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.