Out With the Old – A Time to Reflect

Reflect
Reflect (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As 2012 comes to a close… I have looked through my Penzu journal, gone through old notebooks and basically stepped back and looked at the canvas of my life.  It hasn’t exactly been a spectacular year… but then it has been a spectacular year.  I fell down a cliff on a quad, I celebrated six years of sobriety in May, I started going to Al-Anon (which changed my life!) and I ended a six year, toxic relationship never dreaming that I’d enter into a new relationship with a man who I am pretty sure was made just for me.

I read somewhere that when we order up the life we want to exact specifications, we just might get it.  Well, I seem to be on my way.

The Old:

Procrastination – Insecurity – Self-loathing – Laziness – Self-doubt – feeling unworthy in most situations.  Ahhh.. those old ugly beliefs and bad thoughts that I wish I could beat with a hammer.  However, thoughts are not tangible so I have to beat them with positive thinking!

The New:

Get it done! I am beautiful! I can and will prevail! Successful author!  I have to fake it ’til I make it – and my advice to all of you is to do the same.  Faking it ’til we make it is like a mental affirmation of determination that only we know about.  It kinda goes along with that whole “The Secret” thing.  Trust me – it freaking works.

How about you? What is your out with the old, in with the new for the coming year?

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Think, Think, Think During the Holidays (and Everyday)

Photo: barreralawfirm.com
Photo: barreralawfirm.com

While drunk driving and drug related traffic accidents are down in the last couple years, they are still too high.  According to statistics on MADD, 9, 878 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in 2011. 

I am not here to talk about statistics and percentages.  We can read stats on websites and billboards all day long, but realistically, they are just numbers and numbers do not hit home nor the heart.

I am here to talk about common freaking sense.

When we put chemicals into our body, even cold medicine, it alters our state of consciousness and our senses become warped.  We might think we are driving “perfectly fine” after just a couple of drinks, one hit of marijuana, or a couple of pills, but the truth is the effects of any drug effect us.

You may or may not have a drinking problem. Chances are if you or someone you know thinks it is okay to drive while intoxicated, there most likely is an issue with drinking that goes deeper than just being selfish and without regard for others. 

Here are some tips for partying (without injuring yourself or others) during the holiday season:

  • Have a designated driver.  This works.
  • KNOW your limit.
  • The switch off.  Drink water between every drink and for God’s sake EAT SOMETHING.  Still: DO NOT DRIVE.  This method is good for helping you or someone not turning into a belligerent drunk.
  • Keep an eye on friends or people you are with.  If someone is drinking too much, make sure you take their keys (with our without them knowing it). They might get angry with you, but an angry friend is better than a dead friend.
  • Make sure you don’t have to drive.  Plan a ride ahead or have money for a cab.

If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, go over to aa.org and get some information on how to get help and how to find a meeting. 

Have a fun and safe holiday season!

F.E.A.R.

I was working with one of my sponsors a few weeks ago, and she told me this phrase.  I almost fell out of my chair.  There are a few acronyms for “FEAR” such as: F*ck Everything And Run and Face Everything And Recover.  But… False Evidence Appearing Real is the one that works best for me. I have a lot of fear in everything I do.  Or should I say, everything I don’t do.  Fear holds me back in many decisions.  Is that why I am so damn indecisive?

Umm… definitely.

There have been times I felt the fear and did it anyway.  Like, the first time I rode a motorcycle, or a roller coaster, or stood up for myself in junior high school when I got in a fist fight.  There was definitely a lot of fear in those instances, but I did it anyway.  Ok, maybe getting in a fist fight is not the best example… The point is, I felt the fear and pushed through it.

A lot of us as children were afraid of the dark.  I remember when I was a little girl, I was afraid of my closet.  I swore to everything that there was a monster waiting to eat me.  The false evidence was the creeks from behind the closet door.  The fear appeared real because I believed it.  I would jump up and turn the light on, go look inside the closet and hey… no monster!  Imagine that.  The false evidence had appeared very real.

I am going through a major life change in the next six weeks.  I decided I need to leave my boyfriend.  We met in recovery a couple of months after I got sober.  He has done a lot for me and we have been through some great times.  But I see the big picture and it is pretty blank.  I won’t go into the sordid details (although it would make for some interesting reading).  Let’s just leave it in the “we grew apart” ditch.

Fear is absolutely a healthy emotion in certain situations.

So I have to be out by December 1st! How will I do it? Who the hell knows… I have faith in God, in my program and in myself that I will pull through this.

Have you ever pushed through the fear? How did you overcome? Share your thoughts and stories below! 

K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid

Image: revivedmedia.net

Keeping it simple may seem pretty, well, simple for the average human being, but for us alcoholics and addicts, it can be anything but.  We just have a way of complicating the most uncomplicated things. Things like: working, driving and even food shopping become daunting because that’s what we do. Where this becomes a danger is when we complicate our sobriety.  Complicating life complicates our sobriety.

I was at a meeting last night and one of the gentlemen there used this phrase.  I wrote it in my little notebook because I felt like, “yeah, I want to talk about this.”

When I first got sober, I did not keep it simple.  I would create drama, over-analyze things and make problems out to be bigger than they actually were.  I was still stuck in the, “Poor me, look what I have to deal with!  Why can’t everything just be easy?” phase.

Living life on life’s terms is definitely a struggle for someone who always escaped with drugs and alcohol.  The reality of an active alcoholic/addict is that they abhor reality.  The cycle is: we screw up, we get drunk, we feel resentment, we screw up, we get drunk and we wind up doing dumb stuff.

I am no longer new to sobriety, and yeah, in the beginning I was trying to hold onto the old way of thinking (complicated) while maintaining my sobriety.
When I realized keeping things simple made my life simple, I started catching on.

Ways to keep things simple:

Plan ahead

Write up a budget

Go to work

Tell the truth

Do the next right thing

Taking a break

Keeping it simple isn’t just for people in recovery.  What are some ways you keep it simple?

Dear Me – A Letter to My Fifteen Year Old Insecure Self

So I came upon this post courtesy of the talented Jeff Goins.  Listen to me, I “came upon.”  The truth is I follow his amazing blog and even bought his book “Wrecked.”  Check it out.  You can thank me later.

The gist is this:  Write a letter to your fifteen year old self.  Simple!  What would you say to yourself?  What would you tell you to value?  What would you tell you to not get in such a tizzy about?

After you write your letter, link back here to the Friday, September 14, 2012 post.

Annnnd, one more thing before we get started… Check out Emily Freeman’s book Graceful (for young women).  I plan on it!

Dear Me:

Hey.  I know you’re sad and you feel misunderstood and you’re lonely. I get it.  But I have to tell you that you looked for love in all the wrong places.  Turns out, you may have been an ugly duckling (all skinny and gangly) but you filled out quit nicely.  You always had a problem with anger, but it suited you well and really calmed down after 30.

Oh, and by the way, you’re an alcoholic.  Yeah, it turns out, after a serious run in the dirt, it is a blessing in disguise.

So here are my tips to you, lassy:

1. Boys are not everything.

2. Follow your dreams, no matter what your dad says!

3. Stop frowning!  Gram is right, your face really does stay that way.

4. Please stop cutting yourself. The emotional scars heal, but those scars on your wrist will be there for life.

5. You have great thoughts, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion.

6. No one is watching you.  Okay, maybe one or two people here and there.  But not everyone all the time.  Get over it and be silly!

7. I know you like to think you know everything.  You don’t.

8. You should listen to the adults in your life more.  They’ve been there and are so not blowing smoke up your arse.

9. Stop being such a people pleaser!

10.  You have an amazing smile!  Smile more. Frown less.

With much love and admiration,

The still crazy head banging chick you grew to love.

Bridges & Starlings

Covered Bridge

Bridges. We build them.  We burn them. We travel across them to new destinations and we let them carry us home.  We stand on them to stare at the awesomeness of water or to watch fireworks in the sky. If we are superstitious, we hold our breath as we cross.

I love bridges.  I love to look at them, travel across them, stand on them and take pictures of them.  I’m not sure if there is any significance of bridges in my personal life.  I tend to look at things in-depth and over-analyze everything.

I had a rough morning, and for some reason, bridges popped in my head.  My desktop is a picture of a glorious black train bridge (aren’t most train bridges black?) printed in black and white.  Sometimes I honestly just sit and stare at my desktop for a good three minutes.

So after bridges popped in my head, I started thinking about why bridges popped in my head.  I had just spent the morning on the front step with my coffee and cigarettes watching about forty starlings communicate in their “squeaky swing” chirps and sounds and I thought about how they were behaving as a group. I had some old crackers so I crunched ’em up and scattered them on the ground.

Granted, before my time with the starlings, I had just had an argument with someone who insisted on bashing me.  This took me back to my computer to look up the starling animal totem, which is relevant to working in groups of people (starlings are rarely alone) and I started to wonder what the heck bridges and starlings had to do with one another (in my mind).

Starlings
Starlings (Photo credit: Sergey Yeliseev)

And then, it clicked.  “By learning starling’s behavior, I can live peacefully with my friends and family” is what it says on the totem site.  Clearly, if I keep insisting on being right and dwelling on the problem instead of working in the solution, I will burn bridges.  But my pride gets in the way and I stray away from the group (or person) because I’d rather sit in my crap than find a solution.  Thankfully I can see this relatively close to when the situation arises, instead of further down the line after the damage has been done.

The other interesting thing is that I just started reading “Drop the Rock” which is a phenomenal book about working Steps Six and Seven.  For those unfamiliar with AA literature:

Step Six: Were entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.

Step Seven: Humbly asked Him to remove out shortcomings.

Now, we all have character defects, and most (if not all) of us like to hold on to many of them.  I hold on to them more often than I  think I want to.  Which is why, when I am ready to have my defects removed, they will be, and not before.  I pray every day for my defects to be removed.  God, however, cannot live my life for me and I have this stinking thing called “free will” floating inside of me constantly. It takes awareness to be entirely ready to have my character defects removed.

I am now aware of the significance of the murmuration of starlings this morning.  I have to think before I speak.  As far as bridges go, I don’t have many left to burn.

Do you like bridges?

Do you have any character defects you don’t dig much?

Let’s talk about it! 😀

Just Be…

Image: thisdrumandbass.com

My good friend Heather introduced me to this phrase: “Just be.” She has an awesome blog about alternative therapies.  Go check it out!  I’ll be here when you get back.

Back to “just being.”  It took me a little while to really grasp what exactly that meant.  I’m really good at nodding at people when they start talking about things I may not understand, this is true.  I am even better, however, at nodding at things I want to understand.

And I desperately wanted to understand and learn how to “just be.”  So I gave it some thought.  Okay, I gave it a lot of thought teetering on the brink of mildly consumed.  And then one day…

I was sitting on my front step, drinking my coffee, smoking my cigarette (bad girl!) and listening to the birds while feeling the wind on my face and watching the stars in the sky twinkle brighter  than ever (stars seem their brightest between four am – five am). 

And then like a sparrow nearly smashing into my face it hit me.  In that moment, on my step surrounded by nature, stars and cars in the parking lot… I was just being.  My head was not racing with thoughts, deadlines, my kids, money or writing.  I was just a body on the step with a blank mind enjoying my environment.

How awesome is that?  Let me tell you, it was so awesome that I try to “just be” at least 3-5 times a week now.  And it helps.  A lot.  There is great peace and growth in just being.  It is one of my favorite things to do. 

How about you?  How do you “just be?”