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. 😉

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

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. 😉 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. 😉 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? 😉 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. 😉 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! 😀

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’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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. 🙂

Love you lots. Peace out.