belonging

A is for Acceptance

Acceptance is a difficult concept to deal with, even if we’re not talking about alcoholism. None of us wants to be unacceptable, or excluded from a group, whether we’re small children, adolescents, or older adults. The synonyms for acceptance are many, among them approval and recognition.

I know a young woman who is gay. She has found a woman she loves, is very happy, and engaged to be married. Most people she knows are very happy for her happiness, but not all are as accepting. Some are even judgmental, saying she and her partner would always be welcome in their home, but they would never attend her wedding. This makes no sense to me, and seems more than a little hypocritical. If you accept the fact that someone is gay, you recognize it, you approve of the lifestyle she/he has chosen.

With my sister, it’s different, but somewhat the same. She’s been sober for a while now, and attended several family gatherings as a sober alcoholic. I don’t drink often, mostly at major holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, my mom laughs at me, because I will see a drink recipe shown on The Chew or something, get all excited about it, buy all the ingredients, bring them home, and then the liquor sits in our cupboards, because I’ve immediately lost interest. :P)

Back to my sister. I never used to drink around her. I thought it was a sign of solidarity if I joined her in not drinking. Recently, I’ve realized it was actually codependency, and I was not allowing her a sense of self-esteem, and achievement all her own. She’s very capable, and strong in her own right. But I’m sure she feels that exclusion, that non-acceptance among non-alcoholics, even though she’s accepted by her recovering alcoholic friends. I still laugh when I remember going with her to an open talk AA meeting at Sacred Heart in downtown Detroit. I was so nervous I wouldn’t even smoke, even though I badly wanted a cigarette. One of her friends finally leaned over to me and said, “So, do you have any vices?”

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 417)

What Could Be Scarier Than a Great White Shark??

epiphanybatman Happy ninth day of Twelvetide. I wish you health and prosperity this day, and a modicum of sanity as we go and be with various family and friends that we may have a genuine love it or leave it sort of ambivalence toward. Living with ambivalence is not for sissies.

Let’s assume for a bit that you don’t live in or anywhere near Flint, Michigan, and as far as you know it’s safer than it’s ever been (since that great white shark in the 70s) to dip your toe back in the water. I give you three simple words.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

If your heart beats a little quicker than usual at seeing those three words, or you feel your shirt getting damp and wonder to yourself, “Did it just get hot in here?” … I am here to tell you that you are never alone. Don’t get up and check your thermostat. Don’t worry you might have a heart attack if you even allow the thought of those three words to linger in your mind.

You are absolutely fine. After all, they’re just words, right? Still, if you’re like me, the past 365 days of your life flashed through your mind’s eye on New Year’s Eve. Also, if you are hopefully like me, you’ll find some peaks and valleys in the past year along with maybe one terrific thing you did for yourself or someone else (or both). There will be those times we wish we could take back something we might have done or said. But no, Virginia, there are no takesie-backsies, regardless of how much you wish there were. And it’s useless to go back and wish we stuck with our diets, exercised more, quit smoking, read better literature, or whatever else happens to pass through your mind. That time’s gone; say bye-bye and face today with unflinchingly optimistic hearts. I have a few guidelines, as we go through this next year:

Be yourself: I don’t think I can stress this one enough. Always, always be your best self in any situation you find yourself. For me, if I have a bad time at a party or gathering, the largest reason I can trace it back to is that in some way I wasn’t being genuine to myself. When we work too achingly hard at pretending to be other than who we really are, when we strive to always be prettier, smarter, more interesting…than everyone else at the party, it falls flat. After all, we wouldn’t be invited in the first place if we weren’t so beloved by being exactly who we were meant to be. So, whatever happens, take a breath, square your shoulders, and open the door. You are wanted.

Be kind: I didn’t think this up, but it’s a great question to keep asking ourselves this year. That is, “What is the kindest thing I can do/say?”

Be forgiving: Forgive quickly and often, beginning with ourselves. Try not to be too quick to judge, because–well, we know what that feels like. Try, though surely we won’t often always be successful, to give the benefit of the doubt, to those you cherish, as well as yourself.

Be goal-oriented: This is essentially quite different from resolutions. Goals are infinitely good to have, for without them, we despair and languish. If your only goal is to make it through the day unscathed, and when you collapse into bed that night, having counted all fingers and toes and found none missing, then that’s a good day’s work.

Most of all, don’t live back there. You can’t get there from anywhere in the rational world that isn’t met with opaque glasses, never seen quite clearly. And for all the goodness in the world, don’t spend too much time in the future. You might start finding yourself too old for this or that, that it’s inevitably too late. I’m of the opinion it’s never too late. Not for marriage, not for love, for education, etc. It’s not even too late to have children, regardless of age–one can always adopt, or be a stupendous aunt or uncle.

I sincerely hope you have had nothing but happiness this past Christmas, and that Santa Claus was good to you. You deserve it. Moving forward, let’s join hands and step into 2017, with our eyes on trying hard to be better in every way. Here’s to you, plus a cartoon to make you laugh: bear-snowman

 

Happy Holidailies!!

christmas-tree-griswoldSo, hi! Here’s the thing; I feel like I should be apologizing, since I haven’t blogged, or written at all, since my dramatic farewell post on April 8th of this year.  What can I say? It seemed like a good idea at the time. I didn’t blog, even though I tried prompts to help me write, I tried freewriting, I even signed up for National Novel Writing Month, but I couldn’t get myself to write a thing. Ah, well, it’s a hard time of year for me. Sixteen years ago this moth my dad died. This year, instead of getting easier, you know, to let go, it’s weird. I think I can sense him, like, around me, and sometimes I hear whispers that I’m sure are him. It doesn’t scare me or anything, it’s just a little freakish.

Enough of that, though! If you are not familiar with Holidailies and December, it’s the month where each blogger who signs up endeavors to write one post each day of the month. Radical, right? 🙂 I’m encouraging you right now, if you want to join this crazy holiday fun, I don’t think it’s too late! But, even if you don’t want to commit, it’s great to read others’ posts.

I’m trying something new for this month. I ordered a writing game from Bas Bleu, an entertaining web store, and it’s called Writer’s Prompt Sticks: Memoirs–Life Stories. I bought for NaNo, actually, because I thought it might assist me with my temporary (?) block. I was meant to be writing a memoir, just a slice of my life, not much really. But it seems I’m super at reading books about writing, and talking with others, and listening to podcasts about writing, just not so hot at the writing itself.

Anyway, each stick has two prompts on it, and I’m meant to pick one and write for eight minutes. I already know I’m shortening the time for the sake of this challenge, because when I do write, I write like Taz, and I don’t want you to end up with 8k words you just skim or close the page on.

Here we go. Setting up my timer now. The two blog prompts to choose from are:

1) Write about a time when you had a spiritual awakening.

2) Write about a time when you were in a religious or spiritual situation and you felt nothing or it felt ludicrous. 

They just get right down to it, huh? I think I’ll combine the two because the first prompt won’t take me very long. 1) I was raised Roman Catholic and I went to church every Sunday as a kid, you know, it meant something to me when I made my confirmation at 13, my brother Jimmy being Godfather. But I was very naive, and gullible (are they the same?), expecting the Church to be everything to me, to make up for every single thing I ever felt I was lacking. Feelings are fickle things, not to be trusted most of the time, because they can change on a dime and are severely disloyal. One minute they pretend to be your best friend, and the next thing you know you’re hiding your heads under the cover because you’re too scared to let yourself think, let alone feel.

Then in the summer before I turned 19, this was 1980, an exceptionally good year–except for this one thing. I had just finished my freshman year at college and was home before my sophomore year, hanging out with my best friend, Cathy Bruske. We were in a park near home, and we started talking to some guys on motorcycles. We felt that daring rush only familiar to late teens: anything could and would happen, and we were open to it all. The guys were sweet, and semi-cute, so we ended up following them back to one’s place.

The exact details of what all happened, I don’t really remember. I know I was drinking a could beers with them and Cathy, and somebody had pot, I might have smoked. I can’t really figure out why something so traumatic is such a blur to me, but there you have it–and maybe it’s a blessing, meant to protect my psyche from something I don’t wish to revisit.

One of the guys invited me into his bedroom. I don’t want to go into what all happened because I don’t know who may or may not be reading this. I guess I was sexually assaulted. I guess it’s iffy, a few counselors tell me it wasn’t an assault, at least not sexual, because there wasn’t any actual intercourse. You know what I say to that, to them, the naysayers? BULLSHIT. Maybe you hadda be there, but this is one time I trusted my feelings.

santas-coming

Somehow in that haze I got split up from Cathy, and I don’t know how in the hell I found my way back to our home in Detroit. Just lucky, I guess. I don’t know how, I felt torn apart and lost, and ended up at our parish church. This is the church I had grown up in, went to all those masses in, recited the Apostle’s Creed. I don’t know if they still do, but back then the priests lived right next to the church, in a rectory. It must have been the wee hours of the morning and I can’t imagine what my parents were thinking, but instead of going home, I went to church, parked, and walked up to the rectory door. I knocked, and rang the door bell, and banged with my fist and yelled, but no one came. I’m sure, if you’re with me as my wiser self, you can think of many reasons why that door wasn’t answered–logical, helpful reasons. But all I could feel at the time was that my church and God had turned their backs on me, that I was ruined. I didn’t cry, and still haven’t shed a tear about what happened all those years ago. It took me a long time to tell anyone, because of shame, and–well, the believability factor. There you have it. My answer to prompt #2.

That’s about all I have to say for today. Oh, that and I’m one of The Deplorables. Except I’m educated, I’m not racist nor xenophobic, and I’m certainly not a misogynist. But you can decide now whether or not that’ll keep you from reading any of my posts.

Peace out, friends…..stay thirsty. 😉 clark-griswold

Rejoining The Human Race

first day on earth castellucciAmazingly, it’s been almost five months since I last posted to this blog. And I pay for it! LOL  I’m not sure I still remember how to do it. Have I been through some struggles in that time? Of course, but you know what? So have you, so have we all! I’ve experienced some major triumphs, too. Do tell me yours.

Here’s another thing. I don’t know how you feel about it, but I’ve really missed you guys. I’ve missed the camaraderie, the comments, the back-and-forth, and just knowing someone out there is reading silly things I’ve written.

You probably don’t know this, but there is a radio station out of Detroit (near where I live) which plays all Christmas music starting November 1st. Right? A little whacked, but I love it since it’s my favorite holiday. In fact, I was thinking of going to buy lights to put up around the ceiling. And, for the life of me, I cannot understand why it’s so important to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to put up the tree, even if it’s fake. Seriously?

Well, I won’t keep blabbing on and on. I read in a blogging book that the shorter the post the better (we’re all so busy these days!).

This will be my new schedule for posting: SU-T-TH-S. From now until just about Christmas I’ll be writing about trying to get my Christmas gifts crocheted in time. Yikes!

See you Tuesday. Until then, take care of yourself, and take care of each other.

 

Follow The Leader

l-Follow-the-leaderMost of us remember the game “Follow The Leader,” which involves a child being the leader of a line of other children. The children are supposed to copy everything the leader does. Those who fail to do so are out of the line, until one is left standing behind the leader, who then  becomes the new leader.

It’s similar to the game Simon Says,  which requires a group of at least three children, preferably more. The leader gives directions to the other participants, trying to catch them out. If they follow the directions starting with “Simon says touch your toes,” for instance, they are still in play. But if the leader says, simply, (ha ha) “Touch your toes,” and they are caught out touching their toes, they are out of play.

In sheep behavior, when one sheep moves, the rest will follow, even if it is not a good idea. The following instinct of sheep is so strong that it caused the death of 400 sheep in 2006 in eastern Turkey. The sheep plunged to their death after one of the sheep tried to cross a 15-meter deep ravine, and the rest of the flock followed.

Even from birth, lambs are taught to follow the older members of the flock. Ewes encourage their lambs to follow. The dominant members of the flock usually lead, followed by the submissive ones. If there is a ram in the flock, he usually leads.

As for people, and in terms of crowd behavior, we are more apt to follow “leaders” who stay at the edge of the crowd rather than the center of the action. In one instance, a research team asked groups of eight students to walk around continuously in a specified area and stay together as a group without speaking or gesturing to one another.

One person in one of the groups was asked to move towards a target, while remaining a member of the group, without letting the others know that he was leading them to a target. In another group, the students were told to follow “the leader,” but not told who the leader was.

In the second group, it was found that those leaders who remained on the edge of the group were able to move their group towards a target much more quickly than the leaders that chose to remain in the center.

Interesting! Any thoughts?

Have a wonderful rest of the day.

 

Ciao Bella.

Birth Order

birth orderLast year, on one of his visits home from San Francisco, my brother Paul brought a t-shirt he’d bought which bore the saying “Mom loves me best.” He wore it to an outdoor picnic at which most of the family was in attendance; it was very funny and caused quite a lot of discussion. Even more funny, he left it with me when he went back! 😛

Paul is the second to youngest of seven siblings. I’m the youngest. My sister Carol is the oldest, then there’s Greg, Steve, Jerry, Jimmy, Paul, and me.

My sister said she prayed and prayed for another little sister and when I came it was like a miracle. We’re 13 years apart, and so I was like a little doll for her, and she loved to dress me up. I sure never suffered from lying in the crib too long, with five brothers, a sister, a mom, and a dad all eager to hold or cuddle me.

Carol did get that part of being the eldest where the parents made all their “mistakes” on her, and learned on her, and on each child to come really, so that by the time Paul and I came around they had this parenting thing down pat. Carol also still has a huge sense of responsibility, borne out of being the oldest child. She felt more was expected of her.

I thought my brother Greg would have that as well, being the oldest boy, but he has a very laid-back personality, and is never in a hurry. A story is told of Greg when he was quite little and the lady was waiting outside to take the boys to school. Everyone else is ready, and Greg is looking out the window, one shoe off, and one shoe on, marveling “Hey look! That lady is here!” He couldn’t understand why his mom was so excited. Ha ha ha

Every one of my sibs seemed so much older to me. The closest in age was, of course, Paul, and he was still five years older. So even when they tried to play with me, it felt odd, like I was playing with much older boys. When I was in grade school, they were in high school, after all. When I was in high school, they were in college, and beyond. I played by myself a lot, and with invisible friends, until I made friends in the neighborhood. After that I was rarely home before the streetlights came on.

Anyway, there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to support the theory that birth order affects your personality. Ultimately environmental conditions, such as socioeconomic conditions, shape who we are and what we become.

(N.B.: We’re skipping neuroplasticity. Sorry for any grief this has caused.)

Have a wonderful evening!

Ciao Bella.

Zany

Z (1)I don’t like the word zany as it applies to mentally ill or anxious people. It’s the same as saying “crazy,” and it’s placing a stigma on a population that has enough to deal with on a day-to-day basis. I’m not even sure I like “mentally ill.”

Sure, I have three separate anxiety problems, and bipolar disorder, but does that make me mentally ill? Does someone with diabetes say that she is physically ill? Of course not. She has a problem with her sugar, and she’s hopefully taking care of it.

We all of us exhibit crazy behaviors now and then. None of us are immune. Shouting at someone who cuts us off in traffic is not exactly normal. Talking to the driver in front of you (come on, I know you’ve done it, so have I) when you know s/he can’t hear you, is pretty crazy behavior. Once, when I still had borderline personality disorder (I have since aged out of it, thank God) I laid down in front of my niece’s car because we were in the middle of an argument, she was trying to leave, and I didn’t want her to. I’m still that way, needing to resolve things, but I don’t lie down in front of peoples’ cars any longer. lol That’s crazy.

Today, let’s remember to use the words “zany” and “crazy” judiciously, when talking about events and things, rather than people. It will go a long way toward reducing stigma in the world at large.

Well, everyone, that’s the end of the alphabet. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with you, and hope you have the same. Stay tuned for Mental Health Month in May, where anything can happen and we aren’t constrained by the letters of the alphabet!

Ciao, Bella.

Are YOU My Sponsor?

“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?” ~Rabbi Hillel

I am currently a sponsor-less (wingless, rudderless) member of Al-Anon. This year September will be three years that I’ve been in Al-Anon, but my former uber sponsor and I parted ways amicably over a year ago.

Since that time finding a new one has reminded me of the childhood book Are You My Mother? in which a baby bird is hatched while its mother is away from the nest and it goes about asking various animal species that very question, “Are you my mother?”

Seeking a sponsor has felt, not to be too melodramatic, like walking through a field of landmines. 😛 I’ve been turned down by three older women because they “don’t do ‘that’ anymore.” Whatever. I sucked it up and tried some more. I was consecutively turned down by three more younger women because they “didn’t feel up to it.” What?? Beg your pardon? Don’t feel up to it?

I’ll tell you the God’s honest truth, and that is this. I’m pissed off. If someone were to approach me today to ask me to be her sponsor, even though I don’t have one myself. I would pray, ask God for help each day, and do the very best I could by that person.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Tomorrow morning I’m going to my home group meeting “Peace at the End of the Road.” I’m not leaving without a sponsor, even if it’s just temporary. I’m tired of hearing my own voice bounce off the walls. We all need a little help sometimes.

Wish me luck, say a prayer, send good thoughts….could use it all.

Peace out, peeps. xo sober

The Blogosphere Status-Checking Neurosis

i-forgot-to-post-on-facebook-i-was-going-to-the-gymCome on. Admit it. You check your FB status more than a couple times a day, and get a little charge every time somebody “likes” it, or the more the comments pile up. Want some help?

Okay. My name is Chris, and I’m a status-checking junkie. In fact, I’m thinking I might close my FB account for good. Have to think some on that.

Here, read this quote from Finding God in the Dark: “The blogosphere is reality television for people (conservative Christians) who consider themselves too good for reality television . . . Status updates about perfect playdates or craft projects, or magazine-quality photographs of picture-perfect birthday parties induce lots of fawning compliments (and private eye rolls) from other moms. Moms are the most underrated competitive people-group on earth. If I had to go to a rumble in a dark alley, I’d be sure to take a few stay-at-home moms with me.

“Facebook can let your friends know what you’re reading, what you’re watching, what you’re buying, what you’re thinking, when your birthday is, who you voted for, and what you’re doing this weekend. And it had all better be awesome.” (emphasis mine)

Chew on that for a bit. It’s sort of controversial, and I’d love to know your thoughts about it. ❤

Peace out. xx

You Are Enough!

be you Accept everything about yourself—I mean everything. You are you and that is the beginning and the end—no apologies, no regrets.
— HENRY KISSINGER

Here’s something not everyone knows about me. As much as I love the holidays, it’s still hard for me to be around other people for too long, even family. I never know what to talk about. I’m on disability, so I can’t talk about work. I do read the news, so I can talk about that to some degree, but I don’t argue well. 😉 So when it comes to arguing a point, I always lose. I don’t mean argument as in a fight or something; just differing views, I’m not good at defending my own. Never have been.

So I get a little nervous as Christmas Eve and Day approach. When I see family, what can we talk about? I’ve heard advice in the past: “news, weather, and sports.” Well, okay, that can work to a certain extent.

What I find most helpful, when I’m stuck, is to ask about the other person. What’s been happening with them? People love to talk about themselves (well, most people 😛  ). One question can lead to other questions and before you know it, you’re having a whole dialogue and it’s all okay.

But here’s something I need to remember this year, and maybe you do, too. I’m enough, just the way I am. In fact, I’m wonderful. There are unique qualities about me: my sense of humor, compassion, ability to empathize, that make me a good listener and a fine companion for the holidays.

What about you? What are your unique qualities that make you wonderful and fun to be around? I’m sure you can think of just one. Here’s a trick. Do like I just did. Write it out. Then say it out loud. Even if you don’t believe it yet. Because it’s true.

And hey, it’s all you. 😀

Peace out.

Volunteering As A Way Of Belonging

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?

To Avoid or Not To Avoid – Need Help!

“Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you.” –Aldous Huxley

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.

Peace out.

Accepting Our Choices

It’s hard to make a choice in life, then walk away without a quick glance back to wonder, “Did I do the right thing? Could I have made a better/healthier/more helpful choice?”

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.

Steps to Success; How Sweet It Is!

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.

 

 

Five Steps To Knowing Yourself Better

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. 🙂

Let Go and Let God in Everything

In white water rafting, if you go against the current, if you don’t paddle very hard toward where the flow of water is going, you’re likely to capsize. I know this from experience. I only did it once. 😉 It was enough.

Today at Senior Choral practice there was a lot of uncertainty. Those of us who had been there last Friday and auditioned for solo or small group singing parts had expected to hear about possible songs we were going to be singing.

James, our fearless leader, said, “Now, we’re picking songs based on what we think might sound good for you based on how you sounded to us. You might not agree or you might be disappointed. I’m asking you to go with the flow and trust us on this. If you need to, go in your car and scream and kick and yell and then come back inside and be polite and respectful of our decisions. I’ll even buy you a drink.” He smiled.

Only the soloists were assigned songs today. So I still don’t know what song I’ll be singing or who I’ll be paired off with. But this reminds me so much of Let Go and Let God. We place the issue in God’s hands and leave the outcome with Him. I trust that He has my best interests at heart.

I’m already not disappointed. How could I be? I’m taking risks left and right, making new friends, having a blast . . .

If I go against the current, if I fight God and take it out of His hands, or . . . you know try to help Him ever so kindly by telling Him what I think should happen . . . I’ll get water in my nose and down my throat and, oh man what a mess. That really sucks bad.

Life, lived in the moment, not expecting anything but enjoying the moment . . . is a little slice of heaven here on earth.

Peace out.

Unconditional Love

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.
Ellen Barkin

The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

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.

People are like stained-glass windows. They sp...

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. ~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (Photo credit: Olga Oslina)

Happy Sunday to you.

Peace out.

Withdrawal

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.

Peace out.

Conscious Contact and the Novi Senior Choral

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!

Peace out.

Whole Vs. Hole

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. 

Wow.

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. 

Peace out.

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