Monday, January 23, 2012

Spiritual Awakening #3

When I had been in recovery about 9 months I realized that I had consistently done something for 9 whole months - I hadn't taken a drink, I had gone to several meetings a week, I talked to my sponsor almost every day, almost every day I had read some of the literature and had asked God to help me pretty much every day.  That alone was a huge awakening - I knew that I had never ever before in my life, done that many things consistently for that length of time.  I knew it was a miracle.  I wasn't a believer in God, but now I was suspecting that there must be a force for good in the universe that had given me the power to do those things.

Then at about that same time I realized that I was happy and had some peace of mind.  Happiness and peace were new things for me.  AND I had none of the things I thought I must have to be happy - my finances were a mess, I had lost my job, my daughter who was still at home was going through a terribly difficult adolescence, plus I hadn't even had a date with a guy in several  months.  That was a miracle too.  The only thing that had changed was my willingness to do some simple things.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A few pix from Christmas

The gorgeous jewelry box from Adam and Thien in its place of honor.
The "check" from Aaron that promises me help with my wildflower garden.
This year's collage.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Spiritual Awakening #2

After the awakening that the only place to live was in the present, I had another amazing realization, thanks to the same counselor that told me about the book, Your Erroneous Zones.  I called her, having a huge fit because my husband had left our youngest two children in the house alone while I was at the grocery store.  Both of them were very severely disabled, and when I got back there were windows broken out and various other disasters had occurred.  He was in the backyard working in the garden.  I was completely beside myself. 

She asked me what I thought needed to happen, and I said that he needed to change!  She asked me how long I had known him (15 years), and what he had changed during that period of time.  I said he now ate vegetables.  She said that many people would have self-examined during that period of time with as many life changing experiences that he'd had during that period, and that they would have made some changes.  Since he had not, she said, how likely was it that anything she or I could say or do would get him to change.  A flash of light went on - he wasn't going to change!  She said that we were now getting somewhere.  So, if he's not going to change, she said, what will you do to fix this problem.  Of course, the obvious answer was that I need to get a babysitter if I left the kids at home while I went somewhere else.

It was another wake up call to stop waiting for other people to see things my way and do what I wantedno matter how right I thought I was.  From then on I either asked someone else to watch the kids when I went some where or I went when they were in school. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Spiritual Awakenings I Have Had - #1

I heard a speaker say one time that all the spiritual awakenings she had were immediately preceded by rude awakenings.  Very perceptive.  I do have to add in all honesty that her perceptiveness and articulativeness didn't save her.  She relapsed and died a few years ago.  Just goes to show that being articulate and perceptive does not keep you sober.  She stopped working a daily program and that's what happened.

Anyway, the thing about rude awakenings is true for me too.  The very first awakening - both rude and spiritual - was when the very first counselor I ever saw told me to get the book, Your Erroneous Zones."  She said to read it and do what it said and I wouldn't need to see her any more.  Since I was completely at my wits end and was completely physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted from trying but failing to meet my overwhelming responsibilities, I immediately set out to read it as fast as I could from beginning to end.

It was, in my opinion, a very badly written book.  It also challenged my belief system.  As I read it, I occasionally threw it against the wall.  Finally the lights went on when I got nearly to the end of the book.  Contrary to what I had believed, the author said that I wasn't responsible for absolutely everything - that I could ask for help.  He also said that complaining did absolutely no good whatsoever.  Instead, he said, I should take responsibility for myself and start trying to solve whatever problems I was having.  Most importantly of all, he said, worrying about the future and feeling bad about the past was a complete waste of time.  Life is only happening in the present and that's where I should be living.

I felt like a weight had lifted off my shoulders and I felt as if I was capable of solving my problems.  I wish I could tell you that everything went well from that moment.  But it did not.  Unfortunately, I did not have a mentor to talk to to help me put the principles into practice.  The only thing I was able to do on my own was learn to center myself in the present by focusing on what I felt, saw and heard around me instead of focusing on my thoughts.  I was able to be "present" most of the time which felt absolutely lovely.  However, that didn't help me solve my problems.

 I did ask for help - in fact, I demanded it.  That didn't work at all and I was still left with the problems and now the people I demanded help from were pissed.  Even so I had periods of absolute joy being present, which is definitely at the heart of spiritual awakening.  I still have the skill of centering myself in the present no matter what is happening.  I think that the present is where God is and the present is the only place I can get in contact.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Right after the first of the year I decided to take a short sabbatical from doing a whole bunch of things I don't want to do.  I had three volunteer jobs that I kind of took out of either guilt or people-pleasing and then noticed that they were taking up the time I wanted to do other things that were really important to me.  It turns out that it's a lot harder to quit than I ever imagined.  One of the people has emailed me at least once and sometimes twice a day to ask if I would "at least" do this or that.  I've said, "no."  It's not getting through.  The other person cried.  Dear God.  How do I get myself into these things!, in between continuing to say, "no."  I sent a story off to one of my favorite magazines - the first time I've ever put any of my writing out in the hope it would be published.  If I had kept saying yes, I would never have done it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Unsolved Problems

I puzzle a lot over why we human beings keep doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  It's the definition of insanity and yet we don't seem to notice it - in ourselves or even in other people.  I also call it "victim thinking" because we see the source of our problems being other people and/or our situations.  Yesterday's reading in one of my meditation books addressed this and reminded me that learning a new perspective on myself and my life was so miraculous.  I think I'm still hard wired to see my problems as originating outside of me but because I still talk to people in recovery, read the literature and go to meetings, I have these constant reminders of a much more helpful way of dealing with life.

"Once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern."  The writer of the meditation page was referring to the behavior of other people.  He/she suggests that we ask ourselves when we are upset (one more time) with the behavior of someone else, how many times this has happened before.  If it's three or more, it's time to quit hoping it will change and change ourselves instead.  I used to think, "But it's him/her that's wrong; so he/she should change.  What can I possibly do to help myself if the other person keeps on doing things that upset me?" 

Well, there are a lot of pretty simple, but difficult answers:  Like changing my expectations and accepting that this person, for whatever reason, is probably going to keep doing what he/she is doing.  That alone can increase my peace of mind, because I won't be continually surprised that he/she hasn't seen the error of his/her ways and changed.  I may need to distance myself temporarily from that person, or stop talking about a particular subject.  A lot depends on what the actual behavior is, but I can always figure out what I need to change by talking to other people in recovery.  It is never necessary for me to suffer because of someone else's behavior!

Monday, January 09, 2012

It's Okay Darling...

Cheryl Richardson who has written several books on improving your life sends a weekly email to anyone who signs up, and of course, I signed up!  This week's email had to do with New Year's resolutions.  She doesn't like them either, but still the beginning of a new year is a good time to think about making changes that would improve your life.  She said that research shows that all change comes about in fits and starts so we should be patient with ourselves.  She recommends that when we get off track we should put a hand over our hearts and say to ourselves, "It's okay, darling.  Just get back on track quickly."  I like that.  I'll be doing that a lot, I'm sure.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Non resolutions

January of each year is just an arbitrary time for change.  Change can happen any time.  Hope can happen anytime.  What I want to know, what I wish research would focus on, is what are the most effective ways to make personal change.  The universal problem is that people make resolutions (me included) and then....well, you know....All that actually happens is that we feel discouraged and bad about ourselves.  I have read that the problem is that we are hardwired for short term pleasure rather than long term success and that overcoming the drive for short term pleasure is extremely difficult to overcome.  At the very least someone surely has interviewed people like me who always say, "this is the year I lose 20 lbs"  but who still weigh the same at the end of the year and then finally actually did it.  Okay, National Institues of Health - where are you spending my tax dollars?  All that research into heart conditions, diabetes, etc. would not be needed if we had the answer to the qeustion of how to get ourselves to hang in for the long term.  There are lots of opinions and lots of ads on T.V. but where's the research that proves what will work?

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