Today is a large family dinner. After church. And after a run. Sort of like Aunt Bea of Mayberry, eh? I better get going. A lot to do.... I wish weekends were longer than 2 days...
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Are wonderful. Yesterday my daughter and I went to the Denver Art Museum. I took a photo of the above painting because I loved it. Although I generally almost despise "southwestern art," this painting was done long before the genre existed, and the colors are almost neon against the black background. In the museum, there was one tiny room with some 13th and 14th century iconography, and both my daughter and I loved it and spent a lot of time there. I wish I had taken some photos there - but I was too engrossed in the art, the meaning, and the symbolism to whip out my blackberry I guess.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
It is a beautiful Saturday morning. The sky is clear. The sun is shining. The hills are green and flowering. And I have a headache. What?
So, I went to a meeting this morning. Where a friend who was in a coma a year ago was celebrating 1 year sober. At one time, she had 8 or 9 years, but went back out. Her drinking took her very far - almost to death. She is so grateful to be sober, it is palpable.
There were two new guys in the meeting who are young and nuts! I was incredibly grateful that on Saturdays that group is large and strong. A couple of guys went and sat next to the one who wouldn't shut up. And they were both surrounded by sober men when the meeting ended.
I have a full day planned. I am excited about it. My daughter is here. We just ate some waffles for breakfast. I think I shall take some aspirin for my headache and try to take a half-hour nap in a dark room, and pray that this headache will leave my head.
Happy Sober Saturday Everyone.
Friday, May 29, 2009
We have had 7 weekends in a row when the weather was not conducive to outdoor activities, due to insane amounts of snow or rain. It looks like we are going to now have a dry and pleasant weekend!
I am picking up my daughter tonight after work and she is going to spend the weekend here. It is always a wonderful mystery about what will happen when my daughter is around. I just know that things happen wherever she goes. And I actually enjoy watching that - from a short distance.
I am grateful that I am no longer the one who drama follows closely. I am pretty predictable and boring. And that is good. It was not always this way.
I think I am going to "get after it" and get to work - I have a lot to get done before a deadline next Friday.
So - let's stay sober today, OK?
Thursday, May 28, 2009
This morning was glorious as I took a sunrise run. The end of my run is in a field with an old trail through it. There are wild flowers in bloom there now. I would imagine by this time next year, there will be a road and houses where the flowers now bloom. (Which reminds me of a Talking Heads Song.)
Yesterday the meeting was great. A relatively new guy chaired and actually had a topic! He wanted to hear about people's experience with the 4th step. I love those meetings. 4th Step and 9th Step meetings tend to silence the people who usually talk a lot. And we get to hear about recovery from people who are actually doing the deal.
And what a deal it is! I think I shall try it for another day, and I hope you do too!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
In one hour, I need to be sitting in an AA meeting. For now, I am sitting in my pajamas. So this won't be long.
I am still hurting from my fall. And still incredibly grateful to be a 57 year old woman walking around telling people how she went over the handlebars of a bike onto concrete... walking around, fully functional, telling people this.
Maybe something got a little askew in my brain though. Yesterday I went shopping with my daughter to the most dangerous place on earth. The Apple Store. As I watched her purchase an iPod Touch, a young man was telling me all about his. When he showed me the Bible application, I was sold. And I bought this gadget. So, now I need a new purse - so I can keep my Blackberry AND my iPod Touch. This thing is so fancy-schmancy, I can't even believe it.
Gotta get me and all my gadgetry out of here to an AA meeting... and then to work all day. YAY!
Let's stay sober another day today, OK?
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
It's Tuesday Morning. I have four days to work before I get another day off. I am starting tired. It is probably not actually that I am tired. It is that I hurt. My body hurts. I knew I scraped and bruised my left leg, hip, arm, and elbow. I didn't know until later last night that my back is really hurting and that my left pinky is bruised and hurts. Oh well.
Someone suggested to me yesterday that I have a lot of accidents. Well, I agree. But I will quickly add that most 57 year old women are not training for a triathlon and a half-marathon at the same time. I am more likely to get injured while out riding my bicycle than I am while sitting on my sofa. But I am less likely to get heart disease or major depression if I am out on my bicycle or swimming or running. So, my cost/benefit analysis? I think the benefits far outweigh the risk.
I called my sponsee who borrowed my mountain bike and told her I would like to swap it out for my road bike. I am not riding that skinny tire thing anymore. I will take my mountain bike to the triathlon - which I have never done before. Plenty of other people do, and I will too!
I am happy to be gainfully employed today. I am happy to be heading off to work. I am happy that I have nothing to do tonight and can just come home and chill out and go to bed early.
Monday, May 25, 2009
There's Miffy, my new foster cat. She is a wonderful cat! She just purrs, and purrs, and purrs. Last night, I was talking on the phone, and the cat was behind my head on the sofa... I opted to take her picture. It is such a pleasure to have a cat in the house again - even if only for 3 weeks.
I went for a bike ride this morning with a friend from work. She is going to do the Triathlon with me in August, so we are training (but not real hard). So, 2 miles into a bike ride, I encountered an unexpected obstacle in the trail, and hit the brakes so hard, I went over the handlebars. Again. Thankfully my friend is an RN (and a darn good one too!) and was able to assess how hurt I was. She was concerned with the fact that I was seeing stars and my helmet was crooked. I was amazed that for all the road rash I have all over the left side of my body, I have no broken bones!
So goes another unofficial bone density test. If there were the slightest bit of osteoporosis, I would have broken my left radius, my left hip, and perhaps even my left femur! As it is, I am very very sore. I feel feeble and kind of shaky.
I am also emotional.
I am going to go to bed and read for a while and then take a nap.
And thank God that I am not hurt worse than this. And I think I am retiring this bike. This is the second time I have gone over the handlebars of this bike... the first time, I broke a rib or two and was out of commission for quite a while. I have never had an accident with my mountain bike. I think I need that stability.
To say thank you to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice doesn't really work, does it? They can't hear me. Their families can though. We can honor our dead, remember them, and thank their families - who may not have agreed with the decision made (at 17 or 20) to go off and put their lives on the line. I know that I did not agree when my son, who had nothing but shining promise ahead of him at 17, decided to join the Army. I thought I was going to die when he left. And the year he spent in Iraq made an old woman out of me. But, oh, how I respect him, and how proud I am of the man he has become! And the mystery of how two old hippies managed to have this honorable son, willing to suit up and show up through some really tough duty - is beyond me. I can't even write this stuff without crying.
I am so grateful to live in the United States of America, words cannot begin to convey. Despite all of our problems, we still have greatness. I'm grateful to be an American, and I proudly fly the stars and stripes from my front porch today. Maybe as a sober woman, I can bring something to this country instead of taking something away. Maybe I can be an asset!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I have a berry pie in the oven, the cole slaw is already made. When my family gets here, I will put the sweet corn on the stove and the burgers on the grill. What a way to kick off the summer season... and yes, I am aware that it is not quite summer yet. (and for anyone in Colorado, we are VERY clear that it is not summer - it is cold!)
I was struck the other day by people sitting in my morning meeting. There seem to be quite a few who just aren't drinking. Not that I have anything against not drinking. It is kind of a requirement to start the other stuff. But if all you do is not drink, what a dreadful existence. I would rather drink, to be perfectly frank with you.
For those of us who are recovering (or recovered if you would prefer - I won't enter that debate), we are not NOT doing something. We are not running away from something. We are doing something positive - sobriety. And we are embracing the spiritual way of life we have been given. We are living most of the time in gratitude and joy. These things show, and they cannot be faked.
In my early sobriety, like in the first few days, I had no desire to drink - even though I had been drinking daily for nearly 18 years. With my prayer, on my knees, asking for God's help, on my second day of sobriety, the compulsion was lifted. Every now and then in my first couple of years, I would get angry about something or another and make a decision to drink, but I always prayed first, and somehow, I never got that drink.
I found through the steps that there was an entirely different way of life - that did not include alcohol in any way. I wasn't avoiding alcohol, I just found a new and infinitely superior way of living. I have absolutely no interest in being around booze at all. It is boring. It makes people boring. I don't care to be around it.
I met the most wonderful people in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have friends outside of AA, but they are not the people dearest to my heart. I have the most incredible relationships with the people in AA. That did not happen overnight, but it did happen. If you are not going to meetings or making an effort to be part of the fellowship, you are depriving yourself of one of most satisfying parts of being sober. It makes it easy to be sober when all of your friends are. And when your friends are in AA, they understand you the way no one else can. The fellowship is just sublime.
I have been sober approximately 43% of my entire life. Some of those years weren't so good. I had a very horrible marriage in AA, and once that was over, I lost everything I ever had. I lost custody of my kids. I was homeless for a while. My daughter went crazy when she was 14 and became a meth addict. Things were not always pretty. Even my experiences in AA were sometimes pretty terrible. But I would not trade one day of the years of sobriety for any day before sobriety. I feel like I barely know who that person was before I got sober. She was certainly not anyone I would want to be today.
In this life of sobriety, I have never been hanging on for dear life. I have never been avoiding a drink. I have always wanted to be sober more than anything. Through the steps, I found a relationship with God that convinced me I never needed to live in fear again. I know that God cares for me and loves me in a way that I can barely conceive.
For an alcoholic, just not drinking is a nightmare. I need a lot more than an absence of something! I needed for that need to be replaced and it was. What I got in return is infinitely better than anything prior.
I can't imagine sitting around thinking about what I am missing! Yes I am missing suicidal depression, hurting everyone who loves me, neglecting my children, being painfully self-centered, being bloated and lazy and sick all of the time.... Those are the things I am missing.
There is so much joy in this life! It is not an absence. It is a powerful presence. I am not running from life and problems, I am embracing whatever God sends my way. And I am thanking Him for it!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Did anyone know that I was having lunch with Pammie today?
Well, I did. It was awesome. We went to a meeting and sat right next to each other. Then we went out for lunch. At one point, she asked what time it was, and I was so shocked to say it was almost 3 o'clock! She had to go back to her hotel, and I had to come home. We both nearly started crying when saying our goodbyes, because we are both some of our very favorite people anywhere - ever!
What a treat to spend some time with one of my favorite bloggers!
My nephew and family just came by and left me with "Miffy" - my new foster cat. She will be here while they are in Taiwan for 3 weeks. I am so excited to have a cat again. I have had cats for most of my life and I miss their little catness being around my house.
I have another topic heavy on my brain, but I will write about that tomorrow morning or some other time when I am not sharing such happy news. The topic is: Recovery from Alcoholism, vs. Simply Not Drinking.
Got to go pet Miffy now...
Friday, May 22, 2009
And as I was getting ready for bed, it occurred to me that it has been about 24 hours since I have posted anything on my blog.
I have a huge weekend ahead of me, and I am grateful for every single bit of it. I get to see someone tomorrow for a meeting and lunch. I am super excited about that. And my nephew is stopping on his way to the airport - going to Taiwan for 3 weeks - to bring his cat for me to babysit! How awesome is that!
For months, a friend and I have planned to do our first open water swim of the season this weekend. The weather is awful. Cold, overcast, rainy... you can't even see the mountains. We may still do an open water swim, but it will be really stimulating - AKA freezing cold.
This afternoon the former b.f. I referenced yesterday called me and told me he will be in town this weekend and would like to see me. ha! I told him that ____ (my former sponsee who posted love notes all over his facebook wall) would be really happy to see him. He was shocked that I knew he was seeing her. What the hell do people think when they put private stuff all over facebook? Ick, Ick, and double Ick.
So, I have great stuff to do all weekend, and I am relieved to have a huge deadline behind me at work and three days off to recuperate.
Life is good. Rainy or not. People acting like jackasses or not. God is good and he loves me more than I could ever imagine. The fact that I am sitting here sober tonight is proof positive of that!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
This morning I decided I really could do some of my stretches after my run, sitting right in front of that new rose bush I just planted. So as I bent, my nose was right on the flower... which has such a powerful fragrance. It was pleasant, and I decided to take a photo with my blackberry as a keepsake.
I am still flirting with the idea of going to Hawaii. Actually it is more than a flirtation. I just need the time to sit down and book it all in the most sensible way... and that is not happening this week. Maybe this weekend. I talked with my sponsor about it - expecting her to tell me that it is extravagant and I should never do anything like this - I should get a second job cleaning toilets, or something... but she said "do it!" And when I told her I was leaning towards staying at the luxury resort hotel instead of the one that costs half as much, she said "do it!" It is very exciting to think of doing this thing - my 50th state. I wanted to go to Alaska first and I am glad I did... but now Hawaii is just hanging out there in the pacific, waiting for me to come.
I am training again, and here's an equation for you:
Mary Christine + Running = Happy Mary Christine.
Yesterday I found out (via facebook) that a former sponsee is dating a former boyfriend. That felt really icky. So I "unfriended" my first person on facebook (the former b.f.) because there are some things I would just rather not know - like that she thinks he is "a good kisser". I am on the fence about facebook and may totally get out of it.
AA is such a small world. It can lead to some pretty crazy almost incestuous situations. Most of the time we do pretty well, but sometimes it is disastrous.
I am so grateful that all this technology and constant communication were not in my life in early sobriety. I am not sure I could have survived it.
But I know that I am just where I am supposed to be today, and that it is a pretty nice place... full of fragrant roses after a run, tons of friends, and family who love me. YAY!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Won American Idol!!!
And I hardly even helped! I voted for about an hour and a half last night and probably only got through maybe 10 times.
Why do I like him so much and what has this got to do with anything?
Well, I will be honest... he is very very cute. He is also very talented. I like his style - a lot.
What I like most though? His humility. He stood tonight - utterly shocked that he won. It was not an act.
We learn in AA that we have to be humble. And then it feels sometimes like the world kicks us down for that... but we have to do it anyway. I cannot be a jackass at work and talk about how great I am. I can stand up for myself when I need to, but I can't act arrogant like other people can, because the price I may end up paying is my life. This road gets very very narrow. My career may have suffered, but my soul is mostly intact, and that is what I need to worry about.
So, on American Idol, the judges didn't think Kris could win because of his lack of bravado- but he did. His music is good. And I like the kid. I love the fact that his wife, his mom and his dad are there at every show. I believe Kris is To Thine Own Self Be(ing) True. And I love that.
And I love that he won.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Yesterday I bought some solar lights for my garden. The package said they "change colors at night," but I had no idea that the lights would flash from green to red to violet to blue to green, etc. And rather brightly, I might add. That is certainly not what I had in mind when I purchased solar lights for my garden! I am not sure if I like them - but I probably do.
I wrote an earlier post but for the first time in my blogging career, I deleted a post. It was unnecessary, and it was not particularly kind. It was true though. Those are the three questions I was taught to ask about whether or not to say something.
1. Is it true?
2. Is it necessary?
3. Is it kind?
I have stayed up too late and may not wake up in time for the 6:30 meeting tomorrow. I will get to one later in the week if this is the case.
I am now going to go to bed and the last thing I shall do is thank God for another sober day. A day when I got to be useful to Him and my fellows. What a flaming (or changing coloring) miracle that is!
I am biking to work today. I am very excited about this. It takes a great deal of preparation for the first time you do this - well, since last year. Yesterday I brought into my office an extra outfit (complete with underwear and shoes), and hung that behind the door on a hanger. I brought in breakfast for today - that is in the fridge. I put together a new make up bag to leave at work. I already have a hair dryer and curling iron, and too many other little odds and ends to mention, stashed away in my desk.
I am so grateful to be healthy enough to do this today.
I am also grateful that I am once again looking at half-marathons in Hawaii. I think I am going to do this. I have been to 49 states, but not Hawaii. Traveling with a race as your destination is a lot of fun. It would give me a wonderful goal to work towards. I shall see. It is expensive!
Wish me a safe trip to work - I will never forget the ride on August 19, 2005 which netted me a broken rib or two... and ultimately led me to start this blog. I couldn't run, I couldn't bike, I couldn't do any of the things I loved, so I sat staring at my computer, and 3 years and 9 months later, here I still am!
Monday, May 18, 2009
I am going to head out of here for a run - just as soon as I post this. I am excited that my pain is gone, and it appears that I am in good health again. Yesterday it was sad that it was the day of the Colfax Marathon - the first half marathon I ever ran, two years ago. I couldn't run a half marathon right now if you paid me to. There is one I want to do in September, and I am going to get ready to do it! Do you hear me? I have a triathlon in August, which I really look forward to as well.
So, Pammie's post today reminded me of a conversation that happened over the weekend. Comparisons are odious. Really, they are. A woman I would normally describe as "someone who has really struggled" or something like that - was incensed that a man was allowed to attend "her" meeting. And she was going to leave the meeting because of it. Why was she so sickened by this man? Well, he is a pedophile.
Since when did our traditions state that we are here for all alcoholics - except for those who have problems we find particularly distasteful? And my second thought was - well, crap, this woman is a former prostitute heroin addict shoplifting check writer, etc. Somehow no one asks her if she is going to turn a trick in the meeting. And I would never think of that except that I find it appalling that she feels justified to want this man thrown out of AA.
I saw this happen once before in another group. A young woman was bringing her daughter to meetings and the man in question had behaved inappropriately with the child - and he was promptly banned from that meeting. You know what I said about it? The man BELONGED at that meeting and the child didn't. Really.
An AA meeting is NOT supposed to be a safe place for a child. It is supposed to be a safe place for an alcoholic - no matter what other problems he or she may have. If his or her problems are affecting the group, then it is an issue. But we do not look at the criminal record of the person. If they are alcoholic, they belong - until they prove otherwise.
And when you start hurling stones at another, I think you pretty much better be "without sin." I know I am not, and I don't know anyone else who is.
We have traditions for a reason, and they are time -tested and very very effective.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
My sponsor and her husband just left. We had such a wonderful weekend. Last night, we had dinner with a couple of their friends. Between 5 of us, there were 170 years of sobriety at that table, and I was the "baby," with almost 25 years. And that is the way I like it, thank you very much.
These people never behave as if they have all the answers. They never lord their years over anyone. They never take a condescending attitude towards anyone. These are my role models in AA.
I do not aspire to be an AA know-it-all. I don't want to be an AA luminary. I want to be the person on the regular old phone list who people know they can call. That is all.
My daughter has been here most of the weekend and has gotten to spend time with these people... there have been lots of people through this house this weekend, and they are all sober. She has gotten to see a wonderful side of AA - one you might not really realize is there if you are going to meetings, but not getting plugged into the fellowship.
I am so grateful. I feel so blessed.
If you are new to AA, please avail yourself of the fellowship. If no one asks you to coffee, ask someone else, and be that miracle for someone else. The friendships we make in this program are the most incredible things. I am so so so so so grateful.
Friday, May 15, 2009
My daughter is in the next bedroom. My sponsor and her husband are downstairs in the guest bedroom. My house feels full of love and very, very sober, and very, very happy.
When I came home from work today, it was so lovely to see my front door open. My sponsor, her husband, and my sponsor's friend were inside visiting. I got to come in and join the visit. Later we went out to eat and then to DQ for a dipped cone (YAY!). And then much later, my daughter came in, having spent the evening with HER sponsor.
Everything feels like it is exactly the way it should be.
We will all get up tomorrow morning and make a mass exodus at about 6:15 a.m. for the 6:30 meeting. That should be great.
I am so very grateful for a sober life. It is so good.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
How wonderful it feels to be in the middle. Sitting with my sponsor and sponsee. Talking and laughing and catching up. All talking at the same time because it has been so long since we have all sat together.
I so seldom feel anymore that I am just right where I belong. Most of my homies have moved on. Probably bad terminology for a 57 year old white woman who is sober over 24 years, but it seems the best for now.
But tonight, I got to be with my sponsor. And my sponsee. And I got to be in the middle. I am not the oldest nor the youngest. I am just about right. And with people who love me for exactly who I am... and I love them for exactly who they are.
Oh, I am so tired, but so full of joy.
God is so good to us. All we have to do is let Him.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
YAY!!!!! My guy is in the top 2 (of the American Idol competition). I just find this guy so compelling. I know he is cute, but he seems so humble and so nice... and so talented. I have downloaded a few of his songs onto my iPod. And I am sure I will download more... like both of the songs he sang last night.
Now for a serious note:
I am writing this past my bedtime. My judgment is probably not the best. I could pay dearly for asking this question, but I am going to do it anyway.
In the past week, I have learned of two AA members who have engaged in some seriously anti-social behavior and are talking about it. Sober members of Alcoholics Anonymous. One of them is sober only a couple of years, the other, over 2 decades.
So what do we do? When a young, strong, 200+ lb. man is pushing around (literally) an over 70 year old man who weighs 130 lbs. tops, and has just had surgery... do we just turn the other way and "live and let live"--- I don't think we should.
Back in the day (I bet you get sick of hearing this from me) there was a core group of people who pretty much confronted people when their behavior was out of line. They let them know about it. In the past, I have confronted people talking about what I consider child abuse in AA meetings. I don't think we condone illegal behavior in AA. I don't think we should. I think it makes us complicit in the behavior.
Do we tolerate bullies because we are afraid of them? Do we tolerate any kind of unacceptable behavior from a person who is sober so long that they have intimidated the rest?
Is an AA club a place where an old man having a cup of coffee in the morning should be afraid for his life? Where are the people who should have defended him? Why didn't anyone call "911"? And who can sit and listen to Mr. Sober spout his spirituality at the next meeting? Not me.
I really try not to judge people in AA - we are all people who have some serious flaws - and we are in various stages of recovery from them. But there is some behavior so egregious that I think it can't just be overlooked. We are supposed to be learning to be responsible people.
OK. I am going to bed. And tomorrow the world will look like a rosy place. My sponsor will be on her way to visit me, and my mouth will be all better!
The majorness of the pain seems to have abated. I woke up this morning, having slept all night last night, and without horrendous pain - it was a glorious feeling. Yesterday I decided that regardless of any pain I might be experiencing, the horribleness of taking pain killers far outweighed any pain relief I might have been experiencing.
Tomorrow my sponsor and her husband will be here. I can't begin to describe how happy I am about this. The guest bedroom is now ready for guests. The pan in the guest bathroom shower cracked as I was cleaning it on Saturday - my sponsee came over and repaired that yesterday. So the bathroom is ready. The family room downstairs is dusted and vacuumed and ready for the guests of honor.
I wish I could take some time off work to visit with them, but I have missed so much work due to my various health problems lately. And I realized that my sponsor would like some of her own time (without me, imagine!) to visit her friends.
I am thrilled to be going to work and getting back to living my life as it is normally lived. It is so good.
I think I shall plan on staying sober another day, care to join me?
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I went in to see my dentist today.
I do not have an abscess or cavity.
It is not my tooth at all that is causing this pain.
It is a periodontal infection UNDER the tooth.
My dentist is sure that a few more days of antibiotic will clear it up.
I am still in pain.
I feel very sick.
I don't like this.
I am trying to clean my house and get ready for my sponsor's visit, and my heart is not into it - at all.
Tomorrow I will feel better?
Starting my fifth day with a killer toothache. I hate to say it, but that is about all that is on my mind today. This afternoon I will see the dentist, and hopefully my pain will soon be over.
My sponsor and her husband are coming on Thursday. I still have work to do to get the guest bedroom and bath ready. But it is mostly done. I am hopeful that I can get it completely done tonight or tomorrow night.
I had my final exam for the 2nd year (of 4) of Biblical School last night. I missed one question! It was a trick question, I tell you! I can't believe I am already half way done with this program. I thought I would be an expert, but the main thing I have learned is to be very very humble about this, because it would take more than a lifetime to really study the Bible.
How about let's stay sober today? Through good times and bad...
Monday, May 11, 2009
This toothache is kicking my a**. I have an appointment at tooth-hurty tomorrow afternoon. The dentist wouldn't give me an earlier appointment due to the fact that I need to be taking antibiotics for several days prior to my appointment. The pain is inconsistent (thank God!) ranging from excruciating to dull aching. Last night it was excruciating for a while. I don't take antibiotics well either. I avoid them like the plague. But I would do pretty much anything right now to get rid of this pain.
My kids took me out for lunch yesterday which was very very nice. As we talked and laughed and waited a half hour for our appetizer, an hour for our entrees, and another half hour for dessert, I had plenty of time to look at the tables behind us. I saw 2 different women, at two different times, the both came in alone and looking miserable. They both sat at a table, reading a book while they quickly ate their meal and went back home. It made me sad and grateful at the same time. I am so grateful that I can be with my kids and we all enjoy ourselves and laugh and joke and have fun.
Last night I had a nightmare about being at home in bed with a toothache when I needed to be at work for a meeting. I think I will get to work and put in the best day I can. Tonight is my final exam in Biblical School - so I have some studying to do today.
And here is my memorization verse for the test that I will share with you:
"Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Happy Mother's Day to those of you who by birth or by circumstances are or have been mothers. If I wasn't writing to an alcoholic audience, I could just say "Happy Mother's Day," but we are all so complicated and our families tend to be complicated too.
Yesterday my neighbor and I went on our annual perennial and annual purchasing trip. I spent WAY too much money, but I got some lovely flowers. The above is a rose (fragrant cloud) that I decided smelled and looked too good to go in the back yard, so I planted it smack dab in front of my front porch. I love roses. I love flowers. I love, love, love the fact that I own a little postage stamp of land where I can plant things and watch them grow.
I woke up on Friday with a horrendous toothache. I am now starting my third day of antibiotics, and woke up without terrific pain this morning. It is down to a dull ache, which I can tolerate. I did a google search yesterday for "toothache so bad I think I am going to die," which got me all kinds of information. I ran straight out to Walgreen's for clove oil. I don't know that it helped, but I am using it anyway.
So, here I sit this morning. I can look at the fact that it is raining outside, I have a dull toothache and will likely spend at least a thousand dollars on my mouth in the next week, my family is fractured and complicated and Mother's Day shines a spot light on that, and my skirt is tight...
Or, I would prefer to think about the fact that my daughter is clean and sober and sleeping safely in the bedroom next to mine. She has a day planned so that she doesn't have the opportunity to get too involved in thinking about her life and her kids today. My son is taking us all out for lunch today. I have the most beautiful roses in the world just outside my front door. I am on my way out the door to go to church at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning. AND I have dental insurance! (the copay will still be about $1,000 for what I think I am going to need.) And I have a closet full of skirts, shoes to match, and too many blouses, sweaters, and shirts to even count.
And Happy Mother's Day.
Friday, May 08, 2009
What about these chips? We like to get the medallions to commemorate our sobriety. We like the roman numerals. Some of us have learned to read roman numerals by getting our chips each year!
For a while, in recent years, I attended a 5:30 every evening meeting. And every evening, they would go through the ritual of chips... usually about 15 minutes worth of 24 hour, 30 day, 60 day, 90 day, 6 month, 1 year, multiples of years chips. And applause. And passing them around to hold and look earnest about. My friend Larry called it "The Academy Awards," which I thought was fitting.
Don't get me wrong. I have a chip in my wallet. I have one in my home, displayed in the arms of a little praying cowboy... I like my chips. But I always try to give them away.
Yesterday when I was writing my post, I tried to find a photo that would illustrate the idea of superstars in AA. I found an ad for a velvet lined case to store your chips in - like coins in a coin set. This, to me, is absolutely obscene. To think of taking outward signs of the God-given gift of sobriety, and putting them in a velvet lined case, to be shut away and preserved... just isn't right.
You have got to give it away to keep it. I think that goes for our chips too.
We used to pass them along. And then you would look at your chip all year and know whose hands it had been in the year before, and the year before. And you would plan on who you would pass it to. It would be tangible evidence of the chain of sobriety, freely given from God and shared from one member to another. If I got a chip that was bought by a group, it seemed to me to be a failure of sorts, to not have someone who was passing along their cherished chip.
In 2005, I drove to Tucson, Arizona to pass on my 20 year chip to a dear friend. And that was the last time I had someone who wanted my chip.
Our culture has changed. People now look at you like you are a cheap skate if you talk about passing along a chip, like it is second hand, used. How sad. I will still try to pass mine along...
And I really need to say that I cannot stand the passing the chip around the room - for everyone to put their "mojo" on. According to Merriam Webster, mojo is "a magic spell, hex, or charm ; broadly : magical power" and you know, I don't want any "mojo" on my chip, thank you very much. We did not used to do this. I think it makes us look like a bunch of cultish superstitious nuts. Sorry. It is a strange practice, but it has become commonplace. I do believe it started in treatment centers.
This is part of what makes me feel so old. I sit in my meetings and usually keep my mouth shut about all of this crap. It is what they want. I can be a bleeding deacon or an elder statesman. I won't make a very effective statesman if I am always carping about all this silly ritualistic stuff - but I sure wish we would stop it.
So I write this to you tonight. And I don't expect many of you to agree with me, and that is 100% OK with me. Let's all stay sober, agree or disagree... OK?
Thursday, May 07, 2009
In my first several years in AA, I sort of idolized a group of men in AA who had been sober for a long time. They were part of an informal "group" here in Denver. They did things a certain way. They were pretty no-nonsense. They said things like "read the black on the white," and "between the capital letters and the periods." Basically, read the big book and do what it says. I think that is pretty sound advice and I am so very grateful for the attention I got from those guys.
I have been able to pass that on to the women who have asked me to sponsor them in the intervening years. I am grateful for that and I think most of them are grateful for it too.
I left Denver for a few years when I met, fell in love with, and married a man in AA. We went to Canada and northern Washington and I found AA in a tiny little town in Washington like I had never known before - it was wonderful. But time came for me to come back to Denver. I had heard of a great group from a great speaker we ran into in Idaho, and I decided to go there when I got back to Denver.
So I found this great AA group and made it my home group. I thought it was the best group in Denver and so did most of its members. There was a certain amount of snobbery about the group. We did things the "right" way. We had more than the usual number of superstars in our group. I loved being there and being a part of it. It was heady.
I asked a woman from the group to be my sponsor, she was a "circuit speaker" and very impressive - and anyone who has read this blog for a while knows this is an entirely different story - and we started through the steps - again. I had problems the likes of which I had never known before. Dreadful things were happening in my life. I tried to lean on the group and my sponsor for help. But it seems when your life is falling apart, you don't really fit into the picture of a woman who is successfully sober for nearly 10 years... I found little support.
My husband, who is nearly impossible to describe, was also a member of the group. Well, when you are the one throwing the punches, you can be a bit more charming than the one whose trips to the Emergency Room with broken bones are breaking her spirit. So, he was a charming guy. He was also extremely handsome. He was funny as hell. He would stand at the podium and regale the group with charmingly semi-candid descriptions of how he wasn't a grown up at all. They would roar with approving laughter! I would sit and cry. Because I was the one with the broken bones suffered at his hands. I was the one paying off the phone bill he had run up calling his next wife - who was in Thailand. I was the one whose life savings he had spent while the romance was new and I still thought he was who he seemed to be. I was the one working a $5.50 an hour job to pay for our one bedroom apartment.
When my sponsor moved my husband into her house, I knew I needed to find a different group. I went back to the group where I got sober (and where my daughter is blessedly now getting sober). I went back to the guys in the leather, with the dirty fingernails, and limited vocabularlies. They were not asked to speak at conventions and huge meetings. They were not flying all over the world to "carry the message," they were right here at home... and they cared about me. The ladies didn't have great jobs and fabulous wardrobes, they just answered the phone when I called.
I often think of something that was said at a meeting in northern Washington when the AA International Convention was being planned for Seattle - in 1990. One person said he wasn't going. He said someone had to be at the regular meeting for the drunk who might show up and not know that the big deal was going on in Seattle. He would be there for the drunk.
I think that is my role in AA. I don't have the glamour jobs. I sponsor a bunch of crazy drunk women and help them to get through the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I don't have workbooks and step guides... I have the big book. We just do what it says. I don't demand that they get it "right," I ask them to do things to the best of their ability today... because that is all any of us can do.
I go to plain old meetings and be a plain old AA member. Most of the time, I am sober longer than anyone in the room, but a drink will still take me down, just like it will them. I am just a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am not somehow special because of my experiences or my time. I can listen to a new woman without needing to tell her how great I am. I can just listen. I can just be the person who seems to give a shit.
I am grateful that I lived through my years of trying to find the perfect AA. I have found that it is perfect when the hand of AA is there... and the hand of AA might be missing a finger or two, and have dirty fingernails, but it is strong and firm and will save your life.
What could be better than that?
I was out running when the sun rose this morning. To me, there are very few experiences as quietly beautiful as this experience. The cool morning, the fragrant blossoms on the air, the sound of my feet striking the pavement, and my breath... I feel fully alive and grateful for this blessing in these moments.
I am going to get in the bathtub, and get dressed for work. Then I will drive to my workplace and put in a full day. I am meeting a fellow AA member at my house after work and he will turn on my sprinkler system.
I better get on it.
How 'bout let's stay sober again today?
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
I have watched American Idol. I have voted for Kris Allen many times. (Rock n Roll was not the best showcase for his talents, but I still think he is great.) I am about to go to bed. I have looked forward to this almost all day. What a wonderful thing when I have the freedom to go to bed when I want.
My neighbor said the other day that she is like the birds... she goes to bed when they do and she gets up when they do. That is my idea of a really good time.
Tomorrow morning I will meet a sponsee at the 6:30 meeting. It will be good to be there.
What's the point? This is boring. But Thanks to God and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I get to live a good life. In a good life, there is not excitement every day. I have days when basically nothing happens. And those are really good days. I have had enough excitement for a lifetime. I really enjoy boring.
I think I will try it for another day tomorrow...
This the view of the tulips in my back yard from the deck this morning. I used the moody edge blur to obscure the view of the dandylions (apparently I don't know how to spell this weed).
I am heading out for a run.
I feel discouraged this morning.
Aging is not for wimps. It is difficult to see the world "move on" and feel left out. It is very difficult to see the things you love become something else.
So I will go out and run. And probably by the time I am done with my run, I will have a different perspective. I thought about waiting until then to write, but I just want to get this over with.
Let's all stay sober today, no matter how we "feel", OK?
Sunday, May 03, 2009
I was blessed to be in a group with a sage old timer when I was new in sobriety. He got sober in 1957 (or thereabouts) so was sober about 30 years when I got sober. He had a twinkle in his blue eyes, and smoked a pipe, and could cut you to the quick before you even knew what happened... in the nicest possible way, of course.
He used to say that we (alcoholics) call ourselves perfectionists, which is pretty funny because we seldom do anything right, let alone perfect. I thought about that. I would hop on board those things when I was new... say I was a "people-pleaser" or a "perfectionist" when I really hadn't given much thought to how few people I ever pleased or how little I got perfect.
Tonight I was talking with someone who suggested that I am a perfectionist. Oh, but I beg to differ! I like to do things well. I don't see any reason not to. If you are going to spend time doing something, why not do it well? I take pride in my work and my hobbies. When I knit, I don't spend hundreds of dollars to create something that no one wants to look at! I want it to be a thing of beauty! When I do my job, I want to do it well, and I make every effort to do so.
When I was drinking, I seldom finished anything. If I did, it was a sloppy job and I would sum it up by saying it was "good enough." I think it is incumbent upon us as sober people to change our ways and give things our very best effort.
God must have spared me from an alcoholic death for some good purpose! I might as well not screw up what he saved me for. (He didn't communicate to me what exactly it was, so I try to do everything that is put in my path to the best of my ability.)
And since it is bedtime, I think I will I thank Him for another blessed day of sobriety... and tomorrow morning I will ask Him for another one. It's a good thing. Gratitude is an action...
Saturday, May 02, 2009
The innards of the Mixed Berry Pie
The finished product
A piece or two was left - for a minute or two. My friend took this photo on his iPhone.
It was nice to be at night watch tonight. I got to talk with a man who has been coming around for probably 3 or 4 months and never talks in meetings. It was nice to chat with him for a minute. I love it when I get to talk with people from the fellowship that otherwise I would never get a chance to talk with. It almost invariably changes my perception of that person.
I slept almost all afternoon today. I must have needed it, but I found it slightly disconcerting to wake up in the middle of the afternoon after having slept for 3 hours.
It is now time to go to bed because tomorrow I will get up super early tomorrow and go to church. I am looking forward to this.
I am grateful that going to bed (alone) at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night seems like a good thing. Age really is good for some things.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Tonight I rushed straight home from work (after a very long Friday on the end of a very long week) and took a bath - before getting ready to run out to a party at a sponsee's home. Today it just didn't feel like there was much joy in my life. For some reason, when I was soaking in the tub and looked at all the stuff I had thrown on the bathroom sink, it made me happy. I thought it was pretty. So I took a picture of it, and I am sharing it with you here.
My sponsee and her partner had a candle party. I was going to purchase just enough to be polite to my friends... that cost a Ben Franklin. I did really like the things I ordered though and I am sure I will enjoy them. It was wonderful to be at her party. She is so very dear to me.
Tomorrow I am going to a meeting first thing and then the rest of the day is mine. I may just come home and go back to bed. Maybe I will read. Maybe I will go to church on Saturday night, or maybe I will wait until Sunday morning. Maybe I will bake a pie for night watch and maybe I won't. I don't have to do anything this weekend and for that I am truly grateful.
Work is kicking my butt right now. I don't mind working hard and I don't mind challenges, but dealing with the possibilities of this flu has been grim. And I had a huge disappointment at work - and I am going to do something I never do... I am going to "fight" it. I am going to write up a rebuttal this weekend. I thought I could just "let it go," but it isn't going, it is festering. So I will take the action that I can take and the rest will be out of my hands. I have learned that sometimes I have to do what I can do to come to peace with what I can't do.
And what I can do now is thank God for another sober day and go to bed. Very grateful for the flannel sheets I still haven't taken off the bed - it is 41º right now and cold and foggy. Good time to go to bed.