Thursday, May 30, 2013

A New Way of Living

When I first got sober, many people told me it would be different but to just keep coming back. One of the many reasons I keep coming back to meetings is because the gifts, promises that have come into fruition, and the feel good feelings that I receive in my everyday life. I know, for me, when I don't give it away, I'm usually left feeling discontented, sad, frustrated and all alone.

A little over 7 years ago, I was told that I had to give it away to keep it. It took a long time to understand what this meant. At first, I didn't want to give anything away! Heck I didn't even feel like I had anything to give! Then my sponsor pointed out to me that by just picking up the phone and calling someone else to see how their day is going, just by simply smiling at someone or by lending my ear, or suiting up and showing up for a meeting, that I was being of service by giving up my time and showing a bit of kindness.

Today, this makes my day! Seeing another person smile, giving unexpected gifts, the kind words I hear, the wisdom I learn from and utilize in return of being teachable, the fact that people trust me enough to want to lean on me for a little bit still blows my mind! People have given so much of their time and kindness to help me in my life, and for that I am incredibly grateful! So, I keep on keepin on.

Where I once felt like I had nothing to offer, feeling the brokenness inside, I was shown a new way of living and encouraged by others, especially in recovery, to 'give it away'. This is a big part of my recovery, my life, and it works! Even if I get nothing in return, I feel better about the woman I am today. Now that is a far cry in itself from where I once was, puts a smile on my face.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Can Only See The Colorful Threads...God Sees The Whole Tapestry.

"Please God, give me inspired thought and action. Please show me what you would have me do today."

This is my daily prayer, and it doesn't come naturally. It takes effort and habit to get out of my selfish state of being and ask God what He would have me do, or how He'd have me act or react, in the day He gave me. I know the answer is not going to be, "Well, Amber, this day is all about you! Focus solely on your wants and desires without a care in the world about what others think or feel." Ultimately, if that were the case,  I wouldn't be a good friend, daughter, niece or girlfriend because I'd probably talk about myself all the time, not ask about others and how their lives are, sleep a lot, try to control people, places or things, not answer my phone and isolate with my own company...maybe even drink. I know this does not work because it's what I used to do.

When I humble myself and say this prayer, I usually go about my day doing the next right thing. On the other hand, when I neglect to say this prayer, I notice my thinking to be over analytical, easily drifting into worry, my words become bitter and cutting towards others and myself, and the choices I make become sometimes overwhelmingly baffling even to me.

With this knowledge, for me, amongst other experiences that I've had, I know that there is a God working in my life. The love I feel from Him is omniscient! When I invite Him in and ask for guidance, before speaking, responding, or even writing, life flows with ease and good people, kindness, creativity, solutions and lovely things pour in at covert mach speed.

It's quite amazing to know I can only see the colorful threads individually, some of them weaving together to form designs that make sense once I've moved on to the next thread-yet He can see the whole tapestry!

In my past, I had faith and knew in my heart that there was a loving God, and I was so busy acting defiant. Even in recovery there have been several times where I knew the choices I made were not in alignment with God's, and I was disciplined with painful consequences. The biggest is looking at my image in the mirror and not liking the eyes looking back. 

Feeling lost, baffled, remembering my pour choices, not okay with who I am...this is the most disturbing feeling. Though, through great teachers, I found a solution that works when I utilize its power-prayer first, then action. My daily connection with God is a must. As God created me in His image and is a loving God who loves me, who gave me purpose in this world with a gift of sobriety to boot, who am I to loathe myself and run on my own esteem if I know it hasn't turned out well in the past?

Today, I have no interest in walking through the day lost without guidance. I am responsible for asking for His hand and reaching mine out to help others, as other people and God have done for me so lovingly.

It sure beats the alternative! :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Enjoying Life...What It's All About!

As I sit here this morning at the Gopher State Round-Up, I'm feeling so much gratitude! Grateful amongst the laughter, uplifting morning conversation, wisecracks and ex-drunks who have all had less than 5 hours of sleep. There might be more than 8,000 people here today, as there were last year. Today, life is oh so good!

In my past, morning conversations usually did not include topics of patience and true caring of others, but rather "Oh my God, did you see so-and-so last night? Totally blew chunks all over the dance floor!"...and I'd often hear stories about who I fell on, hurtful or stupid things I had said the night before, or just not want to wake up for fear of the hangover.

The enjoyment of life, for me (especially towards the end of my drinking career), used to be based on whether or not I found a party, lots of alcohol to last until I passed out, big and little lies to be more 'likeable', a preoccupation with getting what I want when I wanted it and cute men to help my self-esteem up off the ground. I had no concern of God's will, gratitude, humility, deep interest in the lives of others, or loving myself. That's how it was.

Today, the way I enjoy life is different. For me, sobriety is a gift and I'm ready for this day of more smiles, laughter, inspiration and experiences shared of strength and hope from thousands more who are in agreement! Woohoo!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Idea That Something Is Wrong Here

The idea that 'Something is Wrong Here', for me, does not create a good outcome. It used to aid in the desire to drink. Not anymore.

Years ago, I took a seminar on being extraordinary. When I registered for the seminar, I had the grandiose idea that I would leave the last motivational class an extraordinary person bound for greatness and on a path to make millions of dollars! Money was my motivation. Well, I left changed and humbled.

The seminar brought to my attention that, if I wanted a fulfilling life, I must abolish the idea I constantly had in my head that 'Something is Wrong Here'. I was never even aware of this as a thought process for myself! Now, being aware, it was a choice to change this stinkin' thinkin'! After 3 years of being sober, I finally understood what stinkin' thinkin' meant, for me-finally!

Even after 7 years of sobriety, it is a daily reprieve and it takes work and effort on my part to turn my thoughts around. I know that if I stay in a mind frame of 'Something is Wrong Here' for too long, it's actually dangerous to my spiritual fitness and enjoyment of life. Today I know that if I engage in gossip about others, if I'm complaining constantly, angry, vengeful, worried, lying, fearful or resentful, I'm simply stuck in the idea that 'Something is Wrong Here'.

The solutions I use to get out of that mindframe is to value what I currently have (gratitude), prayer, being honest with myself (very important), being of service to someone else, calling on a family member, friend or one of my sponsors, getting to a meeting, writing, restoring a room to a beautiful state (heh em-cleaning!), taking my own inventory (do I actually need to amend something?) or choosing to use any of my God-given talents toward creating something new.

Bill W's words of "We must be careful to not drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection..." makes so much sense.

Drinking, for me, is not an option. It is a choice, though, and I choose to stay sober and have a sane mind...that way I won't mess up-as much. Progress, not perfection, right? :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Today, I Choose to Shine!

How I feel about myself manifests through my attitude, smile, way of speaking to or about others, body language...even the way I dress!

During an audition for an agent in NYC when I was 21 years old, I was told that I was 'frumpy'. I was so angry...after I found out what that word meant! How could she say that about me? Who was she? I, in turn, had some words to say about her-for a few weeks! Sad. I didn't even know her. Her observation of me hurt, and I retaliated. Not once did I stand back that day, or even week, and take a look at myself. My ego could not conceive of it.

Ten years later, it still can be a struggle to take criticism, though I've noticed some progress and that feels good. I no longer have an interest in showing up 'frumpy', that's for darn sure! Dressing up just feels sensational and gives me a bit more bounce in my step! The same goes for smiling and kindness, it fills my heart when I receive both, so I give both back as much as possible.

My boyfriend shared with his daughter the other night how people shine through their values and how they treat others...I couldn't have agreed with him more. How beautiful is that?! Growing up, my mother wouldn't listen to me gossip about others for much more than a few seconds. I'd get so upset that she wouldn't listen to what I was saying-little lessons make so much sense to me now. Guidance rocks!

The better I feel about myself, the more loving and tolerant I am; having goals and completing them, following through with my word, being honest and kind with myself and others, cutting out sneaky motives (blehck!) and having quiet time alone with God...the more I am able to contribute and SHINE! 

Today, I choose to shine.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Being Kind To Myself Through Trial and Error

This evening I had a wonderful conversation with one of my sponsees. This woman is beautiful, energetic, full of admirable strength and courageous inside of trial and error. She has taken a stand for who she wants to be and shows it through her actions. There is so much to be said for that!

Our conversation tonight was built around the idea that it is okay to change your mind. To be fully self-expressed and honest, and that there is no shame in that. I used to think differently on this.

In my past, many fears would rise up inside of me if I didn't do what others wanted me to. Fear of rejection. Fear of judgement. Fear of abandonment. So, I followed to belong, all the while silently suffering and even, at times, feeling like a victim. I would tell myself that nobody understood me. Well duh! I was following others, molding and shaping my truth to match theirs...totally dissolving to 'fit in'. 

Today, I know I will survive if someone leaves me behind due to a disagreement. I know I cannot change anyone's mind, only my own. I can reassure myself today with one simple question: Did I speak my truth? And if the answer is 'Yes', then I am being loving, patient and kind with myself through full self-expression. If it works and creates happiness in my life, I will continue to do it. If it doesn't, I learn and grow from that experience...and hopefully do not do it again.

Also, if I decide to change my mind, that's okay, too, as long as I'm not harming myself or others. There is just so much to learn from trial and error...its my decision whether or not to be kind to myself in the interim.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Awakenings Inside the Peace and Quiet.

One of my favorite past times for many years now has been camping. The stories others share around a campfire, sounds of the wind, animals roaming through the trees, loons calling out, the smell of campfire smoke in my clothing...a nice break from the high heels, make-up and hustle bustle of the city. I didn't always value this past time. It's different now.

At a younger age, when I lived in Montana, my parents would occassionally take me out camping and hunting with them. I still remember how annoyed I would get that I couldn't stay home to party, stay up all night talking to older high school boys, going on nightly cruises on 'the drag' in downtown Missoula or just plain find something to do so I wouldn't be stuck with myself. Always to escape. Though, I do have vivid memories of enjoying the sunrise over the Bitterroot Mountains while feeding our horses, and the way my mom's beef stew tasted out of a bread bowl. I think these are now my favorite.

In my twenties, living in New York City...moving there, not knowing a soul, scared as hell but determined. I had visions of grandiosity thinking I was going to conquer that city! Going to school, babysitter by night...drinking every chance I got, curious about people, yet starving for attention. Sometimes I had to get away, even in the latest hours of the night. So I'd hop on the subway, ride it down to Battery Park, step onto the Staten Island Ferry and enjoy the peace and quiet of the harbor. I can still remember the smell of the salty, humid air, the creaking sounds of the ferry and the dazzling city lights in the distance. It was on that ferry that I made the decision to go to live there in that bustling city.

It was also in that city that I started searching and found out I was not the center of the universe, there was a God and I was not Him. This was a rude awakening. The awakening that other people, just like me, had hopes, dreams, loves, desires...and maybe some were actually really happy, whether or not I thought so did not really matter much. I didn't know it all. I awakened to this while waiting for a 'walk' signal on the corner of 23rd Street and 6th Avenue. Everyone was so busy getting to where they needed to go. Everything got quiet and I was frightened, humbled. I immediately went home to my basement floor, Astoria, Queens apartment and went to sleep!

Three years later, when the tsunami hit Thailand, my heart felt broken. I left my Van Nuys, CA apartment and headed for the Pacific Palasades. When I arrived at the beach at sunrise, I prayed for all the families that had been affected. This was an improvement from the earlier years of not understanding how much devastation was around me in other people's lives in NYC after 9/11. Here, on the beach at 23, I wasn't as self-absorbed. It was so quiet that morning. The gentle waves crashing was about all I could hear until the dolphins came so close to the shore. It was so majestic! I had never seen dolphins in nature! I found out they arrive about the same time there every morning and afternoon. This was my new favorite place for peace and quiet.

It was on Whidbey Island in Wasington State that I gave up the booze and it was in the quiet of a foggy morning. I asked God for help. And today, in Minnesota, I treasure this campfire I sit beside, the sounds of birds in the morning in my new neighborhood, the sunset drives in the convertible with my boyfriend and his beautiful girls, the smile on my mother's face, the sound of truth and even the smell of flowers.

I don't live a perfect life, though I am grateful and carry an attitude of gratitude as frequently as possible. The shift in attitude helps me value my beautiful, sober life, and be in acceptance of others and how they choose to live theirs...especially in the peace and quiet.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Love is Made...Built. So is Trust.

For so many years I thought I would never get married, though I gave myself permission to just fall in love. Then I thought that all I had to do was fall in love, then all the wrinkles just fall away as I land into Mr. Right's arms. Boy, was I wrong. The names I was given from my youth-La La Land & Barbie-were still casting a thick shadow on how I perceived Love! Darn it!

I now know that the ingredients of which I need to use to make a lasting, loving relationship are time, commitment, patience, prayer, understanding, empathy, communication, kindness, honesty, sense of humor (my man has taught me how to find humor in just about everything!), compromise, smiles, gifts, affirming words, loyalty and love for myself! I notice that at any time one of the ingredients are missing, fear creeps in and the love doesn't feel full.

Love is made...built. So is trust. The 'falling' for me has, in the past, been simply infatuation mixed with hope and curiousity. I make the choices daily of utilizing as many of the ingredients I can at any given moment. For love is worth it!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Let's All Build Some Dreams!

My first dream that I remember wanting to make a reality when I was a child was to be an actress and to live in Los Angeles...and to drive a Mercedes Benz convertible (one of my favorite movies was License to Drive and, if you've seen it, you'd understand).

The seed was planted while watching Dennis Quaid in "Great Balls of Fire". See, my grandpa showed me pictures of Jerry Lee Lewis when I was a kid. He told me a story of how while he was in the Army in Oklahoma, Jerry Lee Lewis played at a local bar. So, when I saw Dennis Quaid on the screen, I realized he was an actor. I was spellbound. Then I found out how much actors get paid! I found my first dream!

Dreams are simply goals, with a deadline. I wanted to get out to Los Angeles before I was 18...though I was 18 years old for 11 months before I made it out there BUT, I made it! And, I decided I wanted to take a tour of NYC before making that commitment. I ultimately moved there, after a beach-bum run to Savannah (another dream I will talk about in my book)!

After graduating from The School for Film & Television-now called New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts-I had an fulfilled my dreams of getting an agent and a manager, meeting celebrities, and finding a direction of faith. However, I did not act professionally or even with much integrity, because alcohol played such a huge role in my life...and I will talk about that more in my blogging and book.

I finally made it to L.A. when I was 22, to live. A dream to me became reality. By the second time I moved there, now 26 years old, I had fulfilled my dreams of staying sober, becoming a literary agent, getting into Playhouse West, starting three different companies, and being featured as a young entrepreneur in a Los Angeles magazine spread of "Top 40 Under 40"! Also, I was given 4 free tickets to watch DQ & The Sharks (Dennis Quaid's band) play at a small club in Beverly Hills. Though I didn't get the opportunity to talk to Mr. Quaid, he looked right at me while performing Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire" only about 10 feet away. THAT left me speechless!

Fulfilling dreams is something I strongly believe in. I know, today, that I'm not defined by where I have lived or what I've purchased, but by the person I am and how I can contribute. Oh, and, as for the Mercedes...I did get a sweet deal on a convertible at the age of 30!

The excitement and happy dances of completion...there is nothing like it, except finding your true love-but hey, isn't that a dream, too? Let's all build some dreams and encourage eachother that we can.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Grass is Green Here...When I Water It.

Today, I moved in with my amazing boyfriend! Feeling ready for this opening chapter. Though, it's been an eye-opening week.

The week started with finding out that my mother and step father are moving to Washington. At first I was quite sad, though when I cried on my man's shoulder, he helped put things into perspective. He said, "Well, look at the bright side, they're here now. You can go see them whenever you'd like." So true. To value what I have, today. Simple words with so much impact help me appreciate life a little more. Also, I gave my 9 month old puppy, Sadie, to a loving family. This was bittersweet. I knew they would give her more time of play and affection, and that's what I knew in my heart she truly needed.

Funny story. Back in November I made the choice to get a dog because I was single. Saw this little, cute, black terrier when I stopped at the Humane Society. Filled out the paperwork quickly just before closing and told them I'd be back for her the next day. Now, everyone I know had told me not to get a dog, that I'm hardly home much...did I listen? Nope. I was on a mission for companionship!

The next day I had a coffee date planned for a first date with my now boyfriend. The date was going well, lots of similarities, good conversation...but I had to go get my new puppy! So, I asked him if he'd like to go. He responded with an eager expression, "Go with you to get your new dog? Sure, I'd love to." Little did I know that he wasn't so big on dogs...ha! He was still very sweet with her, buying her a kennel, babysitter bones and treats. He'd remind me that just because I don't eat meat doesn't mean I have to deprive my dog of the good stuff. :)

Long story short, I gave Sadie lots of love and affection, but not enough time. I decided to stop being selfish and do the right thing-give her to a family who had plenty of time, love and a big, double-fenced backyard. On the drive there, she knew what was happening. Dogs are intelligent, or at least she is. When I sat down beside her in her new owner's backyard, she wouldn't give me kisses or even look at me as her eyes were half folded shut. I thought she was going to cry. She wandered off to her new owners after I snuggled her and gave them kisses, tale just a waggin. I felt sad for all the time I wasn't with her to love her over the past months. As my eyes filled with tears, Sadie was happier now...playing with her new family on her new found, green grass.

Eye-opening lesson this week: show gratitude and appreciation for what you currently have, Amber, because tomorrow is not promised. And don't forget that the reason others have greener, more luxurious grass is because they spend the time to water it more often!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sometimes When It Seems Like My Life Is Falling Apart, It's Actually Coming Together!

I've seen tornadoes whip through the country and the wreckage they cause...especially in Oklahoma. Though, after the dust settles, there is always the most beautiful sky you can imagine, people working together to rebuild and major transformations.

I've said it before, I firmly believe it.

I've been through a lot these past couple of years and now it seems to all make sense. I can only see the threads in my day to day life, though God sees the whole tapestry. I choose to see it as a beautiful one, just for today.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How I Started to Be Kind and Loving to Myself with Affirmations

I just noticed that most of my views were registered on the blog of 'When I love Myself, My Fears Melt Away'...and I'm speaking for Al-Anon tonight in a Minneapolis suburb clubhouse, so what better time to post this one!

Growing up I felt like a victim, acted like a victim and somehow attracted bullies! I didn't get it. I had no idea how to stand up for myself. I frequently heard names thrown at me like, "La La Land", "Little Miss Piggy", "Pizza Face". I even let a high school teacher into my head with this one, "Don't even try and apply to Julliard, you probably won't get in." Though, don't get me wrong, I wasn't fully discouraged. I had drive somewhere inside of me. Especially when I wasn't drinking...more on that later!

So, not really until one day did I have a glimpse of enlightenment with standing up for who I was. Here I am, living in Los Angeles and fulfilling my dream of being a literary agent. I'm twenty-six years old, married, sober and semi-content with my little-to-no sleep dream job (pay is also very low when you start at the bottom). Then due to the Writer's Strike (2007), I'm laid off. I had a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity, didn't work? No agency in town would hire me in the current market with such little experience. I was lost. I decided to go ahead and attend my motivational seminar to get my hope-tank filled up and be around some positivity.

That evening, in the transformational seminar I heard the words, "You're not a victim. You're chosing to be one. Stand up for yourself. Decide who you want to be and then be it. Let everyone know." I thought to myself, "I can do that? Nah, people will just laugh. What do they care anyway?" Then I listened to my own thoughts and BOOM! There was a paradigm shift.

I decided to create a new me, who I wanted to be from now on. The coach asked us all to write up an affirmation of the new person we wanted to be. Hmmm...okay. Decided to sleep on it.

The next morning after that transformational seminar, I drove through Malibu Canyon in my red '99 Mustang Convertible, top down with some light acoustic music in the background. *If you've never taken this windy, scenic, ah-inspiring drive through the mountains I highly recommend it!* Then I started saying aloud, "I'm a healthy, youthful, extraordinary woman..." over and over again. After that I added, "who had a P.H.d in creating results!" That was it! I decided who I was going to be, always in all-ways.

Let me tell you, for me, it has worked. People might say now that I'm a crazy mantra woman, to them I say (((WHAT-EVER))).  Lol! Like my mother says, "Hey, if they're talking about you, they're leaving someone else alone."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Beginning Memories of Childhood -Time with Grandma & Grandpa

Well, I was born on the 20th day of October, 1981 at Mercy Hospital just on the outskirts of Minneapolis, Minnesota to a fantastic, heroic woman. My very first memory looking back, though, was of going to my grandmother's house when I was just a bitty kid and being frightened by her wearing a fake, old-lady mask with rubbery gloves to match. Maybe I was four? I have so many memories of my grandparents' home. The taste of juicy, deep fried chicken and the apple crisp! cousin Patrick and I would beg grandma to make apple crisp, she'd respond, "Well, go out and pick some!" There were many weekends I would stay with my grandparents a.k.a. The Best Babysitters Ever!

My grandpa and I had a Saturday morning ritual- breakfast at McDonald's. My grandpa would always go to bed so early so he could wake up by 2am to be to work by 4am. So on Fridays, I'd stay up late with Grandma watching The Three Stooges, Lassie, Mr. Ed, Leave It To Beaver, The Patti Duke Show or The Andy Griffith Show...then I'd fear that my grandpa would leave me if I didn't wake up in time to go to McDonald's. So, after I'd hear him pour his coffee, I would sneak out to the living room, peek my head around the kitchen corner, confirm he hadn't left yet, then sneak back into the living room to sleep in his chair for awhile. He'd wake me up about five hours later, always with the same grin and ask, "You ready to go?". I still get a chuckle out of this! Another fun memory with my grandparents was when we'd go to the OCB (Old Country Buffet for some of you who aren't in the Minneapolis area). Grandpa and I would always have a race to see who could eat the most desserts. This drove grandma a little crazy, for I'd always end up sick, rolling around in the backseat in pain from eating so much and with grandpa asking, "Amber, you want to stop at your favorite place, Dairy Queen?" Terrible! I never knew how he always had so many more than me and won...until I was older when he let me in on his secret, "I put less in my dessert bowls." Got it. Makes sense. Yep.

My grandparents were really there for me, always. They meant the world to me. Still do. My grandmother and her uncanny way of whipping up the best tasting meal in no time flat, always with a lot of energy and constant conversation, cigarettes and coffee. If she wasn't watching Highway to Heaven, Little House on the Prairie, or The Waltons...there were always scary movies or Wheel of Fortune. Ha! We'd talk about the programming we were watching and I think those shows truly instilled some strong family values in me from a young age. I am grateful for the fourteen years I had with my grandma before she passed. Her stories of courage, her life with her sisters, how she met my biological grandpa and then my closest confidant Don (who I call my grandpa above and below). The road trips up north to Grand Rapids (where my grandmother was from) with Nerds spilled all over the backseat or gum stuck in my hair. My grandpa singing songs like, "Did you see that skunk in the middle of the road...?", with a 'twist' that made it quite fun for a little kid, "all smashed up with blood coming out of it's noooose..." I would "EWWWWWW" and laugh until I cried!

I would sit and watch the news on my grandpa's lap as he'd explain how stocks worked. He'd start to doze off and I'd say, "Grandpa! Are you falling asleep?" and he'd reply, "Nope, just shutting one eye." I fell for that one too. So gullible-still am at times, darn it! We'd go to garage sales and I'd usually pick out pictures of Jesus or anything related to Michael Jackson. I've actually learned a lot from both, honestly, but I'll cover that later.

The gratitude I have for my grandparents cannot even be measured. They were both funny, kind, empathetic, fun, loving, giving, wise and...sober. Didn't know that last part until I was in my teenage years. Ramona Murphy and Donald Eldredge, Grandma & Grandpa, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Grandpa, if you're reading this, I'm coming over to see you!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Contentment is Being Okay with where I am at in My Life

Acceptance. Sometimes I fall, then I simply make a choice to rise. Pain is a great motivator to try something different.

With the way I chose to live my life for so long, contentment feels strange. I view it as being loving and kind to myself...and others, for they don't have to feel the draining of their own positive, hopeful energy!

I experience and feel only love inside of contentment. No fear. In this, serenity and sanity LIVE.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Insecurities and Boundaries...oh, the Joys of Life

Doubt. Fear. Concerns. Uncertainty. Not assured. Lacking confidence. Exposed to risk, loss or danger.

I love the woman I am. My kindness, empathy for others, drive and determination, intelligence, beauty and confidence. However, at any given minute, I can become insecure if any of the above creep in. It absolutely doesn't feel good, though as far as I know, there is no way to prevent it...only ways to deal with it as it arises and having an open mind and confidence while dealing with it.

Because I spent so many years of my life lost in the land of two-faced chaos, my mind is quick to go into an imaginary world of fears like, 'What are they thinking? Why did they say that? They're just pretending like they care. Nobody could possibly be so sweet without an agenda! What's their motive? They talk a good talk.' For me, being able to distinguish between what I imagine and what is the reality of what's happening is a massive step in my own recovery.

I can relax, take it easy, have fun in any given moment and not struggle. Write down my fears if I feel it will help. I can create and implement boundaries that help me to feel more loved and secure by others- that's pretty freakin' awesome! For 29 years I don't even think I knew what a boundary was!

Boundaries are created in my life as a replacement for expectations, which used to fail me time and time again. With setting a boundary with someone, I can tell them, "Hey, this feels uncomfortable when you do/say this."

Now I have two choices:
1. To set yet another boundary of "Please don't do this again...-or-...Could you please do this?"
2. To let the other person go about their day after I've expressed how something makes me feel and they have heard me.

I like to ride with the second one because the first can be seen and felt as 'control', even if that is not my intention. At least with letting another person live their life how they wish I know who cares about what or how I feel about something, and who does not. Then it's my choice as to how I handle that information.

We all have the right to create and implement what we feel are healthy boundaries for ourselves. Expectations are based on my own beliefs, having them has mostly lead to me to anger, sadness and frustrating disappointments in my life. The other person may not have even known what I expected. So silly.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

If I Could Just Waive A Magic Wand...

Cheesey? Yep, at first line sight maybe. But wait till I get into the meat. I love this one! Maybe you will, too.

A friend of mine is very concerned about her young young family member being sexually active and drinking. I responded with, "Oh, if only we could just waive a magic wand to create a protective bubble around those we care so deeply for!"

I could empathize with her pain because I, too, have had many people I've cared deeply for make what I call 'mistakes'. Eventhough I wasn't born with superpowers, sometimes I have convinced myself that I know best when it comes to someone elses' life. As far as I'm concerned now, that is EGO (Edging God Out). MY perception of what I THINK is the right way isn't always right and can be quite hurtful in the end, honestly, if it's not coming from a loving but rather a fearful place. A lot of the time my ideas of how others SHOULD live comes from my very own parents and how they raised me.

Okay, so if God is in control, has a plan and wants us to 'get it', how do we trust that He will handle it? People, including myself, say, "Let go. Let God." This frustrates even me when I hear it from someone else and I want to be the one to fix it! I used to go to ten other people, get their ideas, drive myself into panic mode for a few hours, then come back and try to force a solution. NOPE! Doesn't work for me anymore and creates total chaos.

Well, now what? What works best for me is when I simply ask God for inspired thought or action. I quietly say aloud, "God, I know you're busy, but could you please give me inspired thoughts or actions on this so I don't act on my will, but on yours? Thank you. Love you." Then, I sit on my hands so I don't call a bunch of people, and I do absolutely nothing about someone else or how they are living their life...until something comes to me that seems loving, kind, unforced and non-manipulative.

The moment I'm judging and directing, I'm playing God, and that's no bueno. Oh, and I've done it more times probably than I can count!

It helps to remind myself that love is patient, very patient, and kind.

When I Love Myself...All Fears Melt Away

Today's thought from Hazelden is:

I walked across an open field at winter's break as the sun danced on the last few drifts. I imagined my fears would melt one by one as I learned to love myself.
--Laurel Lewis

Fear is as familiar as our image in a mirror. Although we have resolved many of the fears that bound us to old behavior, our original fears may have been replaced by new ones. Why are there so many things to be afraid of? New friends, old relationships, careers, family history, tomorrow...

Acknowledging our fear is the first step to getting free of its control. Naming the fear puts us in charge. Remembering that we have a loving Higher Power who won't abandon us, even in the midst of our deepest fear, can help us get through too.

But loving our small, scared selves will be the most nurturing of all. Mothering ourselves, in the way we may have longed for mothering in our youth, will carry us through the most difficult times.

Fears are part of living. They are neither bad nor good; instead, they can teach us. They can help us learn to love more of ourselves.

I will welcome my fears today. They are my blueprint for who I am. God and I will comfort me with love. -quoted from A Woman's Spirit by Karen Casey

Breakdowns = Breakthroughs!

When I lived in Southern California, my good friend Pam introduced me to an education platform similar to Stage ll Recovery that changed my life forever!

At first, the skeptic in me was like, "I don't need this kind of education. They just want my money." Though at the introduction something hit me in the face and slapped me awake! On this blog I will be sharing a lot of what I learned within that year in the rooms of Landmark Education.

Today, I'd like to talk about Breakdowns and how I get excited for them. I know, right? Excited? Yes, yes I do. See, everytime I have a breakdown in my life with myself, another person, job, money...whatever it may be...and then the dust settles, there is always a clearing which helps to create a BREAKTHROUGH!

Think about it. When was the last time you went through something traumatic? You obviously survived, thank God, which means you have purpose. What did you learn about yourself, your family, your friends, your situation? Did you have a shift in how you were so sure everything was, but now think differently because of what you went through? Well that IS a BREAKTHROUGH!

So, basically, everytime I have a breakdown...I get emotion-filled (sometimes downright terrified!), check in with God...then a little serenity happens when I ask for guidance and remember what I've learned of breakdowns. Making a choice to respond and react from a loving place, I finally hold on tight and enjoy the ride to learn so I can experience the glitter of the breakthrough. I'm here still. Life isn't always smooth as chocolate, but I can look at things and say, "Ahh...this could potentially turn into a miracle too. If not for me, then maybe for someone else."

Happy Breakthroughs To You!