Bullies, Be Gone

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I like documentaries, usually. I enjoy learning new things. I even watched a heartbreaking documentary that some of you might be familiar with about how elephants are treated in the circus. An elephant named Tyke had escaped and ran through the streets, desperate to get away from abuse before he was shot – I can’t even remember how many times. It profoundly affected me, and still does, so I try to stay away from the really difficult ones.

One day last week, though, I watched what I thought was a documentary about bullying. It actually was a movie. I’m not certain of the name now (don’tcha hate getting older?), but I think it was something like “Just a Girl.” Actually it was about two girls in two different states who had been bullied, both in school with verbal comments, cornering, shoves in the hallway and – something I never had to deal with – cyberbullying.

The first high school girl ended up committing suicide because it was all too much to handle for her. She had gone to a party and had too much to drink. She blacked out, and a male student took advantage of the blackout, posting all over social media that he had had sex with her, how hot she was, and how she “put out.” That morning, the morning after the party, she had frantically texted her friends, telling them she couldn’t remember the previous evening, and needed to know what happened.

This young girl had a wonderful reputation, ruined by one unfortunate evening. Some would say it was her fault because she was drinking. In fact, that opinion goes back years, just like “She was asking for it. Look how she dressed.”

Because of all the attention, the student couldn’t even make herself go  back to school. The last text she left to a friend said, “My reputation is ruined. My life is over.”  Then she killed herself.

Bullying doesn’t just happen in high schools. It happens in grade school, middle school, college, and on into supposedly “fully mature” adults. The thing about bullying that those who have never been bullied don’t know is that it sticks with you for life. Those words, once they’re out there, can never be taken back. Even apologizing, trying to make amends, doesn’t usually work. Sure, bullied people might appear perfectly fine on the outside. Someone who was told she had fat thighs in high school might be a colleague you work with. She doesn’t mention it aloud, but thinks of herself as ugly and alwayso tries to dress so that her thighs are less noticeable.

I’m known in my family for being sensitive, sometimes too much so. In fact, sensitivity involves many factors, and is now viewed to be as personality trait, even socio-biological. It’s evidenced in both animals and humans. For instance, my newest addition to our house, a rescue dog named Pookie, has what many of us have – selective memory. Although I pick him up and hold him for many reasons – to cuddle, to give him kisses, to carry him across to the backyard when the snow is too deep for him to walk in. But I also pick him up when I have to go somewhere, therefore putting him in his crate – for his safety as well as keeping him from destroying the house. Now, why do you think he often backs away from me when I go to pick him up? One would think he’d remember all the good reasons, the cuddling and so forth. But – just like you and me – he remembers going into the crate, which is still a highly stressful situation for him.

We’ve all been bullied at one time or another. Some of us manage to let it go. Others – us “overly” sensitive types – have memories like elephants. I have always suffered from severe anxiety, and developed a nervous habit of licking my lips in high school. One of my friends at the time said, “Why do you lick your lips like that all the time?” Here I was, thinking no one noticed me. I couldn’t say it was because I was anxious, so instead I said nothing, but still remember that comment. Another time, in college, a roommate said to me, “Open your eyes!” which was really innocuous and probably due to drinking too much the night before. But ever since then, when I see my eyes in the mirror, they look too small, the color is indefinable to me, and my lids seem droopy. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t really matter. What matters is how I interpreted what was said to me at my sensitivity level.

This is getting long. My apologies. And I’m sorry for any misspelled words or grammar errors; I didn’t take the time to proofread. It’s just that there are so many other ways to bully now, and others join in with “likes” or “comments” on social media, not to mention texting.

Try to remember to think before you speak. Once it’s been said, it can’t be unsaid. There are no do-overs.

Peace,

Chris

How Are You Taking Care of Yourself?

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Happy New Year, one and all. I hope you are doing well so far as we approach the half-way mark of January. Did you make any resolutions/promises to yourself? How’s it going? Were they realistic, or did you shoot for the moon? Have you kept them? If not, don’t lose heart. You might need to lower your expectations. For many of us, the word “lower” is negative, and sounds an awful lot like “loser.”

Is that how you feel? Well, I haven’t managed to keep my promises to myself, totally, yet. Sometimes I might hit one or two. But I figured out today that – yes – I was shooting for the moon, hoping to at least reach the stars.

As I’ve mentioned before, I finally came to the realization after, literally years of bitching about my alcoholic sister or father or what have you– Sob, sob. Poor me–the truth of the matter is codependency has to be all about me, or I will never change.

Dictionary.com has this to say about two (or more) sick people:

adjective

1.

Of or relating to a relationship in which one person is physically or psychologically addicted, as to alcohol or gambling, and the other person is psychologically dependent on the first in an unhealthy way.
To my understanding, that means not only is the alcoholic sick, but my bonding/relationship/behavior toward that person also makes me ill. It also means, even when the alcoholic gets better it doesn’t necessarily mean I will too.  Whether or not I change and grow is entirely a separate thing.

I have to take care of myself first, in all things. Which brings me to the title of my post: How are you taking care of yourself? I recently enrolled in a year-long (or more, depending on how much progress I’ve made) course of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy).

According to Marsha Linehan  “dialectical” means a synthesis or integration of opposites. The primary dialectic within DBT is between the seemingly opposite strategies of acceptance and change. For example, DBT therapists accept clients as they are while also acknowledging that they need to change in order to reach their goals.

There are many phases of DBT, which is why it is a year-long course. The core of the whole thing is mindfulness;  learning to connect the extremes of emotion mind and logic mind into a center called wise mind, a mid-point which takes all those thoughts and emotions into consideration when making a decision.
There are also acronyms in DBT which help us to remember what we need to do, especially under stress. The acronym to make sure we are taking care of ourselves is PLEASE, and it stands for this:
  • Treat Physical Illness
  • Balanced Eating
  • Avoid Mood-Altering Drugs
  • Balanced Sleep
  • Exercise
So, risking repetition, I’ll ask one more time: How are you taking care of yourself (not anyone else)?
For any loyal readers who are still out there, I’ll be posting three days a week from now on: Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. 😀
Peace out,
Chris

Is It Giving Up Or Letting Go?

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1decide it’s okay to let go: When I walked away from Maybury Farms, when I let that go, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. You have to know that whatever you are holding onto does not belong to you, living or inanimate. It is not yours. That makes it easier to let go.

2. don’t hold on so hard:  I was holding on so hard to the farm that I couldn’t enjoy myself. I mostly had panic attacks, anxiety so bad that I had to take pills before each tour. I couldn’t even enjoy the children. How do you enjoy tours with 50 children each? I was overwhelmed, too low self-esteem and way little voice projection. If we hold on too hard, all we come away with are empty fists and tense shoulders.

3. decide what you truly want: I know I still want to give back to the community somehow, I just learned that this is not the way. Sometimes we fall many times before we find our way. I know I want animals; farm animals may not be them. I may walk dogs for exercise for a veterinarian or something. When we know what we want, it’s easier to let go of what we don’t want.

4. don’t ask too many people for advice: I only called one person when I was about to leave the farm, and that was my counselor. I called him twice and he didn’t get back to me in time. So I made the decision on my own. The problem with asking multiple people what they think is we often get multiple answers and it muddies up the water. Yuck. No one wants that. 🙂

5. don’t listen to what others say after you let go: You’ll get all kinds of opinions after you make your decision to let go, but really—what do you care? All that matters is how you feel. Do you feel happy, relaxed, free? Then ignore them all.

6. celebrate your freedom:  You just have to do something to celebrate your new found freedom, even if it’s something as simple as going to the DQ. You. Are. Free. It’s not usually simple, and it’s not usually easy, so make a huge freakin’ deal out of this. ❤

Ciao, Bella. xx

What To Do With Lousy Self-Esteem

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calvin and self esteemI’m sort of an expert at lousy self-esteem. I’ve carried this weight for at least twenty years and probably then some. So I know a thing or two about what to do with it.

But first; what is self-esteem, really? According to Merriam-Webster.com it means “ a confidence and satisfaction in oneself.” 

Synonyms for self-respect include: confidence, dignity, morale, self-respect, self-assurance, self-regard, self-satisfaction, worth, and self-content.

My favorite is worth. 🙂 I like it better than self-esteem. Self-worth. How much do you value yourself? How much are you worth? Your self. What’s it worth, really?

If you find yourself coming up short, try these steps:

1. Sleep on it. Most often, when we are feeling low about ourselves, we’re tired and drained. A good night’s sleep may help you feel better.

2. Talk it through. If you have a trusted friend to talk to, excellent. Talk it out. There’s nothing like bouncing off ideas. You tell your friend what sucks about you, he tells you what really stands out. Yin/yang. It’s the perfect balance. If you don’t have that kind of a friend, reason it through with yourself or write it out.

3. Go for a walk. The best thoughts can come while you’re walking, and besides the exercise will lift your spirits. If you have a dog, bring him/her.

4. Do something nice for yourself. We’re taught to do nice and help others, but I want you to do something nice for yourself! Treat yourself to a movie, buy yourself a book, or some jewelry, whatever would make you feel happy.

5. Find a way to be needed. I just said to make yourself happy, but one of the best ways to feel happy is to be needed. It’s weird but true. As long as it’s not overwhelming for you, help somebody out.

I hope some of these steps helped you feel a little bit less lousy about yourself. These are just a few things you can try. I’m sure I haven’t exhausted them all. Sometimes I scan Positively Positive, and it’s really hard to stay down after being their a while.

Ciao, bella. xx

Putting On That Other Pair Of Shoes

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forgivingGentle readers,

I’ve been trying and trying to write this blog, wanting it to be gentle and light, to bring you good vibes so you’ll come back and keep reading. But my mind and heart are heavy with all the colossal blunders I’m making that I keep wanting to slough off onto my illness. A mixed episode of bipolar disorder is nothing to laugh about. It’s like a modern version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. My loved ones never know who they’re going to be speaking to from one minute to the next.

Until I got into Al-Anon, I used to get so mad at my sister when she wold blame her absurd or borderline abusive drunken behavior on her disease. Even after becoming a regular around the tables, it took me a long time to get that being a drunk is a disease and not a choice. I know, ridiculous right? Who in their right mind would choose the humiliation and shame attached with being an alcoholic? She is responsible for any fallout, and she has to try to amend as much as she truly can, but she has to love herself first and foremost. That’s why it’s called a selfish program.

I wish there was such a thing as a teleporter, so I could teleport myself to a tiny, solitary island far, far away from any living people until I Get Better. Until then, I keep apologizing, then praying and trying again. I’ve started taking my Flexeril (20mg per pill, a muscle relaxant), which I had a WHOLE bunch left over from when I initially hurt my back years ago along with 3x daily dose of Xanax. It makes me sleepy, and a little loopy, which is a weird trip to be on with all the racing thoughts and flighty ideas in my brain. But it makes me a little less prone to blurt out the first thing I’m thinking—I would do anything to not hurt my mom or my sister. Go ahead. Let me have it. Tell me I’m using, that I’ll become a drug addict. I’m already addicted to prescribed Xanax, what’s a little Flexeril thrown in?

I better stop now, because I’m very tired, and I know I’m not making sense. I guess the take-away from this is: be very careful when we go to judge or feel resentful of someone else. We never know when we’re going to be the one struggling with a problem which can easily be judged and resented. But only when we accept ourselves and love ourselves where we are can true change begin to happen.

When I talk to my sister now, and I hear her go into “beat up on Carol” mode, I try to jump in and get real logical with her. She did the best she could at that time with the information that she had. Now she knows better, she can do better.

This is my first ever dysphoric mania episode. I feel so lost at sea. And it’s super hard to take that same advice and apply it to myself. All I keep thinking is “Idiot. Stupid. Mean. Jerk. Way to go, jackass.” It is probably the reason that I still have suicidal ideation and that many with this type of mania attempt suicide.

Argh. I’m blabbing and I’m getting totally incoherent. Please be gentle with yourselves today, no matter where you are on your journeys.

Peace out. xx better

Five Easy Ways To Fight Holiday Weight Gain!

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Woman holding red apple on black background Oh, come on. It’s just a cookie. It’s not even a big one. You can eat it. You’ll get back on your diet after the New Year.

How often have you heard those words, or even said them to yourself over holiday foods during this season? Don’t despair, it’s never too late to learn new habits or try something new. Here are five ways to fight holiday weight gain starting now:

1. Absorb: Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. A glass of water before a meal is a good idea, too.

2. Activity: Exercise is always a good idea. I recently got a Wii console for an early Christmas gift, and Zumba to exercise to. I don’t always do it, but it’s on my list of New Year’s resolutions, to exercise to Zumba at least four times a week.

3. Avoid: Don’t eat for emotional reasons. When you reach for that ice cream, ask yourself if you’re sad, bored, angry, or even joyful.

4. Await: Slowly count to 10 before you cheat. Then, if you still want it, eat it, You’ll know you made a conscious choice.

5. Always: Always eat breakfast. It helps start your day right by making you feel full to begin with, and it really is the most important meal.

Peace out.

 

Eight Easy Exit Egresses!

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way-out-437864_89164372

So, you’re at a party and you’re read to go home. Trust me, I’ve been in this spot many times. Just as my own take on things, here are several ways you can take care of yourself and not call too much attention at the same time:

1. Park a little ways away from the madding crowd: When you arrive at the party, try to park away from the cluster of cars. In other words, don’t box yourself in so that it becomes a hassle (so-and-so needs to move his car, which is behind whats-his-name’s car, which is behind your car . . . ). Even if you have to park a block away, it’s worth the extra effort.

2. “I have to go let the dog out.” Pets are a fantastic excuse for having to leave a party that’s still going strong. If you have a dog, bring it out and make it earn its keep. 😉

3“We need to check on the kids.” You’ve left the kids to fend for themselves, and they’re just at that age where they are competent enough to be alone, but you need to make sure they haven’t trashed the place or started their own party. Wonderful.

4.  Take a break. If you just can’t leave yet, take a break. If you smoke (which I am in no way advocating, but I am addicted) use that as on excuse and take a smoke break. Leave the room for a few minutes to clear your head. If you are at all like me, sometimes the voices can get overwhelming at a party, to the point where I’m seeing the person’s lips move but I can’t make out what they’re saying. That’s when I know for sure, I need to get out of here for a bit.

5.  Go to the bathroom. Everybody uses the restroom during a party, don’t they? If you don’t make it a practice. When in there, do a 30-second stress reducer. Make a fist. Find the place on your palm where your 3rd finger touched. With your thumb on that spot on your palm, and another finger meeting it on the back of your hand, massage that exact spot for 30 seconds. It’s a guaranteed stress-reliever!

6. Text your partner. If you’re with a spouse or significant other, text him/her that you’re ready to go.

7. Plan ahead. Know ahead of time that you have somewhere else to be (another party, you social butterfly?) and let the host know you won’t be able to stay long.

8. Decide on a signal. This one only works if you’re with someone else. Similar to texting, but something you both agree ahead of time that will be your signal to go. A nod of the head, touching the earlobe, bending down to tie your shoes, putting your hand in your pocket, saying a special word (mistletoe or dreidel, anyone?) . . . any of these can be your go-to signs.

Well, I hope this has helped. With Christmas and Kwanzaa approaching, and Hanukkah just past, we still have some parties and places to go.

Peace out.

Take A Nap!

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pooped Things can get pretty hurried and fast-paced during this time of year. Although taking a nap is generally a good idea under normal circumstances, during the holiday season it should be a rule. 😉 

I posted earlier this month about dogs, and how we should try to be more like them. Animals know intuitively when they need a break. Dogs are not far removed from their wolf ancestors, who needed to conserve energy for hunting and gathering. When I take my Lucy out for a walk, you would think she’s on a hunt. Her nose is constantly to the ground, unless she hears a noise. Then she has to see what’s going on. 😉 But when she’s not playing, walking, eating, or otherwise occupied, she sleeps.

I find it difficult to sleep during the day due to some of the meds I take for bipolar disorder and CFS. But this is what I do when I know I absolutely need a nap and I’m having trouble. I go into my bedroom, close the blinds, get a light blanket, and turn on a cd, maybe Sleepy Rain: With Delta Brainwave Pulses. I have other cds I listen to, including a Brahms Lullaby for babies. 😀 Hey, whatever works.

Just be sure to get lots of rest this holiday season. It helps your immune system fight off these nasty colds and flu that are making the rounds.

Peace out.

Feeling Blue? Some Things To Do!

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One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you’re feeling blue is that he doesn’t try to find out why. –unknown

Ever have one of those days where you just feel down and blue for no real reason you can pinpoint? Or maybe you know the reasons but you don’t want to talk about it. Guess what? I’ve been there. I think we all have.

These are some things I do when I’m feeling blue, and maybe they will help you:

1. Play with the irrepressible Lucy. Lucy is my dog, as most of you know. Just cuddling for ten minutes, just PETTING an animal, can raise serotonin levels in our bodies. It’s a fact.

2. Aromatherapy. Lighting candles, especially lavender, jasmine, or vanilla scented, are calming and naturally help the senses go to a better place. I always turn to candles when I’m not well.

3. Puzzles! It doesn’t necessarily have to be a jigsaw, but it can be, if it’s something you enjoy. I enjoy them, but I can never find enough room for them. 😉 Something puzzling can take your mind off your own problems even if for ten minutes and it’s fun to boot! Rubik’s Cube, Sudoku, Crosswords, Origami . . . anything which strikes your fancy. Go for it!

4. Help someone else. Compliments work wonders. Open the door for someone else today, or help an elderly woman load groceries into her car. You don’t know this, but you help people in so many ways that you don’t even know about. 🙂 You’d be surprised at how many people you help. If you ever get to feeling blue again, why don’t you ask someone, just for kicks, “What do I do that matters to you?” (Or whatever way you want to word it)

I do hope you are having a lovely day and aren’t feeling a bit blue. Peace out.

Five Steps To Knowing Yourself Better

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Yesterday we talked about how there can be a disconnect when dealing with codependency. A disconnect within ourselves, with who we are, what our own needs, emotions, and feelings are.

Today, I would like to present five ways to get to know ourselves better. There are, of course, many ways. These are just five to get you started:

1 Make collages: Any magazines will do. Family Circle, Redbook, Vogue, Cosmo, to name a few. Sit down on the floor or at a table with several magazines spread around and a pair of scissors. Then flip through the pages and cut out anything that speaks to you. Faces, places, objects, famous people, nobody in particular, babies, adults, old people, trees, whatever that resonates to you at the moment. Put the cut out pictures in a pile separately. Later, glue them on a large blank paper or perhaps begin a sketchbook of collages and date them, keeping track of how you have changed.

2. Journal. I suggest a blank, unlined journal, for several reasons, but this must be purely your choice. The reason I suggest an unlined journal is because sometimes you might like to draw or sketch out what you’re feeling. Sometimes there just aren’t words to describe what’s going on. There’s no better way to describe a black hole, for instance, then to draw a black hole. And sometimes I like to paste in special things I’ve found that have meaning. A goose feather that fell next to me while I was writing one day, for instance. With journaling, you can be exactly whatever. No one is grading it. No one checks your grammar, spelling erors  errors, or whether or not you mention them. It is YOURS and YOURS alone. Keep it in a lock box if you wish. 🙂 Get to know yourself.

3. Create. Paint. Knit. Crochet. Make something out of clay. Write a short story or go big and write a novel. Getting creative can help you know yourself because the left side of our brains, which taps into creativity, also deals a lot with emotion. So GO, DO! Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Mistakes don’t count when you are using this creativity to know yourself. They don’t even figure into the equation. You might even consider paint-by-numbers if blank canvases freak you out. Yes!

4. Join a support group. Whether it’s Al-Anon or another support group, it’s important to find a place you’re comfortable to dig deep and TALK about yourself. When you talk in general about whatever the support group topic is, you will find yourself learning more and more about yourself.

5. Do the unusual thing. If you usually don’t walk during the day, WALK. If you usually don’t speak up for yourself, be bold for one day. Think about what you do, then do the opposite for one day, just to see how it feels.

As always, love you guys to pieces. Peace out. 🙂

Seven Signs You Aren’t Taking Care of YOU

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When we live with or love an alcoholic, when we are a parent, or a wife, a co-worker, a small business owner, and on and on, it can become very easy to put others first in our lives.

Sometimes it becomes so easy the lines get blurred and we lose ourselves in the process.

Here, for your light-hearted Friday before Friday the 13th, are seven signs you aren’t taking care of yourself:

1. When your feet hit the floor after you get out of bed, your first thought is of someone else. Yes, maybe you have children to feed, a husband to get off to work. Maybe you are concerned whether or not your hungover son/daughter/sister/husband/wife will make it into work and how you will handle it. We all have responsibilities. But if you don’t take care of YOU FIRST, in some small way, you’re no good to anyone else. 

2. You read another loved one’s horoscope before your own. Enough said. 😉

3. You’re the first to volunteer for committees, bake sales, and block parties – LONG after you’re overburdened. Hey – volunteerism is wonderful. I do it myself. But have you ever noticed, especially in a church home, there is a small percentage of people who can ALWAYS be counted on to do anything? Don’t be one of those. Burn-out city. Trust me. 🙂

4. Friends call you a whirling dervish, because they hardly see you anymore. Worse yet, they stop calling at all. Staying connected is important. I read a study that serotonin levels in people who are shut-ins goes up just by spending time on Face Book. So imagine how much happier face-to-face contact makes us! We need touch, we need hugs, laughter, all these things to remind us we are not alone in life.

5. Your dentist no longer recognizes your name, and says they have no information about you on file.  

6. You stop speaking up for yourself, and all the boundaries you’ve worked so hard to build start to wobble and weave.

And the last sign you aren’t taking care of you?

7. When you are in a car crash, your car sliding around on ice, before it comes to a stop, the lives that flash before your eyes are everyone else’s except your own. 

Dear Reader, please take care of yourself. You are the only YOU there is.

Peace out.

A Whole Lot of Love

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Love

At Saturday’s meeting there was another double winner, like me, a friend of mine (at least, she signed my sheet, so I count her among  my friends now 😉 ) who is in both AA and Al-Anon. She mentioned when it was her time to share that she was celebrating that very day 27 YEARS of sobriety. Whoo hoo!!!

All meetings have a different sort of “flavor,” and this meeting is much looser, and allows crosstalk. We allow questions and direct statements back and forth to each other because we are a very small and close-knit group. It’s just how we are. Most groups don’t allow that, because it tends to put people off and they then don’t feel very willing to share their story.

Anyway, what I did was, I asked her “How’d you do it?”, which is a question oft-asked of people who get a token for achievements such as this. People want to know how one made it through even a month of such an achievement, let alone 27 years.

Well, “J”, my dear friend, simply said, “It was love. A whole lot of love.” And then she couldn’t talk anymore about it because she got pretty choked up.

Love pretty nearly does make the world go ’round. God’s love, through Him, and through His people.

Peace out.

P.S. Got three more phone numbers of potential friends Monday morning. Yay me!! 🙂

Chris’s Recovery Manifesto

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I wrote this for myself, but feel free to take and leave whatever works for you. We’re all in this thing called recovery together, right? We need to help each other as much as we can. 😉 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHRIS’S RECOVERY MANIFESTO

Boundaries are good. They’re important.

There is no such thing as too many meetings.

It’s okay to need people.

“No” does not require an explanation.

If you don’t mean it, don’t say it. If it comes out anyway, be prepared to make amends.

Always follow through.

It’s okay to be human; mistakes happen. What’s important is the getting back up part.

Call your sponsor.

Stop worrying about what other people think of you. It’s none of your business what they think of you.

Do the best you can; at the end of the day that’s all you can do.

Pray always. Pray about everything, the little things and the big things. Say thank you, regardless of what happens.

Never take the steps out of order. They were written that way for a reason.

Let go and let God.

Breathe. Breathe again.

Remember that you can’t save anyone, not even yourself. That’s God’s job.

Stop trying to control the moon and the stars. They were here long before you, and they function quite fine without your help.

People are who they are. Accept that and avoid much heartache.

Love them anyway.

Live big. Dream big. Laugh long and hard.

Have goals. Change them as necessary.

Always love and know that someone loves you.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note: I reserve the right to add to and edit this manifesto as I grow and learn more about myself and this thing called life. 


Peace out.

H is for Honesty

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As you may have noticed when you happened onto my page this lovely morning, things have changed around here. When I first began blogging, I thought my blog was going to be about knitting and writing, with some posts thrown in here and there to reflect my Al-Anon journey.

Since I’m going through the Blueprint for Progress with a small group of women, which involves the 4th step adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, I have to get real about this blog.

It’s an Al-Anon blog, with some posts here and there about knitting and reading, writing, stuff like that. As I made this decision, I understood the fearless aspect of getting honest for the first time. Well, not really. I’m still afraid I’ll lose readership. You see how I have to beat off the comments as it is now. 😉

But I like the new feel, the new look. It’ll have pages added to it, as I get off my lazy butt and put them in. But for now, what you see is what you get. By the way, Route 66 no longer exists, except in a historical preservation sense. It’s in one state (can’t remember the name now) and it leads nowhere, just a nice scenic drive.

That is a bit of a metaphor for what I want for you, gentle reader, and me. I want to take the scenic way home. I want this to be a long trip, and – will you stay with me?

Oh. Time for a meeting.

Peace out.

D is for Determination

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Out of all of the slogans I’ve heard around the Al-Anon tables, my two favorites are:

“Bring the body and the mind will follow.”

“If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”

Each of these slogans, or sayings, for me has to do with determination.

The first one I hung onto when I didn’t really understand the program and thought I was there to CURE the alcoholic. I thought I was there to get the alcoholic in my life sober, and after that, my life would be just perfect. Oh, how wrong I can be. But Al-Anon folks don’t tell you you’re wrong straight out. They don’t even judge. They just smile, give a hug, and say “Keep coming back.” So I did. That was me, being the tortoise, putting one foot in front of the other, reading the literature and trying so hard to get my loved one sober. 🙂 I thought I was doing the right thing.

But I so wanted the peace and serenity of the other members at the tables. Some of them had alcoholics in their lives who were still drinking or worse, in jail. And they were AT PEACE. I wanted that.

I just kept bringing my body to the meetings. Eventually my mind caught up with the rest and – it CLICKED. I learned the three C’s: I didn’t cause it, can’t cure it, and can’t control the alcoholic. Slowly I brought the focus off others in my life and onto myself. That’s enough to deal with right there! I’m certainly not perfect, and I still work on this.

When I’ve come to crises in my program, the second slogan kicks in, and I learn that I’m not alone. For all my determination, I’m not a LONE tortoise out there running a marathon. My higher power, whom I choose to call God, is not only my cheerleader, He is my legs, and my arms. He is the wind propelling me forward when I can’t take another step.

What does determination look like for you?

 

This is a post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is “taking care of ourselves.” Check out some of the other bloggers participating.

C is for Comparison

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You. –Dr. Seuss

Taking care of ourselves also involves just trying to BE ourselves. That’s easier said than done. We see billboards and commercials for thinner, better versions of the people we’d like to be. For the record, I count our own mirrored images as distorted comparisons as well.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 13.8 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures (both surgical and minimally-invasive) were performed in the U.S. in 2011, up 5% since 2010. Also 5.5 million reconstructive plastic surgery procedures were performed last year, up 5%.

My sister and I couldn’t be any more different if we tried. She’s small-boned, very petite, and weighs probably 115 lbs soaking wet. When she’s stressed, the last thing she thinks about is food. I’m tall, bigger-boned, not at all petite, and – well, we don’t need to go there. 😛 I’m a stress eater, unless I’m very anxious. Then I don’t eat.

As artists and craftsmen, how often do we compare ourselves to others? Whether you are a writer, knitter, painter, sculptor, mixed media artist, scrapbooker, playwright, actor, or carpenter . . . how many times have you looked at someone else’s work and said, “Why couldn’t I have done that?” OR conversely “I could have done that blindfolded with both hands tied behind my back!”

It takes a very secure person to be happy for another’s success, without reservation. In a book I’m reading, The Sister Knot, the author states it’s almost normal for sisters – or anyone, really –  to feel jealous of each other at certain times throughout their lives.

At my meetings, it’s still, after over 1 1/2 years of attendance, difficult for me to share. I worry that I will sound funny. I think my share will seem thrown-together, not cohesive, and not nearly as fluid and confident-sounding as the OTHERS in the group. At a group I went to last Friday, a man shared. He stuttered, stammered, and it was very hard for him to share just a few words. After he spoke, I felt ashamed of myself.

Why do we do that? Why do we bother to compare? There is only one me. There is only one you. As far as writing or projects go (even if they have nothing to do with writing, if you are an artist this applies to you) I’m reminded of a sticker I often turned to during National Novel Writing Month last November. When I got discouraged I would look at it to boost me.

It said, simply, “Your story matters.”

Whatever you do, be it welding, gardening, crocheting, quilting, dog-training, remember that. YOUR STORY MATTERS.

Whatever your size, your eye/hair color, nose/lip shape . . . YOU. MATTER. SO. MUCH. Just the way you are.

Peace out.

A is for Acceptance

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Wanting that feeling of being approved/accepted comes from deep within our hearts, and it starts when we are very young.

I remember needing nothing more than to be accepted as a child, for who I was. It seemed my well-meaning parents were always wanting to make me into something different. A better, more-polished, more-polite, more-confident, more . . .  version of Chris.

It seems like it takes so much for us to shake off those old tapes and that old wiring and reach for something better, even if that something better is so spectacular as to be a higher power, whom I choose to call God.

We DO get some DO-OVERS in life. We get second chances to get acceptance in life. I get it in Al-Anon, around the tables,with God, and with the best sponsor in the whole, wide world. 🙂

At those meetings, I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not. I don’t have to struggle for the right words, or say them in the right way. I can have an off day. No one is going to fault me for it. I can laugh, cry, get angry. I still get a hug at the end of the meeting.

Do I still work hard at changing myself, as this lovely cartoon by Cathy Thorne suggests? SOMETIMES. But it’s not so much big changes, because I think I have begun climbing this daunting mountain called Acceptance. I’m halfway there. 🙂

Until I get to the top, I can let OTHER people accept me the way I am . . . that, too, gets me there more quickly.

The thing is, I don’t think we can truly accept OTHERS unconditionally if we cannot do the same with OURSELVES. How are you doing?

Peace out.