Wednesday, May 22, 2019

I stopped meditating about a year ago.  During vacation with friends, with little alone time, my already tenuous practice stopped. I tried to re-up a few times over the ensuing months, but it just didn’t catch - until now. I’ve been drawn to the chair in the past couple of weeks, and am actually sitting each day – maybe only 10 minutes at a time, but it’s something.

I’ve never been consistent enough with meditation to experience noticeable benefits. I am a wee bit hyperactive and have a really hard time holding still, much less quieting the internal chatter. I’ve long felt inadequate when it comes to the “and meditation” aspect of Step 11 since I can’t pretzel myself into the lotus position, have never gone on a silent retreat, etc, etc, etc. And then I was reminded that when Bill W. wrote about meditation in the 1930’s and 40’s, he wasn’t talking about the eastern version that we picture “nowadays.” To Bill, meditation meant reading and reflecting on inspirational literature,  like the St. Francis prayer in the 12x12. That I can do. I’m a good reflector, just not a good sitter. And I’m also reminded that there are many ways to meditate – the walking meditation that Tich Nhat Hahn describes, drawing, playing music (or listening) - anything that moves my mind to the “zone.”  Running can be meditative. Gardening definitely can be meditative. It all depends on the energy and intention I bring to the task.

Sitting on my little chair last week, I cracked the deck door in order to hear the rain. At this point, I can’t still my mind at will, but I can set the stage – a comfortable spot, quiet or soothing sounds, sometimes a timer (sometimes not). My sponsor, whatever I bring to her, always reminds me of the practice.  Step 12 says that we “practice these principles in all our affairs.” It doesn’t say, “Pass the test with an 'A' each time” or “Gain complete mastery.” I (because of repetitive practice) do have mastery over some of my glaring defects – the lying, cheating and stealing variety. I’m much improved on others – impulsivity, mind-reading, and impatience, for example. Being in recovery over time brings the opportunity to see patterns, habitual behaviors and attitudes that can feel current and new, but that are usually tied to some past belief.  The arduous process of unraveling the tangled web of reactions has been the gift and the challenge of living in recovery, of living in the present moment rather than being blindly propelled by the past.
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We listened to an old speaker CD on a mini-road trip this weekend - Patrick W, the local fellow who coined the song "Oh Thank You God" (to the tune of "O Christmas Tree."). I was at the meeting that was recorded in 1989 and am certain I sang along with the crowd, and still sing his song when moved by gratitude. I feel fortunate to have grown up in recovery with the WWII era old-timers and their rock bottom stories. At the time, I remember thinking, "If this guy can do it, I can too," which is a huge part of how this thing works - inspiration, instruction, example, and laughter, the kind that leaves me shaking my head in wonder. As we say, "you can't make this stuff up."  A note of thanks to the trusted servants who are taking the time to convert the old cassette tapes to CD's. I appreciate hearing the voices and stories from my past.

Who were your inspirations when you entered the world of recovery? How do you practice Step 11, whether sitting, walking or otherwise?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

I drive a curved overpass on my way to work each day, either in my vehicle or on the bike. There is a spot where I can see Mt Hood in the distance to the east, majestic in her glory, often with a sunrise backdrop. Until just recently, I hadn’t realized that a few feet on looms the flat top of Mt. St. Helens to the north. I’ve driven this path for nearly 10 years. Did someone cut down a tree? Did I simply not notice?

What else might I be blind to, as in defenses and defects? It can be tough to rout out old ideas, because they’re my ideas, and can feel true and right (though usually  more along the lines of righteous). Where might it be helpful to pause (that word again!) and ask, “Is this actually true?” or “Might there be a different way to view this?” whether an interaction with another person, a situation, or my own thoughts, which can sometimes feel like they have a life of their own. Someone recently shared with me that she tries not to believe her own brain, along the lines of “First thought wrong.” I might expand that to “First thought defensive” or “First thought protective” and go from there. A clue for me is the amount of energy behind my thinking – am I  absolutely certain or adamant? Maybe that means I could take a breath and a step back.

My sponsor and I have agreed to work through the Traditions as related to partnership. This has always been the final frontier for me. Keep your resentments – relationships are my number one offender. My number one offender, and my great teacher, where I have the opportunity to learn about detachment and non-attachment, letting go, boundaries, autonomy, and intimacy. My spouse and I are coming up on our 8th wedding anniversary, and 10 years together this year – crazy, and yes, apparently I blinked a few times because here we are in 2019. While I’ve not regretted it for a minute, I must admit that being married was initially an adjustment for me – the whole give and take of physical and emotional space when I’d been doing things a particular way for eons.  And while I no longer view myself as damaged goods, or a DIY project to be solved, I do seek continuing spiritual growth, which means practicing the principles consciously, truly committing to self-care, communicating even when it's uncomfortable or I'm in a hurry.

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I triggered myself this week – My eyes were dilated in an emergency eye appointment (that turned out to be nothing worrisome), which left me looking like a tweaker, minus the tongue-chewing euphoria. Seeing my huge pupils in the mirror took me back to the dark days of trying to avoid looking my mother or boyfriend in the eye, lest they recognize that I was in an altered state. I am so grateful not to live in secret anymore – the lies, the deceit, the excuses, the ugliness inside and out that went along with my alcoholism and addiction. I am grateful for health and recovery, though still coming to terms with the age-related "what-have-you's" that keep popping up. 

One day at a time, I relax into the aging process. One day at a time, I do my best to remain teachable. One day at a time, I practice gratitude for this glorious life in recovery.  

Where do you find yourself noticing something you hadn't seen before, whether on your morning walk or the pages of a favorite book? How have your loved ones changed, or is it your perception that has shifted? 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

I recently over-reacted to something my spouse said -  the old “if I’m hysterical, it is historical” mode.  I can know that, intellectually. The challenge is to uninstall my buttons, so they don’t get pushed. Easier said than done, but apparently I’m not alone – in sharing the interaction with trusted others, what I heard was, “Ah, I do that too" -  the “we” of the program in action. I may think I’m the only one who (fill in the blank), but I am nowhere near as unique as I’d believe. And, I’m better able to move into “awareness, acceptance, & action” when I can forgive myself for being human.  As fate would have it, my early morning’s meeting topic this week was related to applying the 4th Tradition to relationships – Every group (person) should be autonomous, except in matters affecting another group (person) or AA/Alanon (the relationship) as a whole.

Autonomy - what a concept.  I am a helper and a manager by profession, the eldest of 2 children, and have truly believed that I could wrest satisfaction from this life if only I managed well. And I do manage well. However, I have a stronger desire to be a healthy spouse in a loving relationship, which means continuing to look at what residual baggage I bring to the present moment.  I am grateful that Alanon and has been a part of my program for as long as I have been sober, as it has been instrumental in helping me deal with the causes and conditions that contribute to my dis-ease. Somewhere along the line, I picked up the idea (& ran with it) that if I’m not in charge, no one is, and my ideas are usually right. Alas, my ideas might be right for me. My responsibility in any relationship is to focus on myself – my reactions, my words, my own hoola-hoop. Speaker Lila R. reminds me that you are safer when I’m practicing self-care. For me that doesn’t just mean getting enough sleep and eating right, but the deeper (& harder) aspect of letting you know my desires. We sometimes hear that as “stating my needs.” Well, my needs are air, water and shelter, but I have many preferences. If I can remember that they are just that, I’m better able to let go of the throttle.

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On the way to a great conference this past weekend, we listened to a speaker CD with the message: “Don't let the life AA gave you get in the way of your AA life.”  Several speakers at the conference, while addressing the newcomers, also talked to us old timers about keeping the program alive, not letting it get stale, and to beware of starting to believe our own BS simply because we have been sober for decades. That is the quest of this blog and other work I am doing on long term recovery -  I do not want to drift away. I know some who are no longer engaged in the program and are doing great, and others who’ve gone back to active addiction. I’m not willing to throw that set of dice, and besides, I like you people.  At the beginning of my recovery the disease knocked on the front door, saying “I know where my boyfriend is cooking meth – wouldn’t a shot feel good?” or “A drink would sure relieve this pressure.” These days it is much more subtle, showing up in the whisper that I wrote about last week (“you don’t really need a meeting today”).  It can also show up in self-righteousness, judgment, or just general crankiness – anything that separates me from you and from my Higher Power/Serenity.

In the “god-shot” department: I’d decided that part of my retirement process would be reaching out to my various supervisors from over the years to thank them for my long career. In a serendipitous moment at the conference, we happened to sit right next to my very first supervisors and teachers (W.T. was the Director and his wife A.T. was the Nurse Manager of the program where I trained and was then hired). After the closing prayer, I told them both (through tears) how much I appreciated their guidance in getting me off on the right foot all those years ago. This is not a regular conference for us, these people now live in Arizona, and if we’d sat on the other side of the 1,000 person room, I might’ve missed them. As we hear, be careful what you pray for (or set intention for) because you never know how that will show up.

How do you, or might you, apply the 12 Traditions to your personal relationships today? How do you accept your imperfections along with your awesomeness?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

I subscribe to the “Honest Guys” Facebook page, out of the UK,  consisting of a daily nature photograph and a gentle nudge towards inner peace and kindness. Pleasantly, with all the chatter, ads and political posts, this message shows up front and center the first thing every morning. Recently, the photo was of an emerald evergreen forest, with a mossy floor, and sun rays filtered through the trees. It immediately transported me to a place we called “Fairyland,” out behind a cabin our families used at Cannon Beach when we were kids. The funky little place, with sloped floors and rickety wooden bunk beds, belonged to Charlie, an old school buddy of my dad and aunt’s. We may have only been there a handful of times, but in memory, it was paramount. Out back, walking along the fence line and beyond, Charlie showed us young ones the magical forest of Fairyland. It was stunning – huge, old growth pines, a thick, mossy covering on the ground, and often, rays of sun shining through to the forest floor. Charlie walked us out to a large tree who’s root system created a little seat, firmly instructing us to go no further else we incur the wrath of the goblins who lived beyond. Enchanted and terrified, we never stepped beyond the marker tree. 

Until, of course, we did. As we got older and bolder, we thought, “Why not?” taking those first steps towards reality. Reality wasn’t goblins or bad guys, but a clear-cut a few hundred yards beyond - heartbreaking in its ugliness. Even though we knew better, we’d hoped to find an evil castle or other signs of magical wonder. Already jaded at 11 or 12, we probably lit up a stolen cigarette and said, “We won’t tell our moms that we know the truth.”  

I remember both the magic and the let-down of the fantasy Fairyland, an archetypal movement from the innocence of childhood to the harsh reality of the world. Despite the harsh realities, I don’t want to get stuck in that place of “Ain’t it ugly?” When I find myself focused on the clear-cut of the political world, or my appointments and to-do lists,  I can consciously turn towards the peaceful forest, the place inside me that knows all is well, the place that remembers whatever really needs doing will get done. As one of my daily readers says, “What is urgent is rarely important, and what is important is rarely urgent.” 

I believe it was Marieanne Williamson who wrote (& I paraphrase) that there really is only one path – I’m either moving towards Higher Power/Spirit/Peace of Mind or away. Which direction am I facing today? And if I’m facing the internal chaos of anxiety or worry, how do I turn myself around? Ah – I can’t turn myself around, but I can surrender in the practice of Step 3 (made a decision) and then ask for guidance via Step 11 (knowledge of HP’s will for me and the power to carry that out). I sometimes read Step 11 as related to the big deals, the ones that need “power.” But maybe the “power” to carry out God’s will is as simple as shifting my focus, taking a deep breath, reading inspirational or centering literature. Slaying dragons, the internal goblins, can be in the small decisions as well as the big.

For me, that showed up last week as a noticing. I missed two of my regular meetings due to scheduling conflicts, and then a third on Thursday, because the sun was out. I noticed on Sunday (home group day) a slight hesitation, a whisper of “you’ve got so much to do,” and realized, on a gut level, how easy it would be to simply drift away from my 12 Step practice, which includes regular meeting attendance. So easy to give in to the “Life is good,” “I’ve got this,” “I’ve got a lot to do” trap. I’ve got a lot to do, and life is good because of recovery, and the grace that delivered me from the hell of my addiction. Not “I’ve got this,” but “Higher Power has this” – always has and always will.

I’m recently truly feeling “one day at a time,” especially after attending a moving memorial for Ronnie S., a really good guy who was killed in a motor vehicle accident – too young, too soon, totally unexpected. This moment is all we have. Am I going to face the beautiful forest, or the clear cut? Trust, or give in to my fears?  Slip away, or maintain my commitment to my spiritual practice? What is your choice today? How does the disease talk to you, and what do you do when you notice that?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

My sponsor recently suggested that when I’m feeling snarky about work – driving in on a snowy day, staff conflict, the whole 40 hour a week thing – I remind myself that, soon, these will simply be memories of my work life. I’m remembering that for the good experiences too – I won’t likely hear as many “Fantistic's!” for cleaning the house!

This goes back to the idea that all of life is merely experience, and will be over before I know it. I think of those I love who’ve passed, timely or too soon, and what I wouldn’t give to spend even a little more time with each of them – one more conversation, a few more questions to ask, laughing together. If I can stay in the here and now, vs the here and next week, I’m more likely to be paying attention to the person or situation I’m actually with instead of being off in the ozone of the future, which can mean fewer regrets over what might've been left unsaid.

All of life is merely experience. I assign value or emotion depending on my perspective, which is impacted by time. My 1st husband and I split up in 1978 in what I will simply describe as not my most shining moment(s). Decades later, we've now connected as good friends, as family, as two people who essentially grew up together. After our monthly dinner date last night, on a whim, I stopped at my brother's. The expression on the two of their faces, after having not seen each other for literally 40 years, was priceless - incredibly sweet and funny and bursting with their younger selves. It is so nice to see that we've all crested the wave of past hurts and poor intentions. 

In showing my ex around the house, pointing out the changes my brother made after mom passed, I couldn't help but mention, "Here is where the back door used to be, but you usually left by climbing out the upstairs window!"  We enjoyed a good laugh over the memory, as only old people can do when remembering the antics of their youth. 

I've often thought that one of the hardest parts of breaking up is losing family. It's not simply the partner, but their parents or siblings or cousins. Soon after my long-term ex (in sobriety) and I split, his father died in a tragic accident. I was crushed not to be included in the trip home, though why would I be when he'd decided to move on? Each past relationship left a wound of the "forever" dream, but also the hole remaining from birthday and Christmas celebrations, traveling to visit, watching the kids grow up. It is important to me, during times of transition, to acknowledge the totality of a loss and all the various components that will need re-calibration. 

Of course, I am a sticker, a connector. When I first met my dear spouse I said, "Just so you know, if I didn't have ex's I wouldn't have friends," only partly in jest. The way I figure, once family, always family. 

What does this have to do with recovery? Maybe not much. Or maybe everything. Walking the 12 Step path has provided the avenues for repairing relationships. As I sometimes say in my shares, I can't un-cheat, or un-steal, but I can live in such a way that I never hurt anyone in the way that I hurt those I loved in the past.  That means that I'm, at the very least, on cordial terms with those I've loved, and in several instances, we are good and important friends.  I say "thank you, HP" for every lesson learned and amend lived. 

Who do you count among your closest and dearest? Do they know that?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

I’m just back from a long weekend in New York City – hustle, bustle and nearly constant noise. My friends and I travel there with some regularity. When I first arrive, I’m energized by the frenetic activity. By trip’s end, I’m grateful to return to my relatively quiet corner of NE Portland. I find NYC to be a place of contrast – for example, coming and going from our midtown hotel usually included stepping around or over a couple of street drunks, either carousing or passed out on the sidewalk. A few steps later, we’d dodge skipping 7 year olds.  And I truly love the melting pot that is so evident on the streets of the city –different languages and cultures, food and ways of dress. This is my America – a celebration of humanity in our glorious variations and sameness

I feel so very fortunate to have again enjoyed my two travel buddies, who share my passion for adventure. We’ve taken at least 15 trips together and have it down to a science: one of us is planning & research, one has the credit card, and one handles technology. Who knew, when we initially met in meetings all those years ago, that we’d be traveling the world together - celebrating milestone birthdays, running marathons, seeing the sights. So grateful. And, as I’ve written before, grateful for all of my long-term friendships, both in and out of the rooms. These connections with people who knew me as a kid, or when I was drinking, or from early sobriety, are even more precious as time goes on. They don’t need the back story because they are the back story.

I hit a couple of meetings while away – another of my favorite things to do. The accents were different, the ending had a different cadence (keep coming back , etc) and the formats weren’t what I’m used to, but the message was the same -  one day at a time, we work on whatever blocks us from the sunlight of the spirit, which is nearly always our own thinking and attitudes.

The meeting topic in my morning group yesterday was “gratitude." Fortunately, I inherited my mother's optimism, though can get into a negative loop when thinking about the environment, the “what if’s” or fear of financial insecurity, to name a few. Over time, and believe me, it was over a long time, I’ve been able to mentally change the channel when I catch myself in a downward spiral. What also helps is to do a mental HALT check – disregarding the internal nag when I’m tired, or hungry. It’s amazing what a nap or a snack can do for my attitude. I also use the catch-all prayer of “Thank you, God.” (Years ago, a local fellow shared that he promised God a song, which ended up “Oh thank you God” sung to the tune of “O Christmas Tree.” I still sing it!) Another Gratitude List note – I learned that if I have trouble falling asleep, I can run through the alphabet with something I'm grateful for (AA/Alanon, Bouquets of spring flowers,  Cozy evenings, Drama-free days, etc)

Sometimes, gratitude can be a diversion, a Pollyannish head in the sand – some things aren’t ok. I need to be aware of what I'm feeling  before rushing to a gratitude fix as a cover up. I eventually get there, but sometimes the path starts with frustration or sadness or fear. For me, genuine gratitude is realistic. Sure, I can always pull out "air to breathe and food to eat," which are true, but my gratitude lists have more meaning when I honestly consider my many blessings, starting with good health and sobriety. 

What are you grateful for today, in this moment? If you're not there, what feelings might need acknowledging? If you like to travel, what are your favorite places, and why? 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Spring cleaning! April is the time to declutter and air out, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Always with the inventory is the question, “What no longer serves me?” whether we’re talking about an old idea or an old pair of jeans.

Initially terrified of the 4th Step, listening to tales of woe, I now welcome the process as an opportunity to dig down on whatever manifestation of my “ism” is causing distress in the moment. Not 10 years ago, or when I was a kid, but today. The Steps aren’t a magic wand, but, for me, the act of putting pen to paper heals in a way that simply thinking about a problem never does. The sharing with a trusted other post-inventory, sometimes adding in ritual or ceremony, allows me to breathe into my higher self (which includes forgiving my humanness). Some of those pesky defenses/defects keep popping up, but the edges are so much softer now. I’m better able to (finally) say, “Oh, there you are again (fear, self-centeredness, grief, etc). What do you need?” Often, merely naming the emotion, giving it just a moment’s attention, is all that it takes to release the hold. Breathing in, breathing out...

In the physical realm, I’ve been on a paper-reduction project at work, recycling pounds of paper no one has touched in this century. Why do we hang on to so much? Because you might need it someday – the refrain of many raised by Depression era parents. True, maybe someday, but these days I'm applying the closet rule – if you haven’t worn it (or used it) in a year (ok, two) let it go. My new refrain is “someday is now” and if there isn’t an immediate need, farewell! I’m not a total Marie Kondo devotee (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up)  but I definitely utilize some of her methods – do my possessions bring joy? Are they useful? Are they validly sentimental? I have a long way to go, but “progress not perfection” is very much in action.

I’m posting a day early before leaving on a long weekend adventure with my two best traveling buddies. Vacation, even a mini, can feel like a clean start. There is the going away, completely out of my usual element and routine, and the sweetness of homecoming, usually with a fresh outlook on my work, my relationships and my home. What no longer serves me? What do I want to celebrate and honor? What would today’s inventory show?

Thank you for reading, near and far. Where are you, in this 4th month, with the inventory process? Is it time for an annual housecleaning, metaphorically or actually? What is telling you that it needs releasing?

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Lately I’m feeling like a human doing instead of a human being. Work has been busy, and off work time seems to be sucked dry by the various maintenance tasks that keep the week running smoothly – the cats need to be fed, dishes need washing, laundry needs folding, the occasional vacuum, bills, etc - Arghh!! And as much as I don’t want to acknowledge it, part of my frustration seems to be related to a shift in my overall energy level. I’ve always been a “the more you do, the more you can do!” kind of person, but that is shifting to “I’ve had enough, thank you.” 

I'm also bearing the the collective weight of working in behavioral health care - I've witnessed, and listened to, a lot of pain over my 30+ years in the field. Fortunately (or I couldn't have done it for so long), I am a generally optimistic person, and at work, would characterize myself as a bringer of hope and humor.  And, there are only so many stories of abuse and neglect and outright depravity one can listen to without becoming just a wee bit jaded.

In her book, Trauma Stewardship, L. van Dernoot Lipsky: writes, “In traditional Chinese medicine, there is a belief that dis-ease in one’s being comes in part from stagnant energy... An important part of well-being in this tradition is keeping the energy moving and not allowing it to stagnate around any one feeling or issue.” My energy has definitely been stagnating around my work, which is why is it SO important for me to laugh with friends & loved ones, to hike in the  woods, and get on an airplane every once in awhile. 

Monday was the 1st of the month, which reminded me of the tiny thrill I used to experience when those two days coincided. As a kid, starting at 9 or 10, I was always coming up with a plan, whether that was losing weight (yes, at 10 years old) or being more helpful around the house. "Monday the 1st" felt like an auspicious beginning, though my plan, charts included, rarely made it through even the first week. But, I’d sit at my little desk, with a ruler and notebook paper and the best of intentions, convinced that with the right formula I would not only do better, I would be better. It makes me sad to think of the little girl who was convinced that she wasn’t ok as-is.

I continued with these types of plans after leaving home, but alas, I am an alcoholic, which impacted my moral compass. My best laid plans for emotional or physical discipline held little weight once I was into the second bottle of wine. Thank GOD for the Good, Orderly Direction provided in the 12 Steps, what I’d been looking for all my life. And for so long, I worked the program, continuing to strive for not just doing, but being better. Speaker Lila R. says that at the core, most alcoholics suffer from the “not enough” syndrome – I know I have. But as I heard in a meeting this week, relief comes with the realization that, in long term recovery,  I am no longer working a program, with its inherent hammer, but am allowing the principles of the program to express through me. 

It has taken a long time, but I no longer operate with the gaping wound of “not ok.”  It flares, especially when my self-care is off, but I’m better able to see that while temporary circumstances might not be ok, I’m just fine, defenses (defects) and all.  I’m just fine because I surrender on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis to the knowledge that I’m not running the show. I’m not running your show, or the guy in the car that just passed me’s show; I’m not running the weather show, or the passage of time show. And particularly, I’m not running my show. I suit up and show up, and try to stay out of my own way.

Where are the places that your energy gets stuck? How can the Steps and principles of the program guide you to a place of letting go? 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

FaceBook reminded me that it's been 7 years since I published Shadows and Veins, the novel loosely based on the last few years of my addiction. Every so often, I receive a royalty deposit of $1.78 or thereabouts, which always brings a chuckle. I will never get rich from my writings.  But, amount aside, those little royalties mean that someone, somewhere is reading my book (it's in the local library too). This is an absolute dream come true, a primary goal realized. As a kid, shivering underneath my grandmother's purple quilt at night, reading one adventure or another long after mom's call for "lights out!" I imagined that someday I, too, would write a book that would take the reader someplace that hadn't been before. It took many decades to have something to write about, and to develop the discipline to actually sit down and do it, but here we are, 7 years later.

Part of what the publishing reminder also means is that it was 7 years ago that my dear mother went on hospice care, which means in October, it will be 7 years since she passed. And oh, do I miss my mother. Less acutely than in those first few years, but I feel the empty space, nonetheless. I am a relater - long term connections are important to me and she was my longest and strongest. 

My mother is gone, though her memory is in nearly all that I do, and I am beyond blessed with several long and strong relationships. A couple of weekends ago, we had dinner and watched a ball game at one of my oldest and dearest's house. As she and I huddled in the kitchen, talking while the guys cheered the home team on TV, we marveled at how many Saturday evenings we'd spent in various kitchens, talking about this and that - sometimes with raucous laughter, sometimes in conspiratorial whispers - and here we are now, coming up on 64 and 65 years old. We met at 18, and now she's a grandmother several times over, and I'm getting ready to retire. Crazy.

And crazy that I went dancing on Friday night with women I've known since grade school. Granted, it was a "happy hour" event (6-7:45pm - perfect!), but there we were, grooving to old R&B. Where we used to talk about curfews and boys, our conversations these days are more about Medicare and politics, but again - crazy. 

Crazy in a good way. I definitely inherited my mom's attachment to stability, which means, like several of my friends, I live near the neighborhood I grew up in. I’ve shopped at the same grocery store for decades, and am coming up on 10 years at my employer. Several of my friends are movers, uprooting every so often to try out another part of the country and sometimes that appeals to me, but I know I'd eventually want to come home. 

“To thine own self be true” is my theme for this year, which means knowing what that self is. It took time in recovery to understand that I crave stability, that I am practical, that I do best with structure, and that yes, I feel better if I make the bed each morning. My self-awareness was pretty low when I first got sober. At 31 it was all about “him,” whichever him(s) was in the picture at the moment. Bringing focus inside my own hoola-hoop, learning to listen to my gut, paying attention to my own particular HALT’s – are all part of the journey. With long term recovery, it would be disingenuous  to claim that I don’t know who I am. What have I been doing all these years if not inventory, and sponsor talks and bouts of therapy; practicing the principles in all my affairs (with the emphasis on practice)

I am many things – a wife, a step-mom, a sister, a cousin, a friend. I am a supervisor, co-worker, a team member. I am a (slow) runner, a traveler, a reader, a lover of old Motown. And, I am a woman in long term addiction recovery – without that designation, none of the others would be possible. 

Who are you, today, as a person in long-term recovery? Has how you would describe yourself changed over the years? If you were to apply "To thine own self be true" today, what would that mean? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

I sometimes worry about being repetitive in these weekly posts - as I've said, there are no new ideas. But, isn't that what we do in recovery? Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repetition, especially at the beginning, is essential. Don't drink and go to meetings. Keep coming back. The simple slogans evolve to dinner before or after the meeting, coffee dates with sponsors or sponsees, step groups and speaker meetings. And then, taking it on the road to conferences, or to the great big world and meetings in different states and foreign lands.

I find comfort and a sense of safety in the sameness, exhaling as I settle in and listen to How it Works for the 1,000th time. There is an aspect of ritual in what we do - the readings, pausing for the 7th, our cadence as we speak from the heart.

For so long, the ritual and routine of working a program required effort and attention. Over time, the pattern of my sober life became simply, my life. What I initially described as "sober friends," became simply friends. Sober dancing is now just dancing. Sober fun, just plain old fun. Fun coupled with spirit - an awesome combination in whatever form that takes.

Outsiders may not think of ours as a particularly spiritual path (other than those who think we're a cultish religion), were they to hear the "F" bombs and the laughter as we describe horrendously painful events. But there is something supremely sacred and holy in the laying bare of our souls, in the way we surround the newcomer with love and practical suggestions, in the ache in our hearts when we hit our knees and say, "Please..."

We use the term, "working a program" to describe so much. The phrase used to baffle me - what do you mean work the steps? In general, it goes back to the basics of not drinking and going to meetings, applying the principles of honesty, open-mindedness and willingness to our troubles and our successes, changing our way of being in the world.

And today, on this vernal equinox, my way of being in the world is full of joy and hopeful anticipation. Yes, the rains will return (like, tomorrow), but I'm a glass half full kind of gal, and today the glass is overflowing.

Where are you in the spot-check inventory department? As the seasons change, is there anything you'd like to let go of, or bring into your life? What about those new year's intentions? 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A raccoon crossed my path on an early morning run last week. I pay attention when I catch these creatures lumbering across a dark street, taking a deep breath as I attempt to come back to the present moment. Yes, I am running on the streets of my neighborhood, usually quiet at 5am, planning my day,  and here is this reminder of the bigger, natural world that I am a part of.

Raccoon is my spirit animal. Years ago, I participated in a vision quest meditation at Brietenbush Hot Springs, as sacred a place as I’ve ever been. As the guide's soothing voice moved us along an internal journey designed to allow our spirit animal to present itself, raccoon showed up. Not this, I thought, having hoped for a noble eagle, or perhaps, wolf. As a child, I'd wanted to grow up to be a black stallion, in that love affair with horses that young girls often pass through. Maybe I could have horse as my spirit animal - after all, that is my Chinese zodiac sign. Alas, it was the lowly raccoon who showed up and stayed.

When I got over my expectations, it made sense. Raccoon is urban, clever, adaptable, and as a spirit animal represents a problem solver, and one who is calm under pressure - not a bad animal to be associated with. And, I see her frequently, which means a fairly regular nudge to take a breath

Spirit animals, Tarot, reading Biblical interpretations, study of the Goddesses, prayer and meditation, to name a few, are, or have been, a component of my seeking conscious contact with god as I (don't) understand god. I've recently been exposed to the writing of James Finley, a Christian scholar who lived with Thomas Merton at the Abbey of Gethsemani as a young man. He states that "To know you don't know is the beginning of wisdom." He also writes about "holy discontent, a holy restlessness, a kind of homesickness" that prompts our seeking.

The Big Book speaks to this fundamental idea of god, "deep down in every" person, and describes how we've previously worshiped people, things, and ourselves (We Agnostics), as in, “money, property and prestige.” Yes, both before recovery and after. I've heard it said that whatever I think about the most is my higher power. Ugh. Food? Particular relationships? Work? Fear of financial insecurity?  Where do I mentally spend my precious minutes and hours?

“While our deepest instincts are ultimately to do what is best for ourselves, sometimes we need guidance to recognize when we’ve wandered away from our truest selves, and lessons to learn how to regain our bearings.” (Trauma Stewardship, by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky) A friend recently noted (and I’m misquoting) that what is capital “T” Truth shows up in many places – our 12 Step programs, and the many spiritual paths we take. At times it is a conscious effort, but sometimes it shows up in something I'm reading for work, or something I hear in a meeting from an unlikely source. Keeping my ears and mind open is my quest, one day at a time.

I tend to vacillate between “God the Almighty,"  god-the-raccoon-crossing-my-path, and many places in-between. Where or how do you experience a spiritual connection today, that portal to your inner wisdom? How often does the connection find you, even if you weren't looking at the moment?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

"Happiness may well consist primarily of an attitude towards time”   Robert Grudin

It’s interesting that I can see something without really noticing, and then “wham!” Where did that come from? I’ve had that experience with our literature (see Step 8 in 12x12) or in listening to a speaker CD – When did they add that part?! I suppose it all goes back to “when the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

I had that reaction to the above quote from one of my daily meditation books that I've apparently seen every February 28 for the past several years. For some reason, this time, it hit me upside the head as I realized, truly realized, that I have a distorted relationship with time. I’ve often joked that time is my Higher Power, and even though everything that needs doing gets done, I have a deep sense of time urgency that nips at my heels and feeds the “never enough” demon. This is definitely an area where I benefit from consciously interrupting the inner “committee” to remind myself that I really do have all the time required to get through the weeks and days. Laundry gets done, when I was in school all my papers got written, bills get paid, etc etc etc. Exhale.

I find it helpful to either mentally or actually make note of all that is on my plate at any given moment – projects, chores, family concerns, meetings, due dates, work stuff, and so on. The simple act of making a list helps me say, “Oh. Of course you’re a little stressed.” I can then break down various items into manageable increments. What needs to get done today? (and I'm coming to understand that sometimes what needs doing is absolutely nothing, along the lines of reading a book, watching a movie, or simply sitting in a comfortable chair and watching the snow fall).

After reading the quote, I looked the guy up (thank you, wonder of Google) and found that he’s written a book, Time and the Art of Living, which arrived on Sunday. Thus far, I am enjoying his philosophical take on our relationship to time, which he describes as always having a beginning, middle and end: the workday, a class, a relationship, a TV show, a meal, life itself...  I am great at middles. Beginnings and endings? Not so much. That’s when I can find myself grasping, either to what hasn’t yet taken shape, or trying to hold on to that which is no longer viable. With middles, I am in my element, and, with this new perspective, will be better equipped to take a look at my discomfort (which can show up as either excitement or dread, depending on the situation).

Whether it is a new book, a piece of program literature I’m not familiar with (including those magical paragraphs that suddenly appear), or simply hearing something in a new way, I appreciate the sometimes tiny shifts that crack open my mind to a new idea. Remaining teachable seems to be the great quest of long term sobriety - how do I/how do you stay willing to learn?

**I want to note that we lost a member this past week to an icy car wreck. Ronnie S had  8 years sobriety, and was active in service at a couple of local speaker meetings. He was a calming presence and had a great smile. A few years ago, I was scheduled at a BIG monthly speaker meeting and was nearly sick with the jitters. I arrived early and Ronnie chatted with me, about nothing in particular, but it was enough to slow my heart rate and move me to a place of letting HP speak through me. I always felt a little safer when he was in the room.  Farewell, Ronnie. You will be missed ~

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A number of years ago, I left a job that I’d enjoyed, but had played itself out. Coming to an agreement with my boss, I gave notice, not sure what I was going to do next. At the time, I was crushed at the suggestion that I was less than stellar in my role, but also knew in my heart that I was unwilling to give the time and energy that had become expected. In retrospect, as so many perceived “losses” turn out to be, this was an excellent decision that led to a total god-shot in the form of the work I’ve now been doing for 9 years (After withdrawing my name from a higher position, I wondered what it would be like to manage a particular program, not having experience in that modality – literally within days, the director called to tell me that the manager had resigned, and was I interested? I started 1 month after leaving the other position).

What happened between the time I gave notice at the old job and accepted the new position is that all sorts of people shared their concerns and advice with me. “Go back to school!” “Find a new job NOW!” “Don’t wait too long to look!” and the like. Initially, I felt buffeted by, and began to internalize, the fear I felt coming from these suggestions. Maybe I could do better in my current job. What if no one else ever wants me? What if I have to sell my house?  I came to realize that people were sharing their own anxiety, and that most of it had nothing to do with my situation. I had the recommended 3 months’ salary in the bank, I was employable, I trusted HP to lead me to the next right thing. With that recognition came a sigh of relief as I relaxed into trusting the process. 

I’ve recently realized that I’m having a similar experience in regards to my planned retirement. Everybody has an opinion. A co-worker in my age range asked me “Have you thought about where you’ll live?” describing his plan to move to the southwest. Someone else asked what kind of consulting I plan to do. Another person (actually, several other persons) asked “What on earth will you do with yourself?” Along with the questions are their  announcements of not having enough money, not ever wanting to quit work, etc. After having made a decision and a plan that I felt good about, I found myself wavering, anxiety rising. What if I’m making a mistake? What if, what if, what if?”  I had to consciously remind myself of all the positive affirmations I’ve also received – “You will love it!” and, “You can always go back to work if you want.” Once again, I am relaxing into trusting the process. Number 1, I’m not there yet. Number 2, retirement, like everything else in this life, will unfold in its own time.

 It’s interesting how quickly I take on other people’s emotions, almost automatically. We who’ve grown up with alcoholism are often “empaths” and absorb the energy we're exposed to. Thank god for Alanon and the gentle direction to bring the focus back to myself. Tomorrow, 2/28, is the 33rd anniversary of my first Alanon meeting. I think of the immature, extreme co-dependent, obsessive person I was at age 31, along with the man who prompted my attending that first meeting, who died now 30 years ago from an overdose. So much has changed, in me and in my world, and I give thanks every single day -  not just for my recovery from addiction, but for my recovery from the effects of someone else's addiction, which has been the tougher journey by far. 

I assume that having mixed feelings and scattered fears is part of the process of coming to the end of one’s career. It has been true of any major change – those decisions I made and those that were made for me. The challenge is not to go too far down either path – the “oh no!” or the “oh yeah!” One day at a time- still a challenge for this alcoholic.

How do you recognize when you're traveling in "What If Land" and how do you bring yourself back to the present moment? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

In a recent meeting, the topic was fear as related to Step 3, making a decision to turn our will and life over to the care of god as we understand god.  Fear - the driver of so many alcoholic decisions, before and after recovery, the "chief activator of our character defects." Grasping, attempts to control, inertia, impulsivity, process addictions (gambling, sex, spending) - all could be traced back to fear, which is where the 4th Step comes in so handy. If I can shine the light of reason on what I'm afraid of, my chances of making a rational decision increase. Once again, the pause...

When I think of Step 3, I always refer to my initial surrender - a Step 3 moment before I knew what that was, on my knees, crying out, "F*** it, God! I can't do this anymore -you take over." In that moment, I wasn't thinking about what the decision meant, or what my part of the bargain was - just that I was broken and needed help.

Early on, someone in my home group told me to read the 3rd Step prayer, on my knees, every morning. He suggested reading it, as his sponsor had instructed him, to avoid the temptation to alter the intention of the prayer. I'm all about altering, so I didn't follow that instruction, and I don't always get on my creaky old knees these days, but I have said some form of the 3rd Step prayer every morning for decades. What I realized while listening to others share their experiences in the meeting on Friday is that Step 3 has two distinct components.

At its most basic, Step 3 is a daily practice, an intellectual exercise in self-discipline designed to remind me that I'm not in charge of the orbit of the earth, or those within my personal realm. Step 3, as I practice it most days, serves to get my mind right before I head out the door. I may slip the minute I get behind the wheel, but it is easier to come back to center when I've started the day with my morning ritual of turning my life over to HP.

But, or rather, and, Step 3 is also a profound emotional event - a gut wrenching surrender that culminates in Step 7 (3 = the decision, 7 = the "here I am, God"). As much as I've tried over the years, I cannot conjure up that moment of giving up, of letting go. I cannot change myself. I repeat, for my own benefit, I cannot change myself, no matter how hard I pray, in just the right way, no matter how many books I read or workshops I attend. What I can do is make myself ready to be changed. I can prepare my heart and mind for the grace of Spirit so that I'm aware enough to feel it when it happens.

I rather like that the Steps are both an intellectual discipline and an emotional yielding. As we are told in the literature, "the spiritual life is not a theory," wafting down from the ether. As a fiery speaker exhorted in the same Step 3 meeting, we can't just read about the Steps, or think about them - we must work the program in order to experience results. It is not just about staying sober, people. We could do that by sitting on our hands. Truly working this spiritual program means that sometimes I am uncomfortable with the awarenesses that tap my shoulder; it means that sometimes I am bored and sometimes energized. Working the program means that while I remember vividly what it was like, that is not where I live today.

I don't wrestle the same fears I came in with. But Step 3 is no less meaningful with my "luxury problems" as when I desperately cried out, "Please keep me clean & sober today!" How has your experience of Step 3 changed over the years?  How do you utilize spiritual discipline to prepare you for the spiritual experience?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

"Be confused. It's where you begin to learn new things. Be broken, it's where you begin to heal. Be frustrated, it's where you start to make more authentic decisions. Be sad, because if we are brave enough we can hear our heart's wisdom through it. Be whatever you are right now."  (S.C. Lourie)

How often do I sit in the moment-ness of my emotions? Where am I open to both the earth-shattering surrender and the quiet nudge? When do I pause and ask "Now what?"

When my favorite aunt, my father's sister, died, I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach. It wasn't unexpected - she'd been ill, though blessedly it was a fairly swift decline. I'd had the opportunity to tell her I loved her, knowing it would likely be the last time. And, as she said, at 86, "You didn't expect me to live forever, did you?" Well, yes, I'd kind of hoped...

When I got word that she'd passed, I went up to Forest Park, in need of both nature and a good sweat. I turned off Leif Erickson onto a steep trail I usually avoided, grateful for the pain in my legs and my lungs. About halfway up, I sat on a bench, staring at the wall of evergreens just ahead. I was barely aware of my own panting, or the forest's chatter. In some sort of trance, I had the sensation of being in the extreme here-and-now, the fourth dimension that we read about, but rarely experience. I'm not describing it well - spiritual experiences are tough to put into words - and the instant I became conscious that I was in an altered state, it dissipated, but the memory of it is clear. I was confused. I was broken. I was sad. And that's all that I was in those moments.

Being in that liminal space between dream and awake, the living and the dead, then and now,  reminds me of a visual once given to me by a therapist to illustrate transition from one state of being to another. She described being on the monkey bars as a kid, that moment when you've let go of one rung, but haven't quite reached the next. For just that second, you are suspended, in-between. We talk about it in AA as the hallway - when HP closes a door, She opens a window, but you need to get out of the hall. Not so quickly, I would say. Maybe where I grow is in that in-between space - in-between my mother's life and fully accepting that she is gone; in-between coupled and single, or conversely, single and married; in-between being loaded and sober, working and retired, young and old... I speak of these in-betweens as mental states - that place of transition where I haven't quite let go of the old way of being but haven't fully grasped who I'm supposed to be now. "Be frustrated - it's where you start to make more authentic decisions."

I sat with my Cabal on Monday, a tiny group that is growing old together. We often talk about what is happening to our bodies and our states of mind, trying not to wonder too hard about what comes next. I so appreciate this, and other small groups of those I've known over time. We saw each other come in to recovery, riding that roller-coaster to a good life. Not a perfect life, but a good life.

I'm not as maudlin as my post might suggest. I've actually been feeling energized and chock full of hopeful anticipation. But hearing the above quote today, took me to past places where I was unsure and unsettled, those places of accepting a new reality. I am grateful for inspiration, for those portals to memories of those times that shook my foundation. What do you think of when you read the opening statement, whether it is a past transition or current?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

I recently thought of an ex’s old pal, Scott Mc, who died with 15 years on the program. Scott was an animal, a hardcore runner. Once, he crossed the finish line of a half marathon near me, leaned, retched, wiped his mouth and said, “Great run!” A few years later, in the ER trying to reassure his young daughter, he said, “Honey, if you have cancer, I’ll run the Portland Marathon backwards.” She did, and he did, weaving and bobbing for 26.2 miles. Scott dropped dead at the end of a 100 mile event, not because he wasn’t trained, but due to a congenital heart defect. Someone who was there said that he had a look of surprise on his face before he passed.

I think of Scott’s dedication and sheer force whenever I’m feeling whiny about a run. But I also think of his not knowing he had a heart defect, though I imagine, as an ultra-runner, one probably always has aches and pains. This leads me to (a bit of a stretch) thinking of those times when I didn’t “know,” or more accurately, couldn’t admit that something in my life was off-kilter. I’m thinking of dissatisfaction with a particular job that I tried to convince myself was my fault, when it was simply a terrible fit. I think of those relationships where I spent energy trying to convince the other person that I was right for them. I think about the times I look outside myself for who or what to blame, when what I really need to do is change my situation, which can be as simple as leaving a home group that doesn’t fit anymore.

Step Two = Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity... "Restore" means to re-establish, put back, return to a former condition. I used to half-joke that it would be hard to restore what wasn't there to begin with, thinking of  the insanities that led to my admission of powerlessness - believing I could run my body on Kit-Kats, milk, and methamphetamine; hoping, with fingers crossed, that my boyfriend would understand my intentions (which were never malicious) rather than react to my behavior; thinking that no one could see the mess I was in...

But the truth is that sanity and centeredness were always there - the "great reality deep within." I tried to hide from the truth, I did everything I could to outrun the truth, but my deep reality is that I knew all along what I needed. I was simply afraid that what I needed was beyond my abilities. Whether it was leaving a relationship or a job, or knowing that I was killing myself, I knew in that still, quiet place within what was real, and that what was real wasn’t how I was living my life. 

Thirty-three years ago, sanity meant summoning the courage to hold still and say "I'm scared. I don't know how to do this." At various points along the way, it has meant saying, "I've never been here before. Will you help me?" Today, I have various definitions - Being sane means practicing self-care. It means listening and bearing witness to each others' joys and sorrows. Sanity means showing up for my feelings and for each other; still and always it means finding that place of silence, that place of listening to my heart instead of the flutter of my emotion or the logic of intellect.  

If I’m truly practicing Step Two, I’m making time for those quiet moments of sitting, or journaling, or talking with a friend, in order to hear the still, small voice above the clamor of the day-to-day. How do I distract myself these days? Busyness has always been a socially acceptable avenue, and after my ex died in December, I found myself diving in to a pile of chocolate, after having not for close to a year. Practicing Step Two, or any of them, doesn’t mean that I don’t stumble along the way. And tackling the big problems with the Steps is automatic - it's in the application on a daily basis where I sometimes forget. The Steps do become internalized over time -  and the desire to stay conscious of my chosen spiritual path is why I "keep coming back." 

How do you try to distract, or distance yourself from reality these days (& what "reality" is it that you might not want to acknowledge)? What do you do to get back on track? What Step(s) do you take to be restored?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

As January swiftly turns to February, I shift my focus from Step One (powerlessness) to Step Two (being restored). I did a written exercise that I learned from a friend, who heard about it at a conference. I'm convinced that there are very few new ideas in our recovery program, but I am always grateful for the cross-pollination that happens when we attend out-of-town meetings, conferences, or just different groups here at home, then bring what we've heard into our regular meetings. And I love hearing from the travelers who make it to my home groups - different accents, different emphasis, new perspectives. Thank you!

The exercise has to do with the God Box, that handy, tangible tool for letting go (mine is a lovely little hinged box, decorated by a sponsee). Ideally, I write the object of my obsession on a tiny piece of paper, put it in the box and shut the lid. Presto. OK, so I don't always stop thinking of the issue du jour, but the act of writing and physically letting go is a helpful reminder that I am not in charge. By writing down a situation for the God Box, I am admitting my powerlessness, and seeking the restoration of sanity promised in Step Two. Please, HP, help me release my worries to your care.

The idea, then, is to go back through the God Box periodically and jot down outcomes. What happened with my brother's health? My ex's health? My worries over a particular speaking commitment? And on and on. Making note of both positive and painful outcomes, I was reminded that Creator provides strength to walk through all of it, with relative grace and dignity. Not without tears, or sadness, or butterflies, but walking through nonetheless.

I used to have a sealed "God Can." For years I stuffed worries and concerns, insecurities and fears into the little slot. For a long time, I thought it would be cheating to open the can, but last summer decided it was time. Prying open the lid, I found crumpled or neatly folded notes about jobs, relationships, my mom's illness, getting married, health, finances, running goals - nothing too big or too small. That's the beauty of a God Box - it contains what worries me, without concern for what anyone else might think. Just like the box I went through this week, nearly all those things I'd crammed into the can had resolved, in one way or another. And that's the point, right? It all works out, one way or another.

There were a few unfinished items in my current God Box. I jotted down the current date, and recommitted to trust, closing the lid once again on my mental gyrations. What do you do to remind yourself to "let go and let god?" What would you put in the God Box today?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

I just learned of a documentary titled “The 13th Step,” about sex offenders and other criminals being sentenced to AA by the courts, then preying on vulnerable members. I agree that it is a problem for the courts to sentence non-alcoholics to 12 Step groups – AA isn’t, and shouldn’t be, everything to everyone. The friend who watched the film tells me that it goes on to describe AA in mostly negative terms, and that I probably shouldn’t watch it unless I feel like getting mad.

I may or may not watch it, based on my friend’s review (& those of several members online). There is enough in the world today that angers me without looking for trouble. I will say that it bothers me when people who have either been unsuccessful in 12 Step recovery, or had a negative experience, knock the whole thing. If it doesn’t work for you, find what does, which could be another type of support group (Smart Recovery, Rational Recovery for example), church, or nothing at all. But please leave the rest of us out of it. It does work for many. That doesn’t make us weak, or sheep, or not caring about the vulnerable member. And for the record, “AA” is not an entity that controls the hundreds of thousands of groups around the world. It is up to the individual group to monitor its own. Here in Portland, there is a workshop coming up on “safety in the rooms,” including predatory behavior and racist, sexist, homophobic and other hurtful language. We need to grow and evolve, whether that is through a group inventory, a workshop, or, rarely, a Restraining Order, so that the still suffering alcoholic/addict has a safe place to go. It is also up to the more seasoned group members to confront the lurkers and 13th steppers and let them know that their behavior is not ok.

So much for the soapbox. After a grieving December (ah, that it were so easy to impose a time limit), and the joy of my “victory lap” this month, I’m feeling spent...drained, though not in a negative way. There is an aspect of coming through intensity, whether positive or not so much, that feels like a deep breath, a re-centering.

Thus, on with the year!Two friends/sponsees and I met last evening to begin a study of the Traditions as applied to relationships. I’ve done many Step studies over the years, but this is my first intensive look at the Traditions. As we read from the 12x12, I thought, “This is good stuff!” I’m sure I’ve read that section of the book at least once over the years, but, unlike the Steps, the Traditions are just “there.” Yes, yes – they are the “why it works” vs the “how it works” of the Steps, but I’ve never spent much time with them. This could be interesting! And, it is always good deepen my program and stay engaged with the literature.

Tradition One says that “our common welfare should come first.” How do I apply that in my marriage, my friendships, with family,or at work? Can I consciously put my self-centeredness aside for the greater good? What do you think?  

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

On Friday, I chaired a meeting of primarily younger people - I've been sober longer than many of them have been alive (the secretary was literally born the day I went to treatment). What a reality check - don't drink, don't die, and you, too, can put together some time. I heard that when I was a newcomer, but had no idea how quickly, in retrospect, the time would pass. Speaking of, I was reminded this week that time is not a tool. Don't drink and don't die gives time, but it is not a guarantee. I learned of 3 people with 20-30 years who had to change their date over the holidays due to a relapse. Alcoholism, not alcohol-wasm....

Part of my daily reprieve comes from self-awareness, the "thou shall not bullshit thyself" commandment. My sponsor gave me a little stone with "To Thine Own Self Be True" etched on the face. That is my affirmation and intention for the coming year. Am I listening to my heart, and not just my head? Am I taking time for self-care, which can mean anything from solo time or time with friends to Step study and bike rides, and, always, getting enough sleep...

My good friend, the Tarot Card Lady, posted a mini-inventory that really struck me this week: "Make a list of all the things, big and small, that bring you happiness." She then suggests thinking about how that list has changed over the last 5 or so years, taking note of who you are now as an emotional person. She then offered the challenge to do one thing today that makes you happy.  

I especially gravitated to the "who you are now?questionIs there anything on my happiness list based who I used to be (single vs married, marathoner vs not, etc)? Have my wants and needs evolved as I have, or do I fall back on the same familiar list out of habit? Have I let go of things that no longer bring me joy? Conversely, what is on the list that I haven't done for a while, but want to, and why is that? (& more importantly, if it still matters, make a plan!)

Recovery is an ever-evolving adventure. Where will the journey take you today?

Resource: "Like" the page for "Tarot Card Lady” on Facebook  get a daily Tarot card reading in your News Feed