Friday, October 30, 2009


How nice to have the fog lifted! Sobriety lets our wits grow sharper. We can go after our dreams and ideas. We can listen to music and sing. We are part of the magic of the universe. At times we may not feel very magical, but we are. Our spirits hold much magic. Sobriety is magic. We work at making the world a better place. In doing so, we get magical powers. Powers that heals and comfort others. Powers to understand things that before we could not. Powers that let us see the world as we’ve never seen it. Enjoy the magic and use your powers wisely! ~Keep It Simple

After a lot of rain, the sun is shining again. How about that! It keeps happening all the time. Today I will use my magical powers to try to make the world a better place and I won't get wet when I go outside!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Serenity Experiment Update

I've tried a lot of things in the past year with the objective of increasing my serenity. Most of the time my serenity is disrupted or eliminated by simply thinking about my to-do list. So I've tried doing all sorts of things to make sure I get done what needs to be done, etc. etc. etc. Not much progress has been made. Luckily I remember that it's an experiment.
My plan was to develop routines to get essential things done with the objective of a serene, disciplined life. Grrr. I don't remember exactly when I started on this but I think it was about six months ago. There's no need to go over all the stuff I've tried. None of it worked. Either I'm a complete incompetent or I need to surrender. Or maybe both. So I've surrendered. I just finished sleeping almost 24 hours with just a few breaks to do necessary things. I really slept. It felt like it was necessary. The new serenity plan is to assume it's really necessary and give in.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Belated 365 Project Update

I was returning one audio book and getting another (Suze Orman) at the library when I saw these two guys doing something with this portable something or other. It turns out they are changing light bulbs in light fixtures. Hmmm. I thought about hitching a ride.
I know - it's another picture of a tree. I couldn't help it. This my favorite color of all the autumn colors. Orange, yellow, and an almost pink shade. Makes me catch my breath.

I did one of those chores I do when I'm avoiding doing something else. This time it was straighten up my refrigerator gallery and add some pictures. One of these views is a bonus picture for a day I forgot to take a picture. Really - I take enough dumb pictures that I shouldn't have any problem taking a dumb picture right before bed when I've forgotten. I could take a dumb picture when I get up to snack in the middle of the night.

My friend, Sharon (the professional artist), and myself (with my new curly hair) at Sharon's very first solo show. People were buying those paintings like crazy. She says I bought her very first painting. What an honor! She is amazing.

Here's Kristin at Applebees in her cute hat and coat. She's now old enough to like the hat. Applebees is her favorite because they have the kind of mac and cheese she likes - Kraft dinner.

I took this picture on Sunday on the way to visit my friend, Eric. The trees and sky were spectacular. Unfortunately this rather dull picture was the best one I got. So here's the deal. This 365 project seemed like a fabulous idea when I started. This is week 20 something so I'm approaching half a year. It's taking more out of me all the time. In the beginning it was wonderful fun. Every day I looked around for a picture and found several. Then I realized that I do a lot of the same stuff all the time, and it would be very boring to just take pictures of the same stuff all the time. After that it became very hard. I had to look very carefully for pictures and not make them be the same boring ones of the cat or the trees changing color. Sorry to say I still ended up with pictures of the cat and of the trees changing color. Finally, just recently, I've begun to just look for pictures - interesting things in my environment that I might not have noticed if I weren't trying to find a picture a day. Now it's getting more interesting. The project gives my life a new focus and several interesting twists per day!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Love Science...

...especially when research findings agree with what I think is true based on my experience. A recent Newsweek magazine had an article on the "substantial progress psychological research has made in identifying the most effective treatments." I loved it because it said that there was a huge amount of evidence, based on rigorous clinical trials, that cognitive-behavior therapy is very effective against a wide variety of disorders. The short definition they gave of this type of therapy: "Teaching patients to think about their thoughts in new, healthier ways and to act on those new ways of thinking." The research shows that the results are better and longer lasting than drugs.

In my experience, this type of therapy is wonderfully effective. It's not everything, but it's a lot! There are probably an infinite number of ways to think about my life experiences. I've learned only one way, but as soon as I can see some other ways that are equally true, I not only feel better but soon act better. My favorite example is that I came into adulthood believing that if someone was doing something I thought was detrimental to me, I should raise hell until the person quit. I did that for years. It didn't work. I tried being submissive and learning to put up with being a doormat. That didn't work either. (My personality made it almost impossible to carry that one out.) I didn't have a third way of looking at these problems.

It turns out there are quite a number of other ways of looking at these problems. A vast majority of the time, I can simply change my own behavior so that the person doesn't have the opportunity to do what they're doing. For example, if I'm in a relationship with an explosive person who yells at me, I can wait until he or she is in a quieter mood and say,"I can't handle it when you yell at me. So, I'm going to start leaving the room when you do that. I'll be glad to work out any problems we have, but not when you yell." Of course, then I will have to actually walk away.

In order to put these new ways of thinking and acting into practice, I will have to stop focusing on the other person's bad behavior. Blaming and complaining may initially make me feel better but in the long run just keeps me stressed without any solution. Turning my attention to what I can do differently sometimes makes me feel like I'm blaming myself. However, none of this is about who's to blame. It's about learning to solve my problems like a rational adult. I love science!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Belated 365 Project

My friend, Caryn, saying goodbye after she gifted me with a pedicure and a manicure.
Bonus picture for one of the days I didn't take a picture.

The tree is turning a little more.

Movie night with Kristi and Dee. Cisco is getting his quota of Kristi kisses while we eat the pizza. We watched ONCE - Dee picked it out - and I absolutely loved it.

My neighbor's tree is starting to turn - Just the ends of the branches though.

Grocery shopping at Whole Foods usually means I bring home some flowers. It's my favorite places for flowers.

Dinner with Jack and Eric at a new Mediterranean restaurant. Lovely! Then we went to see David Sedaris and cracked up for two hours. Laughing makes me feel good.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


It's a long, irrelevant story as to why I was there, so suffice it to say - I was at a huge national interfaith conference that focused on the religions of the world. I spent some time in the small room where the guy representing buddhism was. He explained that it wasn't really a religion. They don't focus on the God idea. It's more of a philosophy about how to live and focuses on kindness.

The representative for Buddhism said there were seven things that every human being experiences, and yet we seem to think that if we do things just right, we'll avoid them. Our effort to avoid these truths causes us endless suffering. Instead, we can accept them since it's a foregone truth that we are all in the same boat and there's no escape. We can, through acceptance, avoid suffering and help each other.

The seven truths:
1) Pain (begins at birth - we all suffer pain as we are born and throughout our lives)
2) Illness (so far no one has escaped being sick)
3) Old age (almost everyone experiences this if we're lucky enough to live long enough, that is)
4) Death (sorry, but we are all going to die)
5) Bereavement (everyone will lose a person or people that we love)

These first five are the main ones but there are two more lesser ones:
6) Violated expectations (we are disappointed nearly every day of our lives when something doesn't go the way we hoped)
7) Failure of happy moments to last (it's one of our grand illusions that in the moments we're happy that there's some way to make them last forever. Not going to happen)

I know people who believe that not thinking about these truths will make your life more positive. Unfortunately, when these people come face to face with one of these truths in their own lives, they usually completely come apart and suffer badly. Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that it's a good idea to keep thinking about these truths every minute of every day. I don't believe acceptance requires that. But as the world goes on and I see these truths reflected in my life and other people's lives, I can say to myself, "there it is again." I certainly have not escaped grief by accepting that death is a part of life, but I have escaped the unnecessary suffering caused by believing that it shouldn't have happened, or that I've been singled out by the Universe for special torture, etc. Plus, the acceptance and the awareness I have help me prioritize my life. In the end, love and compassion are all that really matter. I don't remember this all the time, but often enough to have a lot of peace.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Not "Getting Over It"

My trip to the library last week included an encounter with a woman who was in one of the after care (after chemical dependency treatment) groups I facilitated as a volunteer over 20 years ago. I know she was a family member, not a patient, but that's all I really remember about her - except that I liked her. She said that her husband had died unexpectedly about 5 years ago. She added that she was doing well - that we don't "get over" a significant death like that - we just get used to it. I thought that was the best way of putting the truth that I've ever heard. I used to get secretly very angry when I heard that I was supposed to "get over" the deaths of important people in my life. I thought that they were crazy to say that - that they obviously had never experienced what I had. I was probably right. I am not plagued by overwhelming grief every day but that's because I've gotten used to the loss. But I still think about those people nearly every day and I still miss them every single day. What else should we expect if the people we lost were wonderful people?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

365 Project

Kale is something we're supposed to eat. But people have taken to planting them for beauty. These are in front of the bank.
The nearest public library. I love public libraries. Right now I'm loving audio books.

This picture represents a couple of things: 1) it's time for the fake mink bedspread (Cisco's favorite) because the weather has changed and 2) I spent a couple of days here to recover from walking around the fair. I really, really hate this having to rest thing.

I've been trying to get my hair dresser to let me have a perm for years. Finally I succeeded in getting my way!

The Forest of Peace (formerly Osage Monastery) is where I spent the day yesterday. I've had this visit on my to do list for over 10 years. It is a most amazingly beautiful place which seems to hold a connection with Love.

I am not feeling very happy. This was women's meeting Sunday and we had very few again this time. There were more than this picture shows but it felt awfully empty to me. I'm thinking it may be time to take a year off or just quit. I would miss it terribly but sometimes it's time for a change. We've been doing this since 1995 which is a long time to be consistent. It may be time for me to do something different.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I've been listening to an audio book from the library in the car. (An attempt to use my time more wisely.) I don't really like the book - it's way too dogmatic and annoyingly righteous. On the other hand, I keep listening because it has some ideas that give me pause for thought.

One of these ideas is the explanation of the difference between self-improvement and transformation. Transformation, according to the author, and according to me, is a complete reorganization of the personality, outlook, and heart of the person. Transformation doesn't happen because the person decides to make it happen. It only happens as a result of the person's willingness to be transformed by an outside force for good (some people would say God).

The process of transformation includes painful facing of the truth about oneself and willingness to take the action to change. Self-improvement usually just means smaller, somewhat superficial changes like losing weight, getting more organized, developing a talent, etc. Not that these things aren't good - they're actually wonderful. It's just that they don't add up to transformation. In my recovery program it's called a psychic change. To one degree or another, people who experience this seem to be and are different people.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

365 Project Week of September 29

The visitors are trying to decide what to have for Sunday breakfast at Phill's before they hit the road.
The golden driller in front of the fairgrounds at the Tulsa State Fair. He has a fair tee shirt on. I wish I had seen the process of putting that tee shirt on him.

A view from the skyride at the Tulsa State Fair.

Rebecca and boyfriend, Josh, with a bull with amazing horns. I have not earthly idea what kind of cattle designation this thing belongs to. Wow! Bec and Josh had never been to a fair before so they got to see this on their very first one!

Some days are just better than others for taking pictures. This is Fred, the motorcycle dog, with his owner at Utica Square where we stopped at the art fair.

Kristin is having a corn dog at Chimi's with some of the Russell clan, her mother and myself.

Mary and I just had a delightful lunch to celebrate a recent birthday. She looks really happy.

My friend at the Association who is helping us find sponsors for the Out of Africa event. It's a lot less pressure when I'm not in charge!!

I've walked this bridge from the parking lot to the office building where the Alzheimer's Association offices are about a million times. This time I'm walking it to be a volunteer for the upcoming Out of Africa event.

My furnace/air conditioner had a leak and was making a huge wet mess in the house and under the house. But it's fixed now. Yay!! It took a whole day almost but no more mold.

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