Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year

The tradition of celebrating the new year must be a very old one. I'm very old and I remember it. (ha) I think it's a good idea to make a new start at least once a year, but I've been taught in recovery that it's a good idea to make a new start any time you think things are going south. Pick a day, any day and start over. I've started a lot of things over in the last 26 years. Plus I can think of some things it would have been a good idea to start over. I've come to believe that marriages should be started over every morning - a new commitment to a new person from a new person. All bad habits should be ditched the first thing every morning. A new parent to new children. A new employee, business owner, whatever. It's a new day; why not change every day into a new and better person? That's my new year's resolution.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

365 Project

Getting ready to see Avatar - 3D glasses on. Bec, Aaron, Adam, Thein.
The painting Thein painted for the Russell's Christmas.

Everything's still not opened!

Time to open stockings on Christmas morning!

Here are the makings for the traditional Vietnamese soup on Christmas Eve!

Liz and Thein are working on the traditional Viet Namese soup which took all day to make. It was wonderful!

A white Christmas!

The penguin outfit has been replaced with reindeer antlers.

Pumpkin pancakes for breakfast for Adam and Thein who has her penguin outfit on for warmth.

Here's everybody but me for dinner - Liz, Fred, Aaron, Thein, Adam, Josh (Bec's boyfriend), Bec, Bec's friend Winky.

My new fuzzy socks with sticky things on the bottom (so I won't fall down) that Minky got me for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sore Tooth

"As the sore tooth draws our tongue, so do rejections, affronts, painful criticisms, both past and present draw our minds. We court self-pity, both loving and hating it. But we can change this pattern. First we must decide we are ready to do so. The program tells us we must become "entirely ready." And then we must ask to have this shortcoming removed. The desire to dwell on the injustices of our lives becomes habitual. It takes hours of our time. It influences our perceptions of all other experiences. We have to be willing to replace that time-consuming activity with one that's good and healthy. We must be prepared for all of life to change. Our overriding self-pity has so tarnished our perceptions that we may never have sensed all the good that life daily offers. How often we see the glass as half-empty rather than half-full! A new set of experiences awaits me today. And I can perceive them unfettered by the memories of the painful past. Self-pity need not cage me today." Each Day a New Beginning.

The holidays are a great time for dwelling on painful memories of the past. In my case, I created a lot of those painful memories by my own bad behavior. Some of those memories are of other people's bad behavior. Some time in early recovery, I decided that I would do my best to create happy memories for myself and to the extent possible, for other people. This year I spent Christmas with my oldest daughter and her family - all of them dedicated to creating happy memories and traditions. They go all out and they include both blood family and friend and romantic family. It's a lovely time, full of love. I am grateful for new happy memories.

My memories of Ron's and my Christmases are equally lovely. We spent quite a few of them alone because of all the blended family issues and distance from family. But we always set out to make each of them memorable.

Every holiday has it's downside for me - either stress-related issues or just missing missing people. I am thankful, though, for what I've learned in recovery - let that stuff go and remember the wonderful. What a great time I've had this year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


"There is no punishment; only guidance." Attitude of Gratitude blog.

What a lovely thought for this day. I read this blog pretty much every morning. It's written by a guy in Houston who is in recovery. He made a commitment several years ago to post a gratitude list every day and he's kept it up. He has the most beautiful gratitude lists. I make much better ones for myself after reading his. This one really caught at my heart - My higher power has never punished me; but I've had some pretty strong guidance. (ha)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

365 Project

Here's where the butterflies went when they had to leave the tree for icicles.

Tammy in the receiving line at her wedding. And a beautiful wedding it was.

Here's Caryn getting ready to give me my Christmas present - beautifully manicured fingers and toes. She is the best!!!

Here's Bridget on the horse with her helpers.

My neighbors have done a great job of lighting up their yard.

Here are some of the women at the exceptional women's party.

The table is set for the party for 12 exceptional women. (Eric called it the super girls party)

Kristin and Marc at our family Christmas party.

Friday, December 18, 2009


I had the very great pleasure of going to a riding stable first thing this morning to see my daughter, who has pretty much every disability you can imagine, get on a horse and ride for 30 minutes. The stable provides riding lessons for children and adults with any disability. I would even qualify. Her physical therapist is thrilled that they are going to work with her. Riding will strengthen her core muscles and help her balance. She will also have fun. When she was much younger, she used to love to ride.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I'm still reading Melody Beattie's book, 52 Weeks of Conscious Contact. This week's readings are on challenges. She maintains that if we don't have challenges, we'll create some for ourselves - and for those of us with addiction problems, they're usually negative and self-defeating challenges. For example, when I don't have enough challenges in my life, I'll decide to take on a "change the world" project, or spend too much time trying to help someone who doesn't want help.

Melody suggests that the solution is to create challenges for ourselves that are healthy and important (and maybe even fun). Set new goals for ourselves in our work, relationships and/or spiritual life. Make a plan to grow closer to someone you love, learn something new for your work, or learn a new spiritual practice. What a good time of the year for me to think about this. I always set goals, but this is kind of a new take on what I usually do. Entertaining - I love to be entertained. More on this later.

Monday, December 14, 2009


"If you have to swallow a toad, don't stare at it too long." A Woman's Spirit.

What in the world is the moral in that quote, you might ask. According to the reading, it's that there are a lot of things that might happen today that I won't like. I can pout and be miserable, or I can cultivate a peaceful attitude. Which am I going to choose? Well, I certainly hope I don't have to swallow a toad today. But I do need to finish my Christmas shopping.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

365 Project Still week 20 something

The table is set for the annual potluck dinner the Step Practice group does every year. This year I decided to do a book study instead. 15 years was long enough.
Eric came to go to The Nutcracker, but he had to do some chores too. Putting icicles on the tree makes it a Christmas tree. So...the decorations are done.

Peggy, Eric and I went to The Nutcracker. It was probably the best one of all those I've seen!

I've started writing a little bit every day which means I spend more time in front of the computer than usual. Cisco has decided to help - or at least edit.

If you didn't know where the meeting was already, you probably wouldn't know if was here. But here's the door - meetings Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights

Santa in an airplane and with his sleigh in the daytime. (Taken by Eric on our way back to the house from someplace)

Santa in an airplane and Santa with his sleigh on my way home from a meeting. My neighborhood has some great decorations.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


"A gentle, open prayer for help and of thanksgiving surely will help pave the way for change. We don't need to make it sa struggle or an epic. Our prayer can be a gradual, gentle process." Drop the Rock.

I love the programs' Steps 6 and 7. It's the first time I ever knew that I could change with the help of God. Of course, I didn't realize that it's a lifetime process - maybe a little like an epic even though the quote above says it's not. Right now I have several new people I'm working with and they are all terribly nuts like new people are. I'm having a hard time being empathetic. Then I realized (thanks to some re-reading of Drop the Rock - a book on Steps 6 & 7) that when there are character defects in me that need to be changed, I will suddenly be surrounded by people with those same defects and they will irritate me to death. Hmmmm. I hate it but it's true.

Friday, December 11, 2009


"...instead of always allowing your thoughts and behaviors to be spontaneous and random, why not, at least occasionally, consciously focus on and practice a value instead?" Melody Beattie. 52 Weeks of Conscious Contact.

One of the MAJOR things I'm grateful for learning in my recovery program, is that I'm responsible for what I think about. And that what I think about, to a large degree, determines how I feel and what I do. I was completely amazed to learn this! I thought that thoughts and emotions were just something that happened to us and were outside our control.

The first thing they taught me was that when I was scaring myself by what I was thinking about, I could say the Serenity Prayer over and over instead. What an amazing difference just that one small change made. Since 1996 I've been doing a class where one of the assignments is to monitor our thinking every day and change it when it's negative. That makes an incredible difference too. Now here's another idea: Focus on a value and practice it - that could be fun - especially in the holiday season. Maybe the value of lightheartedness would be a good one - replacing stress and worry and hurry. "Tis the season to be jolly", etc.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Better 365 Project

This is the driveway into a very boring shopping center where the folks that fix my shoes are located. I always wonder why, who, how planted all these trees lining the driveway. It's a beautiful sight.
Coming home from an errand at sunset I noticed how the sun was lighting up the top of the trees.

Went to Ted and Debbies to find a particular candle. They didn't have it but I got this real-looking wreath to hang on the inside of the back door.

Ron and I got this mobile at Mayfest one year and he promptly took it to his office where it was spared from being in the fire we had in 2000. When he moved his office home, he didn't get around to hanging it and since the wreck, I've not done it either. So when son-in-law Fred was here over Thanksgiving, he hung it. Yay! Thank you, Fred.

Interesting table decorations this year at the New Haven anniversary dinner. Very creative. Different. Fun.

Eric and Cynthia (the owner and cook at Pure Cafe). It was delightful to get to meet her. The food is fabulous and we are telling everyone we know!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Miracle Report

Now this is the minutia of the miracle - maybe boring to anyone but me: It's a little after 4:00 and I am up and ready to go to the Messiah, even though I am tired. Usually if I'm really tired I just can't go at all and have to stay in bed. Today I'm going even though I'm tired, knowing that I will go right to bed when I get home. So, what's miraculous about that? Well, I can't explain, but it is miraculous.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Old News

It's Friday and I have only had to take one day off to rest! I have been active - doing something and up on my feet most all day every day except Tuesday. Wow! What's even better, I'm actually doing things because I want to, not because I know I must and having to push myself constantly to get past my reluctance to move. I feel like I've been let out of jail. I know this is old news but I haven't gotten used to the miracle yet.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Dancing with the Devil

"Are the people you're involved with in business, play, and love living by values that are harmonious with yours? Are you dancing with the devil somewhere in your life, either by associating with people who don't have integrity, or by not living up to your personal values?" Melody Beatty. 52 Weeks of Conscious Contact.

I'm fascinated by the differences in the thinking process I use to work my program on co-dependency vs addiction. If you had asked me a few years ago who was responsible for my anguish, I would have named names and not one of them would have been mine. My program for addiction taught me to look at myself first. In the beginning I thought they were trying to blame me but finally saw that they were trying to teach me the solution to my problems - which was to look at myself and what the choices were that placed me in the position I was in. I was thrilled to learn that all I had to do to stay out of pain was to make different choices.

So it was a long time before I learned that it's also important to look at the people I associate with and their influence on me. Dancing with the devil is a good way to put it. I was told to "stick with the winners" which meant stay away from the influence of those who were still acting out their sicknesses. I was also told "their sickness is stronger than your wellness." But I forget this. I've been in recovery a long time now and tend to forget some of the basics. I love this reminder.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Bad, Bad, Bad, Very Bad 365 project

A very bad 365 project week. I'm so far behind now I will have to do a 400 project to catch up. I'm not doing much better this week. New resolve. Never, never, ever give up!

I did put the cranberry wreath up for Christmas.

Liz taking a picture of Kristin while I took a picture of them. (It's time to take the butterflies off the tree and put the icicles on for Christmas)

The evil little squirrel finally eating the squirrel food - after he polished off the bird food. Grrrrr

Monday, November 30, 2009


I am having fun. I've got so much more energy than I have for such a long time, I'm racing around like a turtle. (Before this new surge of energy, I raced around like a rock.) I've discovered that after a couple of days of steady activity, I do better if I just take a day off and rest as much as I want. Then I've got another couple of days to do lots of stuff. Of course, my "to-do" list has grown accordingly which means I can never die. I have too much to do. (a very old joke).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Keeping the Romance Alive

I just read an article in OPRAH by some Phd. person that summarized some research about romantic love. I've read in the recent past that "being in love" is a temporary condition created by Mother Nature to get us to make babies. Supposedly when men are in love, their testosterone drops so that their brains are able to form a bond with someone. Eventually the condition wears off though.

This most recent research compared old people who had been together years and years but who said they were still in love to young people who had just fallen in love. Their brain waves were measured and sure enough the same part of their brains lit up on a scan as the young people's brains. The explanation? (This is where I laughed out loud.) "Love blindness" or "Self-deception." In other words, they had trained themselves to look at the other person's loveable qualities instead of their faults and had continued to tell themselves how wonderful the person was and how perfect their relationship was.

Hmmmm. Self-deception. Always a useful tool. I don't know what to think about this!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

365 Project - Week 20 something

Minky at the early Thanksgiving party. He has already finished eating, and was back to the Legos. It was such a lovely day for me. I hope it was for everybody.
Bridget at the early Thanksgiving dinner. (She had already eaten)

Rebecca at her mom's 4:45 a.m. birthday party. She was just a little tired from waking up so early.

Poor Liz or Lucky Liz - being awakened with cake and presents at 4:45 in the morning. Her three lovely children, in three different places were willing to get up at that hour to sing happy birthday.
My latest attempt to outsmart the squirrels. I'm putting food they might like better on the railings of my ramp. It's not working though. They prefer the birdseed in the bird feeder. Grrrrrr.

I love my fall wreath. It will be replaced the day after Thanksgiving with the Cranberry wreath for Christmas.

My hydrangea bush is still blooming. How about that!?

A weird picture of Bridget's room. Too bad I didn't look more closely! I came to bring her a new outfit for winter.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Energy

My work with the voice mapping system continues and a couple of weeks ago I experienced a big shift. It would take too long to explain, but the short explanation is that the death of my second son in 1979 has affected me in complicated ways ever since - even though I've tried pretty much everything to overcome the effects. The voice mapping seems to be the key. The heaviness and exhaustion I experience pretty much all the time has lifted significantly. I still go to bed at 6:00 p.m. sometimes, but I've been able to stay up and stay active almost every day. Even more significantly I feel lighter and more present. Yay!!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

You'll know you're old when.... say things like, "In my day people didn't...." I've got a rant like that and I am old. In my day it wasn't so popular to look for ways to take offense. Supposedly, when people criticize other people, it's because they want to feel "better than." Boy, our collective self-esteem must have sunk to new lows. Everywhere I go I see/hear people grumbling about someone else. So, what to do? Perhaps I will begin by quitting doing that myself. My self-esteem really is okay. I don't need to grumble about other people. All I get from that is the feeling that other people's behavior has control of me. Which is not true at all.

The other thing about "my day": In the 40s and 50s and 60s, which I guess would be "my day," African Americans were segregated, John Kennedy was assasinated, so was Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. There was no Medicare and no Social Security. People died of starvation in our very own country. There was no public education for people with disabilities. My memory says that many other injustices existed too. So, my day wasn't better than today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's Tuesday Already

For a person who has no full time job, my time passes awfully quickly. I am thrilled that it does. I've always imagined that if I didn't work and didn't have Ron to hang out with and laugh with that I would be bored. But it turns out my mind can think up WAY more things to do than I have time or energy for. Hmmmm. I love it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

365 Project Week 20 plus

A better week for pictures. Some cheating but less. Good for me. Lynn and Kristin at Applebees for lunch.
Chuck came and raked leaves. Here they are.

Sneakers hanging from a wire on 23rd Street. Hmmm. Does this have a meaning?

Three days worth of mini vegetable quiches. (Southbeach) I hope to lose the 10 lbs I gained back after I lost 10 last year. GRRRR.

My trip to Reasor's yielded some cheap flowers. I love flowers.

OMG! My leaves need raking bad!

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