Wednesday, May 8, 2024


 In my sporadic decluttering efforts, I recently went through a couple of drawers of art supplies - craft and construction paper, calligraphy pens and ink from a long ago class, colored pens and pencils, glitter...  Mind you, I don't actually do arts or crafts, but I certainly could, in that elusive "someday"...

I shared a photo with my brother of a box of colored pencils that I'm certain I've had since we were kids, along with my "someday" intentions. He emailed back, "I hate to think we can never change and take up the activities we thought we wanted to do. At least give them a reasonable shot...The practicalities of life steer the ship for the most part. Darn." Darn indeed. I've got these cool colored pens and pencils, but maybe after the laundry, or the TV show, or the long walk. It really is about priorities, and about making space. I make space for writing each week - it is part of my routine (and thank you for coming along), but the other stuff - the birthday cards I used to make for friends or the collages - haven't raised to that level of attention or intention.

But I also wonder, is it ok to pick up those pencils without a driving passion, without an eye to a gallery showing or gift shop sales? Is it ok to simply putter around and draw misshapen cats, or stick figure people? In grade school, there were two girls identified as the artists (Kiki and Bunny), and they were very good. Their flowers looked like actual flowers (or whatever the subject was). I'm sure I internalized the "I'm not any good" message, though actually, it is true that I'm not skilled at representational drawing. And while kudos to Grandma Moses, maybe it is ok to just doodle. (Of course, I do know it is ok, after I tell my inner art critic to shut up).

So then, giving up the internal whisper that I must do things well or not at all, whether cooking or drawing or running a race (I gave up that dream years ago - somebody has to bring up the rear!). Back to my recent musing about parenting - I was in therapy at the time, and my counselor suggested I think of the concept of "good enough parenting." I didn't employ that thinking, but have utilized it to be a good enough step mom, a good enough supervisor, a good enough 12 step member, or as we read, a worker among workers, no better, no worse.

It took me awhile in sobriety to understand that thinking poorly of myself was just as much of an ego trip as thinking highly - both evidence of self-absorption, or as my sponsor says, the "me me me" syndrome that is sure to lead to dissatisfaction. Relieve me of the bondage of self, oh please.

In a meeting last week on the topic of Step 11, the speaker suggested that instead of asking for guidance, one could ask to be open to guidance, which in his belief, is always there, if I'm paying attention - to the chance encounter, the unexpected conversation, a passage in a book that speaks to me (even if I've read it 50 times before). That would imply that getting quiet is an avenue to my inner wisdom, which can equal simply sitting still, or more formalized meditation. This speaker also quoted someone else (I don't know about you, but I don't have an original thought in my head!) saying that meditation is a blue-collar undertaking - you clock in and clock out and what happens in-between is none of my business. I like that image as I do, still, sometimes chastise myself for not doing it "right." Then I remind myself that Bill wasn't writing about Eastern sitting-on-a-lily-pad meditation, but the idea of reflecting on an inspirational reading. I can remember that in the moments I spend quietly with my journal, or noticing spring's glory on my walks.

We attended a retirement party for a friend this week - someone I've known since early recovery. He would've been about 25 to my 31 when we came in, which amounts to a lot of life lived in the meantime. I'm often struck with "who would've thought?" when contemplating my long-term relationships. Who would've thought we'd have walked each other through parents dying, relationships ending and then beginning, children growing up, grandparenting, getting a career and then retiring; health scares and travels, relapses and back in the saddle? I am wealthy indeed, and not in the ways that I may have thought were important.

Is there a hobby or other pursuit you'd planned to do "someday?" Does it still call to you? If so, what is a small gesture you can make towards it this week? Can you release any lingering notions of perfectionism? How does your internal wisdom show up these days? How do you measure your wealth?

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