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.

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.

 

Sharing Crazy

October 22, 2009

Sharing Crazy

Sharing Crazy

Greetings, fellow trudgers “on the road to happy destiny“…

What’s your problem? Have you got it figured out?

I love to share my problems. Well, actually, I love to share stories about problems I’ve already solved. The funnier the better. Add in a dose of clever, poignant and insightful, and I’m a happy camper. Just don’t ask me to talk about the problems that might still be killing me.

This morning, I happened upon a 2-for-1 sale: I read something* that really spoke to me. Then, just in case I might have “missed the memo,” a friend called and asked permission to read something to me: of course it was the very same passage. I already had the book open on my desk, so as I was thinking, “Huh… I wonder if this really does pertain to me…” I followed along.

The reading was about (I’m paraphrasing here) how many of us resort to storytelling rather than share our experiences from the heart — reveal our struggles, and the very real pain we might be in. The conclusion of the reading was: “It may feel like an enormous risk, but talking honestly about the situation is the key to healing.”

It was a great reminder that although I may have grown up in situations where being honest and open wasn’t safe, and perhaps being entertaining, clever, satyrical or ironic was, and most treasured of all was having the answer to the question, I finally have places to go and people to be with who allow me to be safe even when I’m crazy, or dead wrong—recovering with my brothers and sisters on this “road of happy destiny.”

I’ve heard it said that sometimes people whose share things that might sound really crazy may be the very ones who are growing and changing the most. So… does that means that if I sound really crazy, you’ll be really impressed with my progress? No, not quite. I think it means that, just for today, I’ll ask for some willingness: the willingness to be honest and open—even if I’m feeling pretty nuts—if that’s what I need to do to get better. So, nuts to both of us!

Happy trails!

J.

* PS “The paradox of self-honesty is that I need the help of others to achieve it. I need their support to explore my feelings and motives, and to see that others have benefited from taking this great risk.”

Rose-colored Glasses

October 14, 2009

Rose-colored Glasses

Rose-colored Glasses

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

I had a blessed day yesterday: a great meditation, a lovely meeting, some healthy reading, I got together with pals, had genuine heartfelt communications, enjoyed a warm fire and shared some music and laughter. I enjoyed the company of a dear friend who loves life, and tries to live it as if “looking through rose-colored glasses.”

Today I woke up feeling scared, overwhelmed and tired, and found myself wondering why. The “tired” part may be easily solved—strapping on a feedbag of M&Ms at nine o’clock at night isn’t an act of pure genius—unless you consider alphabetizing your underwear at 12am time well spent. But I digress…

Why, when I get a taste of the miraculous joy, freedom and connection that comes from shedding old patterns and building new relationships, developing healthy habits, feeling useful, needed, respected, and getting excited about things to come… why would I screw with that? Why stop doing “the next right thing”? Why do I so often find myself lost—again—in compulsive cleaning, silly distractions (YouTube, that includes you), brain-dead fiction, eating when I’m not hungry, mind-numbing television, even the wrong work project or tackling the bottom item on my To-Do list?

Why would I stop trusting in my routine, in my program, in you—in my Higher Power?

Is it just that it’s unfamiliar? I’ve always said that some of us in recovery would prefer a hell we know to a heaven we’d have to get used to.
Is it that more will be expected of me? Do I have doubts about my ability to meet those expectations?
Is it that the ground beneath my feet feels as if it’s moving? Does that trigger childhood feelings of disquiet, being ill-at-ease, being “the new kid”?
Does it feel like a masquerade, when I have to tackle untried skills in my new life?

It occurs to me as I write this that having days where faith and trust are accompanied by doubt and misgivings isn’t unusual for any of us. One day at a time, I might have a miraculous day, a good day, a mediocre day, a bad day, or even a tragic day—but it’s moving forward with the right course of action—in spite of the fact that I have doubts about it—that’s what’s needed to get better. We undertake, as I’ve heard it said, “a series of actions that don’t look they will work… until we try them.”

Maybe my rose-colored glasses don’t feel like a perfect fit. Maybe I’m worried that as my vision changes, I’ll miss something. Maybe I’m worried I won’t look good. Maybe if everything is in the Pink, I’ll miss the chance to see Red. Maybe I’ll miss being Green with envy, or have everything seem Black. Or maybe I’ll miss resenting with a Purple passion, or wallowing in the Blues. Orange you relieved I couldn’t think of a colorful expression for Orange?

So, just for today, I’m going to remember what Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying: “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Happy trails!

Seventh Step Memo

July 18, 2009

Seventh Step Memo

Seventh Step Memo

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

I was in a lively phone conversation yesterday, but in a state of exuberance and enthusiasm—excitement. I wasn’t present. A slip of the tongue, and the reaction was swift – a not-so-pleasant but helpful reminder that my sanity and serenity depends on my willingness to let go of more than just the negative stuff—compulsions, obsessions, neuroses, habitual bad behavior—I also have to give up some aspects of me I’m pretty attached to: like thinking fast, talking fast, approaching all of life with a lets-go, get-it-done attitude, instead of considering, listening—and just being.

In terms of twelve-step recovery, I used to think of Steps 4 and 9 as the tough ones, but the two short and rather innocent sounding Steps Six and Seven are, in my opinion, the ones where the rubber truly meets the road (or, as Bill Wilson wrote in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, these “separate the men from the boys”).

One reason might be that, as I’ve heard, “there’s no help available other than perfect help.” I’m not being instructed to hand over alcoholism, addiction, or codependency, or ask a Higher Power to remove personality traits I may find temporarily unpleasant. As the saying goes, “God doesn’t need your alcohol, drugs or insanity.”

I take these steps to mean that if I want what the people who have recovered seem to have, I’m left with no option but to surrender my entire self and engage in this process fully and to the best of my ability, surrendering the whole shebang.

Happy trails!

PS  The Sixth Step reads “6. Were entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.”

The Sixth Step Prayer reads: “Dear God, I am ready for Your help in removing from me the defects of character, which I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery. Help me to continue being honest with myself, and guide me toward spiritual and mental health.”

The Seventh Step reads “7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

The (actual) Seventh Step prayer reads: “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.”

Affirmation

July 2, 2009

Affirmation

Affirmations

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

In the midst of a ten-round bout with isolation (and isolation was winning) I did some reading about affirmations today. I struggle to believe that they can be true for me, but I’ve heard that it doesn’t matter whether I truly believe them—it only matters that I’m willing to say them, whether in solutide, prayer, or with another.

Here’s what I read:*

“One cost of addiction and coaddiction is loss of faith in our abilities. We can learn to reprogram ourselves with positive, healthy messages. We can select from a list the affirmations that have meaning for us, or add some of our own. Each affirmation is written in the present—as if we are already accomplishing it. It may not be a reality for us today. We may need to “act as if.” It may be difficult, but we can think of it as planting a garden, with possibilities that will blossom into wonderful realities. We can put the list on the bathroom mirror and repeat them while we wash up. We can keep a copy in the car to repeat while driving. We can record these comforting words and listen to them when driving, during meals, at bedtime:

• Today I accept that the life I have known is over.

• I am entering a new and blessed phase of my time here.

• I accept pain as my teacher and problems as the key to a new existence for me.

• I seek guides in my life and understand that they may be different than I anticipate.

• I accept the messages surrounding me. Negativity is replaced with positive acceptance.

• I realize that I have had a hard life and that I deserve better.

• I let the Spirit melt the hardness of my heart.

• I comfort and nurture myself. As part of the surrender of my pride I will let others give to me as an act of faith in my value as a person.

• I appreciate that in the chaos of the now, my instinct and beliefs may work against me. My recovering friends help me sort out healthy instincts and beliefs from unhealthy ones.

• Time is transforming my loneliness into solitude, my suffering into meaning, and my relationships into intimacy.

• I do not blame or search for fault. It is not who, but how, and what happened.

• I commit to reality at all costs, knowing that is where I will find ultimate serenity.

• I accept that life is difficult and that leaning into the struggle adds to my balance.”

Happy trails.

Keep the faith.

* PS Reprinted from A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Steps, by Dr. Patrick Carnes

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Affirmative Action

June 1, 2009

Affirmation

Affirmation

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

I was reading about affirmations today. I was reminded how often I struggle to believe that they can be true (for me). I’ve heard that it doesn’t matter whether I believe—it only matters that I’m willing. I make the affirmation either in prayer, aloud in solitude, or within the fellowships of recovery.

Here’s what I read:

“One cost of addiction and coaddiction is loss of faith in our abilities. We can learn to reprogram ourselves with positive, healthy messages. We can select from a list the affirmations that have meaning for us, or add some of our own. Each affirmation is written in the present—as if we are already accomplishing it. It may not be a reality for us today. We may need to “act as if.” It may be difficult, but we can think of it as planting a garden, with possibilities that will blossom into wonderful realities. We can put the list on the bathroom mirror and repeat them while we wash up. We can keep a copy in the car to repeat while driving. We can record these comforting words and listen to them when driving, during meals, at bedtime.”

Today I accept that the life I have known is over.
I am entering a new and blessed phase of my time here.
I accept pain as my teacher and problems as the key to a new existence for me.
I seek guides in my life and understand that they may be different than I anticipate.
I accept the messages surrounding me. Negativity is replaced with positive acceptance.
I realize that I have had a hard life and that I deserve better.
I let the Spirit melt the hardness of my heart.
I comfort and nurture myself. As part of the surrender of my pride I will let others give to me as an act of faith in my value as a person.
I appreciate that in the chaos of the now, my instinct and beliefs may work against me. My recovering friends help me sort out healthy instincts and beliefs from unhealthy ones.
Time is transforming my loneliness into solitude, my suffering into meaning, and my relationships into intimacy.
I do not blame or search for fault. It is not who, but how, and what happened.
I commit to reality at all costs, knowing that is where I will find ultimate serenity.
I accept that life is difficult and that leaning into the struggle adds to my balance.

And so, just for today, I’ll keep the faith—or act as if I have it—and give affirmations a try.

Happy trails!

(photo by Lynn Pelham)