Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Moment of Clarity

-The Moment of Clarity-
by Denise M. "Sonny" Carroll ©

A time comes in your life when you finally get it. . . when, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out - ENOUGH!

Enough of fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.

This is your awakening . . .

You realize it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change...or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon.

You come to terms with the fact that you are neither Prince Charming or Cinderella and that in the real world there aren't always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of "happily ever after" must begin with you...and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are ... and that's OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions. And you learn the importance of loving and championing yourself...and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.

You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you (or didn't do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.

You learn that people don't always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that it's not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself...and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.

You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties..and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

You realize that much of the way you view yourself, and the world around you, is as a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into your psyche. And you begin to sift through all the junk you've picked up from the garbage dump of others about how you should behave, how you should look, how much you should weigh, what you should wear, what you should do for a living, how much money you should make, what you should drive, how and where you should live, who you should marry, the importance of having and raising children, and what you owe your parents, family, and friends.

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.

You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you've outgrown ... and in the process you learn to go with your instincts.

You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive. And that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a "consumer" looking for your next fix.

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.

You learn that you don't know everything, it's not your job to save the world and that you can't teach a pig to sing.

You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.

You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

Then you learn about LOVE. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving and when to walk away.

You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be.

You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. And you learn that alone does not mean lonely.

You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK....and that it is your right to want things and to ask for the things you want ... and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands.

You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect and you won't settle for less. And you learn that your body really is your temple. And you begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin to eat a balanced diet, drink more water, and take more time to exercise.

You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.

You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you believe you deserve...and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen. More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance.

You also learn that no one can do it all alone....and that it's OK to risk asking for help.

You learn the only thing you must truly fear is the greatest robber baron of all: FEAR itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own terms. And you learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.

You learn that life isn't always fair, you don't always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions you learn not to personalize things.

You learn that God isn't punishing you or failing to answer your prayers. It's just life happening.

And you learn to deal with evil in its most primal state - the EGO.

You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you.

You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.

Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself. You make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than your heart's desire. And you hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind. And you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

Finally, with courage in your heart and God by your side you take a stand, you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best you can.


I'm not really in a funk but I just feel kind of blah. I'm not motivated to get to my meetings, practice my prayer and meditation, talk to my sponser, check in here or any of it. I'm kind of sick of it. But then again I'm not. Does that make sense? It's like taking your antibiotics for the whole 10 days. After about 24 to 36 hours your feeling better and by day 4 you forget or just don't want to remember to take the pills. I know I have to remain vigilant but I'm tired. Just plain tired. Gee I wonder if it has anything to do with missing a few meetings? Its been busy. My mother in law was here and we went to Connecticut for a family reunion. Missed my Friday night meeting (did go to Friday am). No meeting Saturday, no meeting until Sunday at 8pm after traveling for 4 1/2 hours. Skipped yesterday. So you know what, I'm going to my morning meeting right now instead of writing about it..and maybe I shouldn't skip tonight as I planned because my brother and his kids are coming for a visit. We'll see.....


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not My Story

But I had to share. Hearing it last night affected me so much. I'm not sure why. But as she was sharing, tears began streaming down my face. Maybe because it had been a powerful meeting until then. One woman had shared about her relationship with her husband that was just like mine. Something I haven't been able to talk about except with my sponser during my fifth step. Maybe it was the girl who had relapsed and collected her 24 hour chip in tears. The meeting was hitting me hard. We were discussing the 12th step. I was in full identification mode. And then this:

She shared that when she was 16 years sober she picked up the newspaper and a woman with the exact same name, first and last, and the same age had been involved in a serious accident and had been arrested for drunk driving. It was all over the papers. She got phone calls from all over checking on her, worried about her. Everyone assumed it was our friend. From across the country, relatives called. People were worried she had thrown 16 years of sobriety down the drain. Human resources called her in. She had a lot to clean up. Telling everyone it was coincidence, it wasn't her. She was still sober. She was angry. But she also had a feeling. She practiced these principles in all her affairs, so she wrote this woman a letter, telling her the story, that they had the same name, telling her she was sober. Saying she didn't know if this woman had a problem but chances are when you make the front page its an indication something is wrong. Included the brochure of 44 questions from AA. She never heard back. Months went by and she often wondered what had happened. Then at church one Sunday, a woman stood up when they asked if anyone was new. Her church does that, then they give you a rose and some membership info. She introduced herself by her first name. Our friend had a feeling and approached her. Welcomed her to the church and said we share the same name. The woman didn't say anything for a few moments and then reached in her pocket and pulled out a crumpled envelope and asked if our friend had sent this to her. When she said yes, she thanked her and said she hadn't had a drink since receiving it a few months prior. Then her 14 yr old daughter approached our friend and thanked her for getting her mother sober. Our friend offered to take her to a meeting and has been sponsering her ever since. That was 4 years ago. Next month, our friend who is a Justice of the Peace will be officiating at her wedding. She's changing her name. Our friend isn't too happy about that. She did say that if you connected the town where she lived, the town where this woman lived and the town where the church was it formed a triangle. How cool is that.

I don't know what hit me on this story. Identification with the desperation of the woman with the crumpled envelope. The evidence of God's grace. The fruits of reaching out. It's a beautiful story and I wanted to share it with you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

You and the Other (with a capital O)

Economic Insecurity

Spent all day Saturday, Sunday and Monday working on spreadsheets, budgets, loan applications and the like figuring out how to afford my daughters tuition, rising fuel costs, home repair and the like. Don't get me wrong. I am very grateful because I realize that some of these problems are cadilac problems as they call them. We have a nice home, enough to eat, clean sheets and that's enough. We have made choices that others wouldn't even be able to consider. We could fix a lot of this very easily by downsizing our home and sending our daughter to community college. Making do with one car, etc. But we are happy with our choices so we are willing to struggle to make it happen.

Anyway, working with these numbers has usually been something I would drink through like many of my household chores. And discussing it with my husband usually ended up with me in tears and him blowing up. I avoided it at all costs and that would tick him off too. Anyway, we had the big budget summit and discussed what our costs are, how to pay for them, where we can make cuts, etc. Should we refinance or not. Which educational loans to apply for. Was it frustrating at times? Yes. But did I drink over it. No. Did I stomp my feet and demand my way? Well, a little but I was willing to hear him out and allow him the time to weigh the pros and cons. It takes my husband longer to make decisions than me and I was able to listen and be somewhat patient about it.

I guess what I am saying is that I am seeing the fruits of the program in my life. I did not drink nor did I think about a drink. I only thought about killing my husband a few times. And I did not smoke though I was definately jonesing. This is amazing to me. And I am very grateful.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Skipped my morning meeting this morning....slept in til 7:00 am. Woo Hoo!

I'm reading Barack Obama's book Dreams of my Father. Its excellent. Even if I didn't know who he was I would enjoy it. It's an interesting story and he writes well and with insight. The fact that he may be the next President of the United States, God willing, is a bonus. Actually I take that back, not God willing. I believe that perhaps God's will put him on this earth and helped him become the person he is, but who becomes president will not be God's will, it will be the people's will. We have the tools that God has provided but it is up to us to use them.

I just read this quote and it really struck me as where I'm at right now as far as religon vs. spirituality is. Barack was in Chicago and had just gotten his first job as a community organizer and was talking with DeaconWilbur Milton, copresident of the Calumet Community Religous Conference. His mission was.."to spread the Good News and puncture some of the Hypocrisy he saw in the church."

"A lot of....folks in the church get mixed up in middle class attitudes. Think that as long as they follow the letter of Scripture, they don't need to follow the spirit. Instead of reaching out to people who are hurting, they make them feel unwelcome. They look at people funny unless they're wearing the right clothes to mass, talk proper and all that. They figure they're uncomfortable, so why put themselves out. Well, Christ ain't about comfort, is he? He preached a social gospel. Took his message to the weak. The downtrodden."

"It's like this collar I wear. That really gets some of 'em mad. 'Collars are for priests,' they tell me. But see, just 'cause I'm married and can't be ordained don't mean I don't have a calling. Aint' nothin in the Bible talking about collars. So I go ahead and wear a collar to let people know where I'm coming from. In fact, I wore a collar when some of us went to meet with Cardinal Bernardin about a month back. Everyone was real uptight about it. Then they got upset when I called the Cardinal 'Joe' instead of 'Your Holiness.' But you know, Bernardin was cool. He's a spiritual man. I could tell we understood each other. It's these rules again that keep us apart--rules of men, not rules of God. See.., I'm in the Catholic church, but I was raised Baptist. Could've joined a Methodist church, Pentecostal, whatever, just as easy. St. Catherine's is just where God happened to send me. And He cares more about whether I'm about the business of helping others than whether I'm straight on my catechisms." pgs 153-154

I read this soon after I attended my friend's father's funeral. It was in a very Catholic church in a very Catholic community. I've always understood that if you are not a Catholic, have not gone to confession and did not receive your first communiun, you could not participate in the Eucharist. Well, I wanted to receive that morning. Jesus said, take this ALL of you. He didn't say take only you who have followed our rules. Perhaps I was inspired by the communiun we had during the conference where 800 people offered the Body and Blood of Christ to each other. So I did go up and receive the Body of Christ. It felt like a milestone to me. I like what Deacon Milton had to say and it is right in line with what I am learning from Thomas Keating and now Richard Rohr.

Have a great day everyone!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dear Mom

I am writing this letter because now that I am a sober woman the hurts of a lifetime have bubbled to the surface and some these hurts were inflicted by you, either knowingly or unknowingly. I don't remember too much joy in my childhood. I know that my basic needs, food,clothing and shelter were met but I don't believe that my needs for love, nurturing and acceptance were. I remember bedtimes we had to come to you for kisses goodnight. So yes, they were there but didn't seem freely given. The mother daughter relationship that I longed for was not available. You didn't take me shopping or I guess what I really mean is you didn't really participate in my life. You had no opinion. Everything was up to my father.

The "secret" that I discovered at around 12-13 is an example of how information was not shared. Your feelings, your knowledge, your pain, your joy was not expressed. This stunted my own growth. When I learned the circumstances of my birth by accident (and which I didn't really learn until after Dad died and not from you but from Grandma and Aunt Cheryl,) the learning that you "had" to get married left me feeling unwanted and unloved. Perhaps this wasn't true but I had no evidence to the contrary and in fact it confirmed my suspiscians and feelings. It was painful and I couldn't even talk to you or anyone about it because of the silence that surrounded me. I built my own little scenario around it and in later life wore it like a badge of honor. The constant experience of punishment, by beatings in early childhood and then being sent to my room or grounded as I got older only served to solidify my feelings of being unwanted, so I must be bad, ugly, irrational and stupid. I don't have any really good memories of you from my youth. Christmas's were good. I remember that, I know you made that happen. But Christmas only comes once a year.

I do have 2 fond memories as a young adult. One, when I was basically on the verge of a nervous breakdown as a result of my drinking and a breakup and betrayal, we talked. I don't remember much but I do remember our hugging and you asking me why I didn't come to you before. It did feel good to talk to you like I imagined other girls talked to their mother but it never happened again. We had a buffer that day because a friend was with me who did have that kind of relationship with her mother and I think she faciltated that heart to heart. I always sought that kind of nurturing from my friends and am very grateful that for the most part I had friends who provided it. The second time you suprised me was when I got my first apartment. You had put aside all the money I had been paying for room & board after I dropped out of college and used it to help set me up with dishes and stuff. I was very grateful for that and I remember being very touched. After I left home, we had a cordial relationship. Dinner on Sundays, me trying to impress Dad with my version of my life. But you did help me along, getting me my first credit card when you worked for the bank and keeping an eye on it so that I wouldn't abuse it. Making sure I did have dinner and leftovers. What I needed.

When I was planning my wedding, you didn't understand any of it. I guess that's because you didn't have one, but I don't know, a girl wants a mother. And when I had Jess, well that's when I really got ticked off. You expected to be a part of it all. I didn't want you there at all but I succumbed to the "shoulds" and allowed you to come "help" after she was born. And you did. But boy, I had a lot of resentment. As I watched you shower love and affection on my daughter, my thoughts were, who does she think she's fooling. And I had absolutely no trust in any advice or suggestions that you attempted to share. After all, look how I turned out. I kept it inside because I knew that wasn't what I was "supposed" to be feeling. Just like I was taught. And that feeling lasted through the birth of my son and on to the events of the recent past. And again, my feelings were confirmed when after Dad died, you could not come out of the abyss of depression and alcoholism for your family, your six grandchildren. At the time I did not understand it was a disease. I knew it on some level but I didn't know what to do. I was caught up in my own disease anyway so how could I. But I wish I knew then what I know now. I tried.

And now, well, we couldn't even talk if I wanted to. Because of the disease of alcoholism you are lost in the world of Korsakoff's Syndrome. I am very grateful that you are happy now but I am filled with sadness. That as I become well, and reach a level of understanding, acceptance and forgiveness we will never be able to have that relationship that I longed for as a child, young adult and now. And it makes it very hard to accept the relationship that we do have. Which is essentially me as caregiver....taking care of your meds, doctor appointments and finances. I keep feeling guilty that your emotional needs are not being met but it is clear that the disease has taken away your emotions. I tried to make you a part of my family but I just can't do that anymore. It's like throwing myself against a brick wall over and over again.

I know that you did the best you knew how. I know that even though your parents weren't alcoholics you grew up in an alcoholic home. I know you tried. I know you loved me. So I forgive you. I know I wasn't an easy child, particularly since you were a child yourself. I know as a teenager and young adult, I was out of control and you didn't know what to do. You were a child of the 40's & 50's and I was of the 60's & 70's, very different eras. I know that my resentment after my children were born probably seeped out in my tone and attitude. I know you would have liked more. So I am sorry for any pain and suffering I caused you. I tried to be there for you after Dad died. I tried to change that relationship, but I guess it was too late and you were sucked into the disease of alcoholism. And I thank you because I know that my values of being a nice person and generous towards others comes from you.

So I will continue to take care of you to the best of my ability. I am sorry that we cannot have a relationship. And I am learning to accept that it is okay and that you are happy as things are. I need not feel as though I am doing something wrong all the time. It's tough when people assume things are one way and they are not. But I have learned that what other people think is none of my business. I cannot let it affect me. I cannot let anyone "should" on us. I know that I am doing the very best for you that I can, just as I know that you did the very best for me that you could. I do love you.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Wake

My friends father passed away and I attended the wake yesterday. We'll go to the funeral this morning. I'm happy to be there to comfort my friend as I know the pain of losing your father and I know how difficult the wake can be. Its one of those customs that while maybe necessary can be very trying. My friend, her mother and her daughter all shared how they had taken Xanax to help them get through it. At least it doesn't smell.

I remember my father's wake. He had 2 actually. We had one in CT where he lived and worked and then we brought him back to PA where he grew up and where his mother, my grandmother still lived. My mother essentially did that for her. Its hard to lose a son. But I drank through the whole thing. I wasn't rip roaring drunk. I saved that for afterwards but I couldn't hit the funeral home without having something first. The CT wake was very difficult but nice too. Since all our extended family was back in PA, CT was all friends, of my parents, of my brothers and mine. So it was small and intimate. His collegues from work came and shared stories of my Dad. I had had no idea how much he was respected and liked and how he mentored the younger scientists. So in CT it was sad but it was uplifting as well and more of a celebration of his life.

When we got to PA it was much more emotional and difficult. My Dad died young of non Hodgins lymphoma, he was only 58 and while we knew that was essentially a death sentence it was still unexpected. By the time we got to PA I had contracted a bacterial infection that started in my ears so I couldn't hear very well. I had spent the week before his death at his bedside. I was drinking, alot. I had been taking care of communications with everyone while he was in the hopsital because my mother could not. I was making a lot of decisions as the oldest. My mother could not do alot of things and she was drinking alot too. I was concerned for my young children and trying to protect them but yet was incapable. The wake was huge with the entire town coming out. My Dad was the star of the family and it was a big family. All the Tetis, (aunts), cousins, uncles were there as well as Kums (godparents), neighbors of my grandmothers current and in the last 50 years. He was brilliant and had left the dying steel town with a full scholarhip to MIT. His first grade teacher showed up. My grandfather had been big in the union so there were alot of those people there too. Like I said, it was a small town. All this with an open casket. That was tough. I don't know why my mother did that. My dad always said to just lay him out on the old green couch on trash day or to place his ashes in a Skippy jar. He was very irreverant. Instead he had a full Serbian Orthodox funeral complete with wailing Babas and everything. And of course lots of drinking at the Serbian club afterwards. That he would have enjoyed, though my grandmother was mortified as she always was. The whole thing was very surreal to me. Between losing my father, being sick, drinking and I believe my sister in law supplied me with some valium as well, I really was not present.

So yesterday after the meeting a young woman shared with me how after 9 months of sobriety she had smoked pot. She's been struggling with the rest of life thing. And I shared how at the wake for my friends father, I wondered if I had to go through the same thing again, would it be okay to take some xanax. And I really am on the fence about this. I know what the answer is, but I also know how much we don't want to face reality sometimes. And shaking everyone's hand and accepting condolences is a really hard thing to get through. I've got a while to think about this though and until then, I know what the answer is...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Power of Example

I can get very uncomfortable and have difficulty receiving praise and even gratitude. I had shared at my meeting yesterday how grateful I was for AA for giving me back my life, my family and a faith I didn't know I had. I had just walked in late and sat down in the back (where you usually get out of sharing) with my coffee and had to unexpectedly speak second after a guy who had just shared something similar, he had just celebrated his 3rd anniversay and will be 30 this week and was expressing his gratitude too for his groups and fellowship. So there was no thought involved. It was pure feeling. Later a woman, during her share said that she wanted to be just like me and went on to describe how she saw me. I looked around at those sitting near me and we jokingly laughed to ourselves and said to each other "what is she thinking?", yuk, yuk, yuk. Afterwards I approached the woman and said hey, why'd you call me out? I actually gave her a hard time about it. Not in a mean way...but I let her know I didn't appreciate it. Shortly after the meeting she left me a message apologizing if she had offended me and that that had not been her intent. I'm such a shit. I called her back and assured her that I had not been offended but embarrassed and I just didn't know how to receive this, I don't want to call it adulation and it definatly isn't but it was kind of like that. I mean it was kind of gushing. You know what I mean? Cause I can't say it right. I let her know that what she is looking for is inside of herself and she is merely projecting it onto me. Maybe I'm just getting close to that friend among friends, worker among workers, paragraph described in the 12 x 12. I can't remember it but I know what it means and its something I want.

But I was disturbed by my reaction and I think its because I don't completely trust this newfound faith of mine and sober life. I think that though I feel peaceful and serene, I don't desire a drink, I have a relative happiness bordering on joy in my life now, I am still full of self doubt and perhaps loathing. Am I being authentic? Am I just faking it so I can make it? I know the answers but it is such an unfamiliar feeling its hard to wrap my brain around it. And because I'm not perfect, examples of imperfection, like irritation at my husband or feeling silent scorn for my boss, or a lack of compassion for a fellow drunk, validate that I'm just full of crap. This sounds like a security issue that I need to work on. I'm insecure in my faith, insecure in my happiness, insecure in who I am becoming. I keep waiting for someone to take it away from me and that would be impossible because it is only inside of me. In my Inner Room and I am the only one with the key. Its just so new.

I also have to be very, very careful with my ego here. This same woman told me, I suppose to build up my ego, that 75% of the people from that meeting had the same type of things to say about me that she did. That's nice to hear but I can also have a tendency to be proud that people are looking up to me and start getting full of myself and start acting with authority. So I have to combat that. Pride is not a charachter defect I want to deal with anymore. And of course the other side of me is wondering what the other 25% is saying. I usually just assume people don't like me. I think it comes from hiding my drinking for so long. Like, they can see right through me. What others think is none of my business!!!! Positive or negative. And this is all heresay too and I must consider the source. What are her motives for dumping all this praise and glory on me? Or is it even bad to ask that? I do want to share what I am learning and what is working for me but always with that preface, its working for ME and I cannot presume that it will work for you but you are free to try it.

Geez, I'm one screwed up but sober woman!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oh yeah, and one more thing

Forgot to mention that we went to an AA meeting Thursday night. How it Works. It was a bit of a distance on foot from where we were staying. Apparantly there are no alcoholics in Old Town, Albuquerque. Anyway, another thing about the southwest, they seem to have their addresses on one street but their front doors on another. I guess you can tell we had a hard time finding the place but we did after walking about an extra mile or so. But besides getting there, I can't say enough good things about the meeting. Here we are at an 11th step conference and what do they choose to read:

"Perhaps there is a better way - we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.
We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our Creator. We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness. Paradoxically, it is the way of strength. The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be"
. pg 68

So it was exactly where my mind was. Then we were offered a ride back by a very nice couple. But they couldn't leave it at that...they gave us a little mini tour, showing us the park around the Rio Grande, the botanical gardens, showing us where the best breakfast place was, etc. As I told them, it was very nice to have family whereever we go. Thanks Elena and Bob.

More on the trip

Lest you think the trip was actually perfect, let's see.....

1. During the banquet dinner Saturday night, in a room of mostly alcoholics and a table full of alcoholics, at a 12 step conference, a woman at my table decided that she MUST have a glass of red wine. So she went to the bar in the hotel and brought it back to have with dinner. The wine didn't bother me at all, really. But her total lack of consideration and compassion did. She then proceeded to caress her husband throughout the dinner. As my therapist said, it probably wasn't her first glass of wine that day. And as my friend said to add insult to injury she would probably leave the glass half full on the table. She did linger just a bit too much but thankfully she did not leave it or I would have had to coldcock her. Only kidding.

2. Then on Sunday night when we descended Sandia Peak, it was a little after nine pm. The gift shop was open and I had seen some things i wanted so we went in and began to shop. The young girl then closed the gate to the store about half way. I asked her if she was closing, prepared to leave, and she said oh no, I just don't want anyone else to come in. So I proceeded to shop. My hands got full, oh yes, I had a lot of junk, so I placed them on the counter and told her I ran out of room and would leave them here. I proceed to shop the store. I was in the back, contemplating whether to by my husband some fajita spices, when I heard the register running, like cashing out. So I went up front and now both gates were closed. I asked her, did you lock me in? She said she didn't know I was still in the store but how could that be true when I hadn't checked out yet and there was all my stuff laid out in front of her. Then I asked her if I could still purchase my items. And she said, no she was very sorry. I was incredulous. I said, you're not serious. And she said, I'm sorry. We went back and forth like this. Not in an angry way, just incredulous. She said she didn't do it on purpose and I said I didn't believe her and left. Found my friend and said a lot of swear words.

3. While the Hotel Albuquerque where the conference was held was absolutely beautiful ,we didn't stay there as they were booked by the time we made our reservation. 800 people. So we stayed at the beautiful Econolodge. WE called it "the Lodge" just to make us feel better. They were supposed to charge us $48 conference rate and believe me it was worth no more than $25. Scummy pool we didn't dare use, watered down OJ & stale donuts for breakfast and no service whatsoever. Well, not true, the rooms were passably clean. Anyway, we were charged $62.99 and when we went to the desk to ask about it, the grandmother (an Indian family ran it and not Native American) who barely spoke English couldn't help us, "she's gone till 2" then, she's on vacation for 2 weeks. Whatever. The owner wasn't even going to let us check into our rooms upon arrival. We had just traveled by bus across the city from the airport, with our luggage and she said our room wouldn't be ready for 45 minutes. Check in was at 12 and this was about 12:30. When she realized we had nowhere to go and were going to park ourselves right in front of her on the fake green leather sofa she managed to find a room for us because she "felt bad."

Anyway, one of the things we learned at the conference was a prayer to do as a supplement to Centering Prayer called the Welcoming Prayer. Father Sheehan who taught it to us. He was the priest who facilitated the first CP retreat I attended back in March. His fllight had been delayed then cancelled and he was a day late to the conference. He said he had plenty or time to practice this prayer in the Philadelphia airport. I'm still learning to incorporate it into my daily life but when I do it helps. So here you go shadow...as promised.....

The Welcoming Prayer
The Welcoming Prayer is a tool of redemption, during which we acknowledge our intention to consent to God’s action and presence in our lives, our desire to live more fully into Truth. Mary Dwyer, Chairwoman of the faculty of Contemplative Outreach says, “Welcoming prayer is like a dance, an invitation to dance with and even welcome your demons.” Here’s how to pray it. Remember, you can be anywhere to pray this prayer, but for starters you might want to practice sitting still and quietly in a favorite prayer space. Once you get used to the rhythm of it you can take it anywhere.

First Movement: FOCUS: Take your attention to a place in your body where you are holding energy, tension, pain. Keep your focus on that place. Don’t judge, analyze, or try to control the feelings or sensations. Just focus on them, be with them. Example: I had a pain on the bottom of my foot. I focused on the pain. Noticed it.

Second Movement: WELCOME: When you have placed your attention on that part of your body where there is energy, pain, any sensation however it manifests, stay with it like a friend, no matter how aggravating. Welcome it! Does it shift, move, increase, decrease? Just notice. Stay with it in love, like greeting an old friend, even if the feelings are uncomfortable. Example: As I focused the pain in my foot seemed to intensify. I stayed with it, saying, “Welcome pain in my foot.” The pain moved up my leg into my thigh. I stayed with it, welcoming it, loving it. The pain eventually just dissipated.

Third Movement: PRAYING: Here’s where you simply recite your “letting go’s.”

A. I let go of my desire /attachment for Control/Power.

B. I let go of my desire/attachment for Affection/Esteem.

C. I let go of my desire/attachment for Security.

D. I let go of my desire to Change (this situation, feeling, sensation, commentary or event).

The body sensation may persist, it may disappear, it may move around, AND the words can still be repeated. Your body sensation may be associated with a problem, issue, immediate situation. Simply “welcome” and see where the prayer takes you. Remember, you are dancing with these “demons,” not trying to cast them out. At any moment in your day you can Focus, Welcome, and call to yourself these four “let go’s.” In time they will become a part of your unconscious tapes. The outcomes and results are up to God.

This is merely another way to consent to God’s presence and action in your life. Practice, Practice, Practice Welcoming Prayer. It becomes you, even if you don’t see it, feel it, realize it. God is changing obstacles into spiritual growth. Keating says we are called to live ordinary lives with extraordinary love. The purpose of all contemplative prayer is to transform us for God’s sake so the God in me can serve more effectively, and with greater charity and love, the God in others.

If you are interested in learning more about Contemplative practices and ways to join a network of like-minded people, go to http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/. Also for a more in depth article on Welcoming Prayer see Welcoming Prayer by Cherry Haisten

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Trip

Father Thomas Keating....an 87 year old Trappist Monk. I cried when he first took the stage. I got to meet him. I got to thank him. I got to hug him. He's a rock star. He's funny, smart and he speaks right to your very soul. He was very accessible, signed our books. When I thanked him for changing my life, he looked at me in astonishment and said..I didn't do anything! It was all I could do not to take a picture of him while we were in the middle of our 20 minute meditation and prayer sits but I gently went back to my sacred word. But imagine that, while I was in my inner room, Father Keating was too!

This is the labryinth at the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque founded by Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monk. Where Father Keating spoke to the soul, Father Rohr spoke to the mind. He helped to make sense of how religon and its dogma and doctrine has damaged spirituality, particularly fundamentalists. I found him very exciting and what he spoke of helped me to make sense and articulate how I feel about organized religon. We had a communion service at the end of the conference where we gave each other communion at one long huge table. 800 people, from 42 states, Canada, Germany and even New Zealand, most of whom were alcoholics though not all, plenty of alanons, and other 12 step programs were represented. And even some "normal" people as well. All meditating, praying, and sharing. It was amazing. The morning after we were invited to Centering Prayer at the Center and I am grateful we went. Got to CP with Father Rohr in his shorts!! Didn't walk this labyrinth but we did one as part of the conference as well as Kripalu yoga which I loved and have continued.

WE got our kicks on Route 66! Quite by accident. We attempted to visit the Acamo Indian pueblo but it was closed for a ceremony. Of course we didn't call first before the hour long ride and its a good thing it was closed because my friend had on a skort and that would not have been acceptable. So on the way back we detoured from the highway and traveled along the famous road. Met some bikers along the way and they took our picture on the road on top of the Route 66 sign. Sadly for annoynimity purposes I can't share it but trust me it's cool!

Let's open up a restaurant in Santa Fe Sunny Santa Fe would be nice
We'll open up a restaurant in Santa Fe Let's open up a restaurant in Santa Fe Ah oh
Our labors would reap financial gains Santa Fe
We'll open up a restaurant in Santa Fe And save from devastation our brains
Do you know the way to Santa Fe?
You know, tumbleweeds ... prairie dogs ...

From the musical Rent......which my friend had never heard of. Talk about living on different planets. It made for an interesting companion.

Visited the Cathedral of St. Franicis and did a sit there. It was beautiful and visited Lorretto Chapel where the miracle staircase is. Beautiful.

The famous Plaza...lots of shops, vendors, museums, churches, charachters, homeless, turquoise, fajitas, jewelry, tourists....but the people were very, very nice and the heat, well, its a dry heat. Bought some wonderful salsa here for my husband made at the Laguna Pueblo but sadly it was confiscated at the airport. Nothing over 3 oz in carryons. Hope the guards enjoyed it. ......
On the way home along the Turquoise Trail which is the scenic route between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Nothing but vistas, desert, mountains and an occasional lone ranch. We passed through Madrid, where they filmed Wild Hogs. And Cerrillos, an old mining town which was pretty much deserted. Kickin' Ass Ranch, Bone Zone, lots of cool rock formations. Just beautiful.

Views from the top of Sandia Peak. I've got about 200 pictures more but I'll spare you. Needless to say, its beautiful. It was also very cold, about 39 degrees and raining and all I had on was a tank top. Who knew?? Trails were closed because of the fires nearby. But that worked for me....

It was a wonderful trip. And now I'm back trying to get into the swing of regular life when all I really want to do is read, contemplate and go to AA. A monks life is looking really attractive.

But I'm back, a mother, wife, paralegal, friend, child of God and an alcoholic.

4th of July was a moment. We have fireworks in our town on this expansive farm that is now town land. My sponser and some of the other women from the Stepsisters all went and I joined them. My sponser brought her husband and I encouraged my husband to join us. With trepidation he did and guess what? He enjoyed himself. Liked the girls and he had a lot in common with my sponser's husband. They both rebuild motorcycles and so there was a lot of talk of that in the corner. It was a milestone because between picking my friend and I up at the airport and socializing on the 4th, he finally got to see that my fellows are not wierdos from a cult but regular fun, thoughtful people.

And, my therapist and I called it quits. My health insurance would no longer cover the visits. We couldn't come up with an honest diagnosis. I could fight it but I think I'm done. She has helped me face some things in my childhood. Not only validated my feelings but exposed them. It explained so much of my current behavior and reactions. Helped me to deal with the loss of my parents. I feel good about this. And in January, if need be I can go back.

So that's about it...there's plenty more but sadly I have to go to work. I've been popping in to my blogging buddies but its been hard to catch up but I'll get there. Love to you all!

Monday, July 7, 2008

I'm Baaaack!

I am back and at work. Its been busy since my return catching up on responsiblities, enjoying the holidays (Independence Day for us Americans) and doing some 12th step work so I haven't had time to catch up with my blogging friends. But rest assured, I am well, sober, had a wonderful experience in the Southwest. Hope all is well here in blogland and I'll be posting soon. Alas the baby birds flew the nest and all that's left is bird poop all over my porch. Such is life! Love to you all!