not that bigga deal. It’s not the end of the world. I can deal. I don’t have to control every single moment of my life.
“Standing with my arms extended and turning in a full circle gives me a visual marker of my responsibility. If it doesn’t come into my space, I leave it alone.”–Hope For Today, p. 209.
I love this quote. It reminds me of the “hula hoop” metaphor I’ve heard talked about at tables. Place a hula hoop around yourself, then drop it. Okay, so you’re standing in the center of the hula hoop. Whatever falls within the hula hoop is your business; whatever happens outside the hula hoop doesn’t concern you. LOVE that. It has helped me so much!
This past Wednesday my sister got an alcohol tether placed on her ankle. She informed us, as she got back in the car, that she has to have it read by her probation officer every week, once a week, for six months. After that, it will be once a month, for the rest of her probation.
I turned around from my position in the front seat, and said, “I hope you’ll get other drivers lined up to do that, because I’m not one of them. I won’t be bringing you to your probation officer.”
This morning at my Al-Anon meeting, I asked my friends if they thought that was selfish. They said no – it was self-caring. There’s a difference.
I’m still learning, but I’m loving the journey.
Happy Saturday, my friends. Peace out.
Happiness is risky. But as I begin to recover from the effects of alcoholism in my life, it’s worth it. It’s not enough just to avoid being let down. I want a life filled with joy and happiness as well as the inevitable sadness.
I crave excitement; I’m an excitement junkie. But this time on MY terms, not on the roller coaster hump of the alcoholic. You know?
I won’t let my fear of being let down prevent me from enjoying this day. I have a HUGE capacity for joy.
What about you?
Hope you are having a fabulous Tuesday, my friends!
Sometimes the limited choices we have can make us feel as if we’re caught between a rock and a hard place.
Try and imagine the following situations, and think of how you would honestly respond:
The telephone rings. You answer it before checking the caller I.D. It’s your alcoholic loved one.
“I need a ride to get cigarettes/to get to a meeting/to get groceries/to get to my doctor appointment. I wouldn’t bother you, except I’ve tried everyone I know.” You know she’s had her car taken away due to four DUI’s but also know she lies and manipulates.
“Will you drop me off some cigarettes/take me to a meeting/to the grocery story/my doctor appointment?”
HOW WILL YOU RESPOND? THE EASY WAY OR THE TRUE-TO-YOURSELF WAY?
The easy way would be to drop whatever you are doing and take care of what she needs. Even though it’s inconvenient, and it might cut into your day, and you grumble about it to whomever is within earshot, it’s still the easy way. The true-to-yourself way, and the harder way, is – simply – to politely say “no,” without even having to explain (that invites argument and more manipulation) and then say, “if there’s nothing else, I’m hanging up now. Good bye.”
Yeah. It sounds harsh, I know, because I’ve had to do it. And my heart aches afterwards. But it’s SO much better for the alcoholic, and that’s what I remind myself. We BOTH have to grow up, and the easy way doesn’t allow for growth.
How about one more example? It happened this morning.
The telephone rings. You check the caller I.D. but don’t recognize who it is, so you answer. It’s a collect call from jail. Your daughter is trying to reach you, and in order to talk to her you will have to set up an account on your credit card for fifty dollars, after which it will cost you another twenty-five dollars just to talk to her. You know she’s fine, and have everything she needs. If she’s sick physically, they have doctors there. All she might need are cigarettes, and you’re not willing to take a collect call for cigarettes.
This happened to my mother early this morning. She was unsure what to do, and I happened to be sitting right there. I told her to say no, and she did, and then felt worried and guilty for an hour afterward. I called my super sponsor and asked if we had done the right thing. She said absolutely, because for one thing – jail is like discipline and getting to make a collect call would be like having an ice cream cone. You don’t get an ice cream cone when you’re in jail. Also, we’re staying out of God’s way when we don’t take the call. She has to lean on the resources she has there in the jail right now, and we are not them.
Is it normal to feel like crap when you don’t take the easy way? Absolutely. Expect it. Pray through it. It will ease up.
Sorry this was so long. It felt important.
As always, love you bunches. Peace out.
Making change is hard. It takes determination, focus, and trust in a Higher Power.
This morning, as I was sitting outside talking to my Super Sponsor on the phone, we made a date for tomorrow to have lunch, I hung and started to dial my sister to tell her about it. It took me almost a full minute to remember she’s in jail and I can’t call her.
MAKING CHANGE IS HARD. IT TAKES DETERMINATION, FOCUS, AND TRUST IN A HIGHER POWER.
As I was sitting there, waiting for my heart to stop aching, an illustration came to me about making change: literally and metaphorically. See, I work at the Book Nook at my local library, and there are a few things we have to always do when we are on shift.
1. Get the envelope and keys for the drawers and cabinets from the front desk. That’s if you are the one to open the Nook. But it still applies for the purposes of this metaphor. When we’re making changes, we have to make sure we have all the necessary resources. If It’s a big change, like moving, have we done all our research ahead of time? Have we prayed about it, talked with all our support people? This is crucial, because no matter how hard we try, a key with “teeth” on both sides won’t open a lock that only accepts a key with teeth on one side and a smooth top edge.
2. Always make sure there’s fifty dollars in the till. If you don’t have enough reserve within you, enough energy, have been getting enough sleep and so forth, you won’t be able to make the change needed in your life. It will slip through your fingers like so much sand on the beach. These things I know. When I’m hungry, angry, lonely, or tired – which means I haven’t been keeping my own till full – I don’t have what I need to make enough change. I better make good on the till before I go about doing anything else.
3. Even if it seems simple, count it out. We charge a dollar for cloth-covered books and standard-sized paperbacks, fifty-cents for regular sized paper backs, twenty-five cents for children’s books, and anything in the special cabinets is marked. So it’s all pretty simple. STILL. I make it a point to count out the books in front of the patrons, stating the price out loud so no mistakes are made. Since making change in life is hard, all the more reason to state your goal out loud, even if it seems like a simple one. I will speak about myself positively today. If I catch myself thinking negative thoughts, I’ll stop myself and say something positive out loud. There. Like that.
4. Always say thank you. Thank your Higher Power, your sponsor, your friends, family, strangers, and anyone else who helps you on your journey. It makes them feel good, and helps keep you humble. We can’t do this alone.
Those are four small things that reminded me about making change, and I hope it helps you a little. It isn’t easy, but we can be gentle with ourselves through the process. Remember to laugh a lot along the way. It helps.
Love you lots. Peace out.
It’s the truth. Change isn’t easy. Ask the caterpillar who morphs into a beautiful butterfly. He spends all the time in a cocoon. No one asked him if he wanted to become a beautiful butterfly. Did they? He just became one, over time.
We don’t really have a choice, either. We change, or stagnate. Things that stagnate become stale, foul, sluggish, and dull.
If you really hate change, like some of us do, here are seven steps to help you get through in roughly one piece :
1. Put your worries in a God Box. Or a cookie jar, or whatever works for you. Just writing the worries about upcoming changes can release anxieties within is. That helps defuse them. It helps distance the worry so you can move on and plan for change instead of dwelling on it.
2. Rehearse in your car. Little changes can help you build up your resilience to bigger changes. So next time you are stuck behind someone slow, or a person swerves in front of you in traffic, PRACTICE. Breathe deep, remember other people around you have the same problems, they get inconvenienced too. It’ll help you respond to the bigger changes later.
3. Return to an old favorite. When we’re going through changes, it can help to revisit something that turned us on in the past, that we haven’t done in a while. It strengthens our confidence and makes getting used to the changes around us easier by half.
4. Read up on your role models. Pick up anything that inspires you, even if it’s a novel. A character from The Devil Wears Prada can help us realize change is possible and keep us focused on our goals.
5. Make a checklist. Just write three things on the list: Situation, Support, and Self (not necessarily in that order). Always be asking ourselves: What is one good thing about my situation?, Am I letting others support me? and third, What can I do to ease my transition? Personally I LOVE checklists. Making little checks and saying “done,” gives me a thrill.
6. Coping strategies. This could be as simple as taking up a new hobby like gardening to getting into therapy, getting a massage, asking friends for advice, going for meditative walks . . . use your imagination. The possibilities are endless.
7. Develop a 3-step plan. If, for example, you’ve decided you want to attend Al-Anon: Find a local meeting, Get a temporary sponsor, Begin to read the Big Book of Al-Anon
This has been modified and changed from the article: “Help! I hate change!” in Woman’s World magazine, July 16, 2012
The 7th step says: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
This is an image of the 3rd Step Prayer Book Marker available at hazelden.org, in their bookstore. On the other side is the 7th step prayer, which reads as follows:
My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.
That prayer is taken from p. 76 from the Big Book of AA.
To me, Steps 4, 5, 6, and 7 are all closely linked. We take our inventories in step four, so that we KNOW our shortcomings and character defects, then we share them with our higher power, ourselves and someone else we trust in step five; in step six we become entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character, and in step seven the READINESS and WILLINGNESS turns to ASKING.
I’m on the first two of these action steps. I’m in a small women’s group, going through the Blueprint for Progress, which is a detailed fourth step. We share with each other the progress we are making, and it’s very intimate sharing, sometimes much like a fifth step. Of course I will share again with my super sponsor when we are finished with the book.
But I’m getting practice now. And every day I ask God to remove my shortcomings, of which there are many. I still operate from fear a lot of times when I should be operating out of trust in Him. I procrastinate. I get lazy. I walk my dog before the sun rises in the early morning because I worry I won’t be able to handle her around other dogs or people. I don’t trust myself to write the stories I want to tell. I miss meetings I need to go to. I don’t call my sponsor when I get scared. I watch mindless TV instead of writing in my journal. I haven’t knitted in days and days. I don’t call my friends.
These are all shortcomings. They are my weak, sore spots, and I cry out to God to remove them. Thankfully, He doesn’t do it all at once, and He is gentle with me. But He will do it, because He loves me too much to leave me the way I am.
There’s something so much better out there.
Humility is key. Never be to proud to ask for help.
Love you guys. Peace out.
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!
Remember way back when in April or maybe the end of March some time when I talked about cleaning my car, Tweetybird? Yeah, I never did.
Not until yesterday and the day before, until I was backed against the wall and we were going to take my sister to her court date. But I did it! She’s beautiful again. And I am SO SORE, from bending over and picking up empty iced tea bottles and cans, Coke cans, etc, and putting them in trash bags (no, when I’m in full-on clean mode like this, I do NOT recycle, sorry).
The only thing I have left to do is vacuum and get my baby washed. THEN you are in for a treat, because I’m going to post pictures. I would’ve taken before/after pictures, but I was just too embarrassed to let you see my baby before. She was sooooo sad.
Yes, courage to change is also about little things like this, and how much better they can make us feel. I may be sore in body today, but I am soaring in spirit.