Monday, November 19, 2012

Someone does listen

"Well, I've heard people say that God is the gift of desperation, and there's a lot to be said for having really reached a bottom where you've run out of anymore good ideas, or plans for everybody else's behavior; or how to save and fix and rescue; or just get out of a huge mess, possibly of your own creation.

"And when you're done, you may take a long, quavering breath and say, 'Help.' People say 'help' without actually believing anything hears that. But it is the great prayer, and it is the hardest prayer, because you have to admit defeat — you have to surrender, which is the hardest thing any of us do, ever."

Anne Lamott from an interview on her new book: 'Help, Thanks, Wow'

I've been through an emotional roller coaster lately. The highs and lows of being up one minute and down the next. These past few days I have been dealing with the wreckage left by a family member who decided to unload on other people. This particular onslaught brought up many past feeling of inadequacy which in disregards to what my program has taught me, I let all the old doubts come back in and rule my feelings. I have cried a lot and rented out unnecessary space simply because this person is so unhappy with their own life that they felt the need to take everyone else's inventory.

Not to mention my hubby is gone hunting for ten days. I'm juggling an overpacked schedule, and three children, a second seasonal job, and dealing with my disease on a daily basis. And you know what happens next: tired, irritable, and discontent. I really woke up with the blues. My daughter Grace had an early Dr. appointment this morning to monitor her medication for ADD (she has shown such awesome improvement and her self esteem is really climbing) so we were all out of the house early. After running to and from the Dr. back to school, I turned on NPR and fortunately for me an interview with Anne Lamott was on. And it was all about her new book on prayer.
And it was just what I needed to hear. Her words resonated within my soul. I'm at the above point: Help. So simple, so hard to admitt.

So I came into work with tears in my eyes. Am dealing with a million emotions, have finally eaten something, and am having Barnes and Noble hold the book. Tonight I will make a cup of tea, and begin reading. God really does listen, and answer, and thank you for listening too.....

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's not so funny in the beginning....

A few weeks ago a newbie spoke up at a Saturday morning meeting. She was full of herself and was laughing and joking about how this "not drinking stuff wasn't going so well". She proceeded to give a drunkaloge of her first few days in AA. I was watching the reactions of the people around me as she continued on and I could tell it wasn't going to turn out well. After ten minutes of continuous giggling and jokes an old timer cut her off. You can imagine what happened next. How quickly a room divides. She got a dose of reality and she left the room. Some people followed and some people stayed. I chose to stay neutral and reflect upon my early program with a friend over lunch.

My friend D and I both took a glance back at why we came to AA. For him he had nothing left to loose. He had lost it all. Flipping the couch cushions over looking for change to buy a bottle when his entire life was pretty much in pieces. Myself because I was desperate. Did we use humor to hide those first few months? Yep, its a great avoidance to step one. For some silly reason I'm not sure why I thought being funny would allow me to not have to admitt that I was powerless over alcohol. But it did, and I did make jokes at my expense. But what I didn't realize or want to realize was how out of control I was. And if somethings funny then it can't really be so bad can it?

We also talked about the first few doses of reality. When someone whose been there knows this isn't a laughing matter. That since you really don't know anything perhaps you should shut your mouth, open your ears, and listen to people who've walked this path before you. We come in so full of ourselves that we've darn near eliminated any room for growth. We know it all. We know shit! I had huge doses of reality within my first three weeks. It sucked. Many times I wanted to run out of the room, many times I cried, in anger and frustration but it helped break my ego down so I became teachable. So I gained some humility.

As an alcoholic I know I used every facade and escape from humor to tears to avoid the real problem: that I was completely powerless over alcohol. It wasn't funny. It was serious and serious was an emotion I wanted very little of. I could be serious and very in touch with my feelings when I was drunk. Liquid courage can do that for you. But looking at my disease sober and head on there was nothing funny about it. I had to have a few more 24 hours of sobriety under my belt before I could say that.

As with all things in life we want to go from A to Z. We want to skip over all the hard work and get to the results. It just doesn't work that way. There is no "easier softer" way around it. Its work. Everyday work. Life just keeps piling it on and there are days when I can't find anything to laugh at, not even my dysfunctional self. And yet there are times when thats all I do is laugh. Not too long ago I was driving a van full of 5th and 6th grade soccer players home from an away game. It was a cold autumn day, the sun and the rain were sharing the sky and the fall colors were spectacular. As I glanced toward the setting sun one of the kids put in a Christmas CD and they all started singing "Jingle Bells". This is my life today. Full of chaos and noise. A reason I would have drank. A reason I know celebrate sobriety.

If you don't do the work, none of the simple pleasures in life will be yours. You will miss out on moments like this. Giggles and laughter, and singing off key while the rain splashes over the sun. You will laugh again, maybe not right away, maybe not the first few months, but you will. You need to be serious for a while. You need to take your life back. You need to show alcoholism that this disease in no laughing matter. It destroys, it kills, and it has the ability to strip any kind of joy from your life forever. Don't let it steal your smile, it just isn't worth it.....

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cunning, baffling, and powerful...

Oh this precious little disease we have. You know the one, the one that whispers in our ears at the end of the day, "you need to relax, you're full of anxiety, just one won't hurt, there's nobody here to see you take the drink, no one has to know"....
And so the story goes but someone does know, and someone will be hurt, and that's the alcoholic that convinces themselves that they really don't have a problem. They can manage to have only one drink now. Surely after living months without drinking there's no way it will become unmanagable. Not at least until you buy into the lie...

Saturday morning I chaired the meeting. When I asked if there were any anniversaries my friend A raised his hand. Right away I got a big smile on my face and listened for him to recite "today I have three years", when instead out came, "today I have five months". My smile froze and I hope my eyes didn't give my surprise away. I had no idea that he had relapsed. You see A was there on my first night, a few months more than me sober. He lives in my neighborhood and was always saying to me, "keep coming back". For the past few months I haven't seen him on a regular basis but I would run into him now and then. People get busy, go back to work, change schedules, and then they go to different meetings. I didn't think anything about it. But now I was hearing about his relapse for the first time.

It wasn't pretty he said. He thought he could handle it. Just one tiny drink and then a month later he wound up jobless and back in treatment. His disease had once more outsmarted him. To say that he was humbled is an understatement. He is still having problems looking other people in the eyes. He's disappointed in himself. And yet he came back. He didn't continue to let his disease rule him. Even if humiliation is written all over his face he was back and five months in. After the meeting we hugged and I admitted I was shocked that I didn't know. He said he felt so stupid. But don't we all at some point?

People often think the hardest is when you first stop drinking. Then I've heard people say the first year is the toughest. But I think the further you get away from drinking the more dangerous it gets. Because this little disease keeps maturing, and its just waiting for the second you let your guard down to start whipering little suggesting in your ears. And boy can it be convincing. But it can backfire on the disease itself as well.

Seeing my friend A suffering and full of humiliation reminded me how very quickly I need to keep my senses sharpened. To not get boastful, to not think I'm in control, to not forget that I fight this disease each and every day. One of the things I kept thinking was that it could very well be me sitting in A's shoes. I get lax on going to meetings, lax on my readings and meditations, lax on my relationship with my higher power but thank God A was there to help me the other day. He was helping another alcoholic stay sober, and that alcoholic was me. I've said it before to him but I said it again, "thanks for being a part of my recovery". He gave me a good-bye hug and a smile and we went our seperate ways. Cunning, baffling, and powerful. May we never take those three word for granted......

Friday, September 7, 2012


Summer planted her warm kiss
On my forehead and quietly
Slipped into the night
While Fall stole in and
Painted the trees and apples
Danced on thinning limbs
As black faced geese called their
Solemn good-byes and Winter stood
Waiting in the wings…..

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wedding Bliss

This past weekend my family and I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of my bestie's oldest child. I have known this young man since he was three. What an awesome time it has been to watch him grow into this creative, wonderful, funny, man. His bride is a gem, and as I told him before the ceremony no one could have hand picked a more perfect mate for him than the one he had chosen. They were married in a field, corn and trees surrounding us. The remnants of hurrican Isac in the distance. A reading from Emerson, and one from Whinnie the Pooh, and simple country flowers held by the bride. Afterwords the reception was held in a barn. People enjoyed home cooked food, pies and cake, dancing and fellowship. Most of us kicked off our shoes and went barefoot.

After a few rain showers the sky began to clear and mother nature painted one of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen. An impromtu baseball game was ignited by the young couples friends using an old board and a crushed plastic cup. When it was dark my bestie and I walked out by the corn field and turned around to survey the scene in front of us. A barn with sparkling lights and dancing people, a white tent with twinkling gold lights, laughter pouring out of the doorway to the tables of relaxing adults, and children running and playing in the twilight. It took my breath away. This magical special, special, night. It was at that moment that I wanted to freeze this piece of time. To take it out to look at when the day wasn't so magical. To some how be able to hold onto that fraction of time, if ony for a second longer.

Weddings to me used to mean free drinks. A place to catch a wine buzz and nurse it all night long. To be in a fuzzy haze of bloated happiness. Only to pay the price the next day with a monster headache. I couldn't socially relax without a drink, I certainly couldn't dance without a drink, and I couldn't imagine having a great time without being 90% blotto! This was my second sober wedding. Yes there was alcohol, but none for me. I laughed, I cried (I never make it when the dad walks the bride down the isle)I ate, drank lots of coffee, and danced. It was pure fun. Who knew the pure raw sensation of clean straight non alcoholic senses could be so intoxicating! I wouldn't have told you that a few years ago, and that is a fact.

Sobriety has taught me to be at my best. That all those emotions that flood us from top to bottom, must be felt. The lump in the throat, the tear in the eye, the uninhibited laughter, its all necessary to being real. I still struggle with emotions. At times I can feel overwhelmed. Like I'm drowning and its just to much to bare. It will be a life long process. But being able to stand back and soak all that wonderful wedding bliss in was enough to remind me just how important sobriety really is. It puts me in the moment. It makes me a player rather than a bystander. It makes me realize that when I lay my head down at night, and close my eyes, just how lucky I am to be me........

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Hello! I'm on the flip side of surgery, well into recovery. Things went very well despite being in surgery three hours. The tumor was much bigger than they suspected but Pathology reported it was benign. They removed part of the gland, the tumor and surrounding tissues. I have an incision that runs from the top of my ear to the middle of my throat and lots of bruising. Needless to say I'm really generating a lot of stares from people. Some paralysis around the left side of my mouth and a half a face of numbness but we will know in six months how much of this is permanent. All in all I am just greatful for the awesome Dr.'s, nurses, family and friends that I have including all you awesome bloggers. I was able to ice my face and neck, lay in bed, get waited on and read an entire book.

But like all things it must end. Back to work this past Monday. Not that I have a physical job but I'm pretty wiped by the end of the day. But there is something to be said for the routine of life. Getting up, getting ready, doing a job, taking care of one's family. Routine is comforting. It gets you out of yourself. It keeps you away from going to deep into the scarey zone that resides in your mind. I have to keep that door shut because negative thoughts and pity live there! Not a neighborhood I want to walk into alone.

The Saturday before my surgery I attended my favorite weekly AA meeting and a woman spoke of something that just resonated within me. She was talking about a friend who years ago had been in a car accident. This woman was infused with small pieces of glass in her skin from the windshield and is still finding pieces of it years later. The woman talking said she felt like her alcoholism was like that broken glass. That just when she thought she had it all she would find another piece to remove.

What a great analogy. Isn't it true to the program that it will never be truly gone? That for the rest of our lives we will be removing these shards of our past? The guilt, the regrets, the amends that we still need to make? I was awestruck. At first by the realization that it is a lifetime of removal but that it also served another purpose. That we should ever forget where we came from. Those broken pieces keep reminding us of just how much damage our disease can do. Just how much it can destroy, and how we need to manage what is left, and to never God forbid add any more.

You hear a lot of things in AA. Some pass over like wave of water, other penetrate deep. This one I love. Just like my pretty new scar, I don't mind having to keep removing those pieces of my past. They keep it fresh, they keep it real. In fact I know I will never be smooth skinned. My life is too complex and too wonderful to ever want to reach that goal. I hope you are all enjoying the last remains of summer. The kids and I are off to the lake tomorrow. My two youngest start school on Monday so that want one last carefree weekend of fun. I want to lounge by the fire and start on another good book. Hugs to all.......

Friday, August 10, 2012


They keep coming: changes. When you know they are about to happen, or when you least expect them, there they are. My sponsor told me early on "Change is good, and its a good thing we don't know when its going to happen because we would never turn a corner". My life has been a stream of changes lately.

It started at the end of May. I was rubbing my neck when I found a lump. I could tell by the size and shape that it didn't belong there. So either I had a Greek olive lodged in my throat, or something a little more serious was going on. My Dr. thought it was a swollen gland so we waited a month but when it wasn't going down we did a mirror image CT scan. It showed a large tumor on the perotid gland. Two biopsies later, it is benign but going to be surgically removed on Monday before it gets too big, and also as a preventative measure in case it became cancerous. The unsettling part of this is that the facial nerve that controls the lips, and eyes runs right along that gland. The Dr.'s expect some temporary facial paralysis, but depending on how deep the tumor is there is a risk of permanent damage to the nerve, thus permanent paralysis on the left side of my face.

As you can imagine this was an unexpected change in my daily course of life. And for the first time I can say it with all honesty, "I'm scared". The surgery will take 2 to 3 hours, an overnight stay, a week off of everything, and weeks to heal. Not to mention a scar that will run from my ear down under the jaw and into the neck. Good thing I'm way pass the "vanity stage" in life. Before I would have loved the attention that this was going to bring. How people might fuss over me, poor selfish little me. Now I look the dangers, how humbling this is going to be because I will have to rely on other people for help. You know us alcoholics: we LOVE control. And this is way out of my control.

So with a deep breath I have to let go. Let the Dr.'s do what they are trained to do. Let my hubby step up to the plate in my place. In other words let life do what its suppose to do. Sigh, that is still so hard for me. Sometimes I physically have to close my eyes, and open and release my hands so I can tell myself,"Let Go"! I am a work in progress when it comes to this.

Other changes are happening too. My best friend took our oldest son's senior pictures a few weeks ago. We had a wonderful day of shooting in the historical district of a city, all urban and edgy, but I kept getting a lump in my throat as I watched them. Where has my little boy gone? She sent the proofs last night. What was funny is that he looked so old while she was shooting the pics and last night as we were looking at the actual pictures, I could see the little boy in his eyes that he once was. So we are getting ready to apply for the college he wants to attend, scholarships, and the last year of classes at his high school. Changes...

Our middle child is entering sixth grade. Taller, voice lower, into new things. My daughter has shot up in height, and is about two inches shorter than me. How fast things change. And its hard to keep things in perspective. It's hard not to feel that time is going by too quickly. So I go to a meeting where people tell me "one day at a time"! That change is necessary for growth. To "live and let live". And as usual this programs keeps teaching me. And by the grace of God I remain teachable.

So even the weather has changed. Crisp and cool thanks to a cold front, even mother nature reminds us that change is coming in the seasons. So please take care for me. Remain teachable, embrace change (even if there are days I could use less change) and I will pop back in to look at all the blogs as soon as I can. love and peace....

Monday, July 9, 2012

Small lessons learned from small acts.....

For those who know me, I love to garden. Flowers, not veggies. Not that there is anything wrong with veggies, I just leave those up to the farmers, and support local stands or farmer's markets. I'm a flower girl. When we bought our home 14 years ago we inherited perennial beds. Overgrown, old bulbs, a mish mash of design and function. I didn't know a tulip from an iris, let alone a cone flower. One of my neighbors came over one evening and helped me decipher what was what. Thus a love of gardening was born.

Since then I've spent years reworking the beds, and even tearing out, redesiging, adding to etc. until pretty much the entire yard is bordered with flower beds. This is a passion of mine, even in my drinking days I loved to garden. But when July came I used to get very lazy with my gardens. It was too hot to enjoy them, I didn't feel like weeding, I just watered to get by. In otherwords I didn't know how to nuture.

Nuturing was something I learned through the program of AA. It taught me that in order to nuture, I had to have patience. I may plant one year, and then have to wait another to see results. That all things have to have a certain amount of care. All things bloom, and all things die. Sometimes bugs will destroy something that only 24 hours ago was beautiful. That not all things will develope the way I wanted them to. And that there are so many things I cannot control such as drought, heat, frost, chipmunks etc....

So I had a revelation of sorts the other night as I was watering. Rain has been scarce here in the Midwest. Not to mention the heat index was at 105 degrees most of the last 7 days. So I was watering for the second time in one day and I began to really look at the beds. What was working, what might need reworking and I realized that through the program I had learned how to really care for something I loved. I was weeding all the beds at least once a week, removing/dead heading once a week, translplanting, dividing, and watering. Watering slowly and methodically like my grandfather did. Taking my time and not being in a hurry simply to check one more task off my list. I found that I was taking great pleasure in the simple act of caring. And why? Because I was getting so much in return.

These beds allow me to think. They allow me to listen to the birds chirping around me. To notice the big bumble bees pollenating as they buzz from flower to flower. To watch the grasses gently swaying in the wind, and to enjoy the butterflies as they flutter through the folliage. A few hours spent in my gardens and I do not need a therapist. They have taught me to slow down, to wait for the fruits of my labors to appear. But they've also taught me something else.

They've taught me that my gardens will never be complete. They need room to grow, they are ever changing, they need improvements, they need patience to come into their own time. Just like us. As hokey as it sounds a garden is a perfect metaphore for life. Because just like those beautiful plants we all need room to grow, to change, to nuture and be nutured, and to evolve into something wonderful....

Friday, June 22, 2012

Life as I know it.....

Hello! I hope you are all doing well. I have been to say the least busy. May was a blurr of activity and June has been humming right along. Some days it crosses my mind that I ever had time to drink. Seriously where did those hours come from because an ordinary day is working eight hours, guitar lessons for my daughter, haircuts for my two youngest, new shoes for middle son, grocery shopping, dinner and before I know it its quarter to ten at night! Weekends are either spent at the cottage or cleaning and gardening. So I started to ponder this revelation and the answer came to me in an unsual way. Through a line I heard in a movie.

Who better to deliver this line than Morgan Freeman. As I found a few minutes to sit down one afternoon I clicked on the TV and right into the last hour of the "Shawshanke Redemption". The line that struck me is so well known, "get busy living, or get busy dying". How true that is. I was really rather unaware of the fact that I was slowly dying until I started living. Living has a speed all unto itself. Some days are full throttle and others are like a soft breeze. All are wonderful in their own way.

I was working with my sponsee one afternoon and I was able to get the opportunity to see what I looked at just three months in. She's been dealing with life sober and it shows. Big black circles, darting scared eyes, high pitched voice. Hands nervously moving back and forth. I had a mirror image for about an hour. I used to look the same way. She was very frustrated this particular afternoon because she is coming to the realization that she has little control over anything. At one very frustrated point she yelled, "What the hell is the secret to sobriety!" to which I replied, "there is no secret, there is no magic cure. You simply have to want sobriety more than you want alcohol". She looked at me like I was nuts. But it has taken me a few 24 hours to figure this out. So when I got home I peeked in the mirror. No black circles, no pinched face. Just someone who now likes the person she is becoming.

So to share a "living" moment with you picture this: A warm spring evening in May, a small pretty art gallery, beautiful art on display, a soft breeze coming through the entrance. I stood up to read two poems of mine that had been selected, inspired two awesome pieces of art, and were now published. I gazed out accross a sea of smiling faces (one of which was my dad) and I thought," how lucky I am to be in this moment, to see how my life has changed, to be humbled by the fact that life is so good, and that I get the honor of experiencing it.

You simply have to want sobriety more than you want alcohol. No big grand explosion of knowledge. Just a simple fact. And once you realize this you can get "busy living" and then you will see just how great life can be.....

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Totally worn out.....

May. It's the best of months, it's the worst of months. Busy is my middle name. Not that this is anything new. It happens every year, but this time its different, this time I'm worn out. Tired. Want to close my eyes and sleep for a week tired.
Physically, mentally, and spiritualy tired.

Have you ever felt like this? Like its a chore to keep your eyelids open? I have, in my deepest time of drinking. I just wanted to escape. Remove myself from everything, and everyone. I think I actually thought I could somehow drink myself into an entire new life. Not that there was anything wrong with the life I had it just overwhelmed me, and I wanted to disappear. Take off, avoid. It's my achilles heel, because when I start to go on overload my brain signals :flight.

Now thanks to my program that's not an option. However I still can have the physical side affects of stress. For me that's exhaustion. When May hits we are going full blast. Fieldtrips, ceremonies, events, last few weeks of school, a million deadlines, and all of this hurling us towards summer. This time my body put the brakes on way before my mind could catch up. It just got tired.

Saturday is when I first noticed it. I'm a pretty high energy girl, and we had just spent two days in the Twin Cities. Day one was spent at the college my oldest wants to attend and the second was touring around Minneapolis. By the time we made the three hour trip home I was consumed with exhaustion. I walked in the door, collapsed in the chair, and if I had my way I would still be there, but life doesn't work that way.

Is this a trap? Am I falling into old patterns? Am I on slippery slopes? One could answer yes to all of these but somethings different. Before I could not have recognized this feeling. I would have kept pushing until everything fell apart. Now I do what I can and I modify the rest. Normal people know instinctively how to do this but I don't. I had to learn the hard way.

My sponsor taught me to listen to what my body was telling me. When it's had enough I need to listen. I need to stay hydrated, get extra sleep, and do what necessary, not what I think wonder woman would do! For a control freak ego maniac such as myself this was a bitter pill to swallow! What do you mean I can't handle it all? Of course I can, otherwise I'm a failure. In whose eyes? Mine. We are often our hardest critics. It's taken me three years into sobriety to figure this out.

I have finally cut myself the slack I need. I've been through a lot of changes in the last few years. I've dealt with a lot, I've taken on more than I imagined I could and guess what? I need a break. So I will give myself one. If I want a nap, I'll take one. If I want to sit outside and do nothing I will. If I want to laugh, cry, scream, or be quiet I can. I answer to myself. So instead of letting my imagination tell me that somethings drastically wrong, I just listen to what my body is telling me. It needs a break, a much deserved one at that. Sometimes just being able to admitt that I am not superwoman is the exact medicine I need to make me start feeling better. So tell me, what's new with you?

Friday, April 27, 2012

That first year....

There's something special about a "first". Your first kiss, your first love,
your first child, your first year of sobriety. A lot of people won't experience the last "first". They either won't have to, or they just won't make it. A week ago A celebrated his "first year". He's a sweet young kid (30ish) who just happen to be celebrating turning one! That ear to ear grin he wore the entire meeting was enough to make even the hardest of hearts turn soft. So many people went around the room and talked, and congratulated him, and then it was his turn to speak.

"I came into AA broken. Mentally, physically ( I had just been in a horrible car accident and had a broken shoulder, ribs, and was in a neck brace) and spiritually. I had no idea what I was doing, if my wife was going to be there when I went home, if I still had a job, if life was worth living. You people taught me it was. Little by little things got better, little by little my mind cleared. My wife stayed with me, my employer kept me working, my body, mind, and spirit healed. Now one year later I can't imagine my life with a drink."

We've all been there. That broken mass of confusion that just needs to find a path. Some instruction on how to live. I always tell people, "after high school when they were handing out instructions on how to live your life, I didn't show up. Too hung over from the night before". And when you don't know how to live, life gets very tough. At least now I have a better sense of who I am, what my purpose is, and where I am going.

There are times when I forget that first year of sobriety. How each day is so fought for. How there were moments at the end of the day when every fiber and nerve cell were screaming "I need a drink". How I didn't think I would ever sleep without being half intoxicated. How heavy my heart was, and how cloudy my mind was. Taking out my skeletons, tossing them away one by one, getting rid of years of useless luggage that I carried around. Staying in today, asking for help, and saying thank you at the end of the day. These were the simple acts that my life was missing. A friend of mine who I haven't talked to in a while gave me a call to just say "hi" the other day. When I said my prayers, his call was on my gratitude list. Those tiny gestures that make all the difference.

Being in my third year of sobriety, life has changed. Things are different. My oldest just took his ACT's. We are touring a college in the Twin Cities next month. He has become a man. That sweet little "first born" is getting ready to leave. There are times when I am excited, and terrified all in the same breath. But mostly I am anxious to watch him become the person he is suppose to be. For now I have one more year of him at home. I plan to celebrate it all. Kissing my two youngest before bed the other night made me realize that they are almost the same height as me. (not hard when you are 5'3) Tonight they have a dessert concert at school and they are so excited to perform. Life is ever changing.

My hubby and I are getting older. I've noticed gray patches at my temples. I now need readers for up close, and after a day of hard yard work out bodies pop and snap like firewood. But life is different. It has a peace that the first year of sobriety didn't bring. There are still ripples in the pond, but no longer waves of emotion. Life rides on a much more steady course.

I keep my yearly coins in a special butterfly box a friend gave me. When I came home last week I went into my room and opened that box. My first year coin is beautiful. My sponsor special ordered it for me and I love the weight of it. It signifies the long journey of those 365 days. And its important as you move into sobriety that you remember that it wasn't too long ago when things weren't so good. I smiled as I placed them back and put the lid on. I am truly grateful and I hope that box has room for many more.......

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You just got to want it......

"You just got to want it", spoken by my friend D at last Saturday's AA meeting. It all just comes down to that simple little phrase. Not just a little bit, but the whole package. If you want it, you'll work for it, you'll get sobriety, peace and serenity. Not all at once but you'll get it. If you want it.

Working with my sponsee has proven to be a blessing to me. I've gone back to my roots in the program. I do the readings right along with her. And its amazing how in the third year of sobriety that step one has even more meaning than it did when I first walked through the doors. My life was unmanageable. I had tried to manage it but the more I relied on alcohol the more unmanageable it became. Until there wasn't anything I could do.

My sponsee is struggling with this. You know the whole "I grew up with money, I'm educated, my husband has his own business, I don't have to work". So how could she possibly be an alcoholic? I don't know, I'm a college educated suburban mother of three and the disease found me. After listening to her go round and round about if she was or wasn't a real alcoholic I gave her this to chew on: "You need to own this disease, or the disease will own you". She stopped and stared at me, "what does that mean". It means the longer you keep trying to figure out if you are an alcoholic or not, the longer the disease gets the upper hand. Acknowledging your alcoholism is the first step towards taking some of the power away from the disease.

I spent six months trying to figure out if I was really an alcoholic or not. You know what happened in those six months. I retreated very far in. I just kept opening one door after another inside of myself and went deeper, and deeper in. It wasn't fun anymore, it had become a necessity. Not like air, or food, or sleep but as an addiction, a habit, somthing you know is bad but you can't put it down. Once I finally admitted I was an alcoholic I was allowed to walk outside of myself and begin to take away the disease's power. It doesn't define me but its an important part of who I am.

I've started praying on my knees before bed. I thought people were crazy when they said they got down on their knees to pray. But since I've been doing this I am overwhelmed by the calm, the serenity that comes from being in touch with your HP. Humbling. I guess I needed to remind myself from where I came to where I am now.

I also asked my sponsor to start writing down things she was grateful for every day. She asked, "what if there's nothing to be gratful for at the end of the day?" I said, "no matter what happens there's always a reason to be greatful. Nothing is too small. I was reminded of this myself last week. My children and I bike along a path that wraps around the lake. The sun was setting, the sky a brilliant peachy pink, the water shimmering like a million diamonds, the spring air quickly cooling. I looked up and my three children were riding oldest to youngest. It was the most beautiful sight to see. Three carefree happy kids, and it took my breath away. Until that very moment I didn't know what realy humility felt like. It's a lump in the throat, it's tears in the eyes, it's being grateful for every living moment, each and every day.....

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Unraveling of "Me"

Haven't blogged in a while. I was too busy living life. Wait life was too busy living me. I lost track, I derailed, I crashed head on. No, I did not drink but I went back to an old habit that could easily lead me down that path before to long. I started to create a problem that didn't exist.

It's funny how obvious certain traits become when you're moving through the twelve steps. And for the most part I can recognize these unflattering traits and deal with them quickly. However this time I let something grip me that I haven't let in in a long time. FEAR! I'm not sure how it even started or why it started but I know what the trigger was.

My husband went back to working afternoon and evenings. This worked well while the kids were little as we didn't have to pay for daycare, but its also a trigger for drinking for me. I take on too much, I get overwhelmed and when I reach that point I tend to bale. On life that is. I run and hide and avoid. I let panic seize me and render me helpless. So when this happened instead of telling myself I was a much different person than I was two years ago, I listened to all those doubting voices in my head.

I started to create issues that weren't there. I stopped taking care of me, I set my program down and stated getting wrapped up in the garbage of the day. And what happened? I started creating distractions so I didn't have to deal with life. I was promoted at work. I started working in an area I'm not particularly comfortable in. Most of the time I embrace change but this time I told myself I wasn't capable of handling this new area. Of course I am, I just didn't want to embrace change.

I've spent the last two years embracing change. I'm tired, when will life just hit a quiet stride where I don't have to think about so much? You see I couldn't even realize I was on the "pity pot". I was running scared. Granted I had a very busy week with something going on each night so by Friday I was burnt out. I haven't slept good in weeks, I was agitated and crawling out of my own skin. I was also avoiding the obvious. So it's a good thing my HP stepped in.

I met with a new girl after yesterday's AA meeting. She asked me to be her sponsor. This is my first sponsee. Of course I said yes, but my brain was saying, "Do you really think you can take this on? Are you ready for the challenge? How's your own sobriety doing? So I consulted with my friend D. He's
been a big part of my recovery. When I need a big dose of reality I talk to him. And as usual I got served the deluxe platter of "get your head out of your butt girl"! He listened to me dump my past few weeks and then asked me this all important question: What's the problem? And believe it or not I was speechless. I couldn't name the problem.

Well of course not, I had fabricated issues. I was so scared of a certain aspect of my life, that I tried to create a problem in that area, just to get it over with. An old habit I thought was gone for good. Then D went on to ask: "have you been taking care of yourself? taking your personal inventory? Going to meetings, talking to your sponsor?" All of which I had to say "no" to. Then D looked at me and said, "It's a good thing your HP sent your a sponsee, I think you need it more than her right now!" Yes, its great when your friends in the program can call you on your own crap! So we talked about everything and before you know it the tightness in my chest disappeared. I suddenly felt light and tired at the same time. Realigned, and deflated all at once.

Fear is such a useless trait. It has a purpose but I wasn't using it properly. I was letting it cloud my judgement, my train of thought, my motivations. It was running my life, and I was cowering in a corner scared and unsure. Three weeks, that's all it took. What an eye opener of what not to do. So I left D feeling much calmer. With direction of where I needed to head.

We finished the day by having dinner with friends. And I finally had a good night's sleep. AA has taught me to deal with things as they happen. But I was busy trying to create "happenings". I took my inventory yesterday and realized there are some very important areas that I need to keep in line. God, my program and me. I was just taught a very important lesson. No matter how good your program is, you can always do better. Progress not perfection......

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Flash 55 Friday


On my way out the door
I stopped to admire
your reflection,
soft baby blue, framed by
a billowing white, with
a dazzling sparkle of sun.
An image full of promise,
longer days, softer breezes, the
essence of new life.
Suddenly a drop shatters your
face, and announces that March
has quietly let itself in.....

As Central Wisconsin was dumping snow, sleet, and rain on us yesterday a seed cataloge arrived, and I poured over the pages. Today brought a quietness, and Marched entered like a lamb. So you know what that means, it's leaving like a Lion! Sigh....I am longing for spring, and all of my gardens. Hope you all have a great weekend.....

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fitting in isn't just for high schoolers.....

Fitting in. I was a follower. I so desperately wanted to fit in that all through my high school I molded myself into what I thought everyone else wanted me to be. My parents, my friends, my teachers, my boyfriends, and on and on. Like a chameleon I was forever changing. Not of course for what I wanted because when you have low self-esteem does it really matter what you want? And what did I get for all this facade? Disappointment, a broken heart, and even lower self-esteem.

When I turned eighteen I thought "now's the time to be who you want to be". But since I had no self confidence and very little direction I continued down the path I always had. I could look the part on the outside but the black hole on the inside was forever expanding. People are shocked when I tell them that I finally began to get real and figure out who I was when I turned 41. The year I entered the doors of AA.

Not right away of course. I mean it does take a while for a million insecurities that have inhabited your life to go away. The voices of self doubt, the humiliation, the "why don't they like me" syndrome. It doesn't shake overnight. So I could so relate to the man that broke down at our Saturday morning meeting. He was frustrated, didn't think he mattered, wasn't sure of who he was....and it took me two seconds to take myself right back to where he was. And I don't like to revisit there too often.

The truth is he does matter. Maybe not to himself but to those of us in the room, he's a reminder of where we have been, and where we can still take ourselves. What I didn't realize is that being in that state of mind has a catastrophic effect on ones life. I didn't know who I was, or if I ever mattered so I let alcohol manage my life. I mean mismanage. I let it effect my job, because I wasn't confident to stand behind my directives, I let it run my marriage, poor C married to a drunk like me, I let it effect my mothering, it all seemed to big and overwhelming, I let it effect my very being. It defined who I was. Now that's pretty sad.

Thank God (literally) for sponsors! Mine took one look at me and knew that she had to teach me to love myself, to stand behind my decisions, to stick up for myself, and to realize that I was the only one who could make myself feel anything. If you told me I was stupid and I believed you, then I just bought your agenda. The transormation has been awesome. I shut my big mouth, and instead of trying to munipulate or bully my way, I've learned to delegate, and direct. Instead of feeling awkward and shy I've learned to extend my hand and make the first move. I've learned to laugh at myself without tearing myself down, to like myself without vanity, to take criticism and make it work, and to own who I am.

This in turn has made me a better employee, a better spouse(have a lot of work in this department) a better parent, daughter, friend, and all around person. She taught me that the biggest weakness is buying someone else's agenda, and not trusting myself. That my HP loves me in weakness and in strength. I am not perfect, and I have no desire to be. Do I fully know who I am? No, it will hopefully take a lifetime to figure out. Love yourself, embrace your uniqueness. Who cares what the status quo does? I cared and look where it got me. A big black hole with little inside. Thankfully that hole is very small these days, and getting smaller as time goes on.

So what's the greatest gift you can give someone? To let them know they matter. That they are important. We made sure this fellow AA man did Saturday morning. That if he was feeling like he didn't belong it's because he was letting that happen. We were ready any time he was. And you know what? Saturday evening he came to the potluck speaker meeting, and he ate, and he laughed, and he listened, and he left with a smile.

Every once in a while I find myself not feeling worthy. But then I remember what I've been taught. I take an inventory of all the awesome people in my life, I give thanks to my HP and I tell myself I matter. Because I do, because you do, we all do! The world is a big place and not always kind, so the next time you're not feeling so great about yourself, stop and give yourself a little love, a pep talk, and a mental hug. It's the best thing you can do for yourself, and for those around you. It's a "win, win" situation.......

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Flash 55 Friday


It's not the chocolates,
the flowers, or the cards
No gold crown store will
ever get rich on us,
No romantic dinners or candles,
and Victoria's secrets
But the scraping of the windshield, the
warming of my car, cleaning up the dishes,
while I take a long bath, these
are Valentines that last and last.....

It's not that I'm not a romantic but I appreiate the little things now. While people at work were receiving boquets of flowers, or munching on chocolates I was treated to my car windshield being scraped, the interior warmed, dishes cleaned up after dinner, and an opportunity to take a long uninterrupted bath...these are the thoughtful things we do for those we love, on a daily basis, not just once a year. Sweet! Have a great weekend.....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I love books. It's true, besides alcohol I can say books are another addiction of mine. I am pretty sure I came out of the womb reading because I can't remember a time when I couldn't. I'm like some wired nutcase in a bookstore. I love the colors, the titles, the shapes. Good thing I never seem to have a lot of extra money or I would go wild and keep buying books.

To counter my ever growing library my husband and oldest child thought a Nook Tablet would be a great place for me to store my books. However it just gave me another resource for reading and I am often reading one physical book and one Nook book at the same time. So imagine my utter devestation when I found out our oldest child had Dyslexia. I remember being so confused that the child could draw, and create, and build enormous Lego creations but couldn't read simple books.

He struggled for years, we took out a loan and sent him for special tutoring. It wasn't until he was in the sixth grade and a teacher told us that he spelled phonetically that we began to sense there was something else going on. Sure enough, he had Dyslexia. He was missing an entire area of "bank words". Words that all of us know and tuck away. His grades and self-esteem were struggling. He had to see a psychiatrist. I was devestated. How could my child not have my love of the written word?

(Are you catching all the I's?) Well he had a lot more tutoring after that and today he is planning to go to college. He's taking AP courses, could have graduated a semester early and has a 3.9 GPA. In other words he's just fine. So it shouldn't have come as a surprise that his younger brother and sister would also struggle with the same learning disability. Our middle son has just a touch but with regular tutoring he stays on track. Our daughter is a different story.

She has some ADD along with her Dyslexia. But where her older brother could grasp and move on, she works at a much different place. This made me frustrated. She gets tutored a lot. Like five days a week. Her progress at times is very slow. And then in the next breath, she's brilliant. A puzzle for sure. So a few days ago I headed to a conference with her reading specialist. I knew what to expect, I knew what was going to be said, part of me didn't even want to go. But as usual my HP has bigger plans than me. I went, I shut my mouth, and I listened. I came away for once wondering what I could do. Really do....

The answer came in a book I am currently reading. "Unwasted" by Sacha Scoblic is a great book about one woman's journey into sobriety. The author is funny, candid, and not afraid of the truth. And truth is just what she handed me. She was talking about trading one addiction for another. Something I know I'm partial to. Hers was spending instead of drinking. How did she finally kick this habit? By realizing that she wasn't entitled to a lifestyle she thought she was, and she started to accept the life she had.

Bingo! At that moment my whole thought process shifted. I had been so wrapped up in what I thought I was entitled to. A lifestyle without issues, good children with great grades, high achievers, kids that didn't need tutoring, and on and on. How humbling to realize that it wasn't about me. It's about them. My role is to throw out what I thought I was entitled to and to start focusing on what was in the here and now.

Since then I've stepped up to the plate. I've started researching what I can do to help her learn the way she needs to learn. I work with her an extra hour each night. The progress is slow but she's doing fine. She needs me to give her every tool to succeed. I can do that by setting my agenda down. I'm not entitled to a perfect life. I have been given the ability to help her succeed, and I need to use that to be there for her.

I needed this lesson. By laying down what I thought I was entitled to I was able to focus on what I've been given. Which are wonderfully, talented, creative, beautiful children who simply learn differently than others. I needed a dose of humility, and I found it in a book about recovery. How awesome is that.....(like I needed another reason to buy more books ;-)

Monday, February 13, 2012

The "oneness" of sobriety,,,,

I've heard it said at meetings that alcoholism is a selfish disease. Selfish when active and selfish in recovery. Even though the program is a "we" the alcoholic stands alone in the fact that only he or she can become sober. No one else can do it for you. No one can wish it, push it, work your program, make the changes, its all up to the individual. You have to stand in front of the mirror and own that person. With all its baggage. You!

Its hard to be a "one" in a sea of so many. Especailly when you cross over the bridge. At one time you were standing on that cliff, but you started out, you began to leave the others, the more you went forward, the farther back they stayed. Before you knew it, you were across the bridge and standing on the other side. No matter how good you felt, you couldn't bring anyone with you. I'm refering to the February 12th. reading in Melody Beattie's "Language of Letting Go". I have read this reading many times. It reminds me from where I came, where I am now, and exactly what I can do.

It used to upset me. "You mean I can't bring everyone over with me?", "but I want everyone to experience the other side!" I was always a saver. I brought home many stray people, whose family was broken, who had an addiction, who just needed someone I was going to save them all. Funny, all I usually did was break my own heart. I always offered this help wether they asked or not. I'm sure most people were not happy with my ignorant intentions. It wasn't until my sponsor taught me a very important lesson. "The only person you are capable of saving is yourself". At one time I wasn't even sure this was possible. But it comes down to one simple thing: choice.

I chose to save myself. I was saddened when I heard of Whitney Houston's passing, but I wasn't surprised. When I graduated in 1987 Whitney was just beginning to hit her peak. I loved her voice, I loved her look. I still sing to "I Want to Dance With Somebody". However when I started parenthood, college, workforce, etc. I only heard bits and pieces of her life. The abuse both physical, and drug and alcohol, the loss of her once beautiful voice. The Whitney I now saw, was not the Whitney I had adored. She was now ruled by a greater force: addiction. No matter what you feel about her passing the truth of reality is that she had a choice. The choice to face her demons or let them destory her. We know what she chose.

This choice can be a lonely one to make. It requires focusing only on what it takes to keep yourself sober. The people that you have hurt, and are waiting for apologies, and living ammends have to sometimes wait, and be patient, while the alcoholic gets their life together. Yes, this is unfair. I had wanted to fix it all in one year, but in many areas of my life, I'm only beginning. It's God's time not mine. My agenda has little to do with it. But I had a choice, you have a choice. No one ever poured a drink down my throat. I did it all myself. Regardless if life seems to big to cope with you still have a choice. I am grateful I chose well. You can cheer others on still left behind, you encourage them to come over the bridge, you can be so happy when they do but you can't carry it for them.

The "oneness" of sobriety seems to be daunting unto itself. But its necessary. You need to know that you can make it. That you have the ability along with your HP to walk across the bridge. You have the ability to make the right choice.....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Flash 55 Friday

February Daze

The sun came knocking
at my back door,
so I opened it wide
and let him come in
He gracefully poured through
the clear plexiglass frame
and quietly spread his
arms full of warmth, across
the kitchen floor and down
the basement steps as the black
cat purred and closed
his green eyes in thanks.....

The other day when I was home, I opened the door to let the sun shine through the storm glass and our black cat Coal was delighted to doze in the warmth. All afternoon he followed the trail of beams until the afternoon turned cool and the sun started to sink. We have been blessed with a very mild winter and I am glad to see the days growing longer. Hoping you all have an awesome weekend :-)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Two years....

Life is very interesting... in the end, some of your greatest pains, become your greatest strengths.
Drew Barrymore Quote for Overcoming Addiction

This past Monday (Feb. 6th.) marked my 43rd. birthday and my second sober birthday. I remember my first year very well. I think I was shaky for at least the first three months. Very quick to cry, tired, emotionally spent, spiritually bankrupt. Desperate for change. I was lucky, change came.

I have an awesome sponsor. She taught me many things. To love myself, to stand on my own two feet, to put on my big girl panties and face the music, to depend on my HP for strength, to lean on others, to live, to laugh, to love, to love life. She's tough. I never got away with anything. She made me own my sobriety. She became my friend, and she walked every step of the way by my side. I know not all sponsors are created equal. I was one of the fortunate few who chose well, and was given what I needed. For that I am eternally grateful.

I have many friends in AA. People of all walks of life. I can honestly say I never saw the differences only the similarities. They made me feel like I was home. That my disease was no more or no less of a disease than theirs. I love these people. They are my fix, my piece of sanity, my sanctuary when I need to be around those that understand me.

I have had more happen to me in my second year than even I could have imagined. Things I couldn't have prepared myself for, but at least now I had the tools for living to at least deal with these issues and not with a bottle of Vodka. I have faced some fears that seemed larger than life, only to find out how really small they were. I have finally let go, ceased fighting everything and everyone. I know what serenity is.

I have a peace of mind that I didn't know existed. Even when life deals me an unfortunate hand, I can play it and move on. I now know that everything will be ok, if not for today, then for tomorrow. I have stepped out of the shadows and into the sunlight. I am grateful for these many lessons.

Life is full of choices. I didn't even know I had a choice, but I do. So do you. I don't always choose well, I'm a work in progress and I hope to never be finished. I also share this special day with a special sober sister: Sober Julie over at "Sober Julie Doing Life". I do not think it was coincidental that we met blogging, it was meant to happen.

I no longer set grandiose expectations for myself. I celebrate all days. There's a lot of joy in the small things. The warmth of the sun pouring in through the windows, a kind word from a stranger, an unexpected hug, the laughter of a child. These are the things that make life sustainable, worth living. And I am grateful I was able to realize this before it was too late. Happy Birthday to me and I hope I have many more....Thank you all for being part of my recovery.......

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Precious life......

The Summer Day
Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

What will you do with your one wild and precious life? This past weekend was the funeral of a friend. This particular family has suffered its share and then some of grief. Four years prior we attended the funeral of their teenage son. This time we said good-bye to the father. How very sad. This man who had a very big heart was gone at the young age of 44. Three children now without a father. The grief was and is very heavy.

Your heart breaks for those left to grieve, for questions you can't answer, for pain you can't take away. Hundreds came to the wake, to say their goodbyes, the church was full for the funeral. I'm always hoping that when someone passes they are able to see how much they were loved. Love and grief were every where.

At the cemetary, during the burial, I looked up. Into a cold January sky, as the clouds were parting, the sun and blue sky struggling to peek through, and the wind whipping the temps frigid. What a time to be alive. To feel the sting on your cheeks, the cold penetrating your lungs. I didn't realize until that moment how when I was drinking, I never would have been aware of those small details. I'm pretty sure I was numb to just about anything. But on this particular day they were so very clear.

Afterwards at the "celebration of life" we sat with friends, and recalled memories, and laughed, and hugged, and cried, and loved. So much love in that place. How deeply grateful I was to be in that moment. To be alive. To have been given a chance to start again. To not have settled for what I considered the "norm". To know that there was something better waiting for me. My life.

Later in the evening we celebrated our son Sam's birthday. It's always ironic how death holds hands with life. To see his sweet face lit by the candles on his cake. The excitement openning gifts. The taste of cake and ice cream in my mouth. As I crawled into bed Saturday night, my head was numb. My eyes heavy. I turned to my favorite poet; Mary Oliver. The book opened to the page which contained the above poem. How fitting it was, how comforting.

In this short span of life may all of us realize just how precious this life is. May we not get to the point of thinking there is no way out. May we feel cold on our cheeks, laughter in our belly's and love in our bones. That one single moment opened my eyes to just how awesome life can be. Regardless if its in a moment of happiness or an intense moment of sadness. It's still life. It's still worth being in the moment. As yourself, "What will you do with your one wild and precious life?" I know the answer for myself......I choose to be alive. Alive in all the moments that come my way, and I hope you choose the same. Blessings.....

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Flash 55 Friday

Cloudless Night

Stepping to the back porch
on a cloudless winter night,
my breath explodes in a veil
of fog, limbs stiffen as
cold penetrates my bones, the boards creak
as I make my way down the stairs,
lost in the enormity of the darkness,
I tip my head back to drink in
the star filled sky.......

How gorgeous are winter nights? I am always amazed at how still and deep they are. They hold a beauty so different than summer. It almost makes me want to hold my breath so I do not disturb the perfect silence. Hoping you all have an awesome weekend!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When the tides turn.....

In my almost two years belonging to AA I've come to appreciate those "oh so special" moments. You know the ones: when someone reaches a month, when someone walks through some garbage, when someone has even the slightest revelation, these are all reasons to celebrate. And last Saturday was no exception.

It's a story about "L". L was there on my first night through the doors. She came up to me and gave me a hug, and told me to keep coming back. The next day I sat next to L as she gave me a big smile when I walked into the meeting and afterwards we talked and she told me a bit about herself. She was a teacher, she struggled with drugs and alcohol. She had been coming to AA for over a year because her husband said he would divorce her if she didn't and she hadn't managed to string more than three weeks of sobriety together in that years time.

This scared me to death. I thought, "OMG is it this hard?" If she can't get three weeks together in a year what am I going to do. Fortunately for myself, I had reached the bottom. I never wanted to wake up hungover on a Saturday with a pounding headache thinking, "there's got to be something better than this"! I found my sponsor and never looked back.

Unfortunately for L that wasn't the case. I saw her go through numerous sponsors, numerous treatment programs, in and out of the door. Crying, angry, complaining, mad because she couldn't drink like normal people. I saw her trying to hang onto a lifestyle that no longer worked and resisting one that could save her. She looked like hell. This sweet little petite lady, was so full of pain you could physically feel it just by looking at her face. She had a using son, who she was so busy trying to save, that she forgot to save herself. It was hard to watch.

She finally hit bottom. She went to Texas for an extensive treatment. When she returned to the rooms of AA three months later, she was given a dose of "tough love". She was told to "show up, shut up, and work the program". And little by little (sometimes slowly) she did. She surrendered. The rope was finally released from her grip, the program allowed to work.

Last Saturday she celebrated a year! I wanted to give her a standing ovation. Gone is the scared, tired look. She has a bit of peace, she has a smile. She is willing to listen, and to learn. In other words she is willing to go to any length to stay sober. She talked about not knowing who she was, and she's just beginning to find that out. How awesome it will be to watch her become the person she is meant to be.

After the meeting I stopped in one of my favorite book stores. I inquired about one of the owner's spouses who has been in AA longer than me but has really struggled. The last time I saw this person they had just hit a year, they were grossly underweight, and struggling minute to minute. The owner told me to check out where they worked and see for myself. As I was about to leave the shop L walked in. We burst out laughing and threw out arms around each other. How awesome it was to tell her how proud I was to be in this great program together. A moment I would have loved to savor.

I headed over to the place where the other AA member worked and boy was I surprised. A complete transformation had taken place. Healthy weight gain, a big smile, confidence and two years sober! How sweet is that! Sometimes I come home from those meetings walking on air. I just want to bottle up all that joy and use it for later.

But life has a funny way of keeping things real. Sunday I received a call telling me about the passing of someone we knew. This person didn't make it to the other side. They reached out but didn't think they could make it through the pain to get to the other side. Your heart breaks, you know things could have been different. But I've learned it's not for me to know the reason why, to reconcile anything, it's not for me to question. I felt as much sadness the last few days as I did joy. They seem to go hand in hand at times.

Living life on life's terms was not something I embraced. It has now become a part of me. Without sadness we could never experience joy, without joy we wouldn't survive the sadness. Each and every day the sun will still rise and it will still set, what you choose to do with that time will make all the difference.....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Friday Flash 55

Winter Sigh....

I stood at the upstairs window
head resting against the frame
my bare feet frozen in time,
my heart filled with silence.
Everything is white, frigid, and
still. No peeks of green, or flutter
of iridescent wings. No buzzing, no breeze,
or late afternoon shade. I am paralyzed
by the longing of sweet mother spring......

My January blues. The weather has turned wicked, -25 below wind chills. As I open the blinds in the morning and stare down into my sleeping gardens I long for warmer times. Keep safe, keep sober, and keep warm!!!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Revisiting the "F & P"

Driving with a friend the other night we were talking of someone we knew. I said, "What is it that keeps T from letting go?", to which she replied "Fear and Pain"! Yes the dreaded F and P. We don't really need a drug of choice to keep us from growing, we have our own minds to do that for us.

So because I'm alcoholic, and my mind likes to "hamster wheel" every once in a while I started to think back about my own pain and fears. First of all the fact that I can acknowledge the fact that I was full of both is a milestone. You see I was always the tough one. I wasn't going to be intimidated or put down. I held my own. Held my own what? glass of wine? mixed drink? In reality I didn't hold a damn thing.

Like a house of cards, I built my "illusion" world. I put on the good front, talked the talk, kept up appearances, said the right things, and all it would have taken is for one little breath of air to blow my world apart! Funny how we can fool ourselves into thinking even the most fragile of identities is better than facing our real selves.

So since my world was quickly falling apart I had to do something before the cards collapsed and so that something was AA. Little did I know that I would be confronted with pain, fear, and a million other insecurities that I had picked up along the way! The first was taking a good look in the mirror. That was frightening. Who was that bloated, tired, train wreck? It certainly couldn't be me, I mean I didn't look like that. Upon closer inspection yes, it is me. What the hell happened? How did I age so fast? Why did I look like a deer in the headlights?

Because I was a deer in the headlights! I didn't know who the hell I was and I was terrified of finding out. I was afraid of the past! I never wanted to deal with pain, and I wanted an easier softer way out of this whole mess. But the only easy way was to keep drowning my sorrows in the bottom of the glass every night. So I remembered that "the only fear I had to fear was fear itself"! As I began to look at the past, it was painful, I was scared, but each day got a little better, and before I knew it fear was such a small little misquito that it no longer mattered. Pain like most feelings unless chronic can be short lived as well.

I had let my whole world be dictated by fear, a fear that I had created. The fear of the unknown, and what pain may go with it. It kept me spinning my wheels for years. How wonderful it is to move forward. Do I still have fears? Of course, but I keep it more in line now. It no longer rules me, or wastes valuable energy. And pain is part of life. I don't have to like it, but I can live with it when it happens. This is growth. I began to understand T so much better when I took a stroll down memory lane. I too, was so afraid of the "f & P"! I guess it can happen to all of us, I'm just thankful I found out it wasn't so scary after all!

Fear can make us do crazy things. It can ruin or waste an entire life. But it's also part of life. I was straightening my son's tie and smoothing the lapels of his tuxedo as he was getting ready for his first formal dance the other night. At 17 he is still trying to fit into his own skin. He was nervous, he was fearful. Fear of the unknown. I did the only thing I could do as his mother, smile and say, "go have a great time"! He sighed and headed out the door. Later at the grand march, he had an enormous smile on his face and was proud to be escorting his friend Heather. He had faced the fear, and he was surviving just fine. I couldn't protect him from it anymore than I could protect myself from it.

Face, embrace it, but most of all move on. Lay it down. See it for what it's worth, but never let it keep you from growing and becoming the person you are suppose to be. "F & P" they're just random letters in the alphabet! :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

No resolutions......

I've been hearing people talk of their "New Year's resolutions" throughout the office today. I've read some on facebook, and listen to friends tell me theirs, but mine is quite simple: I have no resolutions to make.

Every year I would come up with a grand list of things I wanted to improve. My weight, my pettiness, my job, my marriage, etc. and two to three weeks in I had crashed and burned on almost all of them. This in turn helped erode my self esteem, and made me feel like I couldn't do a whole lot to change anything so why try?!

What makes me laugh is that in all those years of resolutions I never said: "this year I'm going to stop drinking!" I never saw drinking as anything to get rid of. In fact it wasn't until February of 2010 that the concept of AA even dawned on me. But that realization that I needed to quit was a resolution that would change my life forever.

You see I like surface changes. They are easy. Color your hair differently, loose weight, whiten your teeth, smile more. These are fast and effective ways of making one feel they are accomplishing something. I had very little desire to dig deeper and find out the root of why I couldn't keep a resolution. Did I really want to go there? Well whether I did or not, AA took me there.

The first time my sponsor and I met to work in the big book, and to work the steps she said, "I'm going to give you the greatest gift I can, I'm going to teach you to love yourself". Right away I thought, "but I do like myself", I just didn't get the love part. In fact as we moved through the steps I found out I didn't like or love myself in the least. That's why I couldn't keep a resolution, because I never felt I deserved it.
So why should I be able to achieve it?

As the months passed, and I slowly began to figure out who I was, liking myself became natural. Now almost two years in I can say with confidence, "I love myself". I have many faults, many areas that could use signifigant improvement but that's what life is for. For working on areas that need it. I have self esteem, I deserve a good life, I can be of use to others.

So that's why I don't make resolutions anymore. Each day of every year is an opportunity for growth and change. And let's be honest there are plenty of days that I don't feel like changing, or improving, I don't feel like taking an honest look at myself. But then again there are days that I can, and growth comes, and change follows.

My sponsor looked at me the other day and said, "it's awesome watching you become the woman you were meant to be". I smiled and said, "the gift of self love was one of the best I have ever recieved". Sure will power, determination, a goal, a prize are all great motivators but if you don't understand yourself, love yourself, or believe in yourself you will fall short every time.

Are there things I want to do this year? Sure, but I won't place them in a box, or a resolution. I will acknowledge them, I will welcome them, and I will let them happen in the time they are suppose to. I will always need improving in almost every area, but I like the core package, it's strong, it's sweet, it's funny, it's loving, it's serious, it's alcoholic, it's me. And I like "me" now, and I will like me in the future!

New Year's blessings to you all......