Monday, August 29, 2011

Beginner's Mind --Patience and Humility --Click!

I’m learning to use my new computer. Not just new but my first Apple. She is so pretty and slim and graceful and she’s making me crazy. (Has to be a girl right? Everyone keeps telling me how intuitive she is.) I know that day will come, but today I am reminding myself of “beginners mind” and “being teachable”. I knew that I would have to let go of old habits and give up my right hand reaching for the phantom mouse, and I knew I’d have to play and experiment, but I forgot that it would also feel frustrating and awkward. A lot like being in a new relationship—minus the good sex.

I already see my control issues, my insistence on having things my way and oh, the perfectionism! I want to know how to use it already. (I want to be loved now—today). But I don’t and can’t until I play, experiment and oh yeah, go to school. So I went for some tutoring in Apple Land tonight.

So a new commitment to my newest relationship: to be gentle and kind and to laugh and to trust that intuition will prevail and that my sweet new Apple and I will bond.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Like a Hurricane

We are preparing for Hurricane Irene. And for some of us it could be used as an installment in the quiz: “How to Tell If You are an Addict”.

How much water do we need? How many batteries? Milk? Ice cubes? And then the important stuff: How much chocolate? Today I had that irrepressible and irresponsible urge to stockpile cookies and “granola bars” (the kind that are really like candy bars)—because well, it’s an emergency

I thought today about all of the people who really must prepare in a serious way for the power outage: hospitals and nursing homes, and people with disabilities, and people with teeny babies, and I also thought about active alcoholics who have to manage having and ingesting a supply of alcohol while their families are around. There will be no slipping out of the house to “get a paper” or “check the scores” tomorrow.

I’m so grateful to not have that pressure and that anxiety.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Willingness is an Action

My morning reading today says “Shifting one’s perspective requires a willingness to quit nursing whatever thought is behind the feeling that’s negatively affecting your well-being, then inviting your Higher Power to choose a better thought to replace it.”

There’s the action: Become willing. Ask your Higher Power.     So I can’t just whine, “I feel bad”? Sadly, no.

Here is some of the best stuff I have heard about willingness that reminds me that even “becoming willing” is an action.

“Willingness is a softening toward an idea”
“Willingness is leaving the door slightly ajar.”
“Willingness is showing up.”

And when I am really dug in to my unhappy position:

“I am willing to consider the possibility that I may not be right."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Other People Think...

What other people think of me is none of my business. I learned that in Alanon. I have to keep re-learning that over and over. But it makes sense. If I really practice the Third Step and if I have turned my will and my life over to God, and if I am endeavoring to do God’s will, then I will be used in ways that I don’t necessarily understand --and that others don’t either. So what they think can’t be my business.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Melt Down Day

A melt down this morning. Not pretty. Computer is frozen. Voicemail won’t record. I’m running late. I’m furious about work and deadlines. Streams of colorful language. Slapping my hands on the desk. Like I said, not pretty. And I think, “This is what we don’t tell the newcomer.”

And then I think, “Pray”. And I think, “You can change this thinking”. And I think, “Move a muscle, change a thought.” So I go in the other room (After I snap at my husband--Like I said, not pretty.) And I pick up a reference book and it falls open to a page with this quote:

“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.” Bertrand Russell wrote that. And I laughed—sort of. But I knew it was no accident to see that quote. That is what we tell the newcomer.

Monday, August 08, 2011

My Rocks My Self

As I’m working through my list of “rocks to drop” (Steps Six and Seven) I find  that I need to remind myself that I am dropping these rocks for me. Not for him or her or them. But for me—for my recovery, my peace of mind and my sanity.

I also have to remind myself that I drop these rocks because I’m the one with the 12-step program and I’m the one who needs to make changes and who wants to be changed. It doesn’t matter if he or she is right or wrong or better or worse; it doesn’t matter if it’s fair or unfair. These are my rocks, and I drop them—or try to --one day at a time—for me.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Step Seven is a Retirement Party

In the Seventh Step prayer we humbly ask God to remove the defects of character that “stand in the way of my usefulness to you (God) and my fellows.” That is a world of difference from asking God to remove the defects that I don’t like or the defects that effect how others think of me. Here is a place that humility kicks in—I don’t necessarily get to choose the defects, God does. I can’t use the Seventh Step in a codependent or self-serving way, “Now I’ll get so good that everyone will like me.”

But here’s another bit of Step Seven wisdom I got from a very early sponsor with help from a very early therapist: We do not kill our character defects! My first therapist in recovery (I distinguish from the previous ones that I never told the truth to) pointed out to me that my “character defects” were all things that saved my life growing up. Being a “high screener”—super vigilant --is a life saving skill in an alcoholic home. Also being super organized (controlling) keeps a kid sane and able to function. Being hyperaware of other people’s feelings and anticipating them also makes a chaotic world safer and more manageable. Telling lies, stuffing feelings, being seductive or bossy or too complaint were all part of survival.

And so my defects were once assets.

Until they weren’t.

So my early sponsor pointed out that it didn’t make sense to hate these parts of me because they were in fact part of me and that I didn’t want—in recovery—to hate myself.

Instead we could retire our character defects.

I love the idea of retirement. If we think of character defects as workers whose skills no longer fit the company’s goals then retirement is honorable and appropriate. And just as in a business we can say, “hey we are doing new things now and doing things a new way” but we can honor the “retirees” for all they gave to our enterprise. Rather than shove the character defects out the door or pray that God snatches them up and destroys them we could have a retirement party.

Imagine that. We could list the defects and thank them for their contributions, listing the ways they served us, thanking them for their help in our early lives. Laughter and stories just like a real retirement party. And then we walk them to the door and take their keys and parking pass. But we don’t kill retirees.

But here’s the thing: just like at our workplace, sometimes retirees come back to visit—often at inopportune times—and that can be annoying, frustrating, maybe funny, but we don’t kill them. We may say, “I remember you” and then ever so gently, “You don’t work here anymore.” And we walk them to the door again. But we don’t kill them.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Evening Gatha

In Zen Buddhism a gatha is a song or hymn that is chanted as part of one’s practice. This evening gatha was a gift from a friend. It hangs in my bathroom.

Evening Gatha:

Let me respectfully remind you~
Life and death are of supreme importance~
Time swiftly passes by, and opportunity is lost~
Each of us should strive to awaken…..
Take Heed. Do not squander your life.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Waking Up

I love early morning AA meetings. For the first 15 years of my sobriety my home group in Baltimore was a 7am meeting that met every day and I got there most days. I don’t have a meeting like that now in upstate New York, but on vacation on Cape Cod I go to a 6:30 am meeting and I love it because I’m awake before my ego is. I can hear the messages. What I heard this morning was this line from the Big Book, “Upon awakening we ask God to direct our thoughts.” There it is again. Thinking.