Gambling on Goals

goalsGoals are so crazy popular, aren’t they? I mean, I went looking for one quote on goals for this post, just one, and they were all so contradictory. Some said set your goals high and don’t stop ’til you achieve them. Others said it starts with the spirit, and if that wasn’t true, forget about it. Then there’s the one who says to set small goals and build upon them. So even the meaning of the word goal is somewhat sketchy.

I know of a famous, at least famous on my terms, writing website, which has a whole board (forum) dedicated to the topic of goals and the achievement (or not) thereof. I belonged to it at one time. I did find it somewhat useful, but mostly I felt bad about myself for not achieving the goals I’d set out for the week. I might or might not have been the only person who felt that way, but it’s interesting to note, don’t you think? dont-worry-about-goals

Now, I know I could be feeling this way because I’m still coming off a manic phase and it’s hard for me to focus on any one thing. At Goodreads I’m reading five books at a time still, one of which is a book I’m reviewing for Netgalley. If you haven’t checked out Netgalley, you really should. And then there is Optimism, and the six month’s study I voluntarily upped for. Don’t forget the origami cranes. 😀 My brain also recently lit on zentangle, because it’s supposed to be so good for stress. I bought books and everything. I’ve only made one so far, but my mind is studying and learning (which I think is the opposite of what it’s supposed to do). How is a brain like that supposed to do anything except make it through the day? LOL strongest

With the above thought in mind, I took myself to the gym yesterday morning at 4:00 a.m. I just did it. My goal was to get in there, to buy a pair of headphones, sit on a cycle, and ride for at least fifteen minutes. My biggest worry about achieving the goal was, of course, the stares I might get. But–surprisingly–people didn’t even look at  me; even when the gentleman behind the counter had a hard time getting the cash register to work and it took what seemed like an eternity. No one stared at me while I fumbled with the outer packaging of the headphones, or while I figured out how exactly the cycle worked. In fact no one seemed quite otherwise occupied. Such a monumental surprise for the fat girl who expected finger points and taunts.

I had planned on going later that day (6-7 was a great time, because people were eating dinner) and every day after that. Then I got sick. Really suddenly, like wham, you had enough fun, no more fun for you. I know my thinking is distorted because I’m sick, so I’ll try not to take that too seriously.

Here’s my point. In between setting goals, life happens. So we need to become as flexible as a Gumby toy. Things can change in an instant. So, what am I saying, that I’m not going to the gym anymore? Heck no! But I couldn’t go today, and my body feels like I got hit by a Mack truck (Say, did you know there’s a r/l thing as a Mack truck? I saw one when I was driving a while back!). I’m saying sometimes it may be two steps forward one step back, but there’s always that one step forward.

Don’t forget to loveyourself intensely during this process. It’s hard. You’ll want to rail against everything. But don’t. You’ll be okay. Hang in there, and trust God. Trust your friends.

Peace out. xxlifer

Have Faith, Dear Reader

a-new-beginning Happy New Year! It feels so weird to be saying “Twenty Thirteen” instead of “Two Thousand and Twelve,” but also a lot easier. Although I suppose some people already were saying “Twenty Twelve.” Still, for me it’s something new and amazing.

New years often bring new beginnings, new adaptations, and changes. This blog is going to undergo some radical (as in fun, creative, and revolutionary) changes, and I’m hoping you are able to adapt with me. But I have been unhappy for a while and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I realized I was writing mostly to make you the reader happy. And since I’m codependent – like, to the max – I have to check those sorts of behaviors and head them off at the pass.

The definition of a blog is, first and foremost, an expression of self. To that end, I would like to ask you to suspend all your past notions of what this blog has been about. Just try to clear your mind. Please take on an attitude of curiosity and adaptability.

There will be some changes here. It might take some time to adjust, for both you and me. When I post it will be a post maybe about something I’ve learned at a meeting or from my sponsor, or something that’s happened to me that has caused me to question something in my life, or whatever. Hopefully, what I learn and what I question will also help you. But I can’t be responsible for you. Only you can do that.

Also, Fridays will be for Flash Fiction. That is, every Friday I will post a very short story (1,000 words or less) about anything I want. It’s Flash Fiction Friday! Yay! I hope you will enjoy that as much as I certainly will.

As we have closed out an old year and are embarking on a new year, I have asked myself these six questions, and maybe they will help you as well:

1. What have I done right this past year (in 2012)?

2. What tricky situations did I navigate well?

3. What were my accomplishments—big or small—last year? What worked well for me last year?

4. What attitudes have helped me last year?

5. How did I meet challenges and frustrations in ways that worked?

6. How did I nurture myself?

The answers to these questions may help you see your strengths and give you the courage, motivation, and commitment to reach higher and dig deeper in the upcoming year.

Peace out.

 

Holiday Peace Be With You

peace_3 Peace, both individual and world peace in general, has everything to do with the 3rd step I’ve learned in Al-Anon – made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 

Yesterday was both Humbug Day and Look at the Bright Side Day. How unusual, even ironic, to have two polar opposite views and feelings during the season occur on the exact same day.

I have had to revisit Step Three a whole lot during the last few weeks. Because of my codependency, I sometimes still have issues with boundaries. I let other peoples’ feelings leak over into me, and think that my positive feelings about the season should be enough to lift anyone’s spirits. It’s like I forget about the invisible line that separates me from other people.

It used to be for me, if you and I went to a movie and you didn’t enjoy it, it became a personal affront. I almost couldn’t stand the idea that you didn’t like it, didn’t have a good time, and felt like what you were saying was “I didn’t like you. I didn’t like being around you.”

In the past while, since Thanksgiving, I’ve come across several people I care about who are – to put it bluntly – humbugs this year. They would rather the season pass, the days go by, without acknowledging anything special. It started to bring me down. A couple times I even got angry. I was losing my own joy and inner peace. My serenity felt lost at sea.

Then I remembered that part of the Third Step is turning other people and their lives over to God. I remembered, when the alcoholic in my life was drinking, that I used to pray, “God, this is too big for me to handle. I don’t know what to do. But nothing is too big for You, so I’m turning this (person, situation) over to You.” And I would feel, if not immediate, then very soon after a peace wash over me.

That helped me this morning, when I logged onto Facebook and again saw an expression of humbug over Christmas. I turned that person over to God, and I let it go. Peace and happiness over Christmas day are both an inside job. Nobody can ruin that inner peace unless I let them.

I wish you peace and joy this holiday season. And I hope your day is lovely. I pray we can focus on the people around us, the loved ones we are with, thankfulness for what we already have as opposed to what we don’t, do only what we can, or do even less, and remember that serenity doesn’t guarantee a trouble-free existence. It does mean that we can maintain inner peace though the troubles. I pray we can look on the brighter side, and let go of what we can’t control.

Peace out.

kids

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

Steps To Save Your Sanity!

sharing-light1 I hope it doesn’t make me heartless to not write about the tragedy in Connecticut yesterday. I’m just as shocked and broken up as any of you, but I’m just choosing not to write about it.

Today, keeping in the holiday theme of the month, I thought we’d talk about how to hang on to our sanity during this time. It can be difficult with family obligations, financial crises, or other high stress situations.

Just fill in this blank: “The toughest part of the holidays is most definitely _____.”

Now, let’s figure out how to deal with whatever you (or me, which for me, it is family stress for sure) wrote in the blank.

1. Keep conscious contact with your Higher Power: I didn’t always believe Step Two. It took a long time for that step to work its way down from my head to my heart. I had been burned by a church and burned in my family, and I felt betrayed by God. So I prayed, because I thought it “worked” for other people, whatever “it” was. My prayers were wooden and automatic at first. When I read passages in the Bible about people crying out to God, I could never imagine myself getting that passionate. In anger, maybe. Even that, I felt more numb–like a shell-shocked victim. It’s been very gradual . . . years of tilling the soil, planting seeds, just . . . sitting with God without talking . . . times like that. But I do maintain daily contact, even if I’m so busy all I can manage to pray is Help! and Thank you! It’s a relationship. It’s different now. And when we speak, it’s as if it was just minutes ago.

2. Get support: Find a place that gets to feel like your home away from home, whether it’s a recovery group, Bible study, therapy group, prayer circle, knitting circle . . . even a book club if you all get close enough that you can share your deepest darkests. You know? I don’t know what I would do without Al-Anon. Or my knitting circle, for that matter! 😉

3. Have a sponsor: I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a sponsor, and establish boundaries and guidelines from the get-go, about how often to keep in touch, when to call, how often to meet, and so forth. I do have the best sponsor in the whole wide world, but you might could find the second best . . . 😉

4. Use a phone list: Each time you go to a new meeting, and you like it, and you start to make friends there, get phone numbers. If the meeting has a phone list, get that. Then, use it. People put their names down on phone list because they want to be called. So go ahead. Make someone’s day.

5. Read some recovery-endorsed literature daily: I have several daily meditation books, but only . . . hmm, I think four, are endorsed by Al-Anon as conference-approved literature. So I make sure every day to read from at least one of those, usually a couple, because they are each so different. I’m reading the Al-Anon Bible through for the 3rd time.

6. Help someone else: When you light someone else’s candle, your own light never goes out. Ever notice that? Even if all you feel able to do is to hold the door for someone coming in after you, or to get an extra chair for someone who came in late . . . whatever you can do to help someone during this holiday season . . . maybe you are in the parking lot and you notice someone burdened with many shopping bags. Carefully approach and ask if you can help. We just don’t do things like that anymore. Let’s start a revolution . . . a love revolution.

You’re beautiful. You know that, right?

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. 😦 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.