slogans

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.

 

This Too Shall Pass

ThisTooShallPass When things go wrong, as they sometimes do, I’m reminded by this slogan to hold on loosely; when things are going well, as they sometimes do too, I remember to hold on loosely but treasure each moment. Nothing lasts forever, and this too shall pass. 

I made a choice yesterday in reaction to confusion, anger, and fear—none of which are, of course, good foundations for decision-making. I decided to stay off Facebook until December 26th. There had been too much sadness, arguing, and general ugliness which I witnessed, and there were some other personal issues involved.

Holidays can be so difficult, especially if we have lost a loved one during this time of year. A staggering 25% of losses occur during the holidays, for various reasons. What happened last Friday will add to your stress and difficulty, if you let it. 

I don’t always remember to hold on loosely, but when I do, it makes it much easier to practice that other tried and true slogan Let go and Let God. Just—let it go. It doesn’t mean we don’t feel sad and concerned about the families going through this holiday without their loved ones recently lost in Newtown, Connecticut. It means we give it to God, because it’s too big for us to hold. And YOU have a life to live . . . that’s not selfish, that’s a fact.

Take care of yourselves, and each other when you can. Be sure you get plenty of zzz’s (some people swear by five hours of sleep, but it’s recommended that we get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Eat properly. This means sitting down once in a while and not standing at the microwave, unconsciously eating while you ruminate about your to-do list. Pray. Pray again. Even if you’re not sure you believe, what can it hurt? Play. If you are living in an area of the world lucky enough to have snow right now, go out and build a snowman. I saw a hilarious picture of a snowman built upside down, with the arm sticks pushing down into the snow, as if he were doing a headstand.

Caveat: I feel it’s important to say here that I don’t always follow my own advice, so that’s a gentle warning to you, dear reader. 😉 I don’t nearly get enough zzz’s, because I have a dog who wakes me up sometimes in the wee hours of the morning. And last night I didn’t sleep a wink, finishing paper chains for our Christmas tree. I’ve been off my diet for the past month or so, but I plan in getting right back to it today. I’m learning how to play, but I’m no expert. So the words you read here on this blog are written by an extremely fallible human being.

But I do believe that this too shall pass. 

Peace out. take_care_of_yourself

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. 😦 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. 🙂

Peace out.

Tomorrow Can Wait

live-in-the-moment The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. ~Buddha

Why not just live in the moment, especially if it has a good beat? ~Goldie Hawn

Forever is composed of nows. ~Emily Dickinson

Okay, I’ve posted a lot about One Day At A Time, but . . . well I guess it’s because I think for me it’s one of the core parts of the Al-Anon program. And today I really need it. So bear with me.

I’ve gotten three hours’ sleep in the past 48 hours, and it’s exactly because I’m not living in the present. I think I mentioned I’m in a local choir. One of the group members has made it his personal mission to make sure I know what I’m doing wrong. 😉 Well, after our 1st Christmas concert, which I loved singing so much, he made a comment that gave me my first sleepless night. Then I caught up during the week.

But – as Friday approached (the next concert) I anticipated more and more the comment he made about the glaring mistake I had made. Thursday night I slept about three hours. Last night, even though the concert went well, I worried because the director herself reminded us about the mistake I myself had made. Okay, so maybe I wasn’t the only one doing it, but . . . Then last night I didn’t sleep at all.

So I’m exhausted. Scratch that. I’m beyond that point. You know when you get so tired that you can’t even sleep? But you don’t want to move . . . Tonight is our final concert, and tomorrow we go caroling.

What would it have hurt me to take the comment in for a moment, accept it as someone trying to be helpful, and let it go? (Sung to the tune of “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. . . 😉 )

I would have been rested and happy today. Because all we can do is the very best we can with what we have been given at the time, and for this day, this moment. THIS is all there is. It’s such a beautiful thing, life, that to waste one moment of it in worry is to lose something we’ll never get back.

If you are struggling with anything this season: gift-buying, long lines in stores, traffic, harried customers, party preparations, parties to get to, difficult relatives . . . take several deep breaths. Remember this. Nothing lasts forever. You only have to handle this one day, one hour, one moment. 

Peace out.

In The Moment

I think the single most difficult thing for me to learn in Al-Anon – and some days it’s something I only strive for – is to live life in the moment. It’s so much easier to fall into the pitfalls of yesterday or tomorrow.

Think about it. We can get to yesterday and tomorrow with only a daydream or two. We can get to yesterday’s mistakes and tomorrow’s worries in the time it takes to drive from work to home, something we do on autopilot. Those kind of drives leave a lot of room for daydreams about yesterdays and tomorrows.

But try this, just once. Turn off your radio and your cell phone. Really pay attention to what’s happening on the road in front of you. Drive like you’re taking the test to get your first license. Feel the steering wheel underneath your hands. Hear the sounds around you; really listen. See everything, take it all in. We are only alive for this one moment. We don’t any of us know what might happen from one moment to the next.

The members of Al-Anon I admire most are the ones who really live out the slogan: One Day At A Time. They know that they can only solve one problem at a time, and the other problems will still be there waiting. 😉 They also know that nothing lasts forever, just like each day has a beginning and an end. Sadness doesn’t last forever, nor happiness.

They make their way, in the moment, eyes wide open.

What ways are you living in the moment?

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.

Accepting Change

Wednesday was a difficult day for me, and I thought I had lost all the ground I had previously gained in Al-Anon and then some. That was the day we picked up my sister from jail, and subsequently spent 11 hours in the car driving her around, back and forth from her probation officer to different places, only to have doors slammed in our faces and told to go back here or there . . .

I admit, I lost my cool a time or two. I don’t do freeway driving well, and I had to listen to Stella (my GPS), find the places, while trying not to worry about my 85-yr-old mother next to me in the passenger seat who had also been in the car the same length of time.

Then this morning I read this passage (April 5th) on acceptance from Courage To Change: “It’s all right to feel disappointed, skeptical, resentful, joyous, excited, or confused about our changing circumstances.” The reading goes on to say that many of us find ourselves going back to the basics even after we have found ourselves in Al-Anon for a while after the alcoholic gets sober and THEY go through big changes. What is important is what we do with our feelings. Talking them through at the tables helps. A lot.

So today I’ll go to a meeting. I didn’t have time yesterday. I have family here from out of town. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, or blaming them in any way, because I enjoy them! 🙂 But I’ll have time today while they are visiting friends of theirs.

I want to thank my higher power, God, and all of you, for putting up with me, when I am so far from perfect.

Have a great and wonderful day, gentle readers.

Peace out.

Happy – One Day At A Time

Through working the steps of Al-Anon, I’m learning that I am lovable, regardless of what anyone else thinks, and that happiness is a daily choice.

Happiness is risky. But as I begin to recover from the effects of alcoholism in my life, it’s worth it. It’s not enough just to avoid being let down. I want a life filled with joy and happiness as well as the inevitable sadness.

I crave excitement; I’m an excitement junkie. But this time on MY terms, not on the roller coaster hump of the alcoholic. You know?

I won’t let my fear of being let down prevent me from enjoying this day. I have a HUGE capacity for joy.

What about you?

Hope you are having a fabulous Tuesday, my friends!

Peace out.

How do you react?

Sat at an “envelope” meeting this morning, which is where people pass around an envelope at the table and each person picks out a little piece of paper, and whatever is on the paper is what you talk about.

It may be a step, a slogan, or what have you. It was absolutely one of the best tables I’ve sat at in a long time. Not necessarily because of what my piece of paper read, or because of what I talked about, but because of what the woman, Marty, said next to me.

“Our first reaction is our disease, and our second reaction is our recovery.”  

That is SO cool. Which tells me I usually need to let myself sit and think before I say anything. 😉

Hope you are having a lovely 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.

Who Do You Think You Are?

When we spend our lives, or the majority of them, obsessing about another person – namely a relative or friend who is alcoholic – we lose pieces of ourselves until we no longer no who we are. We become so enmeshed with the other person we forget where they end and we begin. This is also called codependency, and it affects millions of people around the globe.

We become numb to our feelings, oblivious to our own needs, unable to name our emotions.

When I watched my sister sentenced, handcuffed, and taken away to jail on Tuesday, I didn’t cry. Nor did I cry when I spoke about it with my sponsor the next day or mechanically field call after call from “well wishers” wanting to know what had happened.

I didn’t cry when my doctor spoke softly with me about my depression, and changed my medication, told me I was severely dehydrated and needed to drink more water. I didn’t cry as he poked open my burn blister to drain it and gave me silvadene cream to treat it.  I didn’t cry as I explained my worthlessness to him. He asked how long I had felt like this, how often did I see my therapist? I told him as long as I can remember, and – once a week.

That evening I went to an Al-Anon meeting. It occurred to me on the way there that I’d been taking “Fake it ’til you make it” to an extreme. I had been saying all the right things at the meetings, wanting so hard to believe them. I read the Al-Anon literature, underlined the important parts, and it got into my head . . . but hadn’t traveled to my heart.

So – at the meeting, I shared my worthlessness, and I burst into tears. I apologized for them, of course. But people told me not to be ridiculous, don’t apologize for feelings. I’ve been teary ever since.

Gentle reader, I’m a big fat fake. I’m just now finding out who I am. I didn’t even know, when I bought CK 1 the other day, whether or not it was meant for women. That’s the measure of my clueless nature. I just knew I loved the smell, and I wanted it.

If I bore you, that is that. If I am clumsy, that may indicate partly the difficulty of my subject, and the seriousness with which I am trying to take what hold I can of it; more certainly, more certainly it will indicate my youth, my lack of mastery of my so-called art or craft, my lack perhaps of talent . . .

A piece of the body torn out by the roots might be more to the point. –James Agee

I dearly love you all. I DO know that much. Peace out.

Willingness To Surrender – And A Note

There is strength in willingness to surrender. I’m not speaking here of the surrender we might see when someone raises his hands at gunpoint, or even waves a white flag, although I’ve waved a white flag a time or two at God to let Him know I’m done fighting the point. 😉

I’m speaking here of surrender of thoughts and feelings. This can sometimes be more difficult than, say, surrendering a gun, or another action. My thoughts and feelings are my will, and that’s what I’m surrendering, willingly, or without objection, to God (my higher power).

No, it’s not easy. At first it was messy, and I didn’t do it gracefully. Then I used a slogan, bring the body and the rest will follow. I read about surrender and willingness as much as I could. I talked and talked about it with my super sponsor until I thought she might grow sick of me. I prayed the 3rd step prayer.

Finally, I’m able to give it up to God. All of me and others in my life whom I love that I can’t take care of (which would be everyone – lol). He’s so much bigger.

NB: I will not be posting until probably Monday. My sister is being incarcerated on Tuesday and I’m going through a normal grieving process, watching her struggle with depression. It’s very hard for me to try to think of things to post that might help others when I’m struggling to stay above water myself. Please take care of yourselves, stay close to your H.P. . . . be good, and stay out of trouble. 😉

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.

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. 😉 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?

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. 😉

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.

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