God

Turning It Over

higher power This morning I’m going to attend the Amazing Grace Al-Anon meeting, and, because my sponsor is away on vacation, I’m taking over her duty of handing out yearly tokens for March birthdays.

I hope you don’t take offense at my sense of humor with the image I’ve posted here. I don’t have a cat, but my dog would gladly take the job. ūüėČ She thinks she’s the boss of me. It’s all tongue-in-cheek of course. I DO have a higher power, and it’s not me, or my dog. It’s God. I’m thrilled to hand out tokens this morning, because I know the courage it takes to live life one day at a time. I know the effort it took to get to this place of an anniversary.

But I know what the answer will invariably be when someone (perhaps me) shouts out “How’d you do it?” That person will mention the Al-Anon program itself, their sponsor, other friends, and – last but not least (or maybe even first) – a higher power.

Turning our lives over to a higher power does not mean we laze around cluelessly and never lift a finger in our lives. It means we do the footwork and leave the outcome up to our higher powers. It means we let that higher power have the steering wheel, but we still have the power to put on the brakes, to slow things down if things are going too quickly.

God has blessed my life in countless ways since I’ve been a member of Al-Anon.

Peace out.

The Problem and The Answer

Speechless_Bubble_by_applesauce_x3 I’m not often speechless. It’s not usually hard for me to know what to say, but writing in this blog has been so hard for me lately, and that’s not like me. It’s like I feel like I’m supposed to have the “answers,” as if 1) there are certain answers one has to follow as a member of Al-Anon and 2) I know them.

Let’s get a couple things squared away. The only “answers” I really know in Al-Anon are told to me (either through the other members, the big book of Al-Anon, my sponsor, whatever) by my higher power. And what I don’t know will be revealed in time. I trust that. I trust it as easily as I trust the sun to rise every morning and to set every night. There is a God, and it’s not me.

Which brings me to the second part of what I’ve been feeling and why it’s been so hard to write lately. Not only¬†are¬†there certain answers, but I¬†have¬†them. Alcoholic boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/parent/sibling/friend? Just come to me. I’ll cure what ails you.¬†NOT.¬†So¬†not. What I say on here, what I¬†share¬†on here, on this pithy little blog, is just my own experience, strength and hope. I don’t have the answers anymore than the next guy.

What scares me is when I write posts like “Five Ways to Tell if You’re Codependent,” because it makes it sound like I’m an expert, which – we’ve just just established – I’m really not.

So if you’re here for answers, you’re in the wrong place. If you’re here because you just want to hang with another struggling, trying-to-get-her-act-together codependent, you are¬†so¬†in the right place. And man, can we have some fun. Because my life is anything but boring. I’m worried about two people right now, my mom (who is not an alcoholic) and my sister (who is). More on that tomorrow.

Peace out.

Let Go of Expectations and Outcomes

quote_expectations-are-premed-resentments I’m learning there’s a reason “Let go” comes before “Let God” in that particular recovery slogan. Have you ever watched a baby just before she falls asleep, if you happen to be blessed enough to hold her in your arms? The eyelids fight to stay open. They flutter closed, the tiny hands begin to relax . . . and then boom! The legs kick out again, the hands clench into little fists and the eyelids struggle sooo hard to stay open. Just¬†one more minute.¬†Not ready for sleep quite yet. Might miss something.¬†Yawn.¬†

Finally, the battle ends and the eyes close and stay shut.

I’ve been there. Yep. But as a grownup. Not wanting to let go, wanting to control the outcome, wanting to make sure everything is perfect, just so . . .

Until we let go of this fantasy we have of the perfect whatever,¬†whether it’s a person, a thing, a place . . . a holiday? ¬†we will never have the chance to see what can happen when our Higher Power gets a hold of that person, thing, place, or holiday. Whatever circumstance, whatever struggle, whatever relationship . . . until¬†I¬†take my hands¬†off¬†and let God have the reins, nothing really fantastic can happen.

Last night was our final Christmas concert. Oy, were my expectations high. My nerves were strained, I was kaput and on fire at the same time. And I flubbed up¬†twice.¬†ūüė¶ But the thing about a choir, a whole chorus of voices, is that not only do they surround you, they support you. I knew they probably heard my mistake, my mates did, the other tenors, and possibly the basses. But it’s doubtful the audience did. Like if you are playing a beautiful piano piece, and¬†you¬†know you made a terrible error, but if you don’t stop and call attention to it, no one knows? And hey – we got a standing O! How ’bout them apples? Look what God did when I got out of the way…

I’ll miss it. *sigh*

But on to caroling, which is this afternoon and next weekend. No expectations this time. No nerves, I promise. Just hoping for fun and fellowship and to bring some good tidings. ūüôā

Peace out.

Grateful Thoughts

“A moment of gratitude makes a difference in your attitude.” –Bruce Wilkinson

Sometimes it’s difficult to be grateful. When I first joined Al-Anon, I had to search for things to be grateful over. I mean, I had to¬†search.¬†At first, it was little, tiny things like “putting my feet on the floor” in the morning as I got out of bed, being grateful that I “had feet” to put on the floor . . .

I’m not sure why that was. Maybe I was so focused on¬†fixing¬†the alcoholic in my life, so angry that I was even there in the first place, that being grateful seemed like the polar opposite of where I wanted or felt like I needed to be. Listening and being¬†allowed¬†to grow at my own pace at the tables . . . never being rushed or nudged along, never being told “you’re doing it wrong,” I was able to come to learn gratitude in my own way.

Now there is so much I’m thankful for. From the sun and moon in the sky to the falling temperatures and changing leaves (I love Autumn and Winter) . . . sometimes I’ll be driving along at dusk and see the sun setting and just say out loud, “Look at you, God. Look at what you decided to do tonight.” Because it’s always different, you know? (Sorry. I try not to offend anyone, but I choose to call my Higher Power, God.)

I have too many people in my life to mention for whom I’m thankful. I sure hope they know who they are by now. ūüėČ

Just feeling really good today. I hope you are too. If it’s a difficult time for you, remember nothing lasts forever. Even tough times. It’s true.

Peace out.

 

What Happens When We Try To Change Too Quickly?

Good morning! It’s good to be back after such a long time away. I’ve been really busy with an extended birthday celebration, and then my Senior Choral production of The Bright Lights of Broadway.

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. ūüėČ

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.

Peace out.

 

We Don’t Live In A Vacuum

“Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.” –Reinhold Niebuhr

Today’s reading in Courage to Change absolutely blew me away. It was ostensibly about sponsorship and how important a sponsor was to this sponsee. But really it was about love. She learned about her worthiness as a person through her sponsor.

I was at an Al-Anon meeting (stop me if I’ve told you this story before ūüėČ ), where there was a double winner (a person from AA who also had Al-Anon issues). She was celebrating 26 years of AA. She told us that at the meeting, in passing, and we all asked, as we do in meetings, “How’d you do it?”

“With a whole lot of love,” she replied.

Maybe it’s a cliche that love makes the world go ’round, and maybe it’s not even true. But love sure as hell helps. Ask babies who are never touched or held. Ask the homeless person who gets brushed by on the street without a second glance or a “How d’you do?” Ask the little girl who’s mom is too depressed to get out of bed, so she has to get her own breakfast, cheerios (if she’s lucky) without milk.

Without love, without someone in our corner supporting us, helping us to come up in the world, putting a hand around our shoulder, clapping us on the back to acknowledge our presence, we will wither on the vine.

We are ALL put here for a reason. Have you discovered yours?

Peace out.

 

How Do We Define Character Defects?

What does the word “defective” evoke in you? Does it make you think of things that need to be returned, exchanged, or even destroyed? According to Dictionary.com, defective means “having a defect or flaw; faulty; imperfect;¬†a defective machine.¬†

Checking further,¬†defect¬†means “a shortcoming, fault, or imperfection;¬†lack¬†or¬†want,¬†especially¬†of¬†something¬†essential¬†to¬†perfection or¬†completeness;¬†deficiency.”

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I even WANT to be perfect—but I guess that’s neither here nor there. We were discussing defects, and how we define them. ūüėČ

Here are some definitions of character defects that may or may not work for you; I’m embarrassingly imperfect. ūüėČ

1.¬†Old coping skills:¬†Something that worked when we were younger and defenseless (hiding from a stressful situation, not talking, etc.) may not work anymore. It’s up to YOU and YOU ALONE to decide what your old coping skills are and whether or not you are ready to let go of them. You may be powerless, but you ain’t helpless any longer. That’s a fact.

2. Assets gone astray: You might feel a genuine desire to help someone that can turn into a need to fix him. See how that can happen? Your genuine desire to keep things neat and tidy can turn into a need to shriek at someone for not using a drink coaster, or it could turn into obsessive-compulsive disorder (disclaimer: I am not, nor have I ever been, a shrink. I only visit one). Maybe you have a lot of knowledge about something and you genuinely desire to share it, but you do so without being asked . . . a lot. 

If we look at character defects in this way, we can pray for balance. We can talk to our Higher Powers and ask that these parts of ourselves be straightened out with His (Her? Whomever you pray to) help.

Instead of berating ourselves and taking out the wet noodle, ¬†we can recognize that we are¬†growing.¬†We see that something we used to need we no longer do, and we seek for balance in our lives. That’s pretty damn good, if you ask me.

Peace out, and have a fantastic Saturday. I know I will.

God Comes First In The Serenity Prayer

“Every now and again take a good look at something not made with hands—a mountain, a star, the turn of a stream. There will come to you wisdom and patience and solace and, above all, the assurance that you are not alone in the world.” –Sidney Lovett

When I pray the serenity prayer, I place a special emphasis on the first word, “God.” Now, don’t stop reading at this point. See, what I love about the Al-Anon program and the CoDA (Codependency Anonymous) program is they allow for each to come the “God of his own understanding.”

I had a relationship with God before I ever started the program, but I soon realized it didn’t work for me. I grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father, so my very¬†first¬†concept of God was as a tyrant who sat up in heaven keeping score and who did not like me very much. It was exacerbated by my Catholic faith (I’m not saying Catholicism is a bad thing necessarily; it just did a weird number on me in many ways).

To keep this from being a long, drawn-out story, let me just say that it wasn’t until I came to Al-Anon that I realized I needed to¬†rethink¬†my concept of God. Yes, He’s sovereign, and all-knowing and all that is still true. But He’s personal, and I can speak with Him just as easily as I speak to my best friend, my ubersponsor. He¬†wants¬†to know the things that are important to me, the things that worry me, the things I feel bad about, and so forth.

But for me God is the¬†most important¬†part of the serenity prayer. Sometimes I forget that, and today I wanted to remind myself. Because . . . I’m so thankful I don’t have to do this alone.

I hope you are having a great Sunday! Peace out.

More Will Be Revealed

I’ve heard “more will be revealed” at meetings, and have read it in the Big Book, but it has never been as meaningful until right now.

My need to control can show itself as a need to know exactly what’s going on, all the time. We cannot always know. Sometimes, I need to let things be and trust that clarity will come later, in looking back.

Just like in this painting, I see exactly what I need to see . . . for now. It’s okay. It’s already okay. If it doesn’t make perfect sense now, it’s not supposed to.

More will be revealed. Peace out.

The Curious Paradox

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
(Carl Rogers).

At this morning’s Al-Anon meeting, the topic of the table was about being¬†powerless.

I knew all about the powerlessness over the alcoholic, over other people, places, and things. This I had come face-to-face with many times.

But then someone at the table mentioned being powerless over her own¬†self,¬†and it felt like all the air been sucked right out of me. That’s it! That’s what I’ve been feeling over the last couple of weeks.

Powerless over myself.

But how can that be? Aren’t I supposed to be in control of myself? Then again, nothing I do is of my own willpower. My higher power, who you all know by now I choose to call God, takes care of all that for me. I can’t even save myself!

The curious paradox is when I saw this connection, when I began to accept that I am powerless over¬†myself,¬†then I could believe that a power greater than me could restore¬†myself¬† to sanity. Only THEN could change begin. Because – between you and me – I’m pretty messed up.

Have a great Sunday. Peace out.

Calm In The Middle Of The Storm

“Serenity isn’t freedom from the storms of ¬†life. It’s the calm in the middle of the storm that gets me through. It’s up to me to try to keep this calm, even when the storm gets worse.” -Alateen–a day at a time, p. 30

This picture, and this quote, are so perfect for the topic of the day, which is of course, serenity.

Serenity manifests itself in several ways for me. When I need that calm in the middle of the storm, these are the places I go/things I do/people I seek:

1. Pray.¬†I often¬†think¬†it’s not always the first thing I remember, but it always is, when I look back on the storm. When I have time to think my prayers are long and detailed, but when I don’t, my prayers are like this, “Oh dear God . . . please God . . . please please please . . .” So I don’t always think I’m praying. But God hears me, and He always begins calming His child.

2. Talk it out.¬†I usually call my super sponsor. ¬†She’s always honest with me and tells me if she’s not available or if she’s just walking out the door, in which case I would call someone in one of several of my meeting lists to talk with. Unless of course, I call my super sponsor in tears, in which case she has told me she would drop everything to talk to me. This also brings on serenity in the midst of the storm.

3. Go to a meeting.¬†Even though it’s hard, because in the midst of a storm, I’m afraid I’ll fall apart and cry, the best place for me to be at that time is at a meeting. It centers me, it reminds me I’m SO not alone, and I’m SO not the only one who has storms. Plus I usually get hugs, and there is a tissue box at meetings. ūüėČ Yes, other people have cried too. I’m SO not unique. Dang.

4. Read Al-Anon Approved literature.¬†Anything, whether it’s from a meditation book or from the Big Book of Al-Anon itself, will help to bring me serenity and calm me in the middle of a storm. One definition of serenity I found for serenity is tranquility, and I would guess that’s tranquilizer-free. ūüėČ Whenever I read something, even a paragraph conference-approved literature, I find a gem that helps me feel stable and grounded, free from floating anxiety.

5. Help someone else. Have you ever called someone for help, asked them politely how they are and found that they are in a worse state than you? Helping someone else can put things in perspective for me, adding to that calm center, and remind me how blessed I truly am.

6. Make a gratitude list.¬†Yes. Right in the middle of the chaos. Find a quiet corner or go outside if the weather is nice. Find one thing to be thankful for, even if it’s just “I woke up this morning,” or “I have all four of my limbs and they’re in perfect working condition.” I’m always so surprised that once I write one down I’m able to write one ¬†more and then before I know it I have five.

What are some ways that serenity manifests itself for you? How do you get to that calm place in the middle of a storm?

Peace out.

Book Review: Though The Bud Be Bruised

What would you do if you found a note written by your daughter saying she had been sexually molested by a member of your church, a friend of the family? This is the terrible truth and problem that Issy and her parents, Zara and Sam Heymer must face as Christians.

Though The Bud Be Bruised, by Jo Wanmer: 2012, Even Before Publishing, a Division of Wombat Books. ISBN: 978-1-922074-07-2. Amazon link: Though The Bud Be Bruised.

This book is based on a true story, and it is not an easy read. What I mean to say is, it is about a young teen who is sexually abused for several years by a church member/close family friend and it takes place in Australia where apparently they do not have mandatory reporting laws. Issy’s Mom, Zara, struggles so much in her faith, wondering how God could allow such a thing to happen, and she feels a total failure as a mother. Sam, Issy’s father, is helpless himself’, as Issy will not allow him to touch her. Issy herself goes on total self-destruct for a while, and, although this reader determined to remember the promise of God: “Though the bud be bruised, there will be a flower…” at times it was very hard.

Because of the topic I would recommend this book only for adults and mature young adults who perhaps have been through the same thing.

I don’t mean to seem impartial, but I¬†loved, loved, loved¬†this book. I know, I know, tell you how I¬†really¬†think, huh? ūüėČ It’s just, in spite of the subject matter, in spite of the fact that I cried (a lot) at times . . . I could not put it down. I read the book in two days. You know, I’d want to skip out on being a mom if I was faced with all that had happened to my daughter as well. It’s so¬†human.¬†Wanmer doesn’t present her characters as super-Christians; you know the type? They never get mad at God, never doubt Him, wouldn’t even dare. Zara is breakable, and she breaks, yet God is the One who puts her AND Issy back together. God is the thread that binds the whole book together.

I was very challenged in my faith reading the book. I got mad at the church members with Zara. I didn’t understand. I don’t like change very much, either. ūüėČ So yes, I had to trust God a¬†lot¬†while I read the book, knowing it was based on true happenings.

I would highly recommend this book. In case it’s not obvious, I mean! ūüėÄ

Disclosure of Material:¬†I received this book free from the publisher through theBookCrash.com¬†book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the¬†Federal Trade Commission‚Äôs CFR Title 16, Part 255: ‚ÄúGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.‚ÄĚ

Happy Friday! Peace out.

Making Change

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. ūüôā

Love you lots. Peace out.

Freedom Is Accepting Yourself Right Where You’re At

A few posts ago I declared myself a fraud and think I also said something about being worthless, perhaps. I would like takesies-backsies on both of those.

Since then, I have spoken with both my Al-Anon super sponsor, and my therapist, Heather, and they have helped me learn something valuable.

I thought I was a fraud because the nearly year-long time I had spent going to Al-Anon had only gone into my head-sense, but had not traveled the 12 or so inches to my heart.

Both my super sponsor and my T. heartily disagreed, and I have to say I finally understand. I’ll explain why. It takes everyone¬†WHATEVER IT TAKES¬†and¬†AS LONG AS IT TAKES¬†to get to the next level in the program.

Just like it might have taken my sister getting arrested to get straight finally, it might have taken MY SISTER GETTING ARRESTED for me to take the focus totally off her and put it completely on me where it belongs. I gotta tell you it feels weird, but freeing, because I get to learn about my needs, and get to learn a lot about myself for the first time in a long time.

I don’t jump every time the phone rings anymore. In fact, the phone is eerily quiet. I’m journaling, and I’m eight days self-injury free.

The freedom that comes with accepting yourself right where you are means you don’t need to pretend. You don’t need to say you’re fine when you’re not. You don’t have to paste on a fake smile until your face hurts at a party. If you need to you can slip out and take a break. Or *gasp* not go at all. You don’t have to put yourself in situations that threaten the core of what you value, if you know those values. If you don’t – there’s freedom in working that all out.

The best part is we are¬†not alone¬†wherever we are on our journey. Our Higher Power (mine is God) is with us, talking us through it, holding our hand at the scary parts, walking ahead of us, lighting the way. He’s been there before. He’s done that. He knows exactly what it feels like. More importantly, He knows us way better than we even know ourselves.

This has been a post for the Christian Writers Blog Chain. The theme for July is FREEDOM!

As always, love you big. Peace out.

It’s July Already? Step Seven Time!

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.

What I Learned About “Listen And Learn”

Let’s be real. There’s so much information we are confronted with on a daily basis, it’s a wonder we can absorb even the ¬†infinitesimal amounts we do, without losing our minds. It’s even worse if you are a student. But think about it. From the time that we wake up, we are bombarded with thoughts, facts, questions, demands, statements, exclamations, commercials, hypotheses, fantasies . . . and all of that gets sorted through the amazing filter of our brains.

Al-Alon’s slogan, “Listen and Learn,” reminds us that if we have the self-discipline to be quiet and pay attention to others’ words, we can learn a tremendous amount about ourselves and our world. –How Al-Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics, p. 99

I don’t believe in coincidence anymore. When something happens to me that just seems to click for me, like it was supposed to happen, I call it a “God thing.”

A God thing happened for me Wednesday night when I went to a meeting and listened to the person opening the meeting as she read about¬†detachment¬†(Please do click on this – ¬†I don’t normally tell my gentle readers what to do, but this is pure gold. Read it.).

As I’ve been praying for help in getting off the train (no, I’m not all the way off, for I still carry this cloak of despair), I listened intently. I listened to everyone talk around the circle before I shared. There was laughter, as there always is at these meetings, and there was plenty of wisdom.

On my way out the door, the woman who had opened the meeting stopped me. She wanted to share a personal story with me. She knew about that train, she said.¬†Her¬†therapist had told her it’s¬†normal¬†to feel some grief after you have detached and pulled away from a loved one who is bent on self-destruction. It’s like, yes there is quiet and there is peace and there is not the constant tugging on your sleeve to drive you here and drive you there . . .

But it is never easy to watch someone self-destruct. Anyone who tells you they have detached and it doesn’t bother them a lick that their loved one is dying or pickling themselves is¬†lying.¬†

What lightens it is getting involved in the¬†living¬†around me. A couple of hours ago I got back from auditions for solos and small group ensembles for the September production of our Senior Broadway musical. I’m a Tenor Alto. I was nervous but so excited to be trying something new in my life. We won’t know what parts or songs we will be singing until Monday.

Woot! Life can be very very good.

Peace out.

The Morning After A Good Sleep

I SO LOVE this picture. In case you can’t read it, it says: “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Had THE BEST sleep last night. I mean, if I could call The Guinness Book of Records and report it, I would, but I’m not sure how they rate the scale. In terms of number of hours slept, it wasn’t amazing: eight. Lucy woke me once and I took her round back, eyes at half mast, to do her thing before I slid under the covers once again. But I went to bed at 9:00 last night. THAT’s a personal record. Slept until 5:00.

Everything looks better in the morning. I’m on my 3rd day in the¬†Summer Reading Program, and enjoying my 2nd book.

This photo reminds me of a trip to Ireland I took with Karissa, to see mutual friends of ours who lived in the countryside of Dublin. The roads out there are so narrow that when another car approaches one has to pull over in the next available spot on the side of road. And I don’t remember seeing any posted speed limits. LOL Maybe fast and faster? But it was so much fun, and very, VERY spiritual to be there. I’m an early riser, and Karissa as well. We’d both get up, she to read her Bible, and I to walk along the winding path, pray, meditate and smoke, commune with the sheep in their pastures. We had lovely hosts. I did¬†try¬†a Guinness while I was in Dublin for the day. Our hosts laughed at me, because I couldn’t tolerate the dark ale.

This other picture reminds me of a weekend Mom, my sister and I went to a place halfway between here and Traverse City. It was

during National Novel Writing Month. I was working on a novel and my sister was working on her memoir. Being late November, we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving there, and were treated to the worst blizzard they’d had in years. I was in my element. I’m a snow bunny. If I’d packed proper boots, I would’ve been traipsing about in the woods every day.

Good times. It’s a grand Wednesday after a proper sorting in therapy. I hope you are well.

Peace out.

Easy Always Does It Better

So. Stuff happens. Into each life a little stress will come, some more than others. I just got off the phone with an old friend of mine, who has bipolar like I do, and she has been hospitalized twice since April because of¬†rapid cycling. New meds aren’t really helping, so she’s dealing as best she can.

Stuff happens. It’s what we do with the stuff that either helps us or hurts us¬†more.¬†

One of my (for I have a few) favorite slogans in the program is Easy Does It. When something stressful happens in my life, when something goes way wrong, I have one of two responses.

Curl up like a fetal ball on the couch and watch mindless TV, or go all in. I’m absolutely sure I hold all the best cards, they will carry me through whatever decisions I have to make—if they aren’t the best cards, I’ll¬†make¬†them the best cards. I’ll turn them upside down, or sideways or backwards . . . somehow those cards will fit the problem facing me.

They’re the cards I’ve been dealt, and dammit I’m going to make them work if it kills me. ūüėČ I’m not going to ask for help, I’m not going to stop to think, not me.

Any of this sound familiar? Do you ever try to force solutions when the easiest thing to do is to step back and take a breath first?

I¬†know¬†not to trust my first instincts, so to go into any situation blindly, guns blazing, is going to turn out badly. I’ve learned that the hard way. It’s not been pretty. There have been casualties. I could tell you, but then I’d have to shoot you. ūüėČ

Now I know that, yes, I have to press pause when I get bad news. I have to talk it through with people I trust. I have to let myself feel any strong feelings I have¬†first–get them out–before I head into the stressful situation. Maybe I’ll even knit a little bit, or take Lucy for a walk. I’ll definitely pray. God will hear about my fears and my feelings.

What about you when stuff happens?

Peace out.

Who is Your Higher Power?

Often, when people get to the 2nd step, Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, they are not quite sure what to do.

Many (including yours truly) have come from a place where they felt so beaten down they didn’t believe anything or anyone could fix it. I was told “Keep coming back.” So I did. I¬†came.¬†That’s all I could do for a while. I came and got my butt in the chair and I listened.

I came and then I came to and then I came to believe. 

It’s a process, and it looks different for everyone because everyone is an individual.

Here’s the problem, though. Sometimes, people in the program will make another¬†person¬†their higher power. Like, say, a sponsor. So what do you suppose happens if that sponsor should happen to get really sick, or die?

The difficulty is people are fallible. They are HUMAN. They make mistakes. Sometimes they fall down. Sometimes they’re late, or they forget to call, or they don’t show up at all. If we rely on another human being — someone with 10 fingers and 10 toes, just like us — we are in for a world of hurt.

I found myself thinking this morning “What in the world would I do if Super Sponsor died?” (I don’t really call her that in my mind, but this is an anonymous blog.) The fact is, I’d be really sad. I’d probably cry for a long time, because I love her a lot. She’s a great person. But I’d have to move on with my life, because she wouldn’t want me to suffer for too long.

My¬†higher power is¬†God.¬†He doesn’t go on vacation. He’s never late, He is always there when I call, He doesn’t have voice mail, is never in a pissy mood, always has time to listen, loves to hear me go on and on about things I have on my mind, and has the best solutions if I just listen.

Who’s your higher power?

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 ūüôā ). 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. ūüė¶ 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. ūüėõ

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.

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