Get the Money

November 8, 2014

Get the Money

Greetings, fellow trudgers “on the road of Happy Destiny”…

I woke up early this morning, refreshed and ready to go and thinking about a client project. I decided to go right into the office and take care of the client work first thing.

I walked into my office only to spot a check received from a different client, sitting in the middle of the desk. The check, an overdue payment, had arrived in yesterday’s mail along with by an urgent request for new work (as often happens) to be done.
So… what do I do?
  • get the original client task done I was planning?
  • handle the new work ordered by the client who just sent a check?
  • process the check and get it to the bank?
  • make the decision easy, and just go back to bed?
I thought of the famous quote by agent Shep Gordon (subject of the documentary Super-Mensch). When asked why he was so beloved by his entertainment industry clients (who read like a who’s who of the biz), he said he followed three rules:
1. Get the money
2. Always remember to get the money
3. Never forget to always remember to get the money
So, this morning, the check got processed first.
Happy trails!

Breaking Better

November 18, 2013

Breaking Better

Breaking Better

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the Road of Happy Destiny”…
Today, a report from the under-earning front:
In the process of spending 16 hours getting out long-overdue invoices, I gleaned a few choice tidbits.
First, the bad news:
– Missed getting paid for a bill from almost year ago, and not an inconsequental amount, either. Client missed it, I missed it – went on to do a few more months of billings, never caught it so never sent follow-up statements – for reasons, the matter is closed. Pricey lesson.
– Neglected follow-up on three more recent unpaid invoices totaling several grand. Sending out reminders now, and in this case will collect – but it will take time, create unecesssary gnashing of teeth and wringing of garments. Have to rectify and offer amends. More pleasant physical sensations, I can think of — for example, having the back of my neck chewed on by rabid raccoons.
– Some bills would have been relatively painless, had they been sent promptly. When bills add up they metamorphose and begin to turn green and reek of something like rancid yak butter. Clients get cranky — why wouldn’t they?
– Identified some prime examples of (first step) unmanageability. For example, dedicating 2x the planned hours to bring quality to projects as estimated in fixed-fee proposals. Some projects that might even have benefitted from a less-than-perfectionist approach. For another, over-volunteering for charitable causes with no clear benefit (then not having enough time).
The good news?
– Today, I’m trying “THE plan” instead of “MY plan” — at least as far as debt goes. Didnt incur any unsecured debt during all this, one day at a time. As a result (perhaps), business is running solvent – ie, what’s coming in exceeds what’s going out. “Result: Happiness” (from David Copperfield).
– All accounts reconciled to the dollar. I know what’s in the wallet or the checkbook without looking in them. Do I like doing it? I’d rather stick darning needles in my own ears, but as they say, we change when the pain of not changing hurts even more than the change.
In stopping work completely for two days to get this done, now I’ve fallen a bit behind on deliverables. This pressure feels amazingly uncomfortable. But, if I don’t make invoicing more important (I think of the examples of food or oxygen), I can’t survive – and if I don’t survive, I can’t share all this fun with you!
Because the most important tidbit of all has been — I probably can’t do this alone. (Rats.) :0)
Happy Trails!

Over and over…

July 5, 2013

Boxing glove and inflatable clown

Over and Over…

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

I’ve heard insanity defined as repeating the same actions yet expecting different results. Like playing Whack-a-Mole,” or pounding an inflatable clown, I can pummel away all I want — yet some problems keep popping back up.

On many a Monday morning I’ve thought “Today, I’m going to dedicate 20 minutes to prayer and meditation, no matter what! And on many a Monday night I realize I didn’t get around to it. I say the same thing on Tuesday, then Wednesday, and finally on Sunday I realize: nothing changed. My solution? Get up on Monday and start the whole thing again — only harder.

Given enough replays of this scenario, there comes a time when I have to admit I may not have the power to change this. If not, perhaps the questions aren’t “What’s wrong with me?” or “What’s all my resistance about?”

If I look at the underlying proposition, it comes down to me trying to change me into a better me, according to me. Now, there’s a pattern. Albert Einstein wrote “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” So if left to my own devices, using my own best thinking, I don’t have the power to change something, the question could be rephrased as: “Where do I get some power?

Where do you shop for power when you’ve run out?


June 20, 2012

A huge bird and a tiny bird


Ah, the joys of the open road: who will I try me out on today?

The Manic TailGaters, Parking Space Hogs, Not-too-SmartPhoners, Pro Roadblockers, Comatose TollTakers, Passing Lane Kut-off Krazies, Jaywalking Suicides, hearing-impaired LeftLane SlowPokes — a vast assortment of psychos, clones, morons and drones…


Maybe today, everyone I encounter is a visitor.

Maybe each visitor comes with a story.

And if we don’t have time to chat — maybe I’ll invent one.

Above it all

May 18, 2012

Dog balloon floating over fields

Above it All

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

Sometimes I wish I were a balloon, just looking down, far above it all.

And then a small voice in my head says “Holy shit — I’m all by myself up here.”

Art Direction

March 22, 2012

Art Direction

Art Direction

After a long hiatus from drawing, due to an injury, I took up pencil again. I did what I usually do, just started scribbling random lines and see what pops up, and this is what popped up. Like automatic writing, the results can be jibberish, but sometimes they strike a chord and the synchronicity is a delight.[/caption]

In this case, the tools were directing me toward the blank page opposite…

Time to get back to these stories.

The Magic Touch

September 14, 2011

Reaching up to touch the hand of...

The Magic Touch

Greetings, fellow trudgers on the “Road of Happy Destiny”…

A not-quite-as-sublime follow-up to the excerpt from MichelAngelo’s The Creation of Adam in my previous post. I may add some color later, but I just wanted to get this up and on.

I do appreciate this drawing unfolding as it did, as they all do — completely unplanned (at least until the final stages), and yet another surprising reminder of a daily reality: I have to reach up and meet the hand halfway.

Happy trails!

Electing to Receive

July 1, 2011

Accepting Help

Accepting Help

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

Lots of folks have asked “What happened? Where’s the Happy Trudger?” The answer is: mending.

After the bad accident in January [see previous post], about everything that could possibly go wrong did. After multiple surgeries, two months in and out of hospital, a hospital-borne infection, two months convalescing as a shut-in on enough antibiotics and pain meds to kill a football team—The Happy Trudger is trying to bounce back, and hopefully the missives will resume.

In the meantime, some expensive lessons learned:

1. If I need help, I’ll ask for it.

2. If help is offered, I’ll receive it.

3. All I need say in return is “Thank you.”

That’s it!

Happy Trails!

“That Happened…”

January 12, 2011

"That Happened..."

"That Happened..."

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

I’m ordinarily a big fan of blizzards, but today this Happy Trudger isn’t at his happiest.

Day before yesterday, I slipped on some black ice beneath some snow in our impossible driveway, and down I went — hard. The moment I landed I thought “God, I’d love to rewind that tape about five seconds or so, please…”

I lay there waiting for the incredible explosion of pain in my right shoulder to subside enough to see if I could get up. A 911 call and a trip to the hospital later, it turns out that the bones in my shoulder did not fare so well — multiple breaks of the shoulder, including fracturing the main bone of my upper arm into ten pieces. In case that wasn’t enough, I’m right-handed.

I’m gathering myself for surgery tomorrow morning. They’re going to be doing quite a patch-work job, complete with steel plates and screws. The pain from this injury is intense. I gather the post-surgical picture is a long and painful one: I’m taking medication for pain as prescribed and they’re barely making a dent. If it weren’t for Dragon Dictate, no way I could write this post, and I’m really not sure when I’ll be able to write the next one.

As tempting as it is to become lost in the sea of pain, fear, anxiety, shame and resentment around serious injury and medical trauma, I feel strangely accepting about these circumstances—and I don’t think it’s the pain killers. It’s as if a voice was saying to me “Well, that happened.”

I’ve received blessings from friends and family expressing love, prayers and generosity. I’m very fortunate to have good, caring medical professionals around me — I was treated to my first 911 ambulance ride, which was pretty exciting. My business clients have for the most part been understanding and patient as well, at least up to now.

I’m impelled by hard circumstances into a graceful acceptance that I am powerless over so much, but that I can ask for help when I need it, and the help — in often unpredictable form — will arrive. I’d rather move forward in acceptance and grace than in fear, resentment and self-pity, and I’m getting plenty of practice.

Happy salted and sanded trails!

PS Monday was 01.10.2011, a pretty interesting date. It’s also the binary way of writing the number “27.” What 27 has to do with any of this, I’m still waiting to figure out — but you can bet I’ll be counting!

Ta-Dah! List

December 30, 2010

My Ta-Dah! List

My Ta-Dah! List

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

Like a lot of us, I agonize over “To-Do” lists. Didn’t finish this, procrastinated that, interrupted on this, couldn’t afford to that, chickened out on this, overwhelmedoverworked… blah-blah-blah-de blah.

A friend pointed out that children don’t spend much time on To-Do lists. Instead, when they do something great, they stand up, stretch out their arms, and with a big grin shout: “Ta-Daaaaahhh!!”

And so, as we near the end of December, the end of 2010, even the end of the decade (one referred to as the “oughts,”) I offer a different list: My “Ta-Dah” list!

I hope in writing down what we DID do in 2010, we’ll each be pleasantly surprised by what we find. First thing I put on my list: that I made this list: “Ta-Daaaaahhh!!”

Happy New Year, and Happy Trails!

PS  The Happy Trudger wishes to express deep thanks for the hundreds of acknowledgments received this year. It’s a delight to be of service and connected to you in spirit.

Treasure the Moment

December 22, 2010

Treasure the Moment

Treasure the Moment

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

In the midst of holiday frustrations this year, I stopped and wrote on a Post-It note “Treasure the Moment.”

Worried that I’d forget, I stuck it on the fridge.

Then I thought “which moment?” The moment I wrote the note? The moment I put it on the fridge? The moment I read it? What about 10 moments later? Before that? Which moment is the moment? How many moments are there? (As you may have noticed, the inside of my head is a noisy place.)

The answer I come to (again and again) is there’s only one moment: it’s now.

One cool thing: there are no regrets, resentments, shame, worry or fear in now. Resentments are in the past (the word “resent” comes from the Latin “re,” again, or back and “sentir,” to sense or feel — literally, to “feel again.”) I only regret things that have come and gone. Ashamed? I can’t be ashamed of what hasn’t happened yet. Worry and fear? I may be scared, but only of what I think is going to happen (unless I happen to be in the middle of a car crash, in which case fear is decidedly “in the moment”).

What’s more, I imagined the whole thing. Past and Future are constructs imagined by the brain to make sense of our experiences in a linear time-line. Most animals can’t do it — it’s largely the province of humans.

Technically speaking, at least, there is no past. There is no future. The only thing that is — is right now.

So, just for today, I can treasure it. Maybe I do something in this moment that’s good for me, even if I don’t want to do it. Maybe I choose to do something completely different, just because it’s different — for me. Maybe I notice that this moment is filled with tiny miracles, if I choose to look at it that way.

However it goes, living my day this way leaves me speechless with appreciation, gratitude, joy and fulfillment — provided I don’t let the moment — This Magic Moment, if you believe The Drifters — go by unnoticed.

Seasons Greetings, and Happy Trails!

* PS  If the art looks familiar, it’s because in an ongoing effort to be green, my holiday greeting cards are always made entirely from 100% recycled ideas.

Queen for a Day

December 20, 2010

Queen for a Day

Queen for a Day

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

Are you old enough to remember the TV show “Queen for a Day?” It’s my front-runner for “sickest game show of all time.”

On air in the 50’s and 60’s, it was hosted by one-time carnival barker Jack Bailey. The female-only contestants took turns telling the live audience their life story. Typically, each tale was one of unspeakable woe, complete with paralyzed children, finacial crises, dead spouses, health disasters and impending doom in general.

Afterward, Bailey would hold his hand over each woman’s head and ask the audience to clap for the one who had the most moving, wretched account of misery and tragedy. The “Clap-Meter” would register who got the loudest applause and that woman would be crowned “Queen for a Day.” The Queen would then be crowned, wrapped in fur and seated on a throne by scantily-clad models. Prizes included wheelchairs, appliances, hospital beds, and hundreds of other sponsored products.

And no, I am not making this up.

I LOVED Queen for a Day.* I still play it! I might take turns with a friend, competing over how many awful things have happened to us so far that day. If I hear a stranger complain in a store, I might see it as an obvious invitation to top it with worse grievances. When some well-intentioned poor soul asks “How are you?” I might forget that in most cases, it’s a rhetorical question. I’ll grab the opportunity to spin out my “Injustices of the Week” candidates.

And so on. No cash or prizes, really, other than a look on the other person’s face that says “Wow — it must suck to be you.” Yay — I win! That, and the feelings of justification over the mountains of resentments or self-pity I’ve accrued.

It’s a hell of a way to live, folks.

So, I’m boycotting today’s episode of Queen for a Day. I’m skipping over sharing Prayers of Pity, practicing Sympathy-Sucking 101, or writing the screenplay to The Never-Ending Bummer.

Instead, I’m going to do what has been suggested to me by people who appear to be far happier than I am: I’m focusing on Acceptance (of what is), Gratitude (for what I have), and Humility — (sadly, AGH is not a great acronym) which I currently define as “doing the next right thing, with grace.” If I run into you, I’ll let you know how the day is going.

Happy trails!

* PS  According to Wikipedia, as was customary practice for networks of the time, the films for the series Queen for a Day were destroyed. Only eight episodes are known to have survived, including one special segment (guest-hosted by the actor Adolph Menjou) which allowed a “King for a Day” to finally get in his fair share of kvetching.

Over the Rainbow

December 11, 2010

Over The Rainbow

Over The Rainbow

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

The lyrics to Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can’t I? *

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I? *

May your troubles melt like lemon drops.

Happy Trails!

* PS Put another way…

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.They will always materialize if we work for them.”

Original photograph by Virgil Apger

Keep In Touch

November 30, 2010

Keep In Touch

Keep In Touch

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

This morning I woke up late. As I scrambled out the door, I noticed a beautiful sunrise, but decided there was no time for prayer and meditation — I’d do that “later.” I got on the road, and as I waited at a red light it struck me…

I have four phones and a cellphone.* I check emails, voicemails, texts, and chats. I write letters and send cards. I’ve used Palms, Blackberrys, Androids, iPhones, iPads, tablets, cell phones and smartphones. I have Macs, MacBooks, iMacs, netbooks and PCs. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. I use wikis, webinars, and the world wide web. I send PDFs. My calendar has “events” and the events have alarms, ticklers and pop-ups: my reminders have reminders. I check Google Calendar to tell me where I’m supposed to be, Outlook to tell me what I’m supposed to do, Explorer to tell me where I was, FourSquare to tell me where I am and a Garmin nav-device to tell me where I’m going.

But I don’t have time to sit still. If I’m resisting prayer and meditation, perhaps time isn’t my issue.

Just for today, whatever my issues might be, I’ll ask for the willingness to “Keep In Touch,” and make the real connection. At times it might feel uncomfortable, challenging, tenuous, inconvenient, suspicious, unfamiliar, frustrating and even unsavory. Perhaps it just feels like “a waste of time.” But I’ve heard that if I take these actions — in spite of my own best thinking — it will bring me into conscious contact with a power greater than myself: the power to change and live life on life’s terms. And that, I’ve found, is when great things will come to pass.

Happy trails!

*PS  Staying connected: There are approximately 6,000,000,000 landline and mobile telephone subscribers worldwide, which is only slightly exceeded by the approximately 6,900,000,000 men, women and children currently populating the planet.

Survival Guide

November 24, 2010

Survival Guide

Survival Guide

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

thanks |θa ng ks| |θøŋks| plural noun
• an expression of gratitude: festivals were held to give thanks for the harvest |
• a feeling of gratitude: they expressed their thanks and wished her well.
|θa ng k|verb [trans.]
• to express gratitude by saying “Thank you”: Robert gave thanks for the meal and left.

giving |giv’·ing| adjective
• to turn over control to someone without cost or exchange; to make a gift of
• to relay | pass along
• to have the tendency to give: Mary was a loving and giving person.

I’ve heard it said that recovery is a three-part process: Thanksgiving*, Christmas and New Year’s.

In order to navigate these minefields I need a “Survival Guide to the Holidays.” My Survival Guide starts with lists. Not the lists of Resentments I have carefully squirrelled away, nor the lists of Grievances I want resolved (or aired!), nor the list of “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” against which I plan to take up arms.

I was reminded by a friend today that holiday sanity starts with observing the name: “thanks-giving.” If I can make a list of Things to Give Thanks For (“gratitudes”), even grudgingly, I feel resentments (real or imagined) start to melt away.

When I list Things I Freely Forgive (whether I mean it or not isn’t critical) I feel my grievances lifting, and I remember the feeling of serenity.

When I list Things I Can Do to Be of Service (including acts that will not be found out), it’s in this giving that I experience the frightened, self-centered person inside of me diminish — as they say, “self-seeking will slip away.”

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! If things get rough, try Robert’s technique above (the final example for the word “thanks”).

Happy trails!

* PS Thanksgiving trivia – although primarily a North American holiday, there are countless other harvest festivals. Here are just a few of them…  Lughnasadh – Ireland [Celtic]; Dozynki (Poland); Guldize (Cornwall UK); Emtedank (Germany); Dongmaeng (Korea); Crop Over (Barbados); Pongal (India); Solung (Himalayas); Ikore (Nigeria); Khuado Pawi (Burma); Mehregan (Iran); Eid Al-Adha (Muslim); Niiname-sai (Japan).


Drop the Rock

November 14, 2010

Drop the Rock

Drop the Rock

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

A snap quiz for today…

Question: What’s the best way to walk with a large rock? *

Life is rarely described as easy, but at times, if some of us were judged solely by our behaviors, one could conclude that we prefer a hell that’s familiar to a heaven we’d have to get used to.

Today’s quiz reminds me to ask: What’s my rock made of? What am I getting out of carrying it? Would life be better without it? Do I need help putting it down (letting go)? How do I ask for help? When the help is offered—do I accept it?

“Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight, carry that weight a long time.” — The Beatles

Happy trails!

* PS: Answer: Drop the rock.


The Serenity Flowchart

November 5, 2010

The Serenity Flowchart

The Serenity Flowchart

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

Most everyone has heard of The Serenity Prayer.* It’s used to help calm ourselves down before we go and do something incredibly stupid. Everyone seems to agree it works well.

Once in awhile, however, it doesn’t seem to fit. Sometimes I’m not in a prayerful mood. Maybe my left brain has kicked in with an attack of “S.O.O.T.” (Sudden-Onset Over-Thinking). I may have an unpleasant flareup from the pain and unsightly itch of Agnosticism… or perhaps I’m just having one of those “My-Will- Be-Done” days.

When I’ve amazed myself struggling to change the things I can’t, or wallowed in the misery of not changing the things I can, looking back I see that nine times out of ten before I started I faced a much bigger problem: I couldn’t tell the difference.

From that point of view, one could make the case that the Serenity Prayer is backwards. After all, courage is absolutely fabulous, and I’m a big cheerleader for serenity, but don’t we have to have wisdom first?

That’s why I created the Serenity Flowchart. Using this, I eliminate those pesky “false starts,” getting all worked up over a pointless struggle, or those embarrassing bouts when I watch everything crumbling around me and do nothing. Now I ask for wisdom right off the bat, and I know without wasting time or energy whether to get busy, or to just lean back and chill!

Happy Trails!

*P.S. The Serenity Prayer (in its best-known form) reads: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.” As serenity goes, it has a significantly better track record than the Serenity Flowchart above.

Money Money Money

October 18, 2010

Money Money Money

Money Money Money

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the Road of Happy Destiny”…

These days, worrying about money seems like the latest dance craze—everybody’s doing it.

We do it in style, too. Some of us hate money, some crave it, some do both at the same time. Some hoard it, others avoid it. We may lie, cheat or steal for it. We may fear a lack of money, or even fear an abundance of it. Some of us judge ourselves by it, or use it to measure others. Some of us pretend it’s beneath us, yet it permeates our secret thoughts. Some of us don’t believe we’re entitled to it, and even find ourselves avoiding it when it’s offered. Some of us live in a constant “state of collision” with others—even our closest loved ones—as we careen about, out of touch, out of balance, and often out of our minds regarding money.

This morning I came across this reflection:

Happiness = Satisfaction ÷ Desires

[Happiness equals Satisfaction divided by Desires]

“Happiness exists when what you want is matched by what you have. If your desires are few, they are easy to satisfy. Are you so obsessed with what you do not have that you miss what you have now? Are your desires so intense that you always have to be striving for more to satisfy them?” *

In the midst of financial fears that blind me to the amazing richness of my life, I can remember that the solution to lack starts with me: building and expressing gratitude for what I have, and building from there. Just for today, I’m grateful to be reminded that:

1. I am rich, healthy, and at peace: I live without war and am in the top 3% for wealth, life expectancy and health among all people who have ever lived.
2. I can breathe: I can close my eyes, take a deep breath and feel peace and life-force flow in.
3. I can see: I can open my eyes to the beauty all around me. I can notice it.
4. I can count: I can ponder, write, meditate, or share a list of positive things I have to be thankful for today.
5. I can give and receive: I can be of service and give to others. If I need help, I can ask for it. If I am offered help, I can receive it with thankfulness and grace.
6. I can decide: I can make up my mind, just for today, right now, to live in gratitude.

When I engage in this process of change and align my desires with what I have instead of being lost in the endless pursuit and worry of aligning what I have with what I want, I start to experience peace, serenity and joy, even in the midst of trying circumstances. I gain clarity about money and business and recognize that they are parts of my spiritual path. I can renew my pursuit of a new life for myself, not out of desperation or fear, but out of a deep desire to live fully, and to give to others.

Happy trails!

*PS – This reflection is part of the Tenth Step work in “A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Steps” by Dr. Patrick Carnes.

Power of Ten

October 10, 2010


The Power of Ten

The Power of Ten


Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”…

This moment, as I click the POST button, it is ten minutes and ten seconds past ten p.m. on October 10th, 2010.

Also known as:

10:10.10 on 10-10-10.

Today’s decimal-fest got me to thinking about tens popping up in my life. I wake up every day and try to note ten things to be grateful for. I have ten daily practices I engage in that have changed the course of my days (one of which is to note down the gratitudes above). And changing the course of my days is (of course) changing the course of my life.

I noted today that as a result of taking certain steps (and being painstaking about it) there are ten promises that have also come true for me:

1. I know a new freedom and a new happiness.
2. I no longer regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
3. I comprehend the word serenity, and I know peace.
4. No matter how far down the scale I have gone, I see how my experience can benefit others.
5. My feelings of uselessness and self-pity are disappearing.
6. I am losing interest in selfish things and gaining interest in my fellows (self-seeking is slipping away).
7. My whole attitude and outlook upon life has changed.
8. Fear of people and of economic insecurity is leaving me (well, in the case of that last one, it’s a work in progress).
9. I intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle me.
10. I am suddenly realizing that a Higher Power of my understanding is doing for me what I could not do for myself.

My question is this: Are these extravagant promises?

Happy Trails!


October 4, 2010


Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”…

Monday mornings are… well, they’re Monday mornings, aren’t they? I could list for hours the components that make up the “up to my ass in alligators” feelings I heap on myself on most Monday mornings.

Luckily for me, I’m blessed to have a wonderful barrier placed between my blessed Sundays and my often overwhelmed or fearful Mondays: a special and intimate scheduled phone meeting that starts every Monday. It’s a rampart, a shield against the “How can I possibly get all this done?” thinking that can pervert and paralyze my best intentions.

In this morning’s conversation a fellow traveler reminded me that it’s not my job to get it all done, or even figure out how. I was blessed to be reminded of the wonderful lines from Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love. I call it the “Who are you not to be?” quote… *

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’

“Actually, who are you not to be?

“You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.

“We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Happy trails!

* This quote has been widely misattributed to Nelson Mandela, who was quoted as saying he wished he had said it. Instead, I offer this Mandela quote which I think is also to the point: “In my country we go to prison first and then become President.”


Labor Day

September 6, 2010

Labor Day

Labor Day

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”…

I don’t know about you, but part of me doesn’t like Labor Day* Monday—not one bit. It feels like the “End-0f-Fun-Day.” Labor Day means:

Summer’s over.
No more beach swims.
No more warm nights.
No more fresh-picked fruit.
I’ve got to get a kid off to school.
(Or, worse still: “I’ve got to teach school.”)
Work is going to be a bear tomorrow.
I’ve got to pay a gazillion bills.
I have to get back on a diet.
I better make more money or else.
No more veggies right off the vine.
I’ll be living on canned chili soon.
I have to put away air conditioners.
My back hurts already.
The trees are dying!
My sinuses are acting up.
I’ve got to sort through clothes.
I have to start blowing dead leaves.
I’ve got to get heating oil.
The furnace needs a clean-out, too.
So does the fridge.
Do I need medication for this?
It’s already dark at 8—soon it’ll be 4.

And on, and on… the inside of my head starts to sound like a wood chipper.

When I get like that, it feels like the fun ends promptly tonight at 11:59. Nevermind actual labor—I’m tired just thinking about it.

What if, whenever I get myself worked up into a snit, what if a miracle were to happen? What if I were to see—for instance—a beautiful sunset? It could happen. It could be tonight. Tonight’s sunset might be more perfect than any painting I’ve seen. It could be the kind of sunset that stops everything, reminding me that beneath the surface of this list of overwhelming things I’m powerless to control, perhaps there is beauty, perfection, rhythm, grace and order to all of it.

It might be at that point that I remember: “Oh, that’s right—I’m in a process of change.” I might be reminded that I’m moving from a life of keeping a close eye on what’s wrong, to one of appreciating every moment of what’s right. It could be that this particular sunset might remind me that it’s not my job to stack up every obstacle I can possibly foresee and then conclude it’s all too much.

This perfect sunset might remind me that my job is to turn and face the perfect sunset. My “assigned labor” for this Labor Day might be to let the setting sun wash over and through me. Perhaps, one day at a time, I’ll be shown a way to experience joy and happiness inside, no matter what my external circumstances. After all—tomorrow is just another day.

Maybe I’ll remember my manners and just say, “Thank you, and good night.”

Happy trails!

* PS A little Labor Day history: the holiday was originally created in the 1890’s to mollify enraged labor unions after some 12,000 soldiers and lawmen descended on Illinois (at the bidding of railway owners) to break up a railroad strike. The strike, which turned violent, was deemed by then President Grover Cleveland to be “interfering with the delivery of the U.S. Mail.” They made sure the mail got through, all right, opening fire on the crowd and killing 13 workers and wounding dozens more. Maybe they should have called it “The Mail Must Go Through” Day. Something to bear in mind when I receive Tuesday’s mail—whatever it may bring.

The End of My Rope

August 17, 2010

The End of My Rope

The End of My Rope

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”…

How are you in a pinch?

I’m pretty good in an overt crisis. Maybe not so good after a long bout of “little pinches.” Give me three, four, six setbacks in a row, and I start to feel like I’m going to lose it. Sometimes at that moment a stranger volunteers to help my recovery along by running a red light and almost killing me. It’s even better if they go on their merry way and never realize I was there. As I am about to reach the proverbial end of my rope, I open up my trusty toolbox of coping skills, and voila: the only tool left is a hammer. And as it’s been said “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Sometimes, though, when life gets on my last nerve and I’m about to bite the head off a chicken, I’m served up with a gentle reminder that there is a different path. The other day I heard a fellow traveler share:

“God is at the end of my rope.”

That hit me in the head, just like a hammer.

Other than being pounded into helplessness, what else could lead me to a different way of living? What else but pain could get me to search for things like humility, honesty, openness, willingness… service! Somehow I don’t think that accolades, wealth, success and adoration over whatever I felt like doing at any given moment would do the trick. Other than complete defeat and surrender, what could possibly force me to acknowledge the mess I’ve made, ask for help, and accept the help that’s offered? *

Powerlessness may not feel great all the time, but I it feels better than madness, chaos and destruction. Just for today, I can accept the help where I find it. I can stay humble and teachable. I can learn to experience joy in accepting life “on life’s terms.” After all, I don’t have to live it—I get to live it.

When I do that—what a ride.

Happy trails!

PS * “We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions of personal powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives may be built.”

— from Step One in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do (Caterpillar and Butterfly)

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”…

I’m feeling a little nuts today. I think it’s because I’ve been putting up with too much abuse, neglect and craziness from someone close to me, and for far too long. I’ve finally decided I can’t take any more: it’s time to break up.

It’s sad, but I feel like I have no choice: I’m breaking up with me.

I have a long history of breaking promises I made to me. I haven’t shown up for appointments I made with myself. I told myself all kinds of things about me that are not true. I’ve talked myself into saying and doing stuff that’s gotten me into trouble. I may not even have wanted to do it—but I allowed me to talk myself into it anyway.

This me that’s been running the show up to now is a genuine pain in the ass: self-seeking, dishonest and isolated. It’s foxy and clever (cunning, baffling and powerful, I’ve heard it said). It’s constantly on the move, like a shark, hunting and seeking consolation, escape, even oblivion. It doesn’t trust anything or anyone else—at least not enough to ask for help when I’ve needed it. This me seems to think I can do life on my own—even believes I’ve done most of it on my own up to now (which isn’t true). It’s a gossip, it’s critical, judgmental and even downright nasty. It whispers terrible things about me in my ear. It wants to convince me I’m not worth it, that I’ll never be any good.

Who needs friends like this? Hey—who needs enemies like this?

So how do I go about this breakup? According to this reading, it starts with just standing still…

“Through all of this we became, one day at a time, available to ourselves. By the simple act of “standing still,” we inaugurated a relationship with ourselves based on growing self-honesty, trust and intimacy. Now we knew that [our goal] was to lay the foundation for a personal wholeness. How this would translate into personal relationships or careers, we did not know. But what we did know was the the externals would eventually develop around this inner foundation of wholeness, and come to reflect our inner state. We were able to embrace this feeling of growing capacity for wholeness, and leave specific outcomes to God…”


I don’t have to take responsibility for changing my whole life. I don’t have to know how—or if—it’s all going to turn out. I just have engage in this process of change. I can stand still, one moment at a time. I can ask for help, one thought at a time, one decision at a time, one action at a time. That’s what will change my world view, my relationships, my circumstances, my entire life. That’s what will lead to a spiritual awakening. That’s what will lead to a new self, one that believes I’m worth it—every bit of it. The rest of life will wrap itself around my new self as I shed the old.

So, just for today, I’m grateful to be reminded: I don’t have to put with abuse or neglect, I can insist on being treated with love, generosity, and kindness—especially from me.

Happy trails!

Codependence Day

July 4, 2010

Declaration of Codependence

Declaration of Codependence

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”….

This weekend we celebrate Dependence Day, in remembrance of the time our forefathers* gathered to ratify the Declaration of Codependence. It’s a terribly stirring holiday for me: It’s so healing to have my codependent behavior affirmed by this noble document. It shows that even 200 years ago, some of the greatest minds in literature, government, philosophy and the law came to the same brilliant conclusions I have about how to manage the alcoholics in our lives.*

It may be hard to read the little tiny script, so I’ve transcribed the first few paragraphs—I consider them among the most spiritually moving of the entire Declaration:

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one person to take over the management of a relationship which may have connected us with another, and for us to assume, among the powers of the earth, the superior station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle us, a grudging respect to the opinions of lesser men requires that we should declare the causes which impel us to this domination.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that while it may indeed be all our fault, we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Compulsive Self-Reliance, Manipulation, and the relentless pursuit of Control. — That to secure these rights, some of us are instituted among Men, deriving our just powers from the obvious haplessness of the afflicted, — That whenever any of their behaviors becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of Us to alter or to abolish their rights, and to institute new Management, either through passive-aggressive behavior, displays of temper, the use of The Silent Treatment, or whatever occurs to us at the time, thus laying the foundation of these principles and organizing our powers in such form, as to us shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness, nevermind how any of this leaves us feeling. After all—we’re fine.”

Amen! I hope you use this inspiration to handle the lives of others to the best of your abilities, always following the Codependent’s Credo:

Figure It Out,
Your Way is Best,
Don’t Bother God.

Happy trails!

* PS  By a quick and rough estimation consulting short biographies of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (the real one) and a list of the most significant “forefathers” of the United States of America, over half of these men (and yes, they were all men) were either alcoholic or had a serious problem with alcohol in their lives.