Archive | February 2016

What I Bring To The Table

meditation-833864__180About seven years ago, I was having something of an identity crisis as near as I can describe it. I’d just finished an in-depth and intense workshop of sorts called a Step Study with four other women. It took almost four months to complete. At the end, it revealed just how insecure and needy I still was about myself. I had been so busy being a chameleon to fit in and be accepted that I felt like I had no clue who I was or what I was truly about AFTER 12 YEARS IN SOBRIETY! This was also distressing at the time because I had decided to work with a different spiritual advisor after 10 years with my current one. I was still getting to know this new spiritual advisor and one afternoon over coffee I ended up tearfully confessing my fear and anguish that I wasn’t sure who I was after all this time in recovery. I was afraid to lose friends and acquaintances. She reached across the table, put her hand over mine to speak quietly, earnestly and with confidence. She said we’d work together to discover who I was working from the AA Big Book and that she was taught to determine five qualities or principles about herself. Five things she brought to the table which represented who she was, and more importantly, informed others who she was. What principles she was about regardless of the situation or who she was dealing with. I felt a sense of calm and relief at her words, even though I had no clue what five qualities I wanted to represent myself. I just knew I trusted her experience, strength and hope to help me.

My first quality was chosen by her. She gifted me the word “consideration” when presenting me with a sobriety token because she observed I was thoughtful in my responses to situations. I carefully considered things and I was a very considerate person to boot. That started the ball rolling for me and as we read through the AA Big Book, working the steps I uncovered more. Allow me to introduce

CONSIDERATION means I don’t leap when it comes to actions and drawing conclusions. I look before I leap, sometimes I take a while to look. And I am considerate and empathetic with others.

COURAGE means that even though I am afraid a lot of the time, especially with new things, I am still willing to walk through my fears to get to the other side. To learn, grow and evolve. courage means I can and will stand up for what I believe is right or what AA/NA has taught me is right for myself.

INTEGRITY means I am honest and straightforward about what’s right whether someone is around or not. I stand by my words and deeds. I show up for others and myself.

HUMOR is my deal breaker! It has saved my sanity, nourished my spirit and soothed my soul. I love laughter through tears. I love laughing at myself because I don’t take myself or life too seriously. I love laughing with others. I find the humor in situations to make them bearable, better or just to put things in perspective.

OPEN HEART/MIND means I meet you where you are with who and what I am. Humility in accepting people, places, and things. An open heart to be of service to my fellows, my community, and society. An open mind to expand who I am and what I know.

These qualities didn’t pop into my mind or life all at once. Some were already in place, it just took working steps to help me see them in myself. These five qualities are not all I am about, but that’s what I bring to the table no matter what. I don’t remember all of them as things come up, but I don’t always need all of them to respond, react or handle a situation or a person. It’s helped me continually grow and evolve with a sense of authenticity, grace and strength.abstract-979682__180

This entry was posted on February 16, 2016. 3 Comments

Waking Up On The Wrong Side Of Me

bedroom-1006526__180I went to bed early Thursday night because I have been staying up way too late on “school” nights lately. It’s starting to wear on me and I’m not doing well. My energy level is off, my coping skills decrease and I’m not pleased with the end results of my efforts in self-care, spiritual practices or  my yoga practice. I thought one good night’s sleep would do the trick. But I woke up just as tired as I usually do, which instantly disheartened and upset me. I put in minimal prayers to my Higher Power and stayed in bed Facebooking until the last possible minute. Thank God it was casual Friday so I didn’t have to put much effort into my appearance. Oh, and my Mom was coming for a visit. Something I’d known about for quite some time but still had not done much cleaning around the house. She hasn’t been to my new place yet because she lives in Northern California and last visited in April of last year before I even knew I would be moving.

I’m getting better at showing up on days like this. I’m usually a little more quiet, though. Today at work was no exception. I made an effort to shake off this feeling. But it’s not always that simple or easy. There is an inner dialogue that can be relentless on days like this. It’s all about what I’m not doing: not sleeping enough, not eating healthy enough, not exercising enough, not cleaning my house enough, not putting enough effort into my appearance, I need a pedicure, I need a relaxer touch-up for my hair, I need a shower, I need to pay bills before I spend my paycheck, because you know you will do that- you’ve done it before, your credit score is slipping, your not saving enough money… and on and on and on! Good Lord, even I didn’t realize I was feeling all of THAT.shame-799094__180

I get moments or blocks of time of relief from this inner dialogue with its molasses in January quagmire of icky feeling which comes along with. Thank God I work with humorous, supportive people because my job is almost never the best place to be when I’m like this. Plus it was Friday and we have a three day weekend with Monday off for President’s Day. I asked a co-worker if she was willing to walk to a local restaurant for lunch because the weather was glorious. I needed the fresh air and exercise, so did she and it ended up being a great energy and mood booster. The walk one way was 15 minutes and we made it in exactly one hour!

I was even starting to feel better about my Mom coming because I thought I’d have time to get home and tidy up before she got into town. I really should have known better because she called when I was about 15 minutes from home asking where I was because she was parked outside my apartment complex. Baby Bub wasn’t answering her phone so no one was available to let my Mom in. Cue the inner dialogue that was just waiting to resume sucking me into it’s icky quagmire. I have, to be honest, though, my Mom is not one of those super critical mothers about housekeeping. She’s not critical at all. It’s just me, of course. I got home as soon as I could and let her in the front door. She loved the place the minute she walked in. That’s another thing about my Mom, she is honest and forthright. If she didn’t like it or found fault, she would say something. My place isn’t that bad, it’s just cluttered as hell because that’s how Baby Bub and I roll. Once we got Mom settled, we decided to go out to eat, her treat.

Can I just say it’s a whole other experience being a back seat passenger while your 20-year-old daughter is driving your car and your Mom is in the front seat? It’s always entertaining being in the company of those two fine examples of generational moxie. Because as I’m writing this, I’m realizing that my DAUGHTER is also an honest and forthright person! Dinner was great, the ride home was great and as I sit here blogging and winding down from my day, I’m feeling a lot better. The inner dialogue is quiet.beyond-612464__180

I’m going to hop in the shower before going to bed. I have plans to do a short hike with my BFF and another friend early in the morning before heading to my Saturday Yin Yoga class. I will pay bills, get a pedicure, hook up my hair and enjoy this time with my Mom. I will do lots of breathing and reminding myself that I AM ENOUGH. On any given day, in any given manifestation of myself, regardless of what my inner dialogue says. I AM ENOUGH and I am very much loved by many.

This entry was posted on February 13, 2016. 1 Comment

Flowing and Growing Into Big Dreams

“Set a goal so big that you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can” — Anonymous

My morning routine is to roll over, turn off my alarm (which is on my Smartphone), then roll back to my pillow for my prayers and thoughts with my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God. After my time with God, I’ll go to my laptop in my dining room to post my blog to Facebook if it’s a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday morning. The other days of the week I jump on my phone to peruse a recovery website called for quotes or sayings to post on my Facebook page. If I’m not running late after all of that, I’ll check out my newsfeed before officially getting up to get ready for work.1422523561194383

I came across that meme which I’d seen it quite a few times before today. I always liked and agreed with it in an abstract way. But this morning I felt the recognition inherent in the quote. It made me stop and seriously reflect (a feat almost unheard of without my morning coffee) on how far I’ve come from the days of dissatisfaction with my life, not having a clue how to change it for the better, to what my life is now. Even after I came up with a work and life Mission for myself I was still clueless on how to accomplish it. I wanted to help people, I wanted to live from my heart and use my gifts of insight, empathy, humor and my ability to connect with others. I went through times of confusion, turmoil, fear, and depression. But I didn’t give up on moving forward, even when it felt like I was stuck. I went to my therapy sessions, 12 step meetings, spent time with encouraging, supportive friends and I became willing. Slowly suggestions were made, paths opened up that I was willing to follow through on. Sometimes using baby steps but eventually my blog launched and I answered the question about whether I could consistently write/post meaningful blogs three times a week. I started going to yoga class and eventually discovered another life path open inward and outward for me.

Also, the A-Z Mindful Living series with Ellie Hodges gives a word a day for every letter of the alphabet with suggestions on how to incorporate a mindful practice for that word into daily life. We are up to G for Grounded, but the day before that was F for Flow. She wrote, Flow is the rhythm that is within and surrounding us.” “When we are aware of our own flow and what puts us in it, we become mindful and more able to adjust to life changes and circumstances as they occur.” “Flow is our own form of ‘balance’ and looks different for each person.” The suggested practice was to reflect on flow in my life with a series of questions about awareness of how it felt, what was happening, etc. After trying that practice and another one, I wrote this to our closed Facebook group about it:

“I love that flow is also another form of balance. Balancing who I am and what I need to flow with the rhythms, growths and contractions of my life as it unfolds. Also sort of knowing that my choices help dictate or create my flow or static (I prefer stagnation). But my life today is no longer one of extremes, merely imbalances that can be adjusted with rest, relaxation, recharging or reconnecting. OR if it’s the opposite and I need initiate more movement, action, activity and reconnecting.
Huh, interesting that reconnecting can be used to either slow my flow when needed or activate it.”water-336480__180

I have set big goals for myself. The very act of setting those intentions has led to consistent choices and paths opening up that have me flowing and growing into the person who will accomplish them. There is a sense of recognition, relief, and inevitability to it.

This entry was posted on February 11, 2016. 1 Comment

Enjoying The Moment

wellness-1021131__180It’s Monday night and I love the idea that I’ve wrapped up this day with a massage and milk toast for dinner. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this calm and stress-free when I clocked out of work on a typical Monday. It’s been even longer since I booked a massage with my incredible therapist who is truly gifted in engaging me with a short chat to “check-in” before we start, then using her magical hands and soothing studio space to totally bliss me out! And then it’s been years and years since I made milk toast. It was a fabulous taste of nostalgia and quite filling to boot.

I had a good weekend too, even though I didn’t do everything I planned to do. But hey, what else is new. I didn’t go into work for four hours of overtime. My workload was still there Monday morning and I got a much needed extended power nap Saturday afternoon. Which energized me for a dear friend’s retirement party Saturday evening. She was my first real friend outside my department when I started at my current job. That was nine years ago and I will miss her dearly but she looked so happy at her party. It was a great turn out of friends from work. Delicious food, drink and dancing as the picture below shows!

Lolabrigida and Las Tres Hermanas!

Lolabrigida and Las Tres Hermanas!

It’s my favorite as the guest of honor is having the time of her life with three fabulous friends that are also sisters. I danced so much and so hard that the toes on my left foot cramped up after I got home and into bed. Ha ha ha, it took a good 25 minutes of massaging my foot and hydrating with water to calm them down. Good times, good times…

Sunday was all about catching up with my good friend Sally over barbecue for lunch, then later the Super Bowl party at my girl Dawny’s house. I’m truly a maniac when it comes to watching sporting events and there were a few friends who’ve never experienced my particular phenomena. My team did not win so I only had one or two sudden outbursts that caused my girlfriend to the right of me to jump and my friend to the left of me to think he might lose his hearing. But in my defense, at the same time Dawny shouted on his other side, so he had us both screaming in stereo. Ha ha ha, again, good times, good times…

It’s been a stretch of days where feeling connected to my life, my friends and my various communities has been particularly strong. It’s so moving to feel this way. I was running way late for Lydia’s retirement party and just as I was pulling into the parking lot I got a text from my girl Sandi saying “Where r u?”. On the drive home from the party, I got a text from a different friend/little brother in the program thanking me for gifting one of my 7 year AA tokens for his anniversary. He was receiving one that night, but I was committed to going to the retirement party and someone who was going to be at the 12 step meeting where he was celebrating his anniversary asked if I had a 7-year token. I keep my old tokens in a beautiful wooden box from an old sponsor and gifting them to others is a way we “keep what we have by giving it away”. Getting back to today, I connected with things that fed my well-being like a massage and to my sense of childhood with milk toast. chains-434021__180

I can’t help but believe these stronger feelings of connection stem from the Mindful Living A-Z series and my spiritual advisor’s assignments about being more present. It’s all connected isn’t it? The cool part is that it’s an extension of being mindful and appreciating what is already in place in my life. I like it.

This entry was posted on February 9, 2016. 1 Comment

How To Live And Let Live

live-461731__180“Despite how open, peaceful and loving you attempt to be, people can only meet you as deeply as they’ve met themselves” — Matt Khan

Newsflash, some people have no desire to meet themselves on any level. Others aren’t even aware that’s an option. So what do you do? What can you do? You keep doing you. This means continue to be open, peaceful and loving to those who can appreciate it, to those who can value it and return it. As for the others, you can accept where they are capable of meeting you, as long as it is not harmful or abusive. Accept them and move on or let go, whichever the case may be.

This, of course, is much easier said than done. Especially if it is someone close to you, even family. Trust me, I’ve been here with good friends, my children and family at various points in my life. Let me tell you… When Baby Bub turned 14 years old, she went through a hellacious she-devil phase! And trust me, she-devil, is not the word I wanted to use when referring to her during that time in our lives. It lasted 3 years too! Just about everything I said or did back then caused her to blow up with extreme anger, exasperation or frustration. How did I get through that phase without wringing her neck, jumping down her throat or escalating the situation by reacting in kind? I had friends, who had been through this warn me ahead of time. They assured me it would pass, allowed me to vent my anger and frustration to them, and they commiserated with me. I also had 12 step meetings, a sponsor and my support group of close friends. I also had a sense of humor. I didn’t try to force her to be anything other than who she was at that time unless she crossed a line, which she did a time or two. Once I gave her that boundary, she never crossed it again but continued to push. She gradually came out of that phase. So gradually that I didn’t recognize it for what it was at first.

It doesn’t get any easier when your children are adults. It’s actually harder. It’s not easy to see close friends go through similar situations with their own children. But I get to be the one, this time, to reassure them, commiserate and remind them that it’s ok to be open, peaceful and loving. Just not with these people who don’t appreciate, or just aren’t capable of it right now. Allow people to be who they are. Love them but don’t let them harm you. Accept and understand what is in your control or influence and what or who is not.parenting-736384__180

Again, this is much easier said than done. What if it is a friend or acquaintance within a circle of friends or community? The same concept applies. Understand they are being the best version of themselves that they are capable of. Sometimes people are just not in a healthy place and those around them may not be the healthiest either. What do you do? What can you do? You keep doing you and let them go be who they are. Understand that they are not capable of meeting themselves on a meaningful level, be grateful you can and move on. Don’t take on what isn’t yours, no matter how hard they try to make it yours.

Here is what I am grateful for today. At this stage of my life, I am old enough, mature enough and evolved enough to steer clear of the vast majority of bullshit in life. I’d like to think I’m also intuitive enough to steer clear of those who stir up bullshit and drama in their lives along with the lives of others. Even when it’s family. It’s that simple, but boy is it ever hard. Of course, most anything worthwhile in life is, isn’t it? I mean, that’s the price for real maturity, spiritual growth and emotional sobriety as well as physical sobriety.evolve-618237__180

This entry was posted on February 6, 2016. 1 Comment