Five Merry Christmas Makers!

from Clouds In My Coffee Facebook Community

from Clouds In My Coffee Facebook Community

“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!”
—Dave Barry

This Christmas, don’t forget to:

1. laugh: humor can help any situation, and it seems at holidays it is absolutely essential. So when you notice your uncle is once again drinking too much as he always does, try laughing about it instead of getting angry. See what that does.

2. smile: I think I’ve said this before, but if so it bears repeating. It takes less muscles to smile than to frown, and it’s been said that one can actually smile her way to being happy. So if you’re not really feeling the Christmas cheer this year (hey, that rhymed!) try smiling your way there.

3. be grateful: Your aunt gave you another atrocious Christmas sweater which you wouldn’t even wear once a year? So, be grateful. It’s really nice that she thought of you. (And there are starving people in China. 😉 )

4. breathe: Take a minute to take a deep breath. So often when we are in high stress situations, and even though Christmas is fun, it’s still considered pretty stressful . . . we forget to breathe. Breathe. 

5. meditate: This is where we remember to take things one day, or one minute at a time, and remind ourselves that this too shall pass. Take yourself off to a little corner and whip out a thought for the day book, or say the serenity prayer. Call your sponsor.

And have the Merriest Christmas!!

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. 😉

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 😉 ), 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.

 

Being Bold, Bad, And Beautiful!

So sorry I haven’t been posting a while. Haven’t been well, almost had to go into the hospital, my doctor had to change a bunch of my meds, and on top of that I’m in a senior choral production of Broadway show tunes. So I have been very busy, very sad but with that fine-fine face that I know some of you will know what I’m talking about.

However, that’s not what I wanted to talk about today. Some kind of transformation has taken place in me through all this, you know, “stuff.” It’s made me stronger, braver, and not afraid to say the truth. Sometimes my voice shakes when I say it, but I still speak the truth.

It was never brought home to me more than Friday afternoon when a friend of mine, who was my sister’s friend first (so, you get that she knows both of us) called and asked how I was doing. Then she said, “How’s _____ doing?”

“_______’s great.” I said.

“What’s that mean?” she asked me.

“You know what?” I said. “Why don’t you call ______ and ask her what it means?”

“Oh, I will, will, I was planning on calling her.”

Whew. I tell you, that was THE hardest conversation I’d had in a long time. This is someone who is used to pumping me for information about my sister. And in the past I’m ashamed to say I doled it out.

You know what? It’s not ME she needs to ask how my sister is doing, and it’s not my place to give out that information.

She never did call my sister. Not as brave as the average bear, eh, Booboo? 😉 It would involve apologizing for not being there for her in the past, and maybe she’s not ready to go there. I don’t know. That’s HER inventory. I’ve got enough on my own plate.

May I just say that I am boot-kickin’ proud of myself? So is my sister. I told her, in preparation for a phone call from this friend.

How have you been bold, bad, and beautiful lately? It’s show and tell time. So COME ON DOWN!!! W00t W00t!

Peace out.

The Easy Way Or The True-To-Yourself Way?

Sometimes the limited choices we have can make us feel as if we’re caught between a rock and a hard place.

Try and imagine the following situations, and think of how you would honestly respond:

The telephone rings. You answer it before checking the caller I.D. It’s your alcoholic loved one. 

“I need a ride to get cigarettes/to get to a meeting/to get groceries/to get to my doctor appointment. I wouldn’t bother you, except I’ve tried everyone I know.” You know she’s had her car taken away due to four DUI’s but also know she lies and manipulates.

“Will you drop me off some cigarettes/take me to a meeting/to the grocery story/my doctor appointment?”

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND? THE EASY WAY OR THE TRUE-TO-YOURSELF WAY?

The easy way would be to drop whatever you are doing and take care of what she needs. Even though it’s inconvenient, and it might cut into your day, and you grumble about it to whomever is within earshot, it’s still the easy way. The true-to-yourself way, and the harder way, is – simply – to politely say “no,” without even having to explain (that invites argument and more manipulation) and then say, “if there’s nothing else, I’m hanging up now. Good bye.”

Yeah. It sounds harsh, I know, because I’ve had to do it. And my heart aches afterwards. But it’s SO much better for the alcoholic, and that’s what I remind myself. We BOTH have to grow up, and the easy way doesn’t allow for growth.

How about one more example? It happened this morning.

The telephone rings. You check the caller I.D. but don’t recognize who it is, so you answer. It’s a collect call from jail. Your daughter is trying to reach you, and in order to talk to her you will have to set up an account on your credit card for fifty dollars, after which it will cost you another twenty-five dollars just to talk to her. You know she’s fine, and have everything she needs. If she’s sick physically, they have doctors there. All she might need are cigarettes, and you’re not willing to take a collect call for cigarettes. 

This happened to my mother early this morning. She was unsure what to do, and I happened to be sitting right there. I told her to say no, and she did, and then felt worried and guilty for an hour afterward. I called my super sponsor and asked if we had done the right thing. She said absolutely, because for one thing – jail is like discipline and getting to make a collect call would be like having an ice cream cone. You don’t get an ice cream cone when you’re in jail. Also, we’re staying out of God’s way when we don’t take the call. She has to lean on the resources she has there in the jail right now, and we are not them.

Is it normal to feel like crap when you don’t take the easy way? Absolutely. Expect it. Pray through it. It will ease up.

Sorry this was so long. It felt important.

As always, love you bunches. Peace out.

Get Off The Train!

Learn to detach…Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent… But detachment doesn’t mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate fully. That’s how you are able to leave it… Take any emotion–love for a woman, or grief for a loved one, or what I’m going through, fear and pain from a deadly illness. If you hold back on the emotions–if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them–you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that love entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, ‘All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment.~ Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

Give up the feeling of responsibility, let go your hold, resign the care of your destiny to higher powers, be genuinely indifferent as to what becomes of it all and you will find not only that you gain a perfect inward relief, but often also, in addition, the particular goods you sincerely thought you were renouncing.~ William James

Confession: I have felt shrouded in a heavy cloak of despair since Friday, or maybe even before. Walking is difficult, because it’s so heavy. I’ve contemplated taking my very life. 😦

This morning I saw my therapist, because I realize that is not an option, and I needed her help figuring this out. Heather is wise and, although younger than I in chronological years, she has an old soul. She listened to me spill everything that had been happening, all that had gone on in the past while.

“Chris,” she observed, “You have detached somewhat from your sister but not all the way. It’s good you are saying no to her, but you are still carrying her and the worry of your mother around. It’s like you and your sister are on the same train. Even though you’ve moved about five cars down from her, giving you some breathing space, you are still on the train.”

That was eye-opening. That means that if my sister, on her self-destructive path right now, should crash . . . I’ll get hit right along with her. I’ll fall right off the tracks.

I AM GETTING OFF THE TRAIN. I love you, my sweet. I carry you in my heart always . . . but I will not go down with you.

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.