Saturday, October 31, 2009

Clubhouse AA

I recently followed some links around and found myself on the blog of an AA purist. Well, heck, I think of myself in those terms most times. But I found the premise of his blog so very offensive. I will try to be careful not to bad mouth him too badly, but you don't know who he is... he has one of those blogs seldom visited because he doesn't visit anyone else's... you know the drill... you leave a comment and he answers you in his own comment section. Because it is all about his blog. It takes a while for people to realize that blogging is all about interaction, give and take, some never get it, and they are usually quickly gone.

Anyway, I have thought and thought and thought about this whole concept of "Clubhouse AA." You know, that inferior subspecies of AA. Where those people who wouldn't quite fit in at a church basement meeting show up.... like maybe people who don't know their way around AA yet? Or maybe people who have some problems that we don't like to think about. Or maybe people who don't belong in AA at all, but just need a place to hang out or hide out.

I got sober at a meeting in a Club. It was a terrible club. There was every sort of chicanery that goes on in clubs that gives us a bad name... it was all going on in this place, some of which I gladly participated in. People from those nice meetings would tell me that I needed to go to healthier meetings at better places, but it seemed to me that I needed to be where I was needed, and even when I was brand spankin new, I knew I was needed at this club!

When I was sober 5 years, I met a man (at the club) and we moved to British Columbia and ended up finding our home group in a small town in northern Washington. Finally, I could see what was better about meetings at churches! There were no clubs in this small town, just churches, and one "meeting hall." My home group met once a week and traveled together to another meeting once a week. It was really wonderful. The fellowship had a very different quality. We were in and out of each other's homes even when the other person was not at home! It was wonderful.

When I moved back to Denver, my husband had found a wonderful man in AA to sponsor him and we went to his home group. It was also a wonderful group, full of wonderful people. We largely talked about how we had it right and everyone else was doing everything wrong, but those were heady times and I felt that I belonged to something beneficent. When the marriage fell apart, that group became a hostile place for me. Suddenly, I found that I was the one who was being criticized as not doing it "right." I didn't feel at home in my home group.

So, I went back to my old club house and went to the stinky old meetings there, with the stinky old drunks there. I became the GSR of that group for a while. I made sure that people knew the difference between a club and an AA group. I made sure that people became aware of AA Traditions. In other words, I tried to be a responsible AA member. I didn't just walk away from them mumbling about how superior I was to them, I actually tried to be responsible in whatever way I could. As a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was NOT prestigious to be the GSR of that group, but I found it incredibly rewarding. It might have been the best service position I ever had.

Over the last 25 years, there have been times when I have gone to church meetings, and times when I have gone to club meetings. It has largely been a matter of what has been available to me at that time. I can be of service no matter where I go. And frankly, there are already enough gasbag old ladies with decades of sobriety at the "nice" meetings. I can go to the club meeting and just sit and be quiet and be available. No, it is not always convenient. It is not always just the way I want it, but I do believe I have a responsibility.

I can sponsor women when they ask me to. I can take them through the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous and show them precisely how to do what it says to do. And then they can share that with others. This is how I get to be useful to God and my fellows... not by attacking them for not being up to my standards.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Seventeen Degrees

And windy. So Cold. The creaking of my house woke me up at 2:30 a.m. But my brain has been waking me at 3 most mornings this week.

I woke up with a startling realization on Wednesday morning at 3 a.m. I woke up at 3 a.m. on Thursday trying to think about how this is going to work. And the wind woke me this morning, but once my mind was awake, it was thinking again.

I have talked about this new and startling revelation with my sponsor and my older (and much wiser) sister - and they both think it is a great idea.

But it changes everything. I have to let go of so much. But how well I know that in the past every thing I have let go of has been more than replaced.

"We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity." -- Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 68

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Into Thinking

This is a photo through the screen door of the patio furniture on my deck. I took it last night just before it got dark. It has snowed consistently since then, so there is more snow now, but it is still dark and I certainly won't attempt to open that door to take a photo... there is thigh-high snow drifted up against the door. I will have to get out there later today to knock the snow off that deck or there is the risk it will tear away from the house.

I left work early yesterday because my drive in was so terrifying I was shaking by the time I got to work. I told my boss that I was more than happy to take vacation leave in order to get home and stay home. I believe I am staying home today as well. There is nothing on my calendar for today, all my big deals were over at noon yesterday. I will gladly take vacation leave to sit at home safely and knit.

Even though I will be at home alone, I will still need to turn my thoughts to others. I absolutely must do this every single day of my life. I cannot sit around and think about myself and expect to be a happy person. I recall a time when I was sober about 10 years, I was going through a divorce, was unemployed, and had a host of problems. A dear friend said to me "I can tell you why you are so unhappy." I very much respected him and was so delighted that he was going to share this insight with me. I eagerly asked him why I was so unhappy, and he had the unmitigated gall to say to me "you are so unhappy because you think about yourself 25 hours a day." Well, of course, I could argue with him, because, as we all know, there are only 24 hours a day. But I must admit, I was using every single one of them to think of myself.

And that is a certain recipe for an unhappy alcoholic Mary Christine.

I cannot improve my lot in life by thinking about it. I cannot improve my self-esteem by trying to convince myself I am great. I cannot recover from alcoholism by wishing it were so.

There is a chapter in our book called "Into Action." It is not called "Into Thinking."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Shovel

Yesterday I stopped at Home Depot on the way home and bought a new snow shovel. It is supposed to be ergonomic. When I moved into this house a little over eight years ago, I was thrilled to purchase things like a big broom, rake, snow shovel, etc. My snow shovel has been worked to death over these years. The handle fell off last year. Though I repaired it at the time, I decided yesterday that I really could "splurge" and get a new shovel.

The thing that amazed me was the response of people as I walked through the store and parking lot with this shovel. Maybe it was the incongruity of my fabulous new sweater and slacks and 4 inch heels - and a big yellow shovel. But it amazed me to see the smiles on faces as they saw me, and I had plenty of conversations with strangers about the upcoming snowstorm and the merits of ergonomic snow shovels.

I have already been outside shoveling snow in the dark this morning. There is enough snow that there are schools closed. I am leaving work early for a dental appointment, and even if I am not going to the dentist, I am leaving work early.

A sponsee and I have a standing appointment on Wednesday evening, but we agreed yesterday that if there is a lot of snow she won't make it here.

I have a lovely fantasy of sitting on the sofa knitting through the afternoon and early evening as the snow falls outside. We shall see...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Winter Storm Warning

There's a snow storm moving in over the mountains. I am not ready to shovel snow. It is only October! Daylight Savings Time has not even ended yet! It is pre-Halloween, for crying out loud! And yet, it matters not, it is coming regardless of how I feel about it.

Today I have my quarterly report to Governing Body. I woke up at 5 and thought - YAY! This will be over in a few short hours! Three hours from now, I will be giving it my best shot and probably four hours from now I will be done. At noon, my assistant is taking me out for lunch for a late "boss' day" treat, and this afternoon I will spend preparing a presentation I have to give tomorrow. It's a full day and that is the way I like them.... but I could easily skip the Governing Body part. I have been doing this for eight years and I have only grown to dislike it more and more. The faces change and I liked the old faces better. They understood what I was talking about and cared about it. Now I am talking clinical data to a bunch of bean counters and it does not compute. And I cannot make it compute. Oh dear, I better shut up.

But! I have a new sweater to wear today! And I will count this as progress. I used to buy a new suit quarterly for my presentation. And then I thought about the fact that I HATE wearing suits and that they never seem to have gotten me the promotion I thought they would. I spent a lot of money on suits that now have dust on the shoulders of the jackets in my closet... because I so dislike wearing them. Over the weekend I purchased myself a pretty new sweater to wear today. A sweater that will look pretty with a skirt, pants, leggings, and jeans! Versatile!

I will go give it my best today because I learned how to do that from you sober people. Thank you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Barely Autumn

But it is too cold and icy this morning to go out and run as I had planned. So I will go to work early.

I have my mid-year eval this morning. Normally I get "wrapped around the axle" about these things.... must have highest rating at all times... but this year, I am grateful to have a job and will just make it my ultimate goal to find out how I can be most useful. Not necessarily useful to the organization, but to the people in it. Patients and Staff.

On Saturday morning, as my daughter and I left the 6:30 meeting, there was a traffic jam. Traffic lined up for blocks! It took a while to realize that it was people waiting for a large clinic to open so that they could get their seasonal flu shots. Yikes. And I haven't gotten mine yet. I really hate getting flu shots and if I didn't work in a hospital there is no way I would get one. But if I don't get one the infection control nurse at work will make me sign a form that basically says "I realize I am being a menace to patients and may infect them with something that I have the ability to fight but may kill them but I don't care." I signed that damn thing once and I felt like a total jerk, so I won't do it again. I guess I will figure out today how I am going to get my flu shots without tapping into our hospital's limited supply.

OK. I don't have much of any pertinence to say this morning, so I will get on my Mary way. Have a Happy Sober day today if you can. If it can't be happy, at least make it sober.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Free Association

It's Sunday afternoon. It's snowing. There is a football game I don't care about on television. Football games I don't care about are better for snoozing to than games I actually want to watch and I do hope there is a snooze in my future this afternoon.
I drove across town to my old homegroup this morning (no one told me the interstate was closed before I left the house or I likely wouldn't have gone - getting there was a trick). After I sat down at the meeting, I saw my old friend Erlinda across the room. I haven't seen her for years. I screamed! She screamed! We ran across the room and embraced! She cried "Maria, Maria!" In her best spanish. It was a glorious moment. Then I saw Terry. We embraced. We told each other we love each other. We laughed at how we hated each other in the early years of sobriety. She, so self-righteous in her religiosity - and I, so happy to offend with all my cussing and acting out behavior.... not quite acting the way she thought a sober woman ought, and oh, how I enjoyed annoying her! And now we love each other. Life is funny that way.

On the way home, I stopped at whole foods for a free range chicken and some organic this and that for my Sunday dinner.

I decided it would be a lovely to make a dressing of sprouted wheat bread, onions, celery, walnuts and butter, and stuff the chicken full just before roasting it! The yams are cooking, the chicken is roasting, and it all smells lovely.

I did wake up in time to get to the lace knitting class yesterday afternoon. There is something so primal about sitting in a room full of women doing some sort of needle-work together. I got to be the youngest woman in the room - which doesn't happen often anymore. I got to listen to a woman talk about trying to be gentle as she bathes her husband who is now unable to care for himself. Another woman, quite elderly, wondered aloud about what her life would have been different had she known how infertile she was, her youth might have been quite wild - if she hadn't been afraid of a phantom pregnancy in those days before "easy" birth control. It actually was a bit shocking to me!

So I have a lace knitting project started, it is red... and I purchased some yarn for a hat and started that last night - it is purple. And I seriously want this hat. I may try to finish it today if I stop posting photos on this post and stop writing all this stuff...

But wait - I am still madly knitting this baby blanket for a baby due in December. I am maybe 2/3 done? But I have a lot of Christmas knitting to do... and not a whole lot of time before then.

After my knitting afternoon yesterday, I went to a nearby church (near to the knitting store), and went to confession and spent an hour in prayer. Then I stayed for mass. A woman came in a few seconds late and sat next to me, and after a while, I realized she was someone I knew from AA. It was so nice to be at church with her. She doesn't normally go to that church either!
Okay. I am going to go enjoy my Sunday afternoon now. I hope you all do too.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October Morn

It's been lovely so far. Unfortunately, it has been going since 2:30 a.m. in my case. So, instead of the day beginning as it is for so many, it is nap time for me.

I could not sleep last night. I got up and went to a great 6:30 meeting with my daughter. It was fabulous. My little friend has 10 days of sobriety. That makes my heart happy.

I am supposed to be at a lace knitting class with my non-alcoholic daughter this afternoon, but she is at the end of her master's program, and cannot possibly see her way clear to knit for 2 hours right now. It sounded good last month when she talked me into signing up for the class with her (believe me I do not need to take a lace knitting class - I could GIVE a lace knitting class). If I wake from my nap in time to go to the class, I will go. Otherwise, I will not be there. I am utterly exhausted.

I thank God for flannel sheets on a sunny, windy, cool autumn morning when I can go back to bed.

Friday, October 23, 2009


This is my 1511th post. The 1511th time I have sat at my computer and started writing something for my blog. Probably the 1143rd time I have had basically no idea what I was going to write.

But the other morning as I left for work, I noticed that my trash had multiplied and my heart leapt for joy! I got to share my story on Saturday night and I talked about my trash - what it means to me, how symbolic it is of my sobriety. I have written about it here, if you are so fascinated by my trash that you wish to read more about it. Summarized: There is nothing I am ashamed of in my trash, I have paid the bill for my trash collection, I remember to take it out to the curb in time, etc. it is symbolic of being a sort-of-responsible-person today.

Imagine my joy when I saw that someone else had slipped their trash over to the end of my driveway. I have this little paltry half black plastic bag of trash. Someone else added their "big lots" bag. And together, they both got snowed on. I bet they had more trash too. I speculate that they distributed their trash around, not being able to afford to pay for trash removal anymore. It is not cheap! If I knew who they were, I would tell them to bring it over here every week. I would be overjoyed to provide that service for someone else. I pay a lot of money for a little half bag of trash most weeks.

Nothing new today. I am going to go out and run as soon as it is light outside... which is later and later every morning. So I will be quite late for work. Some of the residual damage from the rape referenced yesterday is that I really avoid being outside after dark, or in this case, before light. Pretty big damage, huh?

But I am alive, I am sober, I am healthy, and I am happy. I am a 57 (almost 58) year old woman who is going out for a run in a minute. How cool is that?

Thank you God!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Mary LA wrote beautifully about forgiveness today. Well, she writes beautifully every day. I was going to write about healing relationships today, I always hesitate to call it forgiveness, but today I will.

Alanon literature so wonderfully says: "Unless we have first judged and condemned them for what they did, there would be no reason for us to forgive them. Rather we would have to forgive ourselves for judging." One Day at a Time in Al-Anon, p.120
However, sometimes it is just abundantly clear that we have been wronged. And then what are we going to do about it?

On June 7, 1981, I was raped. I was walking down a road at night and a stranger came by in a van and literally scooped me off the road and drove me away and raped me. There is a lot more to this story, obviously. But I wouldn't care to go into it on a Thursday morning just before I go to work. If you are dying of curiosity, I wrote about it here.

I was still drinking then. That incident left a lot of damage. Some of it I am still dealing with and have been in therapy in the last year to address. In the first year after the rape, I had to find a way to get over the rage I felt. I entered therapy and feel very fortunate that I had a very spiritual therapist. She and I were both convinced that I had to forgive the rapist. I read books about rapists to try to understand why they do what they do. It was very enlightening.

On Christmas Eve that year, I ran into him at the liquor store (where else?) and was able to wish him a "Merry Christmas." He just looked puzzled. I didn't care what he thought, I was quite pleased with myself and felt that that was the best Christmas present I got that year.

In 1987, I was sober 3 years, now living in Denver, and driving through this small town in New Mexico with my 3 children on my way to my niece's wedding. We stopped at a gas station. The kids were running around asking for soda and candy and gum, etc. I was a harried mom in the middle of an 8 hour trip with 3 kids, you get the picture. I was telling them they could have no "sugar pop, just juice" and I looked up, and into the face of the clerk behind the counter - it was the rapist! It took my breath away for a second, but I quickly got my wits back and just said "You're P-- V-----." Once again, he looked puzzled. He said, yes, that was his name, and wanted to know who I was. It was the most amazing thing to stand there and tell him my name because he never knew it. He said "I don't remember you." And I said, "That doesn't surprise me." And I paid for my kids' juice and candy and walked out the door.

A free woman.

In the past several years, I have had to write inventory about a former sponsor who had done some shady things with my ex-husband (before he was my ex-husband). It took years to realize that I resented her because I had so much going on at the time of the divorce I don't think I had time to resent her. But over the years, the resentment crept in. So, I wrote about it. I talked about it with my sponsor. I prayed a lot.

In August, I ran into her at the State Convention. It was just like running into the rapist. She looked right through me. It was clear to me that she didn't even remember me! Imagine that! But once again, I felt free. Because, if given the opportunity, I would have happily sat down and talked with her. Really.

So, in this month, I ran into a woman at the retreat that I didn't resent, but who used to be my friend. I made an intellectual decision to end the friendship 5 years ago. I felt that she had betrayed me in a terrible way and that I would never trust her again. But after much prayer, I have reached out to her and hope to reestablish our friendship. She has responded favorably and we have exchanged e-mails, with promises of coffee next week. I am sure it will never be what it once was. But I will be happy to have her as my friend. She was my friend for 20 years, since I got sober. I miss her terribly.

Life is too short to draw sharp lines. Maybe that is why they call them "lines in the sand," have you ever seen a line in the sand last for more than a few minutes? They change, they move, they are soft. Just like I need to be.

Thank you God, I get to be.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What have I done?

It is snowing this morning. I stepped out, in my nightgown, to take a few photos of the snow. This photo of the few remaining leaves on an aspen tree contrasted against the still black morning sky, with a few snowflakes mixed in for fun was my favorite.

My blogging world has changed again. I am second guessing every word I write. I am sitting here every morning thinking, thinking, thinking. I feel inadequate to the task.

As anyone who has blogged for a while knows, the blogroll changes constantly. I started blogging in 2005, it was still relatively new then. There were few of us then and we all "knew" each other. Then a bunch of us came a long. They were heady times. It was great fun. But like a huge AA meeting with a collection of alcoholics, things happened. People got drunk, people cheated on their spouses, people got resentments, etc. And people went away.

In the last 6 months or so, I have read 2 blogs in the morning. In the last couple of weeks, I am reading 5 or 6. And they are written well and thought provoking. And suddenly I don't know what I am doing here.

Comparisons are odious and I don't know why I am doing it.

It would not be a great exaggeration to say that my whole life is here - right here in this blog. In a little over 4 years, and over 1500 posts, I have written about just about everything. I have shared too much I think. I have put it all out here.... and right now I am not real sure why.

When I spoke at a meeting at my birthday in July, a young woman called me afterward and said that she had never heard anyone share like that in an AA meeting. I am afraid that is true. And I am sure I needed to hear it. She was thanking me from the bottom of her heart for being honest. But what I heard was that I am out of place in AA as it is.

The role of someone who is sober for 25 years? Speak in a general way about what it was like, then speak in a general way about how wonderful AA is, and then speak in a general way about how well you are now. Done. Talk about the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. But, by God woman, don't say anything personal!

I thank God that I am a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous. I thank God that I have a sponsor who I love like a sister. I thank God that I have several sponsees who I love like sisters. I thank God that I still get to sit down and talk with drunks and "pass it on."

I guess that is quite good enough.

I am feeling utterly inadequate.

I also thank God I have a job to go to today. There are people there I actually love and who love me. And I am incredibly grateful for that. Oh, and I get to go out in the snow and that is pretty cool (literally).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ten Best

(I got to work yesterday and saw these red leaves against a cloudy sky and had to get my camera out of my bag and take some photos...)

Syd had a post over the weekend about the 10 best moments of his life. I was so struck by his wonderful humility as a non-alcoholic. He simply stated that graduating with high honors was a great moment, and that getting his PhD was a great moment, etc., it was a wonderful honest and humble look at some of the really outstanding moments of his life. Alkies came by and commented about how loving kindness shown by others had provoked humility causing great awakenings and therefore, bla bla bla... Anyway, I wondered, what, if pressed, would I call the 10 best moments of my life. Here goes:

1. Graduating from high school - after dropping out twice.
2. Marrying the father of my children (before he was the father of my children)
3. Celebrating 10 years of sobriety at my first homegroup after many years away
4. Being hired at my current workplace
5. Getting the acceptance letter from my university
6. Realizing I belonged there
7. Finishing my financial amends at 14 years of sobriety - (child support takes a long time)
8. Getting my bachelor's degree (Magna Cum Laude)
9. My 50th Birthday Party - in my new house - the day before I got my master's degree
10. Celebrating 25 years of sobriety at a meeting with my daughter, my former son-in-law, my sponsor, her husband, and more sober friends than I could ever imagine.

Life is good.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beautiful Monday Morning

After a too long Sunday, and a good long sleep, I am so happy to be going back to work on this Monday morning.

I have started and erased a couple of paragraphs about a comment I got yesterday, but I guess restraint of keyboard has gotten the better of me. I think that is a good thing. I would like to write about the topic later, when it is a general topic and not a knee-jerk reaction... let this be a place-marker on the topic of "chemical sobriety."

Every three months (January, April, July, and October) I give quarterly reports to the governing body of the hospital. In those months I work madly getting my report ready. I am now working madly, madly, madly in the last 10 days of getting it ready. I will have a run-through with hospital management this week, and then with medical staff next week, and then governing body next tuesday. When this is done, I feel like I am on vacation for a few days.

Today I have a meeting with people that I have had such a contentious issue with I know that I would have quit my job over this in earlier days. Instead, I have been able to firmly state my case with them, and try to move past this one huge issue, and find common ground on other things. Perhaps when we come back to this one huge issue today in this meeting we will be able to resolve it. I am the only one who holds my opinion. So, today I will be in a three against one meeting. Fun, huh? Well, I did buy a new blouse to wear. We all have our own ways of dealing with things.

Pray, pray, pray, and buy a new blouse.

That's my word for today. Well, and let's all stay sober today, OK? (chemically or otherwise)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

These things I know...

Some October days in Colorado are as good as it is ever going to get. And this is one of those. I sat on my deck and shot photos of the sky above as the breeze came up and blew leaves off the aspen trees. By the time I was done, I was covered with aspen leaves. The aspen trees were good enough to change colors this year. The huge ash tree in my front yard did not change colors, the leaves just died and dropped off when it got so cold earlier this month.

Ed G. was nice enough to ask me to speak at a meeting last night. It was wonderful to meet him and his wife. It was good to see a huge room full of alcoholics, and particularly good to see that a lot of them were very young and enthusiastic about sobriety. They were very, very kind to me.

I know that I can't find my way out of a paperbag driving at night. Last night after the meeting I ended up hopelessly lost, stuck in after-college-football-game-drunken-traffic for an hour in this town with which I am unfamiliar. I kept thinking about a time in my early sobriety.... I was going to some wacky cosmic-cookie thing at some church in this same town (I was kind of a cosmic-cookie kind of gal back then), so I just drove to the town, sure that I would just drive to the right place, and I did. Well, that was then, and this is now. And now, twenty-five years later, I can no longer find anything. These recent couple of misadventures with getting lost are the first time I have really felt elderly. I am certain that a navigation system is in my future because this is not something I enjoy or think is necessary.

I had planned to run today, but decided that I need to be flexible and scratch that plan. I got only a couple of hours of sleep because I had to be at church this morning very early for something I committed to do. I am glad I did that, but I am not in any condition to go out and run. I am going to chill and knit today. And enjoy myself.

I will make phone calls between football games.

You know, this has been such a full weekend. I would have to write so much to even cover a fraction of it and I know I probably try your patience already, so I won't do that. But I want to say that the few moments I have had this weekend to talk eyeball to eyeball with other drunks have been the highlights. I have had more than one opportunity to do that.

What a blessing we are given in Alcoholics Anonymous. Even if we have been sober for one day, we have the opportunity to share that 24 hours of experience with someone else who despairs of ever being able to go a day without a drink.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The last seconds of Saturday Morning

Soon it will be Saturday afternoon. I hope to spend a lot of it asleep. Saturday morning was action packed. After the meeting this morning, I got to meet with a lady who has been struggling to get sober for a couple of years. She thanked me for my time - I told her my time belongs to her! I wish I could put that into practice more than I do. In this whole week, there was no better time spent than that hour or so I spent with her.

It is amazing to me to see AA through her eyes. It doesn't look pretty. Honestly, it looks like a bunch of self-righteous bullies. We sit around puffing up our chests and talk about how great we are because we haven't had a drink for 'x' number of days. And God forbid we should fail to mention the exact number of years... it is very important you know. She gets browbeaten in meetings, and after meetings, and in between. It seems some of us don't have a full knowledge of our condition and therefore don't understand it in others when they don't behave the way we think they ought.....

And then, I get to see AA through my daughter's eyes. She celebrated 9 months of sobriety on 9/14. When I see the kindness and patience that people show her, it absolutely astounds me. Last weekend at the retreat, we were staying in a cabin with 7 people total. Let's see, their ages were: 68, 67, 67, 57, 54, 47, and then there was my little 30 year old. With 9 months of sobriety. Covered with tattoos. Bouncing off the walls. Talking 90 mph. And everyone treated her just like she was just a welcome part of the family.... because she is.... and that makes me cry with gratitude.

It is a glorious day in the Colorado sunshine. I have been out all morning. I will be in all afternoon, and then out all evening. It is a good day, full of AA fellowship. I am grateful, grateful, grateful to be a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Friday, October 16, 2009


is my favorite color. So yesterday when my daughter asked me to join her at lunch as she shopped and I saw this green down jacket and tried it on, I fell in love. I didn't want to take it off. I said it felt like heaven. I am really a sucker for things that are green.

Today I have a hugely wonderful day ahead. I have a new boss and today is boss' day. I will bring him a jar of home canned pear chutney or pickled pears... can't decide which is weirder. I would like to go for less weird as a point of clarification. I will tie a bow around the top of the jar and make a little card acknowledging my obsequiousness and thank God for this man. The first year my old boss was my boss, I got him a card for boss' day and he looked at me like I had just crawled out from under a rock when I gave it to him. Later the golden girl with the golden hair would give him gift baskets costing hundreds of dollars for boss' day, which he would proudly display in his office - although I always liked the man, I never could hit the right note with him. I am grateful, grateful, grateful to have a new boss.

After work I am volunteering at an expo for a local marathon. What fun! I will leave work early to get down there and be with people who are preparing to run a marathon on Sunday! That ought to get me excited about running!

Great weekend on the horizon.

I better get to it, I need to be out of here in 30 minutes.

YAY. I like the looks of this day already.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Running short of sorts

I didn't sleep much last night. I decided to get up and go to the gym and get in the pool. Who knew that there would be so many people swimming in the middle of the night? Well, I should know by now because I have had this experience before. But it surprises me every time.

When I got out of the pool, I went to the shower, and noticed that in the women's locker room, there were eight showers and three hooks for towels. There was absolutely no other place to hang a towel than those three hooks, and they were all occupied. I stood and tried to find a way to throw my towel over the top of the shower and it wouldn't work. I pondered placing it on the wet floor, but ix-nayed that idea. Finally a woman came along and took her towel off a hook and I was able to put my towel on the hook and take my shower. Maybe standing around naked in a public place makes me irritable, I don't know...

I talked to the young man at the front desk as I was leaving, and he looked at me like I was nuts. Another young man came along, his name badge said "technician," and he said he would get hooks installed on the outside of all of the shower stalls. I told him that would be wonderful and thanked him. I can't believe I am the first person to ever suggest such a thing?

Then I went to the grocery store. There were at least 5 staff watching me struggle with the "U-Scan-It" machine. They had to correct all my errors. They had to tell the computer that I brought my own bag. They had to come over and read the code on the tomatoes for me. They had to come over and read the code on the grapes for me. They had to come over and read the code on the apples and pistachios for me. They had to help me with just about everything. I asked them why they just couldn't check me out. Sorry, they said, it is all self-serve until 7 a.m. Well, I said, I won't be back to this store unless it is after 7 a.m. then because I am skilled at many things, but checking groceries isn't one of them.

I don't think I am going to like living in this brave new world we are creating. I really don't.

One day at a time, I will deal with what I have to deal with today....

So, today there is a beautiful sunrise, so I stopped and sat down in the dirt on a nearby mountainside and took photos. I like the one I posted here best. It is my city in the distance... a couple of little buildings peaking out are all you can see of it, between the yucca and the sage. Now, that is the proportion of things as I would like it.

And that is the way I shall choose to see it today. Sober. Care to join me?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


It's the road signs, 'Beware of lions.'
Kip Lagat, Kenyan distance runner, during the Sydney Olympics, explaining why his country produces so many great runners - borrowed from a Runners World daily inspirational e-mail.

Somehow I think I am a bit inferior for being inspired by the big challenges in life. It seems a really well balanced person would be inspired by the most mundane days. But I am probably not one of those well balanced people. Every day I get a tiny e-mail with an inspirational tidbit from Runners World. Most of the time I don't find them inspirational at all. The one about the lions is now posted above my computer at my desk. I like the idea of threat of lions challenging young men to become olympic quality runners.

There are lions in my workplace. But like the runner, I only need to focus on what I am doing. Not on what they are doing. I don't need to go out in the bush and deal with them, I just need to focus on the road ahead and do my level best at what I am doing.

I like the big days better than the little days at work. These are some big days and I feel that I am rising to the challenge. I have a ton of difficult, challenging work to do and I can get it done.

I have a full day at work and then I am meeting with a sponsee after work. We were texting last thing last night and first thing this morning. I think I really like texting as a quick way to communicate between sponsor and sponsee. I wouldn't dare try it with my sponsor though - she doesn't even e-mail! She sees computers as a way to isolate! I don't think I am going to change her mind about that.

Care to join me staying sober today, no matter what those lions are doing?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back to work

(that's not where I work, but I wouldn't mind if it was!)
I am gratefully going back to work after four and a half days off. I am so grateful that I have another seven years until I am of retirement age. I hope to be able to be gainfully employed until then.

Many people of my age are retired or will be shortly. That is not my story. I spent many years in my prime working years being unemployed. Some of them because I was a housewife. Some of them because I was unemployable due to drinking. Some of them because I was unemployable due to early sobriety and its insanity.

This career started at the age of 42. At ten years of sobriety. Now I have been at it for fifteen years, and hope to remain at it for another seven.

This blog has basically been my journal for the last four years, so I will write it here even though I wouldn't otherwise... on Thursday of last week my boss called me into his office. He closed the door (gulp). He started himming and hawwing (gulp). He started telling me about how they were looking at reorganizing management (gulp). I took a deep breath and said a prayer and knew that no matter what I would be OK. He asked me if I would mind being reassigned under the medical director. I said I would be thrilled. Oh, if I were greatly concerned about my status in the organization and my upward mobility, I would probably balk at such a move, but I am not. I am greatly concerned with my effectiveness in my role and my happiness as a human being, and so I am thrilled that I get to work with a man I deeply respect and dare I say, love? In only the noblest way, you understand. So, I feel that not only do I seem to have a job for the duration, but I get to have a new lease on it. This is very good.

I better get dressed and out the door and get to it. :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Given enough time...

So many things could happen. But there is only so much time for anything. And we seldom know how much that is.

This year, I made the assumption, based on 57 years of experience, that the leaves would change colors some time in mid October and then fall off the trees. They would blow around a bit, crunch around and smell wonderful until we all got out and raked, mulched, vacuumed, and bagged them up and dragged them to the curb for removal for another year. I had never seen a year where it got so cold in early October. It got cold, it snowed, the snow clung to the leaves and froze them solid. Most of the leaves just fell off the trees like frozen bombs on Friday morning - without ever changing colors. They are now laying in damp heaps on the ground in various shades of dark green, brown, and black. No brilliant yellows and oranges. No fragrance of fallen leaves.

Autumn is my favorite time of the year. To see the color of my bedroom change because of the reflected light of the glowing yellow tree in my front yard is something I just love for the week or so that it lasts. This year I will not get to experience that. In the scheme of things, it is certainly not a big deal. But I think it is worthy of reflection.

This morning I went to a meeting and saw a man celebrate his one year anniversary. I was glad to be there. I wonder if he was glad I was there. He was carrying on about how he wants so much more than "just being sober." And I thought about another man I wrote about here some four years ago. He was sober about 90 days and wanted a lot more than "just not drinking." I haven't checked on his condition since last week, but as of last week, he was in the hospital, at death's door after a long bout of drinking. I wonder how he would feel about "just not drinking" today. Maybe that would be a good start.

We can't get our eyes fixed so far out on the horizon that we can't see the next step in front of us, or we may never get to the horizon.

Or it may be that we are never intended to get to the horizon anyway. Maybe our best shot is to enjoy the wet piles of brown leaves on the ground today because we are never intended to see the golden ones next year.

I think I shall give what's left of today my very best. And I hope you do too.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Afternoon

I have returned from a weekend in the mountains with a bunch of sober alcoholics. I got to see my friend celebrate 40 years of continuous sobriety. I got to stay in a cabin with my daughter, my sponsor and her husband, and two young men who I have known since they have gotten sober. It was nice. I got to see a bunch of folks I haven't seen for a while, including an old friend I seldom see anymore. I got to go to lots and lots of AA meetings.

On Friday night there was a huge meeting at the lodge where we were staying - I was absolutely shocked at the chicanery taking place in the meeting. The chair person decided he could simply recite the preamble instead of reading it like everyone else. Of course, that backfired on him and he forgot most of it. (pride cometh before a fall?) And then during the reading of the 5th chapter it was like a circus with people reciting parts and parodying parts and asking questions "What's the point?" etc. It was horrifying to me. At one point I said, forgive the obscenity, but I simply said "what the fuck?" and people looked at me as if I had lost my mind... except for the older people.

How are we allowing this to happen? What is this? No wonder people have such a low opinion of us. We have GOT to knock this crap off. It might be fun in a limited way to a few people who "know the words" and think they are in on a big inside joke, but it is SO NOT A JOKE. It is ridiculous and makes us look childish and cult-like.

But aside from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

It was great. It was nice to watch my daughter experience this kind of fellowship for the first time. But I am over-tired and over-stimulated and need some serious down-time. It was interesting to see that by this afternoon my daughter and the young man who had ridden with us were also a bit tired and irritable too. I thought it was just my age, but I guess not.

Sorry for my general grumpiness.

Grateful, grateful, grateful to be home....

Friday, October 09, 2009

Frozen Felowship

That's a frozen rosebud. So sad to see something never come to fruition, but that is the way of nature.

I have just spent nearly 24 hours with our Dave. What a wonderful thing. He enjoyed the snow and cold. Really, he enjoyed it. It has been so hot in Houston that he found the cold (25 degrees this morning) to be "refreshing." It was so nice to sit next to him at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous this morning. We saw him off this morning, and blew him kisses as we wished him a safe journey...

My daughter and I will now be off to a weekend retreat. I am looking forward to getting away with 300 or so of my closest friends to a mountain ranch. It should be nice. I hope I will be able to get some down-time as well as lots of fellowship and meetings.

Won't be back until Sunday. Please take care and stay sober until then, OK?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Huge Day

The blue window is in honor of Pammie who asked us to look at something blue today while she is unable to post something. She is caring for her mother. Maybe while we are glancing at something blue, we could say a little prayer for both of them. Such wonderful women.

Today I am heading out of here in a minute for the pool. Hopefully before 5 a.m., I won't have to share a lane. But I am not counting on it. Dang! that pool is crowded.

I will work a half day. Then I am going to the airport to pick up my friend dAAve!!! YAY! He has some stuff to do today - did someone mention a 1984 Cadillac? - and I am sure we will have to eat and there are some folks here who would like to meet him. Tomorrow morning a meeting... What a blessing it is to have made such good friends here in the blogosphere, and Dave is one of my all time favorites.

And then I am heading out of here tomorrow for an AA event at a mountain ranch. A weekend of frozen fellowship. I have gone to this event before and the weather is sometimes "iffy," but this is probably going to be beyond iffy - right into regular snow, cold, and nastiness. I do believe each cabin has its own fireplace, I have lots of cold weather clothes, including flannel jammies, my sponsor and her husband will be sharing a cabin with me and my daughter. It should be grand! And we are there to celebrate a friend's 40th AA anniversary. I am pleased to say that I have known him for 25 of that.

It is good to be sober...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sleeping in

Someone I love is pregnant with a little baby boy, this is going to be a baby blanket for him. I think the colors are much prettier in person, they look a little grim to me in this photo. They are brilliant and bold and rather boy-like. I haven't had a boy since 1976, so it is a novel thing for me to be knitting something that isn't pink. I love knitting.

This morning I was supposed to be at a spinning class at 6:00. I was awake at 3:30, got up, made some coffee, did my prayer and meditation, looked at some blogs, and decided to go back to bed. I decided that I had the luxury of time to sit in bed and drink coffee and read a book before I went back to sleep. What a treat to do this, and on a weekday! So now I will get ready for work, having had an extra hour of sleep and a little bit of lovely down-time.

I am very excited about the next four days. They are going to be great! Lots of sober people, lots of sober places, lots of sober things!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


(blogger will not let me post a photo today - sorry)

It is nice to find out you are wrong.

Yesterday I wrote my post about the proliferation of "self-esteem" and "feel-good" literature preying on AA members as their target market. And honestly, a lot of meetings seem to center around this kind of psycho-babble.

But after I wrote this, I got in my car and drove to my usual 6:30 a.m. meeting. The meeting I really go to out of convenience, not out of any great love any more. And yesterday morning I was absolutely blown away by the message of recovery from alcoholism in that room. It was all centered on the steps and on God.

My faith in mankind is restored for another day.

One day at a time.

I plan on staying sober again today and I hope you all will join me, OK?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Piggy back Rant

Pammie has a lovely post this morning about the necessity of working all the steps, including step 12, inconvenient though it might be. Yesterday afternoon, I was trying to write something and was flipping through blogs I don't normally visit just for a bit of research. I was dismayed by a trend, and it sort of has to do with what Pam wrote about...

AA literature all talks about ego deflation, turning our thoughts to others, learning to stop being self-centered, and helping others. This is what, in turn, helps us. I never read one word in AA literature about working on our self-esteem by spending great amounts of time pampering ourselves, lying to ourselves about how great we are, or accepting ourselves as we are.

The steps are all about trusting God, cleaning house, and helping others. These things work to help us build a new life built on a solid foundation.

But what about all these books about our precious self-esteem and our self-image and our self, self, self? I don't know. I don't know why we read them and pretend they are AA literature. They aren't. I don't know why about one in ten alcoholics thinks they ought to write a book re-packaging what they think they have heard in meetings. The cuter the better.

Some of the most dangerous nonsense I have heard over the years has sounded really cute. It is "marketable."

All this dour ego deflation and inventory and amends and helping others? Probably not so marketable. But, boy howdy! does it ever work!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sunday Miscellanea

I took a nice 5 mile trail run this morning. Actually it is nice in retrospect. It felt kind of difficult while I was doing it. There was no elation involved in this run. There was a brief spike in my pace however when I was running away from a dog. A large unrestrained dog. But don't get me started about large unrestrained dogs in parks where signs are posted that they are to be leashed.... don't get me started... don't get me started...

Yesterday I got to spend the day with my sober daughter. She has changed so much in the last 8.5 months. To watch new sobriety this up-close and personal is a revelation to me. It is so different than "working" with someone. I am "just" her mom, and therefore do not want to know the mechanics of her sobriety. We talk about AA a lot, because it is really the center of both of our lives, but separately. We got to go to an AA event last night and it was really fabulous to watch her whip a meeting directory out of her purse when someone asked where a meeting was. It is also fabulous to watch her start to calm down and start to turn her thoughts to others. She takes time aside each day to make phone calls to other women who are newer than she is ... just to check and see how they are. That is the kind of AA I got sober in. It seems foreign to the kind of AA I am involved in now which makes me profoundly sad.

Courage to change the things I can?

So now I shall plant myself on the sofa, turn on the fireplace, turn on the endless procession of Sunday football games, and will do some work that I committed to do.

Have a wonderful, sober Sunday everyone.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

First Saturday of October

Did I ever tell you that October is my favorite month of the year? I know I have told you that Saturday is my favorite day of the week. Pre-dawn on Saturday is the very best... all full of hope for the two days of rest and recreation ahead. So, right now is possibly the best time of all!

My daughter and I will go to the 6:30 a.m. meeting, and then have a pretty busy day planned. I will get my sprinkler system winterized today. I will also run 5 miles. I will also get to visit my granddaughters. And go to church. And go to night watch. And bake a pie for that. Even though I usually bake an apple pie in October, it will definitely be a pumpkin pie tonight - it is cold and feels very much like autumn.

I am grateful to be alive and sober to be joyfully looking forward to this day. I hope you all are too.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Internet Issues

For some reason, I do not have internet access at home. The last time this happened (maybe 6 weeks ago), the good people at Qwest sent a nice man to the house to plug in a new modem, and later sent me a bill for nearly $200. I paid that bill last month... so I am not looking forward to having another "service call" on my bill for this month. I will call them later to see what occurs.

I am glad that yesterday I realized that I should just ride with my boss and others down to the meeting. The meeting was horrible. The only redeeming grace of the day was the extremely pleasant ride there and back. We stopped at Starbucks on the way back and goofed around a tiny little bit. It is nice to see my boss outside of the hospital. It is nice to see him as a regular person and less of a psychiatrist... but I don't think psychiatrists EVER fully stop being psychiatrists. I had an odd dream last night with him in it, and I would love to tell him about it, but I wouldn't dare, I have made the mistake of sharing dreams with him before and am always shocked at his professional perspective on them.

So, in the dream I was driving, he was in the passenger seat. I was trying to get up a really rough road with rocks in it. He said that he always goes around the long way rather than risking tearing up his car, so I backed up. And my car backed off a cliff - as we were free-falling, I turned to him and said "oh, K., I am so sorry... so sorry..." and I started saying the prayer that I was taught as a child to say at the moment of death. And, as you can imagine, I woke up and stayed awake for several hours. And didn't even have the internet to distract me!

Since my computer at work crashed a couple of weeks ago and had to be reimaged, I have no photos on it. Usually, I can dig up a photo or two from my hard drive. But at this moment, on this computer, there is virtually nothing on this hard drive.

Maybe that is an enviable state?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Traveling Today

I am traveling to another city for an all day meeting today. I am doing something entirely different for me. I will report on how it works. My first thought when I heard that I had to attend this meeting was "I will make up some reason so that I can take my own car and not have to sit in a car with the rest of the people." That is what I normally do. I don't normally want to spend that many hours with my boss, and be trapped in a car with co-workers.

Then I saw the map to the place we are going, it looked confusing, and I remembered Saturday night, being hopelessly lost within 5 miles of my own home. I checked out the Costco website for a Garmin - which I have always wanted. I have one for my wrist, but I want one for my car!

But I stopped in my tracks and thought - what in God's name am I doing?
  • "making up something" otherwise known as lying - don't need to do that
  • striking out on my own - rowing my own boat - going my own way - usually not the best idea
  • spending money I do not need to spend to do this - something else that is not a good idea.
So I walked down to my boss' office and asked him if I could still catch a ride with them. I also asked if they would mind if I knit while someone else drives! How cool is that!

You really would think that I would have learned by now to default to good behavior instead of selfish behavior... but frequently this is not the case. I still get another chance today to get it "right" though if I stay sober. And I plan to do just that, and hope you all will too!