Saturday, July 31, 2010

Amazement, Euphoria

What an amazing experience to set an alarm for 2:30 a.m., and get up and set out to meet my cronies (homies?) at 4:45. Our run route was in Boulder - which is not that far from here, but it is so different from Denver, it always amazes me when I go there. I used to spend a lot of time there, but that was a long time ago. I set out not at all sure that my body would go 16 miles. But it did! I have never gone that far before. At ten miles, I had an amazing feeling - gee! I only have a 10K left to do - and I can do that easily!

The last five miles or so, I actually experienced some euphoria.

The only bug in the ointment was that I needed to pee from about mile five on - and there was nary a place to go. At about mile eleven, my coach said "there are some promising looking trees over there." I said I would wait. She went and used the trees. I knew I couldn't do that. After about another mile, she pointed more trees out to me. Another one of the ladies said to me "One of the differences between a half-marathoner and a marathoner is that a marathoner has to learn how to pee anywhere." Yeah, OK - just dare me like that.

As I squatted in the trees with six people standing there, including one man, I thought - gee whiz (sorry, I couldn't resist that) when I drank I could pee anywhere. And so now as a training marathoner, I guess I can work on that "skill" again. Amazing how some things just come right back!

After I was done and left the park, I realized that I had been so focused on my task at hand, I had taken no photos. I stopped at a gas station to get something salty to eat and took the above photo - some old beat up chairs behind the gas station - with the flatirons off in the distance. It I had a bit more energy, I might have taken a better photo of the flatirons. They are just gorgeous.

This evening I met a friend for a sundae at Dairy Queen to talk about all things AA. It was really wonderful. I love the people I know in Alcoholics Anonymous. Sometimes it takes me years to like them, but I love them all. And this one I like as well as love. (One of the old sages I knew and loved when I got sober used to say "if you love everyone in AA, you are not going to enough meetings!" Rest in Peace Dick S.)

For as threatening as the world seemed two days ago, it seems loving and friendly tonight.

One day at a time is a really good idea

Friday, July 30, 2010


My group heads out at 4:45 a.m. tomorrow. Our route is 40 miles from here, so I need to leave the house at 4 a.m. I need to be up before 3, because I need to eat and do other things that you need to do before you head out for a 16 mile run. I am actually excited about this.

Today I went to work and smiled as much as I could. I acted as pleasant as I could and worked as hard as I could.

I thank God I have this program and I learned to take responsibility for myself. Not others, just myself. I don't need to take responsibility for others taking advantage of circumstances to attempt to "throw me under the bus," but I do need to acknowledge that ultimately I am responsible for a deadline not being met. Granted, it was a mutual decision, arrived at after much deliberation between my boss and myself - who is on vacation and cannot defend me now - something the other person knows.

It is OK. I know who I am. I do not need to defend myself. I know what I did. There was a deadline that was not met. I can take responsibility for that and let the chips fall where they may.

And now I need to find my headlamp because it is going to be dark when we start our run.

Woo hoo! This is going to be fun!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I wrote the other day about loving my job. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. Today was as bad a day as I have ever had there. There is no point in going over the details. I can tell you though that I share a lot of the responsibility for what is going on. And I can tell you that I shut my office door and cried for quite a while.

I reflected on the fact that someone I am close to at work said about someone else very recently "she cries too much! you just can't do that at work!" and I agreed. But I cried today. I have cried a lot in the last year.

When I got home from work there was a nasty horrible comment on an old post of mine. I thought "why do I do this?"

I got on my treadmill and ran 6 miles. Thank God I can do that. I am still covered with sweat from that little endeavor.

I will take a bath and go to bed.

I know that no matter what, tomorrow is another day. It may be bad, it may be good, but it will not be July 29, 2010. I already gave this day my best shot.

A friend from work called tonight and we talked. Isn't it nice when you know that someone cares? It really makes all the difference in the world. I try to always be mindful of that - and tonight I got to be on the receiving end of it.

"We can believe that God is in His heaven and that He has a purpose for our lives, which will eventually work out as long as we try to live the way we believe He wants us to live. It has been said that we should 'wear the world like a loose garment.' That means that nothing should seriously upset us because we have a deep abiding faith that God will always take care of us. To us that means not to be too upset by the surface wrongness of things, but to feel deeply secure in the fundamental goodness and purpose in the universe." -- Twenty-Four Hours a Day, July 16 Thought for the Day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Small Victories

I managed to get my eight miles in this morning, and they were wonderful. It was a perfectly glorious morning. I love being outside to see the sunrise, and I particularly like being outside in the foothills for the sunrise. Making my way through that trail was delicious with the growth tickling my legs. It was just a good, good morning.

then there was work...

After work I went to see my chiropractor. I got to report to her that I have no pain. It is an amazing thing to report. I have essentially been in pain since I fell on my driveway on December 20, 2007. I have spent hundreds of dollars on x-rays, doctors appointments, and physical therapy over the last 2.75 years, with no relief from the pain. And then I went to see this chiropractor at the urging of my running coach, and against my "better" judgement. And two weeks later I have no pain. Holy cow.

And now, Thanks to trying to do research on this on my blog, I have realized that the fall in my driveway was actually in 2006 not 2007. So it is 3.75 years that I have suffered with piriformis syndrome. Interesting...

I think I decided to take the train across the state to go see my sponsor in August. The day after my half-marathon.

Do you know that I used to tell you all what I was doing? But thanks to someone who extrapolated a tiny bit of information I gave him into finding my last name, my address, and home telephone number, and then used all that information in very creepy ways... I no longer tell you guys the dates of things or the places. Isn't that sad? But let that be a warning to some of the newer bloggers. That's my PSA for today.

I am a happy pain-free sober lady tonight. I think I will sit my pain-free self down for a while and knit for a little while before I go to bed.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sitting in Meetings with People

(I think I am on a taking photos of old fence posts kick again. I love all of the old fence posts I see as I run around my neck of the woods)

Yesterday I wrote about being surprised that a sponsee didn't know about a substantial chunk of my story and my history. A commenter or two wrote that they wouldn't think someone would know something about them unless they told them. I guess that makes sense. Except that this woman and I have sat in the same meetings since 1999, when she first started trying to get sober. I guess I figured that in the last eleven years, she has heard my whole story. I know she has heard me speak a couple of times. I am sure that a reasonably astute reader could tell that I don't hold back much of my story - if I am willing to post it here on the internet for all to see, surely I tell it in my face to face meetings. And I do.

But I know very well from experience that if you *only* know someone from meetings, you don't really know them at all. You can *think* you do, but if you get to know them outside the rooms, you will find that there is someone else there entirely. That is why it is important to go to coffee and social events with AA people. I have found that I really like people I would rather not like based on what they share in meetings. It is also a very good way for a newer person to become a lot less intimidated by the group. They find out we are just regular folks who eat hamburgers and laugh at stupid jokes.

I am so tired tonight I am going to bed right now. That meeting at work today took all the energy right out of me. I have another one tomorrow. And I have to run 8 miles in the morning before I even go to work.

Yeah, I really know how to enjoy myself. (yes, that is sarcasm - greek, to tear flesh)

Too tired to write.

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Shoes

I haven't treated you all to a picture of a new pair of shoes for a long time. I haven't purchased a new pair of high heels in well over a year. I haven't worn a pair of high heels since September 30, 2009 when I had to be helped into the building by a co-worker and luckily I had a pair of running shoes in my office, which I wore the remainder of the day.

Note: I have gone back and edited this post - I am going to deliberately misspell words in an effort to never come up in a search for these things.

I have to give a presentation tomorrow to the hosspital's govverrning boddy. I would rather have a root canal. I would rather have a gynecological exam at the same time. I would rather speak to someone from the IRS. I hate this so much that I found a way to miss it the last two quarterly meetings. I got an e-mail from my boss' boss' boss last week telling me he expects me to be there. I sent him back a breezy little reply that I just hadn't been at the last two because of conflicting engagements, but I will certainly be at the next one!

The only thing on earth I could think of to make this slightly more palatable is new clothing. So I went shopping. We'll see how well this works.

Today I met with one of my sponsees before work. While we were talking, I casually referenced being on disability for five years - her eyes flew open in disbelief. "You didn't know that?" I asked her... she didn't know that. I wonder how much of my story I assume she knows, how much I assume everyone knows. How would she know? I don't talk about that much. It seems so long ago now.

Between 5 and 10 years of sobriety, I was on disability for depression. Major depression. I was truly disabled by it. It was a terrifying and liberating experience. Terrifying because I was truly disabled. Liberating because I learned to trust God in a way I never had before. It is amazing how much you can trust when you absolutely have no choice. I lived on a tiny amount of money that I got in a monthly check. I learned how to live on that. There was a period of time when I had no income at all. I tried to work for a while and was asked to please leave and not come back - from a menial job frying hamburgers!

After a number of years, I started back to work by working as a temp. I worked for a year here and there. When I applied for and got a call from a ppsychiattric hosspital offering me a job my closest friend in AA suggested to me that it would be a terrible idea for me to work there. Much too close to home. I am so grateful that although this woman had always offered me great advice before, I chose to ignore this piece of advice. I have loved almost every single day of the almost 16 years I have worked there. I started at an entry level job and went back to college and the rest is history. People love to call me a "success story" but sometimes I wonder....

Anyway, here I am sponsoring this woman for probably three years and she doesn't even know this about me. I guess I am just the old lady who knits in meetings...

And wears great shoes from time to time.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sober Mother - Sober Daughter

OK, I swear, this is the last you will hear about my birthday... until next year. But I just wanted to write about what it was like to sit across the room from my daughter.

I was sitting with my old friend T., who saw my daughter and said "can this really be the little girl who used to trail behind you?" Yes, it is. My daughter sat down, and T. said "Oh my goodness, she looks just like you." Yeah, but a lot younger... T. said "that's exactly what you used to look like."

So my daughter bought a chip for me and presented it to me. That was pretty nice. I never thought I would live to see the day. Not in a million years...

I would never wish for a sober mother to have a sober daughter - that is, of course, unless her daughter is an alcoholic as mine certainly is. And then, if she is, my fondest wish for a sober mother is to have a sober daughter. And I have to say that mine is a seriously sober woman. Not in a million years....

What a wonderful meeting. There was a man celebrating 60 days, another with 90 days. One with a miraculous golden year. Another with eleven. And then there was me. I wanted to chair, which is unusual. I hate to chair meetings since I have to do that so much at work. I grabbed the clipboard and the big book and was ready to chair (at that meeting there is not a pre-ordained chair, it is all loosey goosey, which I don't really like). Usually the birthday person chairs. When the eleven year guy showed up, I asked him if he wanted to chair and he declined. When the one year guy came, I asked him, and he got that deer in the headlights look and told me he had never chaired a meeting before. I told him to come and sit next to me, and chair the meeting. Oh, it was wonderful. Every now and then there is a magical hour of an AA meeting and this was one of those.

A bunch of us went out for breakfast after the meeting. I got to visit with one of my oldest friends. I have known him since I got sober. He was at my first birthday and most of them since. Breakfast with my tattoo'd daughter, her biker boyfriend, my ga-zillionaire snotty friend (who would like to be my b.f.- but it aint happenin'), my militantly gay old friend who is running for sheriff, etc. What a group - only in AA! Now I am home.

I am hurting from my work out yesterday. I am going to put a movie into my DVD player and sit with ice packs strategically placed about my body and knit for my tiny unborn granddaughter. My son and his pregnant wife were talking about coming over today, but I haven't heard from them, I better call them and let them know that if they want to eat here, we better order something because mama isn't cooking today.

Would it be unbearably repetitive to tell you how grateful I am?

I would be grateful just to be sober a day. (because I could never do that left to my own devices)
I would be grateful to be sober a year.
Anything more than that is almost beyond comprehension.
But to have my daughter sitting in that room, as a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous...
Just takes gratitude and puts it into turbo drive.

Zoom Zoom

Saturday, July 24, 2010

By the Grace of God...

And the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I have not had a drink of alcohol for 26 years today.

I truly have no words to express what this means to me.

Yesterday as I driving through downtown trying to get to my chiropractor's appointment on time, I looked around and thought - this is my home. This city is my home because I got sober here. As I drove past places, I was flooded with memories of things past. They are all sober things because I have no drunken history in this place.

When I say that 26 years is a lifetime, I guess I could be misunderstood - you could take that to sound like arrogance. When I say I am humbled, I guess you have no way of knowing how profoundly I am humbled. You see, I am clear on the fact that I have never been a stellar worker. I got clear early on that this is not a transaction. I don't do "x" amount of work and get "x" amount of sobriety, peace of mind, and serenity. I have done "x" amount of work, and God has blessed me far in excess of anything I could have ever done. I could have "worked" for a lifetime and never have "earned" the life I have today. You simply cannot get here from there. Not that my life is perfect because it certainly isn't.

I am grateful beyond words that tomorrow I get to go be with old friends to celebrate my birthday. Someone will certainly tell me that 26 years is a good start. I am a junior member among them and I am so grateful for that.

Thank you bloggers for your generosity. You have been very kind to me.

mary christine

Friday, July 23, 2010

Twenty-Six Years Ago Today...

The sun was rising on the last day I would drink - but I didn't know that.

I was a 32 year old housewife and mother of three young children. My husband had just uprooted us (again) and moved us to Denver. I was living in a little cracker-box of a house in what I considered a mind-numbingly boring suburb of this filthy city.

And although I felt in so many ways "too good" to be living in this tacky place - I knew in my heart of hearts that I was a disgrace to my neighborhood. I knew that my next-door-neighbor, who didn't graduate high school and who's husband worked in a tire shop, I knew that if she didn't feel sorry for me - she should have. She was actually capable of getting up in the morning and taking care of her kids all day long.

I got up in the morning and put beer in my coffee cup (thinking the kids wouldn't know the difference) and nursed that until I felt a bit better. I laid on the couch and told the kids "mama doesn't feel well, run along outside and play." I took long "naps" and when I woke I barely knew where I was.

I would clean up before my husband got home from work and make an elaborate affair of our evening meal, because I always loved to cook, no matter what. And then the evening drinking began. In the evening, I felt I could drink in the open. I could put my beer in a glass instead of a coffee cup! I could drink whisky in a glass with ice instead of a cup. (It is amazing to me the lengths we go to to hide our drinking when later we realize we fooled only ourselves.)

On the last night I drank (please dear God) my husband came home from work. We ate our dinner and decided to drive to the library with the children. As I headed north on Wadsworth Blvd., it occurred to me that this wasn't the best idea. I was driving drunk with my three kids in the car. I probably was going to make a drunken ass of myself at the library and embarrass my children. I asked myself why didn't I make this trip when I was sober - and the answer struck me like a bolt of lightening - honestly, I really didn't know this - I couldn't take the kids to the library when I was sober because I was never sober!

And actually the library was closed on Monday nights, so being new to this area, my husband and I decided to just drive around. Sure, our BAC was well over legal limit for DUI, why not take a drive with the kids? Made sense to us! Our greatest thrill that night? We found a liquor store with a drive through window. And that is where (unbeknownst to me) I purchased my last six pack of beer.

We drove home. The kids and the husband went to sleep. I sat at the kitchen table until about midnight, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.

When I went to bed that night, I had no idea my whole world was about to change.

I had just taken my last drink of alcohol and I did not even know it.

Thank you God.
p.s. I do not consider this my birthday - I celebrate the anniversary of my first day of sobriety - and that is July 24. Tomorrow. But I just wanted to reflect on the anniversary of the last day I drank. It always astounds me that I had no idea that as I drank that last can of beer, I was totally unaware that it would be my last (please God).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Walking and Breathing

I visited my chiropractor yesterday and got more relief from my pain. She also told me I can go out and walk - not run. It was so wonderful to get out this morning and witness the sunrise. The above photo was actually intended to be focused on birds - which you can't see. But I love the photo anyway. I wish you could smell what it was like out there.

I want to thank you for your prayers yesterday. I really believe they helped. I also got phone calls from lots of people who care about me. I need to focus on them and not on the people who have shown me they don't care about me. My sponsor keeps making this point to me, but I persist in trying to have relationships with people who have proven themselves to be cruel. You know what? I don't need to have cruel people in my life. It is that simple.

God is faithful, always there. I am the variable. He is not.

So, when it is like this, I need to break it down to the tiniest little things to relish, to enjoy, to thank God for.
  • The walk this morning was nearly overwhelming - it was so glorious.
  • I am about to get into the bathtub, I love that every single morning.
  • I have a long linen skirt to wear to work this morning, it is pretty and it feels nice.
  • The presentation went well yesterday.
  • I have an uncanny ability to put things together at the last moment - unfortunately, I have an uncanny inability to put them together ahead of time.
  • My running coach referred me to a wonderful chiropractor, I think I am going to get many problems with my back resolved for the first time in many years.
  • It may cost some money, but I can actually scrape it together.
  • I have many friends, and when I chose to, I can focus on them instead of who doesn't seem to appreciate my many fine qualities!
  • I have a homegroup that is still intact 26 years later where I can celebrate my birthday on Sunday... that is a rare blessing.
Thanks again for your prayers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


In the week leading up to my AA birthday (or anniversary if you would prefer), sometimes there is reflection, sometimes it is morbid reflection. This year it seems to be morbid reflection. I hope this will soon pass. For one thing, I don't have time for this because it is interfering with my life - and I have too much to do.

I see a psychologist every three months for a check-in after my (PTSD) crisis of last summer. I saw him yesterday and told him about what is going on in my life. He thought my tears and sadness were perfectly appropriate. He called my depression "situational" and that is always good news to me.

This seemingly came out of the blue... coinciding with my injury which is preventing me from running. Me thinks and he thinks it is not a coincidence.

I am going to see the chiropractor for my second appointment today. I have high hopes.

But lots of pressure. I have a presentation to give to hospital management at 1:30 - I haven't written it yet. I have a chiropractor appointment downtown at 11:00 - which means I am going to be gone from my office for at least 2 hours in the middle of the day. And here I sit... when I should bet at my desk writing this damn thing. I will get going now.

If you would, would you say a prayer that this dark cloud lifts from above my head?

Thank you.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The best of our ability

When we have been done in by the results of living to the best of our ability, maybe we can finally surrender and admit that we need help. As I wrote in my last entry, I didn't get sober and clean up and live a wonderful life. I thought I did though.

At four and a half years of sobriety, I hit a new bottom. The bottom in sobriety was worse in many ways than my drunken bottom. It was raw, it was painful, it was real. The solution, to me, was elusive. I had no clue. It was different than "I drink too much, this is awful, I think I shall stop." This was "I am in horrible pain, I don't drink, I am pedaling as fast as I can doing everything I am told to stay sober and do what I am supposed to do, and still I am feeling horrible!" It is a bad feeling.

I didn't realize I was still living on self-will.

I was "working my ass off" to stay sober.

When you are "working your ass off" there is no room or need for the Grace of God.

If not for the crisis of suicidal depression, in sobriety, without medication, I might not have surrendered to the loving will of God. When I stopped running the world, I found it was a much nicer place. When I let go of ALL of my old ideas, life changed dramatically. I could not have forced those changes, I had to let God bring them about in and for me.

And this is why you will never hear me say "keep coming back, it works IF YOU WORK IT." holy crap. or "so WORK IT CUZ YOU'RE WORTH IT."

It works, in spite of me. My best efforts got me in a big enough mess to be willing to turn it over to God. That is what the best of my ability got me.

So, please, do keep coming back...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Long Term Sobriety

After the meeting this morning I got to chat with some very old friends. After a while, one of the men laughed and said "a lot of money was lost betting against this group staying sober." I looked around the six or seven of us standing there and had to laugh. We are all sober over a quarter of a century, I was the second to the youngest person in sobriety there.

It was funny because we were a bunch of nuts 25 years ago. There were spiritual giants amongst us, but we weren't them, and the people who looked so good then aren't sober now. I won't use names, but I will tell you a little bit about us, and see what you would think of our odds of staying sober. (initials have even been changed to protect the innocent)

A. was living with a woman he wasn't married to and very busy with many other women in AA. I guess you could call him a 13th stepper. He was pretty darn cute and very charming. He made his living in what I would call pretty shady ways. He "sold stuff" and he was good at it. He was serious about staying sober and after a while things started changing. It was a long while though. His life is exemplary today.

B. was married to a woman, but living a double life as a gay man. He worked at an adult book store at night and in the daytime went to meetings. He was serious about staying sober and after a while things started changing. He faced his sexuality and divorced his wife and started living honestly. He got a real job with insurance and everything - in the daytime. He is still sober today.

C. didn't know if she was a lesbian or not. She was doing all kinds of things with all kinds of people, including getting married and divorced - a lot. She worked for a while as a CAC at a treatment center, which was as close as she got to going completely off the deep end. But she was serious about staying sober and after a while things started changing. She is a lovely woman who is still sober today.

D. was our social director. She was very social. She had parties at her house. Her house was a bit of a sober boarding house. Lots of people lived there as they were getting sober. In her drinking and her sobriety, she had always kept her job, so she looked a lot more functional than the rest of us, but she still cried at about 90% of the meetings she attended - for many years. But she was serious about staying sober and after a while things started changing. She is my dear friend today - her life shows absolutely no signs of ever having been dysfunctional. And she remains sober.

I could go on... but you get the idea... and me? In my first year, having left my husband of ten years, I was dating a man I met in AA. A man who happened to be drinking. If I saw a new woman doing that now, I would think she didn't have a snowball's chance in hell.

We were blessed to have a new group which was at a new club. I know that people look down on clubs, but I think that club saved a lot of lives. We not only went to meetings at the group, but we hung out at the club. Most of us didn't have real jobs, so we had a lot of time on our hands. Time in which to get in lots of trouble. Maybe we got in trouble together, but we were sober. We were a very close group.

When I hear people judge sobriety and say they would rather be drunk than have "that kind of sobriety," I think they must not be the kind of alcoholic I am. I would rather have any kind of sobriety than be drinking. And I thank God that I had an opportunity to have the kind of sobriety I understood in my early years. When I could do better I did. We all did.

So, this morning, on a beautiful July morning, here we were. All of us still sober. All of us radically changed from those days. All of us profoundly grateful not only for who we are today, but what it took to get us here.

I thank God that I didn't get to AA and spin dry. I didn't just get rid of the booze and think I was just fine because it was clear I wasn't.

It was clear that I was beyond human aid.

I could not change me, but God could. And I thank him every day because he did.

Sunday Morning

This is a photo from my bike ride yesterday. I am blessed to live near a park with miles and miles of roads with virtually no motorized vehicle traffic, just bicycle traffic. When people from "not around here" visit my home, they nearly always comment on the amount of bicyclers and runners they see. It gives me a warped sense of my fitness level. I think I am a bit of a slouch - to the rest of the world someone who works out for 3 and a half hours on a Saturday morning just might be considered a jock. I wouldn't consider myself such. For one thing, I certainly don't look like one! But I was thrilled to have accomplished most of what I set out to do yesterday. I just had to cut the bike ride short - to an hour and a half - it was 102º, and I am not talking 'heat index,' I am talking real degrees. I am pleased as punch about my workout.

Last night at church the homily was about honoring the sabbath. I love to hear that. I need to be reminded that God himself wants me to take a day off. I shall do that today.

I am heading out this morning to a 7:30 meeting across town. It is my friend John's 3rd birthday. I was talking with a friend on the phone last night who said "It SHOULD be his 14th or 15th birthday." Well, yes, and every single person who needs to get sober SHOULD get sober and stay sober and life SHOULD be wonderful every single day of the week. And then there is reality. I am just so very grateful that he is alive and celebrating 3 blessed years of sobriety. And so is he.

And then I am meeting a friend to go to a movie. There is a theater with a $4 movie at 10 in the morning on the weekends. It is so much fun to go to these. We frequently just see whatever movie is playing at that time... sometimes there isn't much of a choice. But I looked last night and noticed that the movie I want to see (Inception) is playing. I hope my friend agrees!

Life as a sober woman is so very good. (It probably is if you are a man too, but I can't speak to that.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Four Hour Work-Out

I need to do a four hour work out to compensate for the run I am not doing today. My plan is a one hour swim, followed by a two hour bike ride, followed by one hour on the treadmill - walking. Plans and reality don't always match, so we shall see how this works. I had intended to be in the pool by 6, so the fact that I am writing this at 6:48 shows that the first part of my plan already didn't work.... but any time my body lets me sleep, I go for it.

I sat down to post last night but checked my e-mail first. I was so happy to see an e-mail from a woman I knew from the Biblical School. She moved away after the first year and a half, but we have stayed in touch. When I opened it and saw the opening line "Hello Mary, this is Susan, Dee's friend. We met one day outside the Ulta store in Lakewood...." I had a sinking feeling. And sure enough, the next sentence informed me of Dee's death. It was skimpy on details, so I don't know when and I don't know how. But I do know that Dee is OK - in the best possible way. She was one of those women who would fool you. She just looked like an ordinary woman in her 60s. She even struck me as a little bit grumpy the first time I met her. But then I talked with her and discovered this incredibly wonderful spiritual person. Her stories would often raise goose flesh or bring tears to my eyes. She was the most amazing person. A truly religious AND spiritual person AND a hospice nurse. I am saddened that I shall never see her again on this side, but I can strive to be more like her so that we may meet again on the other.

I have been crying on and off about this. My morning prayer and meditation ended up being my morning sob session. I am crying now.

Once again, I am struck by this permanence. This randomness. This lack of knowing.

This absolute need to be kind in every moment of my life to every single person in my life. I never know how I may impact another. I never know when it might be the last time I will talk to another.

Maybe Dee knew she was sick. The last time she wrote to me she told me how kind I had been, and how I put my words into action (oh, please, I hope so), she thanked me for sharing in such an open way with our small group at Biblical School, and many other kind things. I wrote back and told her how much she had meant to me. I am glad. I have that closure. Most of the time I don't.

OK, gotta dry these tears and get out there and and work out for four hours. I was going to write about the chiropractor, but I gotta go!

Let's all stay sober today, OK?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Good Day

I got up at 3:15 this morning - the power going out again woke me. Since I couldn't go back to sleep, I decided to head to the pool. I had intended to swim for an hour and a half, but could only make it for 45 minutes. So after work today I loaded my bike into my SUV and headed down to a large park with lots of roads safe for bikers. I rode for 45 minutes in the 93º heat. It was wonderful.

I am very tired now, in the best possible way. I am going to go to bed and I bet I sleep all night. Tomorrow I will leave work early and go see a chiropractor. I haven't seen one of those since I had a bad experience with one in the early 80s. My running coach highly recommended her. I am paying out of pocket - which is something I better get used to now that we have "free" health care post health care reform.

I need to return a call to a sponsee... then I can go to bed.

Grateful for:
Healthy legs
Living in Colorado (the only state in the union with an obesity rate of under 20%)
Living in the Denver area with some of the finest bike paths on earth
Ceiling fans
White cotton sheets
White puffs of clouds in the blue sky
A hearing loss that allows me to not be too bothered by barking dogs
A boss who returned from vacation today (YAY)
Air Conditioning if I should decide to turn it on
Another sober day

All the things that God has provided for me today...

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Add Hot...

To injured and tired... and you have me!

This morning in an attempt at thrift, I shut up my house and turned off the AC, wondering how hot the house could possibly get in one day. When I got home from work, I was surprised that the garage door didn't open when I clicked the little opener in my car. I clicked again. And Again. And then my neighbor told me that the power was out. hmmmmm.

The internal temperature of my house was 86º, and I had no way to cool it with fans or AC. So I went outside and watered my plants. And one of the other neighbors from the OTHER side of the street (with power) brought me a plate of scampi. It was quite delicious.

Oh, F... It just went off again. So much for that lovely fan overhead. And all those clocks I painstakingly reset.

I better post this right quick while it is back on... Say a prayer for power.

"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could life, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously." Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 45

Injured and Tired

Yesterday I went out for a 7 mile run. At two miles I realized I needed to head home. For the last 1.5 miles, I limped. For the last .5 mile, I limped and cried. I would have happily accepted crutches from a passer-by should one have happened by and offered them.

I sent off an e-mail to my coach and although she is in Spain at this time, she rapidly answered me. Once again, I need to back off the mileage. I will swim or bike for time equivalents of my workouts until Monday - then we will re-evaluate.

So, after this nice simple omelette this morning, I will head off to a meeting, then to a busy day at work. Whenever I am at my desk, I shall have an ice pack applied.

And yes, I do cook omelettes, and nearly everything else, in a cast iron pan. I think if I had five minutes to evacuate my house, this pan might be one of the first thing I grabbed. I have used it nearly every day since I got it in 1977. They get really really good after all those years.

OK. Gotta get ready for the meeting.

"He is going to be more interested in a demonstration of our good will than in our talk of spiritual discoveries." -- Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 77

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This is a photo of our friend Pammie's new tattoo. It is on the inside of her wrist. She is very happy with it, and it is easy to see why. It is also easy for me to see why she is my friend.

God could and would if he were sought. And he does every single day.

Thank you God indeed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back to Work

I have been gone for two weeks. I will be glad to go back today. I love to take vacation and I particularly love to return from vacation. My home looked like paradise when I opened the door and walked back in last week. I expect my return to my office will be much the same. I know there will be a pile of envelopes that have been slid under my door. I know there will be a stack of mail on my desk. I have been checking e-mail and voice mail all along, so there shouldn't be any surprises there. I am very happy to be heading back. I am very grateful to have a job I love.

Yesterday I went to my old homegroup for a Sunday morning meeting. It was just so nice. On the way in the door, a young woman reminded herself to me. I met her in San Antonio! She and my daughter had struck up a conversation there (at the convention) and this woman remembered that she had met my daughter on the bus (of all places!) when my daughter was in her first 30 days of sobriety. It was lovely to sit next to her at the meeting.

I got to see my friend R. get tears in his eyes as he made a public amends to M. as he told her he hadn't believed she was ever going to get sober. She was celebrating 3 years yesterday. Well, I got tears in my eyes as I recalled that about 20 years ago I didn't believe R. was ever going to get sober! He went in and out and in and out and in and out for about 6 years. It was painful to watch. The curve of M.'s decline was sharper and more frightening than most others I have seen (other than my daughter). Someone else at the meeting yesterday told her she had looked like she was 80 years old - and was putting on and dress and "going out". Yesterday, she was sitting next to her husband (one of my favorite people in the whole world), who will celebrate 3 years next week, talking about her children who have been returned to her custody, and she looks like herself again. The age of miracles is still with us.

After the meeting, a bunch of us went out for breakfast - we kept adding more and more tables to make our table bigger - it was huge! So many of us were at the International, we were comparing our photographs of San Antonio on our cell phones. It was so wonderful. It helps me to know that I don't have to just put that experience away in a box on a shelf somewhere. I have people to continue to share it with.

I will now get in the tub and get ready for a day! I need to put on work clothes for the first time in 2 weeks! YAY! I really love my life.

Thank you God.
(remind me to tell you about Pammie's tattoo - she wanted me to do that)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Morning

I am off to a meeting - at my old, old homegroup. I will put my name on the calendar to celebrate my birthday in two weeks. It will be good to sit there this morning with people I have known and who have known me for a long, long time.

I did my 12 miles yesterday. It hurts. I have a huge blister on my foot. My back hurts. I am seriously wondering how this body is going to come up with 26.2 miles if 12 hurts this bad. Next week I am supposed to run 7 miles on Tuesday, 6 on Thursday, and then 16 on Saturday.

My son and his wife (and I hope their dog) are coming over for dinner later today. It will be good to see them. They were in Montana, and then I was in San Antonio, so I haven't seen them for a while.

Then back to work tomorrow. That will be good.

I am feeling the let down after a huge event. I looked forward to the International for so long. It was such a wonderful experience. Now I am back to the regular old reality - and some of it hurts - literally. I usually have something to look forward to on the horizon. Right now the only things I have on the agenda are a half marathon in August (which should be fun) and a full marathon in September - and just writing that makes my stomach flip. Of course, there is something on someone else's calendar in October- a BABY! And that is massively life-changingly great.

I will adjust to this new reality. I am just still tired....

Friday, July 09, 2010

Gratitude Pies

While I was in the Great State of Texas last week, my sponsee with the home improvement skills put a new kitchen floor in my house. She also decided that a water hookup to my refrigerator would be appropriate since it has an ice maker. (It is busy making ice cubes as we speak.) The floor is so beautiful - it was so nice to come home to a home improvement. Since she loves my home-baked pies, I decided to bake her one this morning - and one for her helper, and one for me too. We had lunch today. She is such a blessing in my life - and not just for the stuff she does in my house.

Tomorrow I am running 12 miles. I am a bit nervous about this. I managed the ten miles OK on Weds... and Saturday is probably too soon to hit the long run, but I am behind, so I am going to do it anyway.

I am still exhausted from the trip. I will be going to bed in a minute. I will be up at 4 for my run. These Saturdays are early and long.

I am full of the knowledge of God's presence in my life right now. It is a quiet peaceful fullness. I am grateful for this. It is not always like this. I always know he is with me, but sometimes I really, really FEEL it - and this is one of those times.

God bless you all...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Butterfly Effect

This morning I went to a meeting and shared about the experience of meeting the young girl whose mother had just committed suicide. It was such a shocking story that the whole room gasped when I told of the girl telling me her mom died. I didn't know why I told them that this morning. There was no reason...

Later this afternoon, a man who had been at the meeting called me. He asked me if I wanted to know "the rest of the story." Of course I did. That girl hasn't been out of my thoughts for five minutes since Tuesday afternoon. My friend who happened to be at the meeting this morning went to college with the woman who is recently deceased and her husband, the father of the girl. He told me lots of things about them both - fondly. Fond recollections of lifetime friendships. And the little girl... as I thought, she sounds like a wonderful little person, who may be greatly burdened by genetics and family history. My friend spoke of her fondly as well. He told me about the last time they spent any time together - it was just a few months ago.

He said it was a blessing to her to have run into me and my daughter at such a time. Oh, I hope so. It was a blessing to me to have been able to be there. I am grateful for that.

Oh, how I wish I could do better. How I wish I could always be the loving person I believe God wants me to be. How I wish I didn't have this acerbic "wit" that's always so quick to respond - long before I have considered that I don't wish to wound.

I went to a small meeting in a large city and somehow found a friend who is a friend to all of these people. It is almost beyond belief.

I thank God that on that day, by the Grace of God, instead of complaining about the inconvenience of sitting in traffic for an hour, I was talking about praying for whatever victim might have been. I thank God that I said nothing disrespectful today when I had no idea I was talking to anyone who was involved - because my friend is clearly in a lot of pain over this.

We really never know who is listening to us and how we are effecting them. I only know that I want the effect to be a good one.

By the Grace of God....

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Pink Cloud

The above photo is of a mural in a hotel lobby in San Antonio. We were visiting the room of a friend. It was kind of cute that when I said to my daughter "She is on a pink cloud" other people in the lobby laughed. On a 'normal' day, in a 'normal' lobby, in a 'normal' place, 'normal' folks would not get that reference. But in San Antonio last weekend, the whole city was in on all of our 'inside' lingo. (Also, I might add that this painting is surrealistic - this is what the word "surreal" means.)

Today I did my 10 miles. I am hurting and I have a blister on my left foot. I am glad I didn't do this while I was in San Antonio. It would have wasted a precious day there. So although I am behind on my training, I can suffer through that - the International was a once in a lifetime event - and I am glad I didn't mess with it, too much.

Does anyone have a way of knowing if the flagbearers from the Islamic Republic of Iran and Israel stood next to each other at the flag ceremony at the International? I thought about that all that night, and all through the convention, and obviously, I have not stopped thinking about it. I am not sure if they were right next to each other alphabetically (in which case they would have been on opposite sides of the stage) or separated by one other country (in which case they would have been next to each other).

Do you know that we all applauded for each country? Each and every one. It was as if there were no political divisions at all that night. None. I will admit that we were a bit more enthusiastic when the stars and stripes were presented, but there was absolutely no negative response to any country.

"We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful. We are like the passengers of a great liner the moment after rescue from shipwreck when camaraderie, joyousness and democracy pervade the vessel from steerage to Captain's table. Unlike the feelings of the ship's passengers, however, our joy in escape from disaster does not subside as we go our individual ways. The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined. The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism." -- Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 17

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

At the End of Twenty-Two Hundred Miles

I was so happy to be heading back into the foothills of the Rockies, I just had to take a photo. I am so grateful to be home, it is just silly.

When we got into Colorado, I was shocked to see my daughter wiping a tear from her eye. Crying is NOT her style. I asked her what was wrong - and it took her a while to respond. She said that our vacation was over and she was sad about that. I wasn't happy that she was sad, but I was happy that the trip was that good for her. It was for me too. What a wonderful thing. We compared notes about what was the best part of the convention and the trip. I would have liked to have written about that tonight....

Then the traffic came to a dead halt. It was over 90º (which feels like about 60º in San Antonio), and I had a quarter tank of gas. I don't know why I insist on running my car low on gas, but I always have. Anyway, there was a road sign that said there was a crash five miles ahead and that we would need to leave the highway. It took a l-o-n-g time to get the five miles to the exit. It was now about the time when we should have been arriving home, and instead we were stuck in this mess.

When we finally got to the exit we filed off the highway along with everyone else, we stopped at the gas station, and then the grocery store. At the grocery store, my daughter and I both used the rest room. While there, we were chatting - I told her "we should be praying for the people who were in that accident instead of bitching about the traffic." My daughter agreed and said that she had been praying. When I exited the stall, there was a beautiful young girl standing there. She said to me: "That was my mom who died."

Oh my God! I cried, she cried, I wrapped my arms around her and asked her if she was OK. I asked if she was in the car with her mom. Then she told me her mother wasn't in a car.... she jumped off the overpass onto the interstate highway. Oh my. My daughter then asked her how old she is - she is 13. I asked if she was alone. Her dad was out in the car waiting for her. He stopped there so that she could use the restroom. My daughter was hugging her and crying with her. We asked her name. I asked her mother's name. I told her I would pray for them both. It was one of the most intense experiences I have ever had.

After she left and we got into the car, there was a part of me that hoped that maybe she was some little girl who made up a big story. In my heart I knew she wasn't, but I wanted to believe that she is not a little girl whose mother just threw herself 25 feet off an overpass into 75 mile per hour traffic. Not a little girl who no longer has a mom. Not a little girl devastated. The rest of our trip was virtually silent - and very somber.

When I got home and checked the news - and sure enough, a woman parked her truck along the side of that road this afternoon. She left a suicide note in it and jumped into traffic. A tour bus hit her. The interstate highway was closed for an hour and a half. And a beautiful little girl will have to pick up the pieces for the rest of her life.

I talked with my sponsor tonight, to let her know we got home safe and sound. I told her about this experience. She thanked God that he saw fit to put my daughter and myself into that little girl's path. She said this is an example of what happens when you turn your will and your life over to the care of God. I thank Him too if he chose to use us in that little way. I wish there was something we could have done beyond a hug and a tear.

Prayers. I can pray. Sarah's face will stay with me forever.

God bless that little girl, and her mother.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico

I got to sit on our hotel room balcony this morning to pray and watch the sun rise over the Gulf of Mexico (a bit of it that is not ruined - yet). We will head out this morning to start our long drive back home.

We are both full of love, gratitude, hope, serenity, and all of the things you take away from a huge gathering of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Words utterly fail me right now. I cannot begin to describe the experience of being at my first International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous. Add to that the fact that I shared the experience with my daughter, who is now sober 16 and a half months - her first International as well, obviously. And my sponsor (not her first), her husband, old friends, new friends, blogger friends, friends I had never met before... it was all amazing.

I am happy to be heading back home to my own little corner of the world. Belonging is something I found in Alcoholics Anonymous, and it is something that I never take for granted. Thank God there is a place where I belong... in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous - and also place called home. I am heading there.... two days of driving ahead.


Saturday, July 03, 2010

50,000 Sober Alcoholics in One Place

I am traveling without a purse, so this is an iPhone photo - it lacks a lot of what I could have done with my camera. But the important things are: That is a lot of alcoholics. We all assembled peacefully. We all applauded as each country's representative walked out on stage with their flag. We all sat quietly while three excellent speakers spoke. We ALL stood and said the Lord's Prayer (wow!) A young woman with a beautiful voice sang Amazing Grace and asked us to join in - and we did (wow! again!). The other important thing? You cannot see anyone's face in this photo - it is so important that we keep our anonymity here - and everywhere else too.

God has been so good to us.

Friday, July 02, 2010

San Antonio

There are absolutely no words to describe the experience of being at my first International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Here is as close as I can come: I am grateful to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. More grateful than words can begin to describe. I have a renewed appreciation for how huge this fellowship is. And what a miracle it is that we are all sober.

Everywhere you turn in this town, we are greeted by people wearing their lanyards and name badges (and yes! we do need our stinkin' badges!) stating their first names and where they are from. It is amazing to see all these faces, names, and places. I have stopped plenty and talked about where they are from - Oh! I lived there! etc. I sat down for a while and waited for my daughter last night - and struck up conversations with people - perfect strangers, and yet, we are not.

I have also run into people I do know, and what a joy that is. Some of them I have found know my daughter and myself - and that is always fun to see them look at both of us and see a dawning awareness of kinship. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree is a common response.

I got to see Dave last night - he is just as much an old friend as the others - which always surprises me a little. We met right here, in blogland. But we have met many times since - in 'real' life. He is a wonderful man, and someone I consider a real friend.

Speaking of 'real' life - I better get to it. There is a whole city full of the fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous, and I need to be out there amongst 'em.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Road is Long...

This is a photo of my daughter taking a photo of the Welcome to New Mexico sign. We were dismayed to find that there was no Welcome to Texas sign at our entrance to the Great State of Texas. There was a small sign notifying us that we were now in the Central Time Zone, but not big honkin' sign saying we were in Texas.

We are still a 6 or 7 hour drive away from San Antonio. We will leave as soon as we eat our breakfast.

Have you seen the map of the hurricane? I laughed when I saw the front page of the USA Today that was slipped under our door this morning. A massive, swirling hurricane - veering towards the State of Texas.

Not even a hurricane could dampen our excitement about this convention.

San Antonio, here we come!