Sunday, February 28, 2010

Late Winter Stuff

These are my new running shoes, along with some other items that are pink and make me happy. My favorite color is green, but I seem to be on a pink kick suddenly.

I went out yesterday morning after the meeting to try to run 6 miles. I was nervous about being able to do it. But I found it was no problem at all, well, except for the condition of the trail. The trail was very very icy. There were huge stretches where I had to get off the trail and run and /or walk in the snow. The ice was too slippery to even walk on. It was still so good to be out in the sunshine.

Now I am thinking maybe I can do an April half-marathon... I thought that would be too soon, but it may not be. And I am actually starting to believe that I will be able to run 26.2 in September.

Dinner with my family was wonderful last night. After dinner my son and his girlfriend took off, and my two daughters and I went to a couple of tattoo shops. They both needed some barbells - imagine that. In one of the shops a young woman with more piercings than tattoos tried to talk me into piercing my nose. Yikes. She said she had a beautiful diamond that would look great on me. yeah, I don't think so. (But if I do manage to run a marathon in September, I am going to have "26.2" tattooed somewhere on my body - I haven't figured out just where yet.... was thinking foot, but daughter tells me that is very painful -- I have lived 57 years without one mark on this body, if I can run a marathon, I am willing to label myself with that feat.) What a thrill it was to walk down the city sidewalk with my two daughters - who are acting like two sisters who have never had a problem before. God has been very busy changing their hearts and healing them.

I guess it is supposed to snow later, so I got out this morning for a little bit. In the lovely 40º morning sun, I walked around my yard to survey the progress of the living things popping up. Tulips are coming up and that is a good thing. Their buds got killed (frozen) last year, so I never had tulips - which is one of my favorite things in life.
Sobriety is good. It may not sound like much in my case, but let me tell you, I have had enough excitement in my life to last several lifetimes, I don't want or need any more. I will just thank God for what I have been given and today that seems like a lot.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday Celebrations

Today the sun is supposed to do what it does best in Colorado - that is shine. After the 6:30 meeting, I will go out for a run. Six Miles is on my plan for today. Yesterday I bought new shoes - and I will have to take a photo because they are cute! And they are also very good running shoes, but who can resist very good running shoes with pink flowers on them? (They go with my new guava running bra - and it is important for your bra and shoes to match, especially when you run very slow and feel like you are going to puke after a long run. I will take anything that helps.)

There was evidence of a shift of teutonic plates in my family this week. (Edit: I cannot imagine why I would have used an earthquake reference this morning - I had no idea about the situation in Chile.) My twin daughters will be 31 years old on Monday. One of them is an alcoholic. The other one isn't. Can you imagine what that is like for them? For their family? Yes, you can. I know you can. Anyway... several years ago one of the daughters (guess which one) showed up incredibly high and twitchy and crazy for the annual birthday celebration. The other one got so angry and fed up, that after years of just accepting and loving her sister no matter how crazy it got - and it got plenty crazy - she just got angry and said she wasn't going to have another birthday ruined by her sister. And she stopped speaking to her. (And when I wonder how God feels when I am busy resenting someone else, I just have to think of how much it hurt me to have this going on in my family, and then I might have an inkling of what an offense it is to be hatin'.)

Last year she resolved to be out of town for her birthday. Although her sister was newly sober at the time, no one trusted her to stay that way (well, except for me).

This year my sober alcoholic daughter is working all weekend. When I tried to get us all together to go to the Ethiopian Restaurant (which is one of our birthday traditions) she said she couldn't go. I figured that her sister and brother wouldn't mind if she wasn't there.

What a wonderful thing it was to hear them both express their disappointment. To hear the sister who wouldn't speak to the other say "It just won't be fun without my sister there." Oh my goodness. Her brother, my son, said "well, let's just drive up to her work and surprise her there."

I called her and told her how disappointed they were... she cried, I cried... and she said she would find a way to be there. She was able to find someone to work part of her shift and we will all be able to go out to the Ethiopian Restaurant today to celebrate their birthday.

This is written so poorly - but I am in a hurry to get out of here and I don't have time to edit appropriately. So, thank you for reading it - it is probably confusing with the "hers" and "shes" and sisters and brother. But it is a wonderful day in the life of a sober mom of a sober daughter. And two other wonderful children too.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Morning - very early

Why is it that a 2 megapixel camera on a phone still takes photos that look like they were taken with a cell phone? Anyway, yesterday morning I took a run OUTDOORS! And it was FABULOUS! I knew I had a short time to get a run in because, as you can see by those clouds, it was going to start snowing again.... and it did.

I don't like traffic circles. I find them confusing. Maybe it is not so much that I find them confusing but others do and I find the behavior in them to be unpredictable. Maybe that is just a little bit too much like life. People come into the circle and then they leave, and sometimes you just don't know when that is going to happen.

Our friend Scott W. has decided to stop blogging - after 5 years of consistently doing it. His blog was consistent every single day. It was always a gratitude list, a real gratitude list. Most of the time he had beautiful art - most of it was his own work. I just want to acknowledge here how much I will miss his blog and how grateful I am to him for being an inspiration to me in this realm. I have met him and he is a wonderful man. His friendship with Dave is a wonderful thing to behold. The other thing I want to say is how much I respect his decision and the fact that it was done without guile or playing games. He may be back (and I hope he is), but he isn't attention seeking and being deceitful with us and I do so appreciate that. He will make the right decision for him, of that I am sure.

Now I am off through the snowy morning to get to church. And then to work, and then to another one of those lunches where I get to say goodbye to someone I hired a long time ago. And, if I must say so myself, that was a stellar decision! Despite people telling me not to hire him, he has worked out beautifully, for many years. And now he is off on his second career and he thanks me for giving him his start in it. Now, that is a warm feeling inside.

Oh, the things that can happen to us when we stay sober one day at a time are incredible! So, let's do it again today.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The conditions under which I can get/stay sober...

Continuing in my curmudgeonly vein... It always shocks me to hear people talk about their sobriety in terms of "if". You know, you hear it all the time... "IF that had been my first meeting, I would have walked out and never come back." "IF that was my sponsor I would get drunk." "IF I didn't go to rehab (and spend $40,000.) I never could have gotten sober."

In other words, conditions have to be just right for a person to get and stay sober.

I beg to differ.

"Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he an get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." -- Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 98

I was fortunate to come into arguably the worst group in the Denver Metro area at the time. It was a new group. It was at a club. The group and the club were not separate, so what got put into the basket went to the club. The club amassed great amounts of money - serving food and having HUGE dances every weekend. There was a massive feud over the money, as you can imagine. There were only a couple of old guys with more than a couple of years of sobriety - and they happened to be the ones who were feuding over the money. The group and the club dissolved when I was 5 months sober, and the members started another group and club - this time trying to pay attention to what AA tradition suggests about such things.

In this environment, I found other AA members to first help me, and then other AA members to help. My first sponsor suggested I not work the steps for a couple of years, so I found another sponsor. I had many many bad experiences, but I knew that I wanted to stay sober more than anything in the world, so I kept coming back. And I kept doing what I was supposed to do. There were a bunch of us in our first couple of years back then. We hung out a lot. We talked a lot. We became students of the traditions when that group fell apart, and then remained students of the traditions when the new group was forming. We were all encouraged into "service" of one sort or another, I was elected treasurer of my first group - which was insane, but it kept me coming to that noon meeting because I had to get the money! We washed ash trays, washed cups, set up chairs, etc. We drove all over God's green earth to 12 step other suffering alcoholics. Sobriety was not spoon fed to us by some "elders," we were responsible - and right away.

We were all in the same boat and we stuck together. We might have screwed up - all the time, but for the most part our hearts were in the right place and we learned through all the craziness. When I drive back up north to my old home group on Saturday or Sunday mornings, I see a whole lot of those people sitting in the room - with between 20 and 30 years of sobriety. Something about that group worked, despite all of its problems.

I have my opinion about what worked. I think it was because we were all trying to get sober. We didn't have any resident experts. We just simply didn't use any literature outside of the big book and the twelve and twelve. We really did the deal. We had a couple of guys in the meeting who would tell people to shut up when they were sharing crazy stuff that had nothing to do with AA. Oh, that is so offensive to people now, but let me tell you , you learn really quick if you are serious about staying sober and someone tells you to shut up in a meeting. You call everyone you know and find out if "he" was right and are so sad to find out that "he" was.

So, my experience is: IF I wanted to stay sober, which I did, I would find a way to do so. Despite conditions. I might be more grateful for my bad experiences early on than I am my "good" experiences early on. The bad ones taught me that my sobriety is dependent on my trust in God and cleaning house.

It is just that simple.
(sorry to have written such a long thing - and if you have read it all, thanks for your attention)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rehab Speak

I went to a meeting yesterday morning. I have thought for 24 hours now about what I heard there. I swore I wasn't going to write about it. I am sick of griping. I would rather have one of those pretty little blogs with pretty writing about how wonderful everything and everyone, especially myself, is - every single day. Alas, that is not my lot in life.

So, one young man who has been in 8 rehabs in as many years, which is as many years as he has been drinking - told us all he lied in a job interview (saying he had two years of sobriety rather than two months) and his sponsor had the nerve to tell him that was the wrong thing to do! Well! He didn't care, he got the job and he felt good about it, dammit! (His affect belied his words and I am sure he is deeply troubled by this and I hope it doesn't get him drunk - and I quietly and kindly talked with him about this - after the meeting.)

After him, a young woman with glitter crosses all over her hat shared. She told us all that we should not be relying on a group and should not be listening to a sponsor. We should take our direction from our "higher power" not from human beings. She also happened to mention that she could not stay sober... I wonder if those things could be related. After the meeting, a man who is seriously sober for a couple of years was talking with me and told me he thought she had a good point. WHAT? I asked him if God had ever spoken directly to him... he said no. I told him that we take direction from a group and a sponsor because that is how God is able to speak to us. But honestly, what are we saying?

On Saturday, at this same meeting, the chairperson had a topic - Tiger Woods. I looked meaningfully across the room at a man who I know takes AA seriously. He nodded at me. He shared first, steering it around to an AA topic. I shared second, keeping it on the new topic. And after I was done, they talked about Tiger Woods. Talking about "addiction" as if that is what we are doing in AA. As if being an alcoholic gives us an inside perspective on "sexual addiction" and gives us the right to judge someone else's sincerity. Holy crap.

This man told me after the meeting that we would all be OK as long as people like he and I were at meetings, sponsoring people, and talking about traditions. I asked him "for how long?" He looked at me like I was nuts. If people are spending tens of thousands of dollars to go to rehab for a stretch of time, and if they sound close enough to AA to be the same as AA to people who don't know anything about AA - and then these people come out to AA and aren't told any differently - then we become what rehab has made us. And, believe me folks, it is a weaker version of AA. Thinking sponsorship is not necessary, putting all "addictions" in the same category as Alcoholism, cultlike chanting, not knowing or caring anything about traditions... this is what we have got sitting in our chairs.

I am grateful to have been brought up in AA to listen, to have a sponsor, to sponsor others, to pass it on, to be rigorously honest, and through the process of the twelve steps have a spiritual awakening which changed every single thing in my life. And then I was taught about AA, its history, our traditions, why we have them, and why that was important to ME. And then I was told to get into AA service which is an education unlike any other you have ever experienced....

OK! Enough! I am going to get on the treadmill and run some miles and then go to work!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!

Having a commitment on a Tuesday morning is always challenging. I don't get home from biblical school until 9:30 p.m. on Monday nights, so being at an AA meeting at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning is a bit of a stretch for me. But I will get there.

Does it take anyone else 2 hours to get out of the house in the morning? My co-workers can get up at 6:30 and be at work by 8:00. I can get up at 4 a.m. and not be at work until 8:30, and come rushing in, breathing hard because I am "running late."

Of course, they don't blog.

So, this morning, I better make this short and get out of here. I told someone I would be at that meeting, so I better be.

Let's stay sober again today, OK?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Morning

I threw that little house decoration down the stairs and broke it a couple of years ago. It was seemingly innocently sitting on the side of my front door while we were having several feet of snow every single weekend for six weeks in a row (I might have inflated this in my memory and I don't feel like doing research on it right now). One of my neighbors came by and said "oh! so it is your fault!" and pointed to the little sled that says "let it snow." Immediately, I threw the thing down the stairs and it broke. I never threw it away because I really do like it, and things I have purchased at the gift shop at the hospital where I work are really precious to me. This year, I put it back together and hung it. I think it is time for it to be removed again. Because it is snowing, and snowing, and snowing, and then snowing some more. And it is cold.

Yesterday afternoon I was snoozing on my sofa when a dear friend called. She asked if I had seen the movie "Crazy Heart." I told her no, but then thought - I could just as easily go to a movie as sit on the sofa and watch the Olympics and sleep, so I hopped in the car and went to see it. I think it is a great movie. But, if you are a person who likes everything to be sunshine, puppies, and rainbows, don't go. It is hard to watch at times. But a movie about an alcoholic that is not hard to watch is probably not worth seeing.

I need to get in the tub and get dressed for this day - 12º and snowing. Then I get to get out of here and go to work! This is a good deal for me!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Winter of the Soul

I went out in my pajamas and slippers this morning and took photos of the trees and the snow from my front porch. It is so stark. So cold. So unforgiving. So unwelcoming. Just like these last 6 months.

In August, I discovered that my workplace was about to be decimated and have spent the last six months in the process of that. Having worked there for over 15 years, this is very personal. To watch my friends leave en masse has been devastating. To watch patients leave their homes (the hospital has been where they have lived for years and years and years) to be shoved into a cab to go to strange places in terror of the unknown has been so sad. And though I am grateful to have kept my job, my pay was cut. I like to live right on the edge, so a pay cut was not a good deal for me. Then my car conspired with the fates and cost me several more thousand dollars... and still was unfit. And the economy is terrible, so although my credit is very very good (amazingly enough) my favorite credit card for vacations and other fun stuff decided to lop off my credit limit at just about what I owed. Et Cetera. Ad Infinitum. On And On.... it is boring.

And I can hear my younger self tell my older self that "these are a higher class of problems." Well, OK, younger self. I will grant you that. And I am grateful for so many blessings in my life. I try to put my gratitude into action rather than words. Sometimes I try to put my gratitude into action even when I am not feeling the feelings. I find that feelings will reliably follow the actions, and seldom will it work the other way around.

I am a person who takes a great deal of comfort in nature. I delight in the seasons. I normally get out and run in all seasons. I look forward to each change of season. Autumn is my favorite with its glorious colors, smells, and sunshine. Late winter is my least favorite - it impacts my ability to get outside and it is grim out there, but not normally as grim as this year is. dAAve was here on the day that the green leaves froze off the trees. They just froze and fell off the trees. Then they rotted on the ground. A couple of trees here and there changed colors, but most of them didn't. Winter does not normally begin in October in Colorado - oh, we get early snows, followed by late autumn days of summer-like heat and sunshine. And then we get those spring-like days in late winter. But not this year. It is just cold, unrelentingly cold. And snowy.

I haven't run outdoors since October I believe - with the exception of two races I have been in. Every day I look at the sidewalks and see that they are still covered with snow and ice and decide that it simply isn't worth the risk to this old lady to get out and run.

There have been other things that have piled on. It is not worth chronicling here. None of it is that fun to read about.

So yesterday I worked hard to get all the stuff done that I needed to have done so that I could truly take a day off today. When I woke up this morning I made some coffee, said my prayers, did my meditation, took those photos, and went back to bed and read. When I got up, I took a bath and it occurred to me that I was loving this bath. After I dried off with my green towels, I painted my toenails lavender and it occurred to me that I love having lavender toenails. Then I got out my credit card and ordered a new sports bra, which I needed desperately. Its color is guava!

I think color is coming back into my world. If I ever described depression maybe that is how my experience of it would be best captured - the color goes out of everything. I think it is coming back.

But no matter what, no matter how grim, I always knew that God is carrying me through each day, and that I am loved. And no matter what, I have a desire to be sober, with every breath I take, I want to be sober. I believe that desire was placed in my heart by God. Because I could not produce it. And since that first day I walked into a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, I have not had a drink of alcohol. By the Grace of God and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA works.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday Afternoon

Having been to my morning meeting, then having come home and run 5 miles on my treadmill (because the weather outside is frightful), and then having eaten the above lunch (homemade chili and a quesadilla), I am ready to settle down for a long winter's nap.

I am struggling with blogging again. I guess if you do something for 4 and a half years, you are bound to struggle occasionally. It all seems so self-indulgent. I guess I am reacting to some behavior of another blogger that has turned my stomach, and I watch the rest of the blogosphere go fawning over. It makes me want to just walk away in despair. But really it is none of my business. But to me it devalues what we do... if it is all about attention seeking and playing games and hide and seek and peekaboo.

I guess I want you AA guys and gals to really be sober. I guess I want you to really be practicing these principles in all your affairs. Which means I am out of my mind with unrealistic expectations. Except for those bloggers who have become my friends. They are the real deal, and I dearly love them. And I guess that is reason enough to be here.

Last night I picked up my daughter and drove my new 4 wheel drive vehicle through the snow to a meeting where a friend was celebrating 8 years of continuous sobriety. He happens to be the other shadow in my profile picture. I have known him since he got sober. As he recalls it, I was at his first meeting, but I don't recall that. That's OK. The point is, he is sober. He is serious about being sober and has been since day 1. It was so nice to be there. It was so nice to see some old friends. And it was so nice to be at an AA meeting where they actually talked about AA stuff.

As I posted the photo of hot chili on this post I thought of another blogger who described my blog as "comforting, like a bowl of warm potato soup." I thought that was a weird way to describe a blog... and I thought that perhaps that bowl of potato soup might have razor blades in it some days... because that seems to be what my blog is like.

I am grateful for some of you who love me anyway. XXXOOO

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Morning

Rave Run: Boulder, Colorado
I did something this morning I have never done before... I woke up at 1:45 and thought it was 4:45. I got up and made coffee, said my prayers, did my meditation, and thankfully turned on the television (which I don't always do) and I realized my error. And I went back to bed and read until I got drowsy and fell asleep for a few more hours. Which was really kind of wonderful.

After work tonight I will drive up north to my old homegroup for a friend's 8th birthday. I will get to see some old friends. I am very much looking forward to that.

There is a lot of icy snow out there this morning. I better get ready to get out there. I hope I won't be cursed as I drive down the road as one of those "stupid people with 4 wheel drive who don't realize its limitations." I am sure I won't. After the car accident of July 2008, I am about the most timid drive you will see - at least under the age of 80. Yesterday I had my supervision meeting with my boss, which we often do at lunch. He drove... I have to explain every time that I have great difficulty being a passenger in a car after that accident. It is really embarrassing.

You know what bothers me most about that accident? We coulda/shoulda/woulda died. Everyone who saw the car and then saw us standing talking and being grateful to be alive couldn't believe it... and that includes the EMTs, the police and others who see these things every single day. But back to the point, the thing that bothers me the most? That accident happened so quick, I never prayed. Not even "oh my God." It would have just been over.

For a person who likes to pray always, that was a chilling thought.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you..." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday Morning

(you can tell this is an old photo - my trusty diet pepsi is at the side of my computer - I have now been 10 days without one!)

I'm enjoying my breakfast of steel cut oats with bee pollen, wheat germ, ground flax seeds and a small dab of honey and milk - just as I do every morning. It is a wonderful thing.

As I titled this "Thursday Morning," I recalled the early days of blogging when we indulged in Half Naaked Thursday. Oh, what fun that was. The point was to share a photo, with just a part of a body, you know, like a hand, or a foot, or an elbow, an ear, a finger... etc..... They were some of the most wonderfully creative photos. I so looked forward to that every Thursday morning. After a year or so of that, my neighbor commented on Wednesday night that I was always outside taking photos of my feet on Wednesdays - and what on earth was I doing anyway? I hadn't thought I was so obvious! It was great community building for us. But then along came the people who posted pictures of their dogs every week and some who posted pictures of "parts" not in keeping with the spirit of the thing, and before long, we just lost interest. I miss it.

Since I am again training for a big race (marathon - woo hoo!) I am again planning my life around my runs... which means I am planning my life around weather. I was going to run this morning, but looked at the weather and realized that since it is supposed to snow on Saturday I will make my long run on Sunday. Which means I can make my short run tomorrow instead of today. I am only going to run 3 days a week because I am too old to run much more than that without getting injured. I will cross train 2 other days. And rest 2 others. So, this is a rest day!
I have a big day at work today - but that is the new normal. Not that I had small days before. But now they are almost all overwhelmingly huge. But that is what I do well. I am not good at normal days.

I think I shall get to it. Gratefully sober. Grateful for the Grace of a Loving God who did for me what I could never have done for myself.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And Acceptance is the Answer to All my Problems....

I seem to lose an average of one follower a day (and then gain another), let's see if I can come up with a net loss of several with this post....not that I want to, because I don't....

I was once married to man in our fellowship. I dearly loved him. With all of my heart I wanted our marriage to succeed. He was charming, intelligent, handsome, seemingly well-to-do, and sober! We were married when I was sober for six years and he was sober eight years. Shortly after our wedding, he started hitting me. He stopped paying any bills, leaving them all to me. He moved his kids from Australia to our home and allowed them to disrespect me in a way I could not even believe. I could go on with what he did, but I think you get the idea.

He also caused all kinds of problems in meetings and outside of meetings within the fellowship. He had opinions on every single thing. He had a very convincing (and angry) way of expressing his truth - it was never his "opinion" - it was the "truth!" He was an expert on the steps and traditions and concepts and history and was very convincing. He was usually "right" if you look only at the letter of the "law" and not the spirit. He was cruel to people if they even suggested that anything might be wrong with his behavior.

And do you know what works best with people who are trying to take their own inventories and learn to live in peace with their fellows? What works well is to suggest that there is something wrong with THEM. To suggest that they "have a look in the mirror." I'm telling you, it works every time.

When he broke my wrist (and inflicted other injuries), took all my life savings, moved his kids into my home and made it a hostile environment to me, I had no idea what to do.... my sponsor told me that "love wasn't about finding the right person, it was about being the right person." So, I wrote inventory. I wrote inventory over and over again trying to figure out what MY ROLE was in this. I was praying to find my role.

If I could find my role, I could change it. I would have done anything to change it. I made amends to him. I worked all the harder not to get angry. Not to cry. Not to despair. To be the best wife I could possibly be. It was never enough. And so I would redouble my efforts, and it got crazier and crazier.

One day he left the house and I had no idea where he was going or when he would be home (he once went to the Philippines for 3 weeks without telling me and when I asked him why he hadn't told me he said "you didn't ask.") I was so angry I knew I absolutely had to get out of there or something horrible (or more horrible) would happen.

I went to visit my sponsor to tell her I was leaving. She whispered to me... "I know I shouldn't say this, but B. is a f***ing a**hole, and you need to get the hell out of here and go back to Denver." Well, I did appreciate her telling me that. But I would have appreciated her being honest with me earlier instead of telling me to write inventory and to try to "be" the right person so that our marriage would be OK.

That whole community was tolerating his unacceptable behavior... and I don't mean just with me. I mean his behavior with the whole community.

I know there is a lot to be said for "matching calamity with serenity," and that it is nice to smile while under threat. It is nice to have faith that God will always take care of us, even though there seem to be threats on every side.

But, I really think we have a responsibility. I think we shouldn't put up with behavior that is unacceptable or even criminal. I think we should do everything we can to make sure our meetings and our fellowship is as safe as we can have it be.... (which will never be 100% safe). But serenely accepting someone who is clearly a threat to others? I think that is a bad idea. We have too many vulnerable people who need us. We may not be able to stop anything, but I think if we are aware of bad stuff going on we ought to at least not think it is "working the program" to accept it.

And on that note, I will say I think I am going to start posting in the morning again. I have a more pleasant disposition in the morning. I am starting training for a marathon - I started today, and I have a lot of happy stuff going on... but by nighttime, I write about stuff like this. :X

Monday, February 15, 2010

End of Four Day Weekend

I think I need to go back to work tomorrow to get some rest. It has been a very busy weekend. I thought I would get some down time, but it just never happened. The good side of that is that I have a busy life, full of friends, family, and lots of life stuff. That is very good.

Tonight I sat right at this computer and registered for a marathon (26.2 miles). It is in September. It is local (which means it is at altitude). I am going to really have to buckle down and start training for this. I need to do this for so many reasons.

Today I drove over to a sponsee's house. She lives nearby and the route to her house is one of my favorite quick 3 to 5 mile running routes. I realized as I drove past that I have not run that route in at least 3 months - due to weather. I NEED to get back out and run. I will do this. 26.2 is a lot of miles and will require a great deal of devoted training.

Oh, this morning, after my AA meeting, I drove to the car dealership to get the studded snow tires taken off my old car and the old tires put back on.... they didn't even want my fancy snow tires. So, I got back into that car and it felt horrible to be there. Then I turned the key and the engine made the noise of a car thats engine is about to blow up. If that car were still mine, I would have quickly turned it off and called for a tow. As it was, I drove to the tire store and back to the Toyota dealer. If I ever had any doubts about buying a new car, that quick drive resolved any of them. I walked away from that car so happy and relieved. And got into my fancy new car and drove safely home.

Grateful, grateful, grateful.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Scenic Shot...

I was driving from one church to another yesterday afternoon and passed this park. Every time I pass it I want to pull over and take a picture, yesterday I finally did. No reason. I just think it is particularly scenic.

Today a friend and I went to visit her sponsee. She is in another rehab. Her 300th. (That might be an exaggeration.) She has been away since before Christmas. It was good to see her. It was good to sit on a sticky bench at a sticky table and talk to another alcoholic for an hour or so. I really do wish I knew why some people just won't stay sober.

But I did hear my sponsee at a meeting on Friday night say that she never saw anyone who really practiced these principles in all their affairs have a life that sucked. I laughed when she said that because it was so simple a way to say something that seems far too complex for us to grasp at times.

Oh, we can have difficulties and trials and even illness and death, but truly our lives are never comprehensively BAD when we are practicing these principles in all of our affairs.

I think I will endeavor to do that for another day and hope you all join me...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Instead of worrying about whether or not someone buys me flowers for Valentine's Day, I purchased some for myself yesterday. They are pretty.

Tomorrow a friend and I shall go visit another friend who has been hospitalized for quite a while. That should effectively eliminate any thoughts I have of self-centered worry about how I am not getting my full share of what I think I ought to be getting out of life.

I always remember one of my first sober Valentine's Days... I was crying in a meeting because I had not gotten anything for Valentine's Day. Back then I was young and attractive enough to get away with such shenanigans. Old Denny (God rest his soul) got up and left the meeting. I hadn't noticed until a few minutes later when he returned. He had gone to the nearest 7-11 and purchased me a card, a box of candy and a big old Valentine's balloon. That was about the sweetest thing ever.

You know what? I would actually rather be where I am today than where I was back then. The age, the wrinkles and all. I'd rather buy my own flowers than be hysterical because I had crazy expectations that somehow didn't work out they way I wanted. I do miss the old guys like Denny B. though.

God Bless You Denny B... hope to see you in that big meeting in the sky some day - but not too soon.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I got so excited when they put the "sold" tag in my new car, I just had to take a photo.... crappy cell phone photo as it is...

It took all day to do this. I am so tired. Well, I have also been to two AA meetings and to church. I also spent a few hours looking at But I have a new car and it is nice and I am very happy about it.

This morning I was at a meeting where the speaker mentioned that he was born in January 1985. Well, shiver me timbers, I was sober 6 months when this dude was born! Unlike other old-timers in AA, I don't think that makes me eligible for an award, I realize that this makes me someone that he totally cannot relate to. I am older than his mother for crying out loud! I am still working out what to do with this information. Another blogger who upset me earlier this week insultingly ranted about elderly women sitting in AA meetings in the midwest doing their "macrame." Really? You wanna swap stories buddy? I guess the decent thing for a really hard core alcoholic would be to die before they get old and start looking peaceful and serene.

OK, clearly I am too tired to be writing for publication. Forgive me.

Night Night... my new car is right underneath my bedroom in my garage... night night new car...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Therapeutic Value of Friendship

I work in a psychiatric hospital. I try to be kind of vague about that here.

Today a friend and I were working on a project and walking down a hallway on our way from one unit to another. We saw two patients sitting in the hallway. She nudged me... look at that! Mike (not his real name) is smiling! Frankie (not his real name either) came to see him! Frankie was discharged four years ago and came back to see him.

Mike sits in the hallway most days, his head down, all day long. You can say hello, but the most you will get out of him is a mumble - if that. Today, my friend and I engaged in a conversation with him about how great it was to see Frankie.

My friend and I walked away, both of us wiping tears from our eyes.

She summed it up in two words: "that's friendship." He has been at the hospital for longer than I have. In the 15 years I have been there, I have watched his posture wilt, his hair turn grey, and his teeth fall out. But today I got to see something I have never seen before - an animated, happy Mike.

What's this got to do with anything, you might ask....

Well, Mike has doctors, nurses, social workers, mental health clinicians, music therapists, etc. who work with him. They care about him. They do their level best every day to make his life the best they can. And make no mistake, he needs all of that care. But there is nothing like him sitting with one of his own - someone who understands him and cares about him.

Just like us. We can spend all kinds of money on all kinds of professionals to help us with our problems. But nothing ever connects with us like sitting down with someone who is just like us - someone who understands us and cares about us. We find that in Alcoholics Anonymous and it works.

For me, that was the answer and I will be forever grateful.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Other People's Blogs

In an effort to stay awake until 8 p.m. so that I can watch my favorite television show, I have been perusing blogs I don't normally visit. Oh, that can be a dangerous way to pass an hour or so.

I would like to write a long commentary on their blogs, but then, really, I would be just like them, so I think I shall just skip it. But I will say that it is good to know that I don't know everything - and you're not all sitting out there waiting for me to tell you everything I know!

I have now been three entire days without a Diet Pepsi. Maybe this gets more difficult every time I do it, because it has sure been difficult and although I have done this before, I don't remember it ever being this hard.

It's OK. The tulips are popping out of the ground. Spring will come. I would think that I will stop suffering over wanting a Diet Pepsi pretty soon. And I have a four day weekend coming up after tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Tonight I hosted my Homeowners Association Meeting at my house. It has been a long road for me to be happy about this. I quit the HOA in August of last year. I had fulfilled a two year commitment to serve on the board, hating it most of that time. And the funniest thing happened... after I quit, I found I missed it. After a few months of my absence, the president of the board asked me to return and I was happy to say "yes."

I am not naturally a "sweet" person. I am not someone who naturally thinks loving thoughts about others. I don't naturally like others when I first meet them. My nature is to dislike people and distrust them. My ego wants to compete with them and figure out why knowing them will be a bad deal for me. It takes a lot of prayer for me to not let this horrible nature get the better of me.

My first really good experience with living in community with others was being part of AA. I didn't have to always agree with everyone, but I learned how to disagree without being disagreeable. I learned how to do things for others without expecting a parade in my honor and holidays named for me. I learned how to show up and just do stuff that other people do every single day without ever giving it a second thought.

The most amazing thing was, I learned that others were not out to get me. Most of them are pretty decent people. After years in AA, I was able to take those lessons out into the community at large and hopefully be an asset wherever I am. I find that when I am looking at what I can bring to a situation, people tend to look at what they can bring back.

Today my neighbor was out at 6:30 a.m., shoveling the snow off of my sidewalk. I have never asked her to do this, but she does it frequently. When I get out before her, I shovel her sidewalk. In the spring, summer, and fall, we are often outside sharing our manly tools - saws, tree trimmers, drills, etc., and sharing our limited expertise at using them. We have mixed cement and fixed fence posts, chopped down trees, painted shared fences, etc. During one snowstorm, after we realized the snow plows would never come through this little neighborhood, we all got out and shoveled the snow out of the street... no small feat. But it was great community building.

We are now citizens of the world we once rejected. I find it is not nearly as ugly as I thought it was. I have some wonderful neighbors. I am so very grateful for them. I am so very grateful that by being sober and being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous I have learned how to embrace the responsibilities of being a member of a community. It is a wonderful thing.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Tuesday Morning

It likely will be Tuesday morning when you read this - right?

I think I write crap at night. I am tired after a long day.

I haven't had a Diet Pepsi for 34 hours. I feel foggy and jittery all at the same time. Back in September I cut back to one 24 oz. bottle a day. I am glad I did that because that was a big cut from what I WAS drinking. But that is still way too much of a liquid that is nothing but a bunch of chemicals. There is a pretty solid body of evidence that it is not good for you. My past experience with abstinence from it bears that out for me. But I have gone back to it again and again. My heart is not in this right now. But I have been encouraged by a friend and a physical ailment that I do not want to visit my physician about... I know he will tell me to knock off the Diet Pepsi because he has done it before.

I am not on my "A game" today. I think I shall call it a day. It's a day!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

6 more months till Football

I really love football, so I go through a bit of withdrawal as footie season ends. It sure was nice to see Drew Brees walking around with his son, and tears in his eyes... and for those of you who are Colts fans, I understand, really I do. But I wasn't particularly attached to any team in this race, so I really liked to see the underdog win.

Tomorrow I shall go through a bigger withdrawal as I go through my first day in several years without a Diet Pepsi. Oh, this could be something. I really have to quit. I was going to give it up for Lent, but I need to give it up and there is no sense in waiting another 10 days. I couldn't sleep last night and it occurred to me that the excessive amount of Pepsi I consumed yesterday probably had something to do with that. I had only one (24 oz.) today, and tomorrow - none. Yikes. Absolutely my last vice... unless you count cussing.

I had a nice chat tonight with the sponsee I was so upset with on Friday night. That was good. She came to some conclusions I would have harshly "suggested" to her on Friday (but for the Grace of God). It was good that they were her idea. I agreed with her and support her on good terms and it is good. It is really wonderful when someone realizes they probably ought to try moving in a new direction.

I think the right program for me right now is bed - with a novel. I have been reading such serious things for last several years. I have recently been struggling through Dostoevsky, and decided there is no crime in putting that down for a little while and to read a freaking bestseller novel. I am doing that. Not that it is "light" - the subject matter happens to be the Columbine 1999 killings - something very close to home. But it is still a novel.

I am a grateful sober woman tonight. And I only have to work 4 days next week - and then a 4 day weekend. Do you think my car can hold together till next weekend so I can trade it on a new one?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Cherry Pie

Today was a wonderful day full of AA fellowship. Any day like that is bound to be good. It started with a meeting, and then a great breakfast with great friends. I came home and baked my first ever cherry pie. (there is absolutely no fresh fruit worth baking a pie out of at this time of year, so I opted to use frozen cherries - it was good.) I took the cherry pie to night watch at one of our members' house. There were about a thousand little kids there and I wasn't feeling that great, so I left early and came home. And have been on the phone ever since.
Thank God for friends. Thank God for telephones. Thank God for people who use them.

Thank God I am a part of the world today. Because I am sober, I can be a part of my circle of Alcoholics Anonymous. I can be a part of my family. I can be a part of my workplace. I can be a part of my neighborhood. I can be a part of my church. I can be a part of my school.

One infinitely small, but important, pixel in the big picture. I am so grateful to know that.

Friday, February 05, 2010


Scott W. had some suggestions the other day - like going to the tanning salon, getting some fresh flowers in the house. These are the fresh flowers that I bought tonight on my way home from work. You will note the tablecloth back in use. There is a faded green stain from the wax from the party, but you would have to be looking for it - thanks to all who offered their suggestions for how to get candlewax out of a beloved tablecloth. (freeze it first, then scrape off what you can, then place it between layers of brown paper bags and apply a hot iron. It worked!)

Today is my sponsor's 37th AA birthday. I had wanted to go over to the western slope and visit her on her birthday, but with all the hubbub here, it just didn't happen. We talked today. I am so grateful for that woman, words cannot begin to describe...

And tonight I went to a meeting with a sponsee and her partner. It's one of those old meetings in an old church with a couple of old men. If not for me and J., and C., it would have been two old men and two newcomers. A 22 year old woman who has not had a drink for 10 days shared tearfully about her life being a "trainwreck" - now THAT I understand! I got to give my phone number to her, a new lady who is actually "new," not on her thousanth recycle. It was so refreshing and I feel like my soul has been restored to a great extent. I think I will have to go back next week, if only just to see if she comes back.

I've been up since 4 a.m., and this is the first time I have had to myself all day. I am exhausted and am going to bed. And am grateful that tomorrow is Saturday. And that I am sober today. And that others are still coming to and getting sober in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, because AA works.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


This is a cell phone photo of the dinner I just had with one of my sponsees. We get together maybe twice a month. We have already gotten together twice this month (yes, and it is only the 4th!) and I am truly grateful for that. The dinner was a 6 oz. steak with blue cheese sauce, buttermilk and chive mashed potatoes, and squash. oh, it was divine. And the company was great. She called me out of the blue this afternoon and thank God.

Another sponsee had just texted and asked if I had gotten her text yesterday - the one that told me she was celebrating her 3rd birthday today. Well, no. If I had, I would have been there. What the hell kind of way is that to ask your sponsor to come to your birthday meeting - unless you don't really want her to come? I called her and tried to keep it to "I" messages - but that soon disintegrated when she started screeching at me about how she "tried" and how could I be "mad" at her, bla bla bla. I don't think I am interested in doing this. There are actual alcoholics who are actually interested in recovery from alcoholism who may be appreciative of some help with that. I don't think I need to waste my time with someone who is doing something that I don't even understand.... but doesn't involve following any direction or taking any actual steps as written in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous. She actually talked about the "extra stuff" I wanted her to do... I told her that "extra stuff" was the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.... and she might want to do it if she would like to stay sober.

Oh, God bless us all. How we stay sober is a mystery.

Really, it is. I know a lot of you think you know the secret recipe. But hang around AA for long enough and you will see folks like the woman I just talked about who will stay sober and others who work their asses off get drunk.

I sure don't know. But I do know that I am not going to work harder on someone else's sobriety than they are. That just is not going to happen.

So, I will now lay my weary head down to sleep. Tomorrow I will be up at 4 to go to church before work. And a long day at work. And a meeting at 8 p.m. - which is crazy late for me.

I am so grateful for willing and wonderful sponsees that make it seem like a pleasure to work with them. I must focus on that. Must, must, must. And I am so grateful for my sponsor, who is a wonderful woman who has been willing to share her sobriety with me. What a blessing. I guess if you don't know what that is, there is no way to explain it. But I will thank God for it.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Reducing it down...

to things I CAN do. I was so happy when the blood bank called and told me they NEEDED my blood. Well, that is something I feel qualified to do. So I made an appointment and went and donated tonight.

I didn't cry at work today!

You know, it occurs to me that I might just be a museum curiosity. An unmedicated depressed person. Imagine that!

I spoke with my psychologist today and he believes that I am a "seasoned traveler" with depression and that I do a great job of doing it with (ego syntonic) humor and grace. I believe that relief will be coming soon - work will settle down and spring will come. I will make sense of and settle into my new financial situation. I will buy a new car or figure out how to live with a car that costs me ~ an additional $1,000. a month in repairs. In other words... this too shall pass.

He did congratulate me on not doing further damage. I hadn't considered that. I really could have quit my job. Quit Biblical School when I wanted to. Started smoking (woo hoo!!!!!!) or started drinking. Oh my goodness. There is nothing in the world I can think of that would be worse than starting drinking again.

And I have God to thank for that profound longing in my heart and soul to be sober above all. I could not have produced that desire in myself. God did for me what I could not do for myself.

Thank God.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Over the last little while I have left many loose ends - I usually do that deliberately. I don't want my blog to have every little detail of my life. I have sometimes written too much information here and regretted it deeply. I have shared too much and have gotten some of my readers FAR too involved with my life - so I try to keep it general. But, there have been some things I have left hanging and I am being so depressed and boring... so I will give an update.

The job I interviewed for in November? It was offered to me, but I declined. They could not offer me more money and it was across town and it would end up being a net decrease in pay by the time I increased my commute or moved across town. It was tempting though... and it was a great ego boost... they liked me so much.

The job I interviewed for in January? It was not offered to me. They would not offer me even as much money as I make now and I told them I would not take a decrease in pay. I pretty much think that was the end of discussion. I sure wish I hadn't had to go through all the hoops of the test and the interview with 9 people to have it be a forgone conclusion like that though. I am pretty sure that someone wrote that the interview was "bizarre" after I left. It was. I just couldn't deal with it any other way. So, how much were they going to pay for bizarre? Not as much as I wanted, clearly.

The date on Sunday? Fiasco. He is a friend. But not someone I like enough to date. He showed up at my house a couple of HOURS early. I wasn't ready. I didn't even have make up on. He complained that he didn't feel well, and by the time we ate lunch, he said he didn't feel well enough to go to the movie. I believe that is the truth. And frankly, I didn't want to see that movie anyway. We are supposed to go this weekend, and I don't want to go. I would be wiling to bet money it will never happen. This will give you an idea of who he is: a man who is sober 16 years and stands at the back of the meeting and signals his friend with a finger count of the number of people in the room he "likes," and it is usually one or two. bleh.

There is someone else anyway, someone I like enough to think walking around the park talking to on the phone is romantic. 'nuff said abut that.

Crying at work update: Yesterday at work I talked with a man who is leaving at the end of this month. I asked him if he was having a party, and he said no, but he just wanted to just say goodbye to people individually. And then he blew me away when he said he would never forget me because I gave him his big chance when I hired him. Oh my. I forgot. Oh yes. I hired him. And I told him that it was one of the best things I ever did. And of course, I had to cry.

Then I got to visit with a sponsee after work. What a wonderful thing this is.

Oh, and the car update: a car door that wouldn't close - on Monday at 5:00 p.m., I picked up my car, and $800. later, I got to drive it away. Yes, a VW with 60,000 miles on it is a good deal - if you are a millionaire.

OK. American Idol! In Denver! It hardly gets any better than that. So, I gotta go.

Monday, February 01, 2010

A Winter Trip to the Midwest

Might actually be more beneficial than a winter trip to warm climes. Last January I took a half-marathon trip to Phoenix. I love Phoenix. I loved being there. I loved the race, running through Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe. I loved sitting by the pool after the race. I loved the hotel. I loved the palm trees. I loved everything about it. Except for coming home.

This January, I took a trip in a car to Iowa for the funeral of a person for whom I had conflicted emotions - at best. The trip went south, even though I was going north - and east. Thank God. The weather was horrifying. The scenery was dreary and mind-numbing. The only thing nice about the trip was the kindness of strangers - and that was VERY nice. But when I got home, my state, my urban area, my suburb, my foothills, my little neck of the woods - it all just seems so NICE. I look out the window of my office in the daytime at what probably looked like a dreary winter landscape 2 weeks ago - and now it looks like a warm place - it is not all frozen, it melts in the mid-day sunshine most days. Some day, it will melt for reals and things will start to grow again.

This has been I think the most difficult protracted difficult time I have ever had. In the past, I have gone through divorces, custody battles, death of parents, crazy children, etc. But there was usually an end-point and some islands of sanity. This work thing has just infected just about everything. Throw a very long winter on top of that, oh, and a cut in pay, oh, and some financial difficulties, car troubles, etc... and you have a person who is not her usual self... that is me.

I am meeting with a sponsee after work tomorrow and that is good. She thinks she *needs* to talk to me... she has no idea how much I *need* her. I am so grateful for the wonderful relationships that God has blessed me with. I guess these are the islands of sanity and comfort that will sustain me....