Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On the Road Again...

I have just downloaded the Willie Nelson song by that name. It was not on any of the CDs that we have in our possession, now it is on my iPhone. Yay.

We are moments away from hitting the road. We are both as excited as little girls.

Lunch will be in the small town in New Mexico where my daughters were born (and where I did some very serious drinking). I will show her our old house.

We will stay tonight in a town in central Texas - and then tomorrow we will be in

sAn Antonio - for the International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous!

God is so good to us.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Getting Ready

I have some serious work to do to get ready to leave tomorrow morning. Somehow, I am still stuck in dithering mode. I went to a meeting this morning where I met a fellow who is on his way to San Antonio from Germany! What a great story he had!

I borrowed two Willie Nelson CDs from my daughter who is NOT going. It seems right to me to listen to Willie while driving through Texas. Note to Texans: you don't need to disabuse me of this notion if it is not authentic. I would allow you to listen to John Denver while driving into Colorado - even though it might make me shudder, I would do so in silence. My iPhone has so much technology to avoid ever having to listen to local radio, it is kind of sad, because I love local radio while traveling. I guess there could be long patches of Texas with NO radio?

And then there is a hurricane? Oh, I will just skip thinking about that right now.

I am awaiting my daughter's call. Then we shall go shopping (so that she might have at least one article of clothing that isn't emblazoned with "Harley Davidson") and prepare for our trip tomorrow.

Yeah, I guess you could say I am excited.

xoxoxo - see some of you soon...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Excitement Builds

My daughter and I are beside ourselves with excitement about our upcoming trip. I will pick her up tomorrow and she will stay here Tuesday night. Then we will be off on Wednesday morning. I think I will bring my computer, so likely I will be blogging while I am gone.

Today I am going in to work to clean up loose ends, do my vacation e- mail notification, unsubscribe to list-servs, do my happy vacation voice mail... "this is Mary G., I will be away from my office from June 30 through July 9. I will return on July 12. If you need something.... bla bla bla...." Happy, Happy, Happy.

My sponsor keeps saying she can't wait to see my daughter's reaction to all of this. My daughter is young (31) and newly sober (17 months). I can't wait to share it all with her. I have never been able to go to an International, so it is all new to me too. She is excited, I think I am just as excited. To wait nearly 26 years to do something that you long to do makes it pretty exciting.

Sobriety is so very good.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Splendid Weekend

Yesterday's run was fabulous. The rain dried up before we started, so we didn't have to run in the rain after all. Along the way was a barn with a golden cow (eeek! I didn't realize it sounds like an idol until I wrote this!) atop a weather vane. I did take a photo of it - I did not worship it though.

On my way home from the run, I had a vague memory of a friend calling and asking me to come to a party at his house to celebrate his 20 year AA anniversary. I thought it was the right week, but I wasn't sure, so I called another friend who knows these things. Sure enough, she was there and was able to give me the address. So, I showed up there in my running gear, still dripping sweat, no make up, and I probably didn't smell too good either. I guess I need to revise my opinion that I am vain. No vain woman would have shown up anywhere looking the way I did! I got to see folks from different groups around town and that was great fun. I got to visit with some who are going to San Antonio next week too! And I got to eat yummy food and discuss the merits of a vegan diet with several who have gone that route. (I don't think I ever could - I gave up meat for lent last year and gained all kinds of weight and felt that I was doing severe penance every single day.)

This morning I went to a meeting and then out for a bagel with the ladies. That was nice.

I have a sponsee who wants one of my pies really really bad. I just might make her wish come true today. We'll see...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Going out to run

Seven miles in the rain. It should be good. Next Saturday (while I am in San Antonio) I need to do 10 miles. I talked with my coach yesterday. I started out by saying that I will be on vacation and can't get that ten done - what to do? She said that if I truly want to get my marathon done in September - which I do - I don't have any time to lose. I need to find a way to get my ten miles done even while on vacation. It took me an hour or so to get my mind around that one. But I am on board now.

Did I tell you I had a hair appointment the other night? I told her I wanted my hair cut short and I wanted it to be very blonde. Two and a half hours later, my hair was short and very blonde, and I wanted to cry. After wearing it at work all day yesterday, I decided I like my new hair. It always takes me a minute to adjust to a new hair do.

I think it takes me a minute to adjust to anything. And that sometimes gets me into trouble. I love to hear people talk about "learning to say no." For me, it is a constant battle to learn to say "yes." My immediate reaction is almost always "NO." And then I frequently want to rescind my no and ascent to yes. But I have often offended the person I have said NO to. Yesterday my daughter and I were planning our trip to SA, and she had a plan that I balked at, I could have offended her, but I think she knows me quite well and understands that it just takes me a minute. When we got off the phone, I thought - I wish I could do this differently.

Just for today, maybe I can.

After a seven mile run in the rain.

Thank you God!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Scars, Abuse, Forgiveness, Anger

And pizza. I grilled up the last of my pizza dough tonight - and put these pizzas into a bag in the fridge. I will have food for days. I didn't want to waste the good dough I made on Monday night - and it was at the end of how long it could be stored - so it was cook it or toss it.

Today my boss and I had a brief conversation about dispositions. He said something about someone's sweet disposition, and someone else's being more like his - prone to anger. Since he is a psychiatrist, and I do like him so very much, I just asked him - why is it that some people just stay nice all the time and others, like me, get angry, get ruffled feathers, get hurt feelings... etc. He, being a dear heart, said, some of it is genetic, but some of it is conditioning - in his case, as a result of having an angry father who he felt he was always in danger of being killed by for the slightest provocation - real or imagined. I said "Oh! My mother was like that!" Without missing a beat, he added "AND you were Catholic." And without missing a beat, I added "Oh, that is the only thing that got me through my childhood."

It took me a good many years of sobriety to realize that. I spent my early years of sobriety doing what we do. Mocking my faith. Acting like it was a negative thing. Pretending that those bad priests and nuns had instilled guilt in me. Later I realized they instilled a keen sense of right and wrong - and I had a finely honed ability for choosing wrong - and felt bad about it. No sense in putting the blame where it belonged - with me. Easier to blame them. Those bad people! Making me feel bad for being a total selfish creep!

But during my childhood, when I was sure that no one wanted me around, they told me that God loved me and that he had made me specially and had a special purpose for me. Oh! that was good news! They told me that I had special gifts and abilities that no one else had because God had given those gifts to me. They told me that I could always turn to God and he would Always Listen To Me. He would never tell me to be quiet. They took me to church and taught me to pray.

And do you know that I wanted to be a nun until the moment that alcohol first touched my lips? And when I tasted alcohol, I forgot everything else. I never even thought about it. But that nagging guilt would come creeping in during the night and assault me in the wee hours of the morning. When you are drinking like a fish, and behaving like a drunken woman, who should you blame for the paralyzing guilt? Myself? Nah, I think I shall blame those priests who taught me right from wrong.

It takes years to straighten out this twisted thinking... years....

Lately I have been hearing about people who have been abused. They want to work the steps and they want to forgive. They say they want to be free of it. I suffered like that for my first ten years of sobriety. I wrote inventory after inventory after inventory. I had a world class resentment against my mother. I wrote about it. I wrote her letters - even though she was deceased. I prayed. I prayed some more. It would not leave me - for ten years.

At ten years, God put a wonderful woman in my life to hear my fifth step. I didn't know what my role could possibly have been in this situation. I was a child. She was my mother. What is my role in that? But this woman made it current.

She asked me "how do you participate in this today? how do you carry this on? do you talk about it? do you talk about your mother negatively?" It hit me like a thunderbolt. And she asked me to just stop it.

When I stopped my participation, I was free. I do not need to carry this around. Oh, yes, I have scars. But I don't have to participate in resenting someone I can love instead. I don't need to define myself any longer as a person who was abused.

If I want to be free of something, I really do need to let go of it.

What a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I purchased these sunglasses yesterday, being convinced that this was a sensible investment in eyewear. I wore them for the first time today and I hated them. Later today I got an e-mail from advertizing the Kindle at a new price - which is considerably less than the price of these ridiculous sunglasses. Why on earth would I pay more for a pair of sunglasses I don't like than for something that I want and am not willing to pay that much money for?

Money is such a funny thing for me. I really have no perspective. I am not trying to be cute. I truly have no perspective. I have been poor. I have been really really poor - where I was wondering what I was going to eat and what I was going to feed my kids. I have had my electricity turned off because I couldn't pay for it. I have gone without transportation. I have gone without a home. Oddly, I didn't really mind being that poor.

After I was sober for 10 years, I got a job that has worked out for me. I make a fair wage. I own a nice home - not a mansion, but a nice home. I have stuff. I buy too much stuff. Whenever I talk to my sponsor about this, she says that I work hard and that I get to buy stuff and that I need to let go of the idea that I can't have anything.

But I work with people who earn more money than I do, and have their homes paid off (what?) and have no debt and would no more pay over $200. for a pair of sunglasses than I would pay $200. for a jar of peanut butter. Granted, they are not alcoholics, but I would like to strive to be more like a "regular" person than a drunken person.

Oh, I don't know. I think I am returning the sunglasses tomorrow. It is just stupid to have a pair of glasses (non-prescription) that cost that much money and I don't love.

My son and his wife - and their adorable dog, came over for dinner tonight. How lovely. I made too much food as I always do. My daughter in law seems to have a pregnant penchant for mashed potatoes, so on this hot June evening, I stood at the stove with steam from boiling potatoes in my face, gladly mashing potatoes, adding cream and butter, and mashing, mashing, mashing. She took a bowl of them home with her. She really liked them. (who makes mashed potatoes with real cream? me.)

You should have seen my son and his wife when they saw the tiny hat and booties that I knit for their little baby. Oh, it was worth every stitch.

I think this post is what the psychiatrists would call "loose associations." That is OK. I am tired. I got too few hours of sleep last night. I had far too big of a day today. I had three things to present at a meeting at 11 today. I talked for an hour and fifteen minutes. I do not like talking for that long, but it was good. I got a lot of good stuff done. Before the meeting, I prayed that I would do the best job for the patients - not for me and my precious image and career- but for the patients of the hospital. That makes a difference in the way I feel about things.


To bed with me!

Biking to Work

My friend from work came over last night. I served grilled pizzas for dinner. It is quite a trick to grill a pizza. The dough has to be worked just right. I got one just right - the other one was too thin, and wanted to fall through the grill. I gave the just right one to her, she oohed and aaahed and I believe she really enjoyed it. One of things about living alone that I do not like is not having anyone to cook for. I still cook for myself, but it is not the same as watching someone else bite into one of my creations with delight.

We are riding our bikes to work today. This will be the first bike ride of the year for me. It seems my accident last year has affected my desire to ride a bike. Add to that my shoulder injury... and my marathon training... and I guess this is not the big year to bike.

The ride to work from my house is 9 miles - downhill. Which is awesome in the early morning coolness. The ride FROM work is 9 miles of grueling uphill heat, usually interspersed with lightening, hail, torrential rains, and other meteorological phenomena. I am skipping that part this year. I left my car at work last night and took the bus home.

Ah, the bus. For so many years I rode the bus of necessity. In fact, yesterday when I decided to ride it, my fingers still automatically dialed the phone number for the schedule - it is that much a part of my memory. It was a nice little break in my routine to ride that bus.

I better get ready. I have a HUGE day today. I have meetings beginning at 8:30 and I have to get dressed in my office. There is not much margin for the goofing around that I normally do on Bike to Work Day.

Grateful I get to be alive and healthy enough to do stuff like this at my age. Which, if you don't know I will tell you, would not even be happening if I were not sober. Thank you God.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm talking to myself here...

I have been running since dawn. The sun is now setting on the longest day of the year - and I am just sitting down for the first time.

I just managed to return the call of a sponsee. I feel terrible that it took me all day. Another one wanted to come over tonight, but I didn't call her back in time. I guess I cannot always be available. I usually am.

It is good to be busy. For me anyway.

I booked a room on the 4th of July in Texas today. I am excited about that. We will drive from San Antonio to this other place - my daughter and I - for just a day of chillin'. I am beside myself I am so excited.

In the meantime, I have five more workdays to get everything done that needs to be done in this fiscal year.

In this wild, wild day, I took an hour and went to church. I put a veil on my head, and quietly walked in. I sat in the cool, dark, silent church for one hour of silent prayer. I wish I could do that every day. It was the best part of this day!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Meeting

This morning I drove up to my old home group. What a treat that is. I got to sit next to someone who got sober 6 months after I did. I have known him for a long time. He has also been a big part of my daughter's sobriety. Yeah, he is pretty special special to me.

Oh, and the meeting was good too. The topic was fear, but we talked about recovery from alcoholism.

A woman got up in the middle of the meeting and came back at the end. She went somewhere at 7:30 on a Sunday morning and purchased ~2 dozen white roses. When she came back, she walked around and gave one to each of the men for Father's Day. It was very touching.

I loved to look around the room at all the big tough men holding their white roses so tenderly.

Sometimes AA meetings are a lot more than just a meeting.

Summer in AA

I went to the picnic of one of my old groups yesterday. I baked a pie (mixed berry with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries) - see above.

I sat down and talked with my old friend John. He and his wife are a couple of my favorite people. I have a special soft spot in my heart for John because I believe I was at his first meeting - oh, I think it was about 12 years ago. He is now sober almost 3 years. He almost lost his life in the meantime. But, boy, is he a real AA member now.

Back then, my morning group had projected that they were not going to be able to park in the front of the building anymore. They were incensed! How dare that landlord! We would move! We would move at once! There were a handful of us who tried to introduce reality back into the conversation - that we had not yet been told that we could not park in the front of the building, and there was no sense in reacting to something that had not yet happened, etc. But the group moved. And amazingly enough, they can still park in front of that building all these years later... but I digress....

My friend Andy, who I loved and I miss with all of my heart today :(, and I decided that since we had the combination to the lock on the door, and since the meeting was still in the directory, we would be there at 7: 30 a.m. each Saturday and Sunday - just in case some stray drunk showed up looking for a meeting. Well, John was one of these (and not the only one). For a while, we had a great little meeting. Me and Andy and a few newcomers. And then a few oldtimers started showing up. And it was a great group - for a while.

John stayed sober for a few years. He did what a lot of people do. He made a lot of money. He put all of his energy into working and making money. It looked like recovery to him and a lot of people. Andy and I would talk to him, but he could not hear us. (Interestingly, I heard John have this same conversation with a young woman yesterday at the picnic - afterwards, he turned to me and said "she didn't hear one word I said, did she?" I told him that he might as well have been speaking Chinese to her - and then I told him I had many of the same conversations with him long ago - and he just laughed.)

Yesterday he told me that in all of the years of the in and out and in and out - they nearly killed him with kindness. He said that he went to a meeting one day where there was a young woman was returning after a binge. Everyone went around the room congratulating her on being there and raising her hand, her braveness, etc. She asked my Ed what he had to say. And John said that what he heard Ed say changed his life.

He said that they were all nuts. Congratulating someone on being there and raising their hand? How about helping someone stay sober instead? Every time someone drinks there is a big chance they may never come back. They may die. They might kill someone else. They might end up in prison. AA detractors criticize us for claims like this, but sit in AA meetings year after year and you will know that this is not hyperbole.

If you are an alcoholic, as I am and as my friend John is, this is life and death. Truly. Staying sober is serious business. He said that revolving door gets more grease on it every time you use it. Just don't use it.

I am so grateful I am sober today.
I am so grateful that John and his wife are sober today.
I am so grateful that I am driving across town to that meeting this morning- the one that moved.

Don't drink
Go to meetings
Read the big book
Get a sponsor.


Friday, June 18, 2010

More shopping

We found out today. And I went and purchased pink yarn. And more clothing for San Antonio.

Work is very very busy, just the way I like it. My new boss is a dream boss. Probably not for 95% of people, but for me, he is. We worked together all day today. Going to units, reviewing charts, getting stuff done. And frankly, intimidating the hell out of people. I am sorry to say that I do enjoy that from time to time.

This morning I went to the birthday meeting of a woman celebrating 11 miraculous years. I remember when she was a revolving door gal. In and out and in and out and in and out. Raising her hand, and raising her hand, and raising her hand. She taught me an important lesson. I really never thought she would get sober. I wondered what on earth she was coming to those meetings for - drunk - or hungover. But today, she celebrated 11 years. And I am honest with her about what I thought and what she taught me. It sounds harsh here, I know. But she thanks me, we hug, we say "I love you" and it is all good.

Gosh, this is a Benjamin Button post. I started with the end of the day , and worked backwards. So I guess I should end by saying:

Good Morning - have a wonderful Sober Day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tiny Things

Tiny hand-knit hat and booties for baby. I love knitting this stuff. I love being a grandmother. I am not a good one in the respect that I am not sitting at home at all times being grandmotherly. I am not the most patient with small children. But, boy, do I ever love them. And they know it.

I am grateful to have these people in my life today. It wasn't always so.

Alcoholism causes a lot of damage - to a lot of people.

Whenever I hear someone say they are grateful to be an alcoholic I think "you must not have children." I am more grateful than words can say that I am sober. But I am not grateful for the damage I have done to my family. I am not grateful for the genetics that I get to watch play out. It is such a painful thing this alcoholism.

And now I am going to go to bed. I will read for a while and then I will fall asleep while it is just getting dark. I was up at 4 and out running this morning. I worked all day and I am tired. It was a good day. A very good day.

God is so good to me. Good to us.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Rose lovers may recognize this rose - it is called "Love." I was so happy tonight to see that this one had bloomed in my garden at the back of my house. A weekend of cold rain followed by two days of warm sunshine will do wonders for living things - including insects!

I remember a time when I thought love meant passionate romance and declarations of undying devotion. It was candlelit dinners and small wrapped gifts, delivered flowers, and hand penned love poems. Oh, those days are so long gone. I wouldn't even know what to do with that kind of nonsense today.

Today I got to sit in an AA meeting and just be with some other alcoholics. That felt like love to me this morning.

This evening I got to knit a pair of tiny booties to go with the tiny hats I have knit for this tiny grandchild who is still four months away from being due. What a tiny act of love that is!

I got to look at a photo taken of myself and my daughter last night at dinner. Our faces so close together, we really look like almost the same person - only I am 27 years older. She is sober. I am sober. Love? That doesn't begin to describe this.

A friend who was recently injured on his bicycle was surprised that I called to check on him, and that felt like love today.

Yesterday my Ed was 71 years old and I miraculously remembered his birthday and called him. I sang Happy Birthday. He laughed and asked me where I got my singing lessons - I told him I should demand a refund. He said the voice part wasn't so good, but the making him happy was real good.

Oh, there is lots of love in my life. Because of a loving God who took me by the hand and brought me to the rag tag bunch of drunks in Alcoholics Anonymous who were able to understand me the way I had never been understood before. And I was able to give that back and feel useful, truly useful, for probably the first time in my life.

Yeah, if that is what the word "Love" means, I think I really like that rose a lot!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Golden Shoes

These little sandals are among the things I purchased yesterday. Talk about impractical! Going virtually barefoot at a convention where there will be 50,000 people - unruly alcoholic people! That is just silly. But you can bet I will be doing it.

Tonight my daughter came over and we discussed our plans for the trip over fish tacos. On Saturday I asked a friend if he wanted to ride with us and he said yes. So, we will have three to our car. It will be a challenge for me because I will be with two enthusiastic (slightly manic?) alcoholics who are much younger than I am. I am going to have to be pretty vocal about my needs I think. Like I actually need to stop to go to the bathroom and to eat, and I need to sleep at night and I need to rest. This is going to be fun. Oh, that might sound sarcastic, but really, truly, this is going to be fun.

In over 25 years, I have never been able to make an International Convention, and here is why:
  • 1985 - I was sober less than a year. Friends asked me to join them, and I didn't understand why I would want to go such a long way - Montreal.
  • 1990 - I lived in a suburb of Vancouver, BC - I was on the host committee for the International in Seattle. I had my green vest, etc. I was so excited. My husband asked me to join him as he went to Alberta to work there for a month in June. Part of the deal was that I would be back in time for the convention. That, like many things he promised, never happened. I thought my heart would break.
  • 1995 - Sober over 10 years and divorced, I had just started my job and thought I could make the trip to San Diego. Sadly, I did not have enough money or time off to make the trip.
  • 2000 - I had just graduated from college and started my first management job. I was starting my graduate program and a trip anywhere was simply not on my radar.
  • 2005 - I just didn't make it to Toronto. I know that I did watch the flag ceremony on my computer and really wished that I was there.
This is a dream trip for me. I am excited. I am thrilled that my daughter is excited. You know, last September when my little girl was sober for only 8 months, it seemed kind of like a nutty gamble to register her for a sober activity almost a year away. But it is now only 2 weeks away, and she is still sober. She is happy to be going.

"The age of miracles is still with us. Our own recovery proves that!" -- Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 153

Monday, June 14, 2010

Life in Ordinary Time

Today at lunch I decided I really needed to go shopping. For clothes. I haven't done this for a little while. Long enough to have paid off my favorite retail charge account.

On my way out of the building, I stopped in the rest room. On my way out of the stall, I saw a stranger standing at the sink. She stared at me, and I tried not to give her an evil look which is what I wanted to do. Instead I smiled. And then I realized she was my first boss at the hospital! She quit in 1998. She basically disappeared in 2003 or so. We hugged, we talked. After a few minutes, I asked her to please come to my office so we could sit down instead of talking in the bathroom. We talked some more. She was there applying for an entry level job. She doesn't need much more - her husband is very successful. When she left the hospital, she let her credential expire, she lost all desire to ever work in our field again. She still has no desire to work in any kind of management position.

It was so good to see her. It was so nice to catch up with her. It is also weird to see the wrinkles on her face and realize she was seeing mine. It is OK. This is surely what it is like to age. Thank God there are still peers left.

And then - I went shopping! I tried not to buy clothes for the International, but it just wouldn't be my nature to go without new clothes. So, I went shopping. When I got home, I realized that I already have a khaki skirt - just like the one I bought - so that is going back tomorrow. I am at a total loss for what kind of clothes you wear in that kind of heat. I can know intellectually that I need cotton, light-colored, light weight clothes, but you can bet I will pack some sweaters, and black pants, etc. I always do.

Okay, this is beyond boring. But it is just what my ordinary life is like today. Ordinary.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tomato in the Rain

It has poured rain since Friday night. Fortunately, I mowed the lawn just before the downpour started on Friday night. I thought that since it was so dreary outside, it would be a good day to take a photo of my one nod to practicality this year. I am actually attempting to grow food!

I have had just a very restful day today. I tried to sleep in this morning since I stayed up until midnight last night watching a movie (Song of Bernadette). I almost got up and threw clothes on and drove to a meeting at 6:30, but decided that it would be nice to stay home for one day of the week (since I went to church last night). I didn't even run outdoors today - I did my four miles on the treadmill since the weather was so bad.

So, what can I come up with to say at the end of a day when I did not much more than a load of laundry? Not much.

Other than gratitude for:
  • a warm house on a cold day
  • the money I am saving by not watering my lawn
  • having two days off at the end of the week
  • and that I have a place to go tomorrow (work)
Kind of reminds me of something I used to do (back when I was a LOT less spiritually fit) in meetings when someone would say "I don't really have much to say." I would look at my watch because it usually takes someone at least 10 minutes to say "not much."

So, that's it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

June 12

It is a rainy, cold June day in Colorado. So cold I turned on the heat this afternoon, covered myself with a nice hand-knit (by me) mohair afghan, settled on the sofa and watched my first ever televised soccer match. I have watched my kids play soccer, but I have never watched a "real" soccer game. Someone called while I was watching it, and I asked him some questions about how soccer worked - how long does a game last, what happens in the event of a tie (!), etc.

The morning was wonderful. I attended the 6:30 meeting and then group conscience. After that a bunch of us went out for a bagel. We actually talked about AA - traditions, etc. while we ate. It really was wonderful. Such great conversations, such great perspectives, such a great group of people who care about AA. I am considering writing about the traditions here - I was going to start today, but right now I am too lazy. A tradition a day? Maybe I could do that. Not that I am an expert by any means, but I do have some perspective based on some experience.

I stopped by my daughter's on my way home from there because she asked for some help moving furniture while she is painting her new home. I started stripping the wallpaper in the kitchen and ended up finishing that task - much to her delight. She was dreading doing it - and with good reason. After stripping several rooms of wallpaper in my lifetime, I don't think I would EVER paper a room. I always come to wonder what on earth someone was thinking when they made such a permanent decision with a wall. I don't think I have seen wallpaper I have liked since the 1970s. In any event, I am grateful I could do that little thing for my daughter. I know how much a couple of hour's worth of tedious labor can help when you are in the middle of a massive project. And I actually like very tedious labor from time to time.

Now I think I am going to take my laptop and a movie and go to bed. I have the extra blankets that I use in the winter piled on. I have a lovely candle burning beside the bed. Probably no one should like to go to bed alone quite as much as I do. But I do. And it is a good thing.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Feeling the feelings

Whatever they are. I get to feel them. It has been a sad week. Any week when you go to the funeral of a 31 year old mother of three children - who was sober for 5 months - is sad. She is now gone. Her smile will never light up our meeting again, and her sandalwood perfume is now missing from the room. I remember asking my friend "how come it smells like incense in here?" when M. first started coming around.... she told me it was M. Oh dear. I didn't know. I didn't really know M., I just saw her coming to meetings. She has the same name as my daughter. She was the same age as my daughter. She hooked right up with people in the group. And some of those people are really hurting now.

One of my sponsee's mother in law died this week. She is dealing with cleaning out a house and all that goes with that... including all the strange interpersonal stuff that happens in a family after Mom dies. God bless her, she is just being there for the people who need her right now. Just like she did when her dad was dying. We get to do that as sober people. It is not fun, but it is one of the greatest blessings of sobriety - at least if you ask me. We get to be of service to our families - maybe for the first time in our lives.

I went to a speaker's meeting this morning and heard a man I know speak. It was delightful because he is a World War II veteran. There are not many of those left. And, I am afraid, there are even less each day. When I first saw him, I thought "oh, he doesn't look good, his color is bad." And as he spoke, he told of a meeting with a bunch of doctors yesterday. They told him 6 months - maybe a year. He is hoping to buck those odds. He also said he is not afraid to die - because of the closeness he feels with God - as a direct result of his years in Alcoholics Anonymous.

And then, on the other hand....
On Thursday I got to see a man pick up a 60 day chip. I got to see a young man celebrate 6 months. And I got to see my friend celebrate 17 years of sobriety.

Life does go on. The rain is coming down, it is cool outside. I hope to sleep well tonight and get to the meeting tomorrow morning early. I am on a 2 week break between the spring and summer sessions of my running club, so I am not meeting them at the insane hour on Saturday morning.

Sorry to be depressing. This is just what is going on in my little corner of the world today. I am still grateful that I get to lay my head down on my pillow tonight in peace. No hate. No anger. No resentment. Some sadness, but that is life sometimes.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Happy 75th Birthday Alcoholics Anonymous

"On the way to City Hospital on the east side of town, Dr. Bob held out his hand from time to time to see whether the shakes had subsided. Just before they stopped, Bill, who also had his practical side, gave him a bottle of beer....

Although arguments have been and will be made for other significant occasions in AA history, it is generally agreed that Alcoholics Anonymous began there, in Akron, on that date: June 10, 1935." -- Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, p. 75

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Red Red Rose

This Don Juan rose might be my favorite. But every rose is my favorite when it is in full bloom. I don't know how I came to love roses so much. I hated them when I was younger.

My mother died when I was 19 years old. For years after her death, the sight and smell of roses reminded me of her funeral. To me, they looked like death - especially red roses. I thought that the thorns were proof positive that God did not want us to pick these things. Some time after I got sober, when I was well into my 30s, I came to love the fragrance of roses. Then I came to love the beauty of them. Then I came to love to grow them.

I am so grateful for the willingness to change. I believe that it is a requirement if I want to stay sober.

I cannot hang onto resentment and hatred and live peacefully. I don't believe I can stay sober for long in a non-peaceful way. I have had periods of time when my life was utter chaos. I had a terrible marriage in sobriety. The man stole my money. He beat me up. He broke some of my bones. I was angry. I was hurt. It was terrible.

If I wanted to hang onto that "justifiable" anger, I probably would have lost my life by now. I certainly would have lost my sobriety. I don't believe I have the power to let go of these things myself, but with the help of God, a sponsor, and the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, everything changes. My heart changed.

What a wonderful thing it is to have my life be full of love today instead. If my heart was full of hatred, there would be no room for love. Today I spoke with a sponsee who is hurting. What a blessing it is to be able to be an ear for her. What a super blessing it is to be able to offer some specific suggestions - for how to get rid of some of the pain.

I really never forget where I came from. Never.

It makes those roses smell that much sweeter.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The End of a Grateful Day

I just tried to talk with my sponsor on the phone - and she just said "go to bed! I can hear how tired you are!" I guess I will do that. What a wonderful day I had. Nothing special, just life. Just sober life.

I worked all day. - I am gainfully employed.
When I got home, I met my daughter and an AA friend - we sold her motorcycle!
Now I have room in my garage!
(now I have no excuse not to clean it.)

My HOA board met at my home tonight.
I realized that I am now a senior member of the board.
I have come to actually like it.
(that was a hard one.)

It is nice to have people in my home.
I have nothing to be ashamed of in my home.
There are no secrets here.
The doors and windows are open.

Life is good. Just trudging along, it is good.

God is so good to us when we let him.

Prayer Place in the Morning

This morning I sat outside and said my prayers and did my meditation. It was lovely. It is down to 60º this morning, which felt arctic compared to the heat we have been having. Lovely, lovely.

I thought I would try posting in the morning again. This is not going to work. I haven't got enough ideas first thing in the morning and I am in too big of a hurry. The next few months are also when I will be seriously training for a marathon, so I will be putting in some big mileage in the morning - which when you are as slow as I am - takes some serious time.

At night I tend to be a bit more negative than I am in the morning, but frankly, in the morning I am a bit vacant and airheaded. I haven't had time to form any thoughts or impressions.

So - one thing on my mind is the fact that three weeks from today my daughter and I will be on the road to sAn Antonio! Now, that is something I am pretty excited about!

Are you going?
Are you excited?

Monday, June 07, 2010

June 7

Twenty-nine years ago today I was raped.

I know that in 2010, it is more commonly referred to as "sexual assault." That term means nothing to me. That term is so broad, I think it means nothing to anyone. It sure does sound nicer than "rape" though.

After the rape, I entered therapy. The therapist encouraged me to write about my experiences since I had a flair for self-expression - especially when I sat at home at night and drank excessive amounts of alcohol. I ended up writing a "book" about my experiences. I think it is ironic that 29 years later, sitting here this morning, I am writing about this book, and the book was about me not wanting the rape to define me or change me.

Oh, it changed me.

In the last year I have been in therapy again to deal with post traumatic stress disorder from this. Imagine that. Twenty-nine years later. I am dealing with phantom fears. Not wanting to be as close as some people would like. Avoiding certain men after meetings because I know they don't want an AA hug, but want to plant a kiss on my lips and it makes me want to vomit.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.... I was a young (drunken) woman, fighting with my husband, thrown out of my house... I wrote most of it here if you are curious. At that time, I thought I was over it. I thought it was a distant memory. Something that happened when I was drinking. But you know what they say... More Will Be Revealed.

I don't feel like I know much this morning, but I can tell you this: If you stay sober for a while and your sobriety is a living, breathing, organic thing - which is what I want my sobriety to be - you will not arrive at sobriety one day and presto! you are done. I still have growing and changing to do.

God is not done with me yet. And I am very very grateful for that.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Peonies Now

The peonies are in bloom. Peonies could be my favorite flower if they would bloom for more than a short time. They just go wild for a week or two and then it is over. Their foliage is nice enough to have them around, and their flowers are beautiful and fragrant enough to forgive their short lives - so I have two bushes in my garden. They are far enough away from my house that the roofers did no damage to them. They sure did some damage to the other things....

And now a confession:

I really don't know how to do this. I know you will want to tell me how, but I have to say that I don't think most of you know how either.

I do not know how to be sober for 25 years, 10 months and 2 weeks... and 58 and a half years old.

I do not know how to have in my life at the same time the profound grief of people I love aging and fading away - and at the same time participating in new life and growing relationships.

Yesterday I got to go swimming with my granddaughters. I got to hold the tiny body of my 6 year old granddaughter as I taught her how to float. The tiny, trusting body - as she let go in the water - and then quickly grabbed back when she realized I wasn't holding her anymore.

I got to work on a tiny, tiny hand-knit hat with tiny cable stitches for a tiny grandchild - still four months from being due. The hat is creamy off-white - since we don't even know whether it is a boy or girl. But I cannot wait to start knitting for this child - the child of my only son.

You could tell me to focus on this joy in my life, but I feel that underlying this joy is always this background grief. My peers - my friends - my lovers - my generation... they are leaving me. Many are already gone. I know I am too young to be singing this song... but it seems to be my lot anyway.

I am the youngest of five. My brothers are much older than I. I have always been comfortable with older people. I fear I have made friends with people much older than myself. I have had boyfriends much older than myself. And now they are doing what they do. Some are gone and some are going.

Yesterday I wrote "a love story," and some of you found it beautiful. I think from a distance it is beautiful. From here, it is just really, really sad. I miss him. I can't believe this tough guy, this biker, is a blind old man I am going to visit today with a pie. I am baking him a pie.

I am grateful for the deep lifelong relationships I have had in Alcoholics Anonymous. I cannot imagine walking away from Ed because I found him offensive in those early days - and believe me, he was plenty offensive. But I would have missed someone who has been a beacon of sanity in my life. He has ALWAYS been there. For 25 years, 10 months, and 2 weeks... he has been there.

Yesterday at the Saturday morning meeting, I heard that a very young woman died. I didn't know her well at all. She had 5 months of sobriety. For some newer members of that group, this is the first time they are experiencing the death of a fellow AA member. It is tough. But someone who knew her well said that her husband told her that he was so grateful to the group because the last 5 months were so happy for her. I am so grateful that God smiled on the last five months of her life and she and her family got to have that.

Last night, I got to go to night watch at the home of a fellow member of that group. It is so reassuring to see that the food is still on the table, people still line up for it and eat it, little kids still run around and get into mischief. People still like my pies. We still sit around and laugh on a hot summer night. The phone still rings because people are still calling Alcoholics Anonymous for help, and we still want to answer the call.

Life does go on and it is good.

I have two pies to bake this morning before I go visit Ed and go pick up a sponsee from the airport.

God will show me how to do this. With his Grace.

Friday, June 04, 2010

A Love Story

My daughter sent me a text message this afternoon. She said they went to visit Ed this afternoon. He has lost his vision, but he told her that hugging her was just like hugging me... and that he sure would like for me to come and visit him. I called him this evening. We talked for a few minutes. I told him I would come and see him on Sunday. He has lost his eyesight. As the result of a motorcycle accident - at the age of 71 - he has multiple health problems - and should not have been on the motorcycle to begin with. He said he has finally learned, he won't get on the bike again - I told him "I've heard that before..." but I know this time it is the truth.

I first met Ed nearly 26 years ago when I was newly sober. He was sober 11 years. He was 45 years old. He was a former Hells Angel. He was an ex con. He was obnoxious. I did NOT like him. I thought THEY (whoever THEY were) ought to throw him out of AA. He said things in meetings that were clearly offensive. I thought he was bad for AA as a whole. After a while I noticed that a lot of people I respected really liked him. I didn't understand that....

After I stayed sober for a year or so, I realized that a lot of people's stories involved Ed. Ed seemed to come through for people when others gave up. He was the one who would answer the phone at 3 a.m. and drive through a blizzard and sit through the night with a puking drunk. He would always have at least one drunk living on his couch. So many people got sober in his basement, it was legendary. But I still didn't talk to the man. He was pretty damn intimidating.

After I stayed sober for a year, he started to find me amusing. I purchased a 1985 Hyundai (the first year they were sold in the US), and he thought that was just high-larious! The fact that I paid over 20% interest for it added to the hilarity, of course. And when it was repossessed after I had paid probably tens of thousands of dollars, it was the funniest thing on earth to him - in fact, he still talks about it.

The night his sponsor celebrated 17 years of sobriety, he asked me to sit with him at the meeting. After we joined hands and said the Lord's prayer, he floored me when he said "I'll be here for your 17th birthday." I think I had three years of sobriety at the time - I had never even considered the idea of staying sober for 17 years prior to that. This man saying that to me just astounded me. But it was the truth! He was there for my 17th birthday, some 14 years later.

He and his girlfriend broke up and I went through some terrible difficulty at about the same time in late 1988. We were both going to lots and lots of meetings. We started going to coffee after meetings. One night he asked me to go to his house after the meeting. I knew he was just talking - knowing full well that I would say no. I decided to call his bluff. It was so funny to see this big tough guy sputtering and stuttering. And that was the start of something....

You know it is a strange relationship when it is punctuated by marriages. We both married other people - me in 1990, he in 1991 (I think), but by 1993, we were back together - in whatever way you were "together" with Ed. There would be fights when I would see another woman's bracelet on his kitchen table, etc. I don't think he ever could be faithful, it is not his nature.

He was always my friend - no matter what was going on. Even when I was married and living in Canada, I still called him. I could always talk to him in a more intimate way than I probably talk to anyone. He can always see right through me. Even tonight when I called him - he said "What's up baby?" and after a few sentences, he said "you sound really tired." yep. that's exactly what I am. He nailed it. And no one else in the world - no one - would have the nerve to call me "baby."

He's old time AA. I learned so much of it from him. The leaving a sack of groceries on an alcoholic's doorstep - anonymously. The putting a $20. bill in an envelope and slipping it under someone's door - anonymously. He even took a gas can and put gas in a girl's car every night - and she thought she had some kind of miraculous car that didn't need gas!

I will never forget one year I was so broke, the kids were still fairly young, and I couldn't afford much of a Christmas. I heard a knock at the door, and there was Ed. This big old Harley-man, standing with a Christmas tree at his side.

Or the night - on the back of the Harley with Ed. Going 80 mph on an interstate highway on a hot summer's night. Feeling a little bit dangerous. The next morning, I went to church and while running to catch the bus back home, I fell and injured myself. I thought... hmmmmm... What do I know? He always made me wonder, what do I know?

And now it seems so long ago. About ten years ago, we stopped seeing each other. We still see each other at meetings and greet each other happily. We still talk on the phone occasionally and have coffee or dinner every now and then. We've seen a couple of movies. But things change.

Oh, this probably doesn't sound like much of a love story, but it is a really good one to me. It is certainly not traditional. It is certainly not what I wanted. But it is what I got. It might be better than what I wanted.

Being sober has never been exactly what I thought it would be. It has never been exactly what I would have wanted. But I think it has always been better.

God is so good. He can write straight with crooked lines. And that is a good thing.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Oops! I've done it again...

Gotten too tired, that is. I could chronicle the day, but I will just give you a little bit (because it is too boring) - I got up at 4 - to make a pie. I stuck it in my new oven while I went for a run... when I got home and smelled something from the street, I knew that wasn't a good sign... my entire house was full of smoke (no smoke detectors were activated - I must address that this weekend) and the pie was burnt. Approximately $20 worth of berries to waste! And I had to go to a pie shop and purchase an $18. pie. All this for a friend's birthday lunch at work today. It WAS a lovely lunch though.

When I finally got home at the end of the day, all ready to eat and go to bed - instead I saw maybe 20 men, none of whom spoke one word of English, installing a new roof on my house. I called and ordered it yesterday - they told me they would order the materials and call me to schedule. Hmmm. I think that didn't exactly work out that way. I was able to hang out at my neighbors house until they were done. But I now have a new roof.

And the little rose that got badly mangled by the mudjacker got even more mangled by the roofers. Why do worker men have to step on rose bushes? I cut the bud (see above) that was hanging limply, and put it in a vase. The rest will either survive or not. I think maybe I am not meant to have that rose bush.

Oh, this all sounds like I am complaining. I am not really. I am just too tired again. I wanted so much to go to bed early and read for an hour or so.

Tomorrow is Friday which means that I go to church at 6:30 a.m., and get to work early. I have a super important conference call at noon - the medical director and hospital director will come to my office to participate in it with me. I really enjoy these things. Then a meeting tomorrow evening. And a weekend. yay.

Yay. Yay. Yay.

It is all so good.

Thank you God.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

I have waited too long...

to write this, because I am too tired. I need to get to bed. I spent all day today wanting to go back home to go back to bed. I don't like that feeling one little bit.

When I got home from work I had my first little delivery of organic produce waiting for me (see above)! How exciting! Instead of putting it away, like a sane tired person, I made myself a nice spinach bulghur casserole for dinner. Oh, it was glorious. I should have been baking a pie for an event at work tomorrow - I will do that tomorrow morning - but I was too anxious to eat some of that wonderful food.

And now I simply must go to bed. Sleep is something I cannot do without.


It spells HALT

These things an alcoholic should avoid. Because they spell big T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

On that note, I shall say Good Night, and God Bless.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Willing to go to any length....

Last week as I was having dinner with my beloved sponsee, she related a story that gave me chills. She just casually mentioned that the last person she heard say that he was NOT willing to go to any length was dead within 6 months. I had that eerie feeling it had to be the same person who I last heard say that. I asked her - who? She said "Skip." I asked her if we had been together for the conversation where he said he was not willing to go to any length to stay sober - she said we must have been. It was in our old meeting room. I wrote about the first time I found out he had been drinking (and posted some pictures of the view from the meeting room) here. He said he had too much money to go to any length to stay sober. And he was dead in 6 months. Truly. And he ruined a lot of people financially when he went.

Later I had a sponsee who seemed to have a hard time with the concept of commitment. I asked her to write down what she was willing to do to stay sober. To me it was a simple assignment. I thought she would write down "I will go to any length to stay sober." I was dumbfounded to see that she had written a very detailed list, several pages long, of the things she was willing to do. She was willing to go to 3 meetings a week. She was willing to meet with me once per week. She was willing to read something from the Daily Reflections every morning, etc., etc., etc. How do you explain to someone how wrong-headed that is?

I sometimes am too quick to say that people just aren't done drinking yet, or perhaps they are not even alcoholic. I think the woman above just hadn't hit any kind of bottom I am familiar with. She didn't seem to have a real alcoholic story. She had a tragic story of some losses and some problems and probably some mental illness. I think some counselor or another told her to go to AA. When she had problems, she ran to her prescription bottle, and that is a process I do not understand. I wanted with all of my heart to help her because I really liked her, but I think I was ill equipped to help her. Sadly, I may have done her more harm than good.

The first guy? He definitely qualified for membership in Alcoholics Anonymous. From listening to him share in meetings for years, I know he had a real alcoholic history. He had hit a real alcoholic bottom. And he had really gotten sober for a number of years. I believe it was 5 and a half years. He was sponsoring several men. He was wildly successful - in terms of a house in the mountains, a pretty young wife, a seemingly thriving business. He drove expensive cars all the time. A Jaguar one week, a Mercedes the next, etc. But it all came crumbling down, he drank again, and he died. And the devastation that followed for many people was chronicled in lurid detail on the evening news for weeks following his death.

I think sometimes we stress the wrong things. We love to talk about all our "happy joyous and free" and "go to meetings" and "keep coming back." I guess we don't so much like to talk about getting down to causes and conditions and writing inventory, talking to another about it, asking God to change us, making amends and then continuing in steps 10, 11 , and 12 once we have thoroughly done the others. This is serious stuff. This is WAY beyond going to a few meetings and making a few phone calls.

This radically changes who we are as people.

They told me when I came to AA that the woman I was was a drunk - and she would drink again. I had to become someone entirely different. God and the wonderful people in Alcoholics Anonymous could help me to do that.

One day at at time, they have done just that. And for that, I am truly grateful.