Thanksgiving Day, Sweet Potatoes And All

gratitude

The first time I started in the Al-Anon program, which is several years ago now, my sponsor instructed me to keep a gratitude list. I was told to write down at least three things each day I was grateful for. At first, since I was in a pretty rocky spot, they were fairly simple things: 1. Have two arms. 2. Have two legs. 3. They work. My sponsor at the time didn’t get in my face about it. She was patient, and pretty soon the lists changed. They grew as I grew in the program and let go of some of my baggage. Lori is no longer in my life for reasons beyond my control, but her memory still lingers now and then. I’m grateful. I left the program when I lost her as a sponsor and did not return until about a year and a half ago and now have an even better sponsor. God is good.

“For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson– That just about says it all, doesn’t it? You know, I read somewhere that even when it’s cloudy the sun is still out. That’s why if you are going to the beach or you are highly sensitive to the sun, you still have to put on SPF in case of a burn.

You have to understand and grasp at the outset that I am an optimist by nature. I will always see the glass half full, even if it’s cyanide. On my darkest days, I have hope for the future. It’s the only thing that keeps my going. I wasn’t born with it; God gave it to me, just like He gave me my faith, and for that I will always be indebted.

My family brings me great joy, and we almost lost one of ours to lymphoma not long ago. Our dear Jimmy, my older brother who taught me all the lyrics to every Beatles song ever written had to have two series of chemo and radiation. He still has to go back every six months for check-ups, because cancer can be persevering. He was over to the house yesterday, and he made me laugh, as usual. His sense of humor and mine are sometimes exactly in sync, and when that happens it’s magical.

Laughter is something else that always belongs here when speaking of gratitude. The other day I borrowed a CD of The Best of Bill Cosby: he had Old Weird Harold, Fat Albert, and all the antics he got up to in Philadelphia. I listened to it in my car on a long ride. I was laughing so hard, that for a minute I worried people might stare at me. Then I didn’t care, and howled anyway.

My mother, 85 this year, continues to amaze me. My only hope is that I will look like her, but mostly that I will have her wisdom and self-assurance when I am her age. She is teaching me that what everyone else thinks of me is none of my business.

Lucy, the early-to-rise schnorkie, has been my first in-the-flesh experience in unconditional love. All I can do is care for her the best I know how. Feed her, play with her, take her out, make sure she has a warm place to sleep. It doesn’t seem enough for all that she gives me.

My friends on FaceBook, too many to mention here, get me through great and difficult times. They know who they are. My knitting group, whom I shall see tomorrow, is fun and funny and wise beyond words. Last but not least, Dori, my Al-Anon sponsor, who listens to my messes and tries to help me make sense of them. She, too, is wise beyond her years, and someone I would like to be when/if I grow up.

It’s a great day, people! Don’t just sit inside all day. What one thing can you do for someone you’re grateful for? (Preferably still alive) It can be as simple as a hug. Hugs are wonderful, touching things.

Peace out.

You did NOT just say that!

I object to your objection!

Okay. I know for a fact that how we say things is just as important if not more important than what we say. I’ve been attending these lectures on alcoholism and have been learning better ways of communicating, how to express “I Statements.”

(Stay with me for a minute, here, I know this is technical but it’s important for later on.) There are three steps to an I Statement:
1. State very specifically what behavior led to your feeling.
2. State what you are feeling.
3. Explain the consequences of the behavior for you.

In correct usage, it might look something like this:
1. I feel “I feel scared . . .

2. When when you stay out all night

3. Because because I don’t know where you are.”

Simple, right? Well, Saturday afternoon, I forgot all about these I statements when my sister called and said she had just gotten through a therapy session and her therapist told her she needed to work on anger. Mind you, I knew she had already been through one crisis that day. She’s an alcoholic, and I try to be careful about putting too much on her at once. I save my verbal “vomit” for my sponsor because I figure it does no good for my sister to know all the irritations and frustrations that go through my mind regarding her.

But when she said that, all my good intentions flew out the window. Everything I had learned just kind of took a back seat and my mind went on autopilot. Verbal vomit flew out before I could stop it.

“Well, you do have problems with anger,” I said.

“What do you mean?”

“Do you know that every time you get drunk – or even when you’re sober – you complain to Mom that I got sent away to college to live in a dorm and you had to go to a local college?”

“Yeah, I do know that,” she replied.

And the verbal diarrhea continued, unchecked.

“Do you know why Mom sent me two hours away to college?” I asked, and I knew there was some sarcasm in my voice.

“No, why?”

“Because I had become a permanent babysitter for your three kids who were all living with us at the time. She wanted me to get away.”

There you go, coming up first again. Mom always thought of you first.”

“Oh, and taking you and your whole family into her house to support didn’t count.”

“You babysat my kids? Well guess what? I babysat all you kids from the time I could walk.”

I laughed at that point. I couldn’t help it.

Eventually we talked it out. We can never stay mad at each other very long. In a family of seven siblings, we are the only two sisters. But – she’s the reason I’m writing a book about alcoholism, because I truly believe her drinking changed my whole life and a lot of the choices that might have been available to me. I wish I could say I’m better, but I’m still such a sick codependent. I don’t ask her anymore if she’s going to meetings, or if she’s working her program.

I have a smaller hoola hoop now, and I’m only concerned with my own program. It’s enough for me. It’s enough for a lifetime.

Riddles for Fun and Folly

1. I have but only two
They taste just as sweet
Though thru bitter words may flow.

2. A hairier face you’ve never seen
and the halitosis might make you green
Brown eyes staring, body wiggling

3. Three eyes have I, all in a row.
When the green one opens, everyone goes.

4. I cover without smothering.
I’m not clothing.

5. Pull my chain, everything goes black.

6. Stout am I but not from food
My whiskers betimes slip off my face

That’s it. That’s all the fun I have today. I’ll write a more serious post later. Wanted to get this out now.
Have fun!

Knitting and Purling, and Soothing

Didn’t end up going to the meeting last night. Listened to my inner self, my chronic fatigued, bipolar self, and – more importantly – the H.A.L.T theory. Never let myself get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Well, as I wrote yesterday, I was pretty wiped out. I needed a break. Today I’m going to an afternoon meeting and tonight an open talk (my first one in a very long time, so I’m excited!).

Last night was a time for knitting. Recently I splurged and bought a set of Harmony wood needles, along with the cables (and a tightener for them, otherwise they may come off during work at an alarming time!) from http://wwww.knitpiks.com. If it’s weird to be in love with knitting needles then I’m officially off the charts strange.

Everything about knitting turns me on. From the feel of the yarn as it slides through my fingers, to the soft click-click of the needles as I knit and purl (no frogging allowed here, that’s for another post), to all the beautiful colors, to seeing the product grow and knowing I – I did that!

When I’m too fatigued, I can’t do it, because I know I’ll make mistakes even in the simplest of patterns. But when I’m just a little tired and feeling sad because – like last night – I missed a favorite meeting, it soothes me and quiets my spirit. As a little girl, if someone I played with said something upsetting to me or something didn’t go my way, I would run in the house and bang something out on the piano really quickly, which usually made me feel better. Sadly, I don’t play the piano anymore.

But – knitting. Sigh. It does that and even more. If I was confident enough, I would teach others how to knit. I even get plot bunnies for writing while I knit, and that I consider a side benefit! Sometimes when I’m writing and get frustrated with how it’s going I’ll work out the snarls (no pun intended) with a good knitting project. The cobwebs get cleared out in my head and I’m ready to get back to work.

If I’m making something for someone else, like the baby blanket I’m currently making for little Eleanor Grace, I pray while I’m making it. I pray for her future, I pray that God will keep her safe in the palm of His hand.

I’ll try to remember to post pics of my knitting as I go, but I often get distracted by other things, like my lovely Lucy. Which reminds me, I want to make her a dog sweater. 😀

There. How many other knitters did I speak to, or how many did I make want to knit? Who knows, some people swear they can teach knitting over the phone. 😉

Priorities

I’ve been doing too much. Going to about four Al-Anon meetings a week, attending two lectures on alcoholism followed by sharing times afterwards, which amounts to two 3-hour evenings a week, reading all the literature on alcoholism I can get my hands on and then some. I had to take back all the books I had taken out from the library on the subject. My sponsor made me. 😛 I couldn’t exactly take back the 30+ I have downloaded to my Kindle. 😦

I’ve been accepted to work on a collaboration with 13 other writers. Also, just been accepted to do a weekly book review for a blog. So I have to, I guess, RE-prioritize my life.

It’s not about the alcoholic in my life. It’s about me. Starting today, I’m paring down my reading to Al-Anon related literature (mainly the Big Book of Al-Anon and my meditation books, like One day at a time in Al-Anon), and the books I need to read for review.

Also, I’m writing a non-fiction book this year called “Undertow: Growing Up With An Alcoholic Sister.” I’ve only written the outline so far, but that took some serious work.

So, I’m only going to keep my favorite one or two Al-Anon meetings. Only going to the skills building and sharing meeting on Tuesday night. One or two open talks. LOTS of rest and sleep. Walks with Lucy so I can talk with God about all that’s going on (that’s whom I choose to call my Higher Power; if it helps you, fine).

The life unexamined is not worth living. Didn’t someone famous say that? 😉