Remember when we were young,
as we abandoned our socks and
shoes, and let the cool green
grass wiggle between our toes?
The sun was warm like a freshly ironed shirt
and we would all join hands
and spin, and spin, till we fell to the ground
laughing while the sky
swirled streaks of blue....
When I was little we had a huge yard. All the neighborhood kids would congregate there and we would play outside until dark. We loved to spin and play airplanes and of course all running barefoot. We had so much fun without computers, video games and very little TV. I am fortunate that our children love to play outside but right now it looks like the middle of January rather than the end of March. Hoping you all have a wonderful, fun, filled weekend....
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I love Wisconsin...it's rolling hills, picturesque farms, quaint towns, fresh air, inches of snow....wait, what do you mean "inches of snow"?! Isn't it spring, the calendar declared that on Sunday March 20th Spring began, well hello, Wisconsin didn't get the memo! Last night after nine PM I came out of my Master Gardener class and was greeted by a face full of sleet and snow. The wind was whipping and visibility was zero. I could barely find a lane to drive in. Mother nature was unleashed. Not to mention that it was also thundering and lightening. Which I love to lay in bed and listen to, but not when the wind is howling, and sleet is pounding the windows. Needless to say the children were happy because it's a "snow day". Except for adults who had to make it into work, and by the grace of God I did. What a mess. It feels like there is no hope. That spring in all it's magic has been chased out of the state. March is a cruel month. But I am thankful that my life is rich and full and there just has to be hope around the corner. The other day my sponsor and I were talking about self love. The falseness that people hide behind. People try to act cool, like nothing bothers them, or that they are above you, by putting you down they feel better. I stopped acting when I came into AA. I was tired, probably because I was so busy writing the script, directing, acting, filming etc. so how do you love yourself? Early on in AA all I could see were all my faults. As more was revealed the more horrified I became. I was selfish, egotistical, insecure, unhappy, bossy, unrealistic, not humble etc.... and I was suppose to feel good about myself? My sponsor told me the first time we met that the greatest gift she could give me was self love. To love myself just as I was. I thought she was nuts. Come on I'm middle aged, need to loose weight,, emotionally drained, my soul was bankrupt and I was carrying baggage from second grade. Well of course I didn't know that what she wanted me to do was cut myself a heap of slack. To ask the prefectionist to "take a break". We started by carving out some "me time". A time everyday where I did something for myself. Listened to music, wrote, read, took a long bath etc... just me. Now of course this wasn't easy because all the "mom guilt" that resides in me would come bubbling up every time I tried to do this, but after a while it got less and less hard. Then came taking care of myself. Make better eating choices, get more sleep, take a walk, do what feels good. Next we worked on how I saw myself. I had to take a good look at myself. Wrinkles, muffin top and all. I had been avoiding mirrors for years because I was ashamed of my weight. I had worked so hard to loose it, and then to put it back on and more was crushing. Until the day my sponsor pointed out skinny little L at a Saturday morning meeting and said, "I bet L is a size 3, but does she look happy to you?" I looked at L, her face tight, drawn, and so unhappy. Every time she tried to talk she burst into tears. Point taken, like money, skinniness doesn't buy happiness. So I learned to accept for the first time in 42 years, my body, just as it is. This is me, stretch marks and all. Then I had to learn to rest when I was tired, ask for help when I was overwhelmed, talk when I needed to, laugh, cry, and sometimes just be quiet. In otherwords, live my emotions. And something happened, little by little I began to like and accept myself. I didn't notice it at first but in the last few months, I've finally accepted me. It's been a long time coming. I hope that I can give my daughter this wisdom and her journey doesn't have to be as long as mine was. To have true self love is a gift that surpasses so many others. You don't need money, a perfect body, a perfect face, or clothes, just plain and simple acceptance. Once you do that you radiate a confidence, a strength, a comfortablness that leaks into other people. I was having a conversation on the phone with a friend the other night when they commented: "Liz, you sound great!" and I thought, "I feel great". I am wonderfully made by God, and what he makes is perfection. Not conceit, just acceptance. So look in the mirror today, and give that special reflection a message, "I love you just the way you are!" and if you truly mean it, peace and contentment will follow.... smiles....
Monday, March 21, 2011
Last Thursday at the "We are Not Saints Group" that I lead we talked about letting people know you are an alcoholic. I know that a lot of people do not want others to know that they are recovering alcoholics for various reasons. It doesn't bother me, and I have no problem telling people I am a recovering alcoholic. Why? Because I wish I had known one. Seriously I know that sounds crazy but I think knowing someone whom you feel has it all together, someone you feel comfortable talking with, someone you can ask questions with, if you knew that person was an alcoholic you might be more willing to explore your own options. Maybe, maybe not. Our path is revealed in it's own time, and I was meant to come into AA when I did, but had I known someone who was a recovering alcoholic, and had I been able to speak to them about the disease, perhaps it would have made an impression on me. I know, I know :Wudda, shudda, cudda, but that's not what I mean. I guess I grew up knowing nothing about alcoholics, except what was depicted on Tv, and in my mind you had to be a hobo, drinking out of a paper bag, living under a highway overpass. If my parents talked about anyone they knew that was an alcoholic, they would almost whisper the word. Like a terrible secret, so as my drinking was progressing I couldn't imagine I was an alcoholic. I wasn't a bum, drinking out of a bag. No just a bum drinking out of a wine glass. It didn't dawn on me that alcoholism like cancer doesn't discriminate. It can hit anyone. So for years lack of knowledge helped me justify my behavior. People would tell me I was a good mother and I would say "Good mother's aren't alcoholics", if I was promoted at work I would say "people don't get promoted if they are alcoholics", I had a whole list of reason's why I wasn't an alcoholic. Then I came to AA and found out I wasn't any different than anyone else in that room. What's really amusing to me is that everyone else knows you are an alcoholic way before you do. I thought I was such a good actor! No academy award for me. I guess my point is ( you're probably wondering "she has a point") is that I want to let people know what I didn't. That alcoholics are normal, functioning people, that we are in contact with every day. I hated all the lying, covering up, pretending that everything was great, and I did it all the time. It's very exhausting. So by letting it be known that I'm a recovering alcoholic I've been able to help quite a few people. At work, in social circles, in everyday life. I want people to know that it's ok. There is a solution. Too often I feel shame keeps people away from AA. It did me, going through those doors meant I was really what I feared the most. My fear was poorly based, and I learned to drop my shame pretty fast. I needed help, I needed to lean on other people, I needed to admitt that I was powerless. These things scared me to death, but they didn't have to. Life is so much better when you realize that you have nothing to fear but fear itself. I try to represent AA in the best way I know how. To let people know that there really is a way back. I tell people that AA took me from being a bystander to be a full time participator. Or as in the words of my friend Linda "This is a program for grown ups. For people that want to live a life richer, and fuller, than they ever dreamed. Some days I feel like I help no one and then other days I know when someone stops and says "Can I ask you a few questions about AA?" that I'm doing what I'm meant to do: give back freely what was so freely given to me......
Sunday, March 20, 2011
We were blessed with a gorgeous spring day yesterday. The air was soft, although cool and the sun shone most of the day. My two youngest and my hubby went to the school carnival and my oldest and I had lunch, picked up some art supplies he needed and spent the afternoon at the art museum. He already takes classes and volunteers and the Center for Visual arts and this afternoon he is joining the Teen Art Council for the Leigh Yawkey Woodson art museum. His talent and passion for art run deep, and he loves to explore any opportunity for growth. I never realized until yesterday that for a small town (60,000) that we are lucky to have exposure to the arts, and theater, not to mention the concerts in the park once summer comes. Having grown up here I tend to overlook how pretty our town is, and that we are quite fortunate to live in the heart of the Midwest. Today we awoke to overcast skies and rain. It's cold and blustery, a good day to start preparing for my Master Gardener final exam that will happen in five weeks. It's open book but I still want to prepare so I know where to find things. All in all it's been an interesting class taking me out of my comfort zone and into areas I thought didn't have much impact on my gardens but really do. Last week our class dealt with soil and I know I can feel the yawns, but it was quite interesting. I can't wait until we are able to volunteer and hopefully by September I will be a Certified Master Gardener. People always ask if I'm going to get a job in landscaping. This is funny since it's Wisconsin that is quite "seasonal" work. No I will be a resource for people who need help/advice with their gardens and it's a great way to give back to the community. Not everything one does has to be attached to money. The greatest pleasures in life often come from doing something that you feel passionate about. When I say this I think of my sponsor. A lot of people are intimidated by the person I chose to be my sponsor. She is very vocal, you know exactly where you stand and she's not afraid to hand you the truth. She spoke about how important sponsorship is to her. That she never asks any of her sponsees to do anything she herself hasn't done. Her rough exterior hides an enormous heart that would drop anything to be with you at any given time, day or night. She's one of the best hidden secrets out there. She taught me the importance of taking care of myself, how to love myself, how to let go and let God. She taught me that life is worth participating in, the sidelines aren't the place for me. One of the great things that I get to watch is when she sponsors someone new and I get to witness the change in them. She is currently sponsoring a girl who spoke at our Thursday night meeting and so many of the things she said sounded like me over a year a go. It will be interesting to watch her journey. I am always amazed at how life just keeps evolving, and that I keep growing. Some days you feel like you are in the same old rut, nothing ever changes, like you are sitting on "pause" waiting for someone to hit the "play" button and then something happens that fast forwards you. A few weeks ago on a recommendation from a friend, I submitted some poetry to our UW Marathon Campus spring writing competition. I was contacted via email by a very nice lady thanking me for my entry, and saying that she would contact me in the future if I didn't mind in regards to writing opportunities. I thought "good" and never gave it another thought. Last Monday she was in my inbox inviting me to join a writing group she has just started "1000 Words Wausau". It will consist of five community members of all ages and backgrounds, and each Sunday she will send us four words and two sentences that are to act as inspiration and we are to write a 250 word short story. After we have compiled four of these we will be meeting at the City Grill Bistro and performing a reading. I was thrilled. It's been a long time since I've written more than 55's, but I'm willing to give it a try. Once again it's that "getting me out of my comfort zone" thing that I need. I really am a creature of habit, but I'm concentrating on getting more adventurous. Other than that it was a quiet weekend until my oldest was playing with my parents ShiTsu and that got too silly, and the dog caught Alex's upper lip and he had to go to the emergency room for six stitches. What cracked me up is how a sixteen year old thinks: "I will look so tough with this scar, and don't wash the blood spots off my jeans just yet, they look so sweet." Sweet maybe but not sanitary. So two hours later he and his dad pull into the driveway as I was just pulling the yummy Swiss Steak out of the oven. We had a delicious meal (even though Al's face was numb) watched a little TV and all hit the bed early. I love that the small things in life provide so much pleasure, and that instead of turning to a drink when this incident went down, I turned to an old family recipe for comfort, and that also provided comfort to every one around me. So let the raindrops fall (at least its not snow) and let the wind blow because the sunny warm days will be back, and I will appreciate them even more........