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?”

Friday Fun – Where I’m From

4517 Mercer StreetGood morning!  Thursday I was reading Jenny Hansen’s blog and came upon this fantastic post! You can find her “where I’m from” post by clicking on her grand name right up there. Go ahead!  Click it!  The original idea and post comes from here, found on the amazing blog of Sharla Lovelace.

I am from AM/FM radios, from Sunkist orange soda and chalking in the street with slate.

I am from the city of neighborhoods, banging on heater pipes, close-knit neighbors and the smell of chemical plants mixed with fresh-cut grass.

I am from the dandelions treated as high-class flowers, penny candy stores, cassette tapes and playing “suicide” wall ball.

I am from Gram’s house for every family holiday and big noses along with long legs, from Patti and Jim and Arvilla and Barbara.

I am from the grips of procrastination and alcoholism.  I am from huge hearts and a great love of nature and living while letting live.

From “it gets better” and “you’re worth it.”

I am from being baptized Catholic while never living in the Catholic traditions. I am from going to a Lutheran church with my Gram almost every Sunday and thinking how ginormous the minister looked.

I’m from Philadelphia, Somers Point, New Jersey, Italy and Russia.  I am from spaghetti and meatballs, potato salad and kick ass hams.

From the romantic trysts of Jim & Patti on the sun-baked streets of Bridesburg, the coal miner’s daughter who told me grand stories of upstate Pennsylvania and a grandfather who lost two of his fingers in a coal mine at the CCC camps back in the 1920’s.

I am from these two beautiful people. That’s where I’m from.  Where are you from?

Flash Fiction Friday – The Darkness

Image: forum.skyscraperpage.com
Image: forum.skyscraperpage.com

I’m sitting in the dark now.  It stopped raining about an hour ago.  People are walking up and down this quaint little street in Newtown, Pennsylvania.  I tried to walk; I really did.  But it was just too much for me.  All the people. Man, the people.  Their eyes boring through my skin began to drive me mad, you see.  I could see everything.  Everything!  All their sins, their heartbreak, their desires seeped into my soul like rain into the dry, cracked earth.  I had to get away you see.

Now, I am isolated with the memory of a thousand different stares beaming into my brain.  It is just too much!

There is only one way to get rid of this torment.  I have to cut it out.  I have to let the tears bleed out of my skin.  I must release the screams from my pores.

It is the only way…

Flash Fiction Friday – Bullet

Reblog of a favorite Flash Fiction of mine.

English: Picture of a standard 'K Bullet' as m...

So I sat in a box for the last, oh, I don’t know, seven years?  Just sat there on a shelf with dozens of other boxes on other shelves with the others and I am finally free.
I don’t know who opened the box and put me in the chamber of freedom, but his fingers were fat like crinkled sausages and they smelled like shit. I guess some uprights never wash their hands.
“There you go my pet,” the upright says. “You are such a special little bullet. You were born to do great things.  You are going to change history, my pet.”
The upright talks a lot.
It’s freaking dark in here.  I have waited my entire life to get out of that damn box. I am a special bullet.  I don’t mingle with common bullets.
Seven years I have waited for this.  I don’t know what to expect. I just hear the voice.  I guess the voice thinks I can’t understand, but I can. I hear it talk about me.  It talks about my velocity, my speed and my distance.
It’s weird, you know? I don’t know what any of it means.
I can hear the upright speak as I sit here waiting for my moment of glory. He told me I was going to change history.  I don’t know what that means really…  but it sounds important.
Before the upright put me in here, it held me close to where the voice comes out.  It told me all these things.
“You’re so beautiful,” it says.
“You are the most special bullet ever, little bullet. You are going to make poppa so proud,” the voice cries.
I wanted to concur or validate the voices wishes. But what the hell, I’m just a bullet after all. A special bullet it tells me. But I don’t know what the means.  I don’t even know what my purpose is.
“Oh, special bullet. Be straight and true with your aim, young one.  Guide your soul into the heart of that bastard and save us all,” the voice screams.
The upright put me in something cold and long.  It’s dark in here.
Wait.  I just heard a loud bang and now I am zooming through the air toward another upright.  I don’t understand any of this.
Now I am in something hot, dark and wet. This is so odd.  I was happy in my box with the others.  I don’t feel so special anymore. Where is the voice?
I hear other voices now.  They are making high-pitched noises.  They are screaming, “He’s shot! He’s shot!”
My shell is gone.  I am now a flat piece of metal.
I still don’t feel special.

Friday Flash Fiction – Resistance

Minetta Tavern
Minetta Tavern (Photo credit: Gandhu & Sarah)

Carson Smithers sat on the bar stool as the clock struck the eight o’clock hour.  He had been on that bar stool for the last three hours staring at the now warm beer on the ratty coaster in front of him.  The day’s work had ended in shambles along with a verbal tirade from his boss in front of his co-workers; even Jenny, the hot girl from the cubicle at the end of the hall.

“Hey, buddy, you gonna drink that or do you want a fresh one?”  The burly bartender asked as he wiped the old, wood bar down with a wet rag.  Carson watched as the bartender methodically picked up coasters, wiped, put coasters down, and wiped all the way to the other end of the bar without missing a piece of the bar or spilling a drink.

Carson looked up sheepishly and nodded while he pushed the perspiring glass to the edge of the bar and pulled his cigarettes from his pocket.

The jukebox started playing an unfamiliar country western song as someone broke the rack on the pool table.  Carson counted three balls that dropped into the pockets without looking at them rattling around on the fuzzy green felt of the table.

His eyes gazed across the pool table, across the jukebox, across the blonde-haired woman with the heaving breasts and over to the repaired wall to the left of all the action.  He remembered making that hole over ten years ago in a drunken rage over a different blonde-haired woman so long ago.

The bar stool shrieked as he pushed it back with his legs to stand up.  All of the memories that flooded back reminded him of all the reasons why he stopped drinking and took steps to change his life.

The bartender rushed down to Carson, “hey buddy, you leaving already?  You bought two beers and didn’t take a sip from either.  What gives?”

Carson tossed a ten-dollar bill on the bar and said, “Sorry, man.  I got to get to a meeting.”

20 Truly Exceptional Alcohol Addiction Resources List – I Made #20!

I got an email this morning that said my blog here, Sober Living:  Life at Full Throttle made the “20 Truly Exceptional Alcohol Addiction Resources List.”  I came in at #20!  😀 I checked out a lot of the other blogs, all of which are awesome pertaining to alcoholism, addiction and how these bloggers have handled it.

Here is the link: 20 Truly Exceptional Alcohol Addiction Resources.  Just wanted to share my happy moment this morning.  Okay, time for me to go back to bed… I am sick. 😦

All About Perspective

What do you see?

Perspective.  We all have our own.  Some perspectives we learn over time while others we form on the drop of a dime.  I have said, in earlier posts, that I find people fascinating.  Their tastes, their mannerisms, and their idiosyncrasies.  But what I am really into is their perspective.

For example:  the glass to the left of this post.  Half full?  Half empty?  Too much?  Not enough?  Do you even care?

I was at a meeting last night and at the end, we all went outside.  A lot of us stand around and chitter chatter sometimes; getting to know each other and all that. I was talking to my old sponsor, and I spotted this huge bug on the wall to the right of me.  It was huge and beautiful, from my perspective.

I started to ease my hand under the bug (my mother had shown me how to do this just this past weekend) and my old sponsor started to become uncomfortable.

“Please, Darlene.  Don’t do that!” she begged me.

“Why?  It’s a harmless bug.  Look how cool he is,” I defended as I edged my hand under the left rear leg.

“Cool?  It’s ugly and it will hurt you,” she said.  I could hear her perspective from the fear in her voice.

I really wanted to hold this bug and get a better look at it.  From my perspective it was just a bug; a misunderstood bug judged solely on appearance.  My perspective saw beauty and uniqueness.

I decided to spare everyone (at this point more people were watching) the horror of me (gasp!) actually picking up a giant bug to revel in the beauty I saw in God’s little creature.  My old sponsor relaxed and so did a few other people after I moved my hand away from the bug.  I felt a little sad because I didn’t get to pick the bug up.

However, I am happy that I got to see it and that I didn’t cause mass hysteria! 😉

Life is all about perspective.

Have your perspectives ever changed?  How do you feel about bugs?