Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Opening Up-What Is This Here To Teach Me?

Trusting that the nature of the heart and mind can be
-then are- 
limitless, boundless, open, free of prejudice, free of bitterness, free of bias…
open to many more possibilities 
than of the past;
then the perception of humanity changes.
Every moment to have choice,
To open up or shut down.
Seeing others,
As I see myself.
The ability to stand in someone else’s shoes with ease can and will occur. 
The bitterness dissolves and emotional honesty comes into fruition. 
Fears will slowly drift away.

There is so much power and authenticity,
In a simple pause,
In multiple deep breaths,
In quieting the mind,
In stopping negative thoughts from circling,
Round and round creating bitterness,
To embrace curiosity about everything,
To be penetrable,
To be calm and peaceful,
Being present to emotions,
All as they rise up,
And no longer validating,
That which is nothing-ego and pride,
Though they have taken me on a ride,
To opening the heart,
Not missing a moment,
To listen 90% of the time,
Talking the other 10% ,
To be slow to react,
Leaving the childish ways behind,
And through any of the chaos,
To ask: "What is this here to teach me?"

All of the above is my aspiration. To me, it makes life more meaningful and worthwhile.

Monday, July 29, 2013

How I Get Separated and Disconnected

The Heart of this blog, the heart of what I do in my life, beats with love and is the heart of a servant. God shook the bajeezes out of me until FINALLY I surrendered, but dangit, it took awhile!

After having experienced a spiritual awakening as a result of working a program of recovery (though, years into it…sometimes quickly…sometimes sloooowly), the capacity to love and empathize even more sank into my heart. I had a different understanding now, that we are all interconnected, God has the reigns and that separation is only created in my mind.

Before this time, I only ever had fleeting thoughts of being connected to others…still thinking of myself usually first. Sure I was loving, sure I was kind, sure I’d help you-that’s where my value of worth all came from. The mentality that if something happened grandly or badly, it was at my feet to deal with and usually all about me. My dis-ease was still about it being all about me. The chaos around me was not just a fluke for so many years, it was due to me fueling it with others that I was connected with…about trying to steal the reigns and take control.

Today, I understand that when I can speak, think and act in gratitude, I am connected. When I don’t, I am separated and disconnected from The truth.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Opinions And Ideas That Have Shaped My Life

My opinions and ideas of how I see the world have shaped my life.

One belief that I stand firm in (seen proof of this time and time again) is this:
*We are all just in different stages on the same journey*

The moment I try to push or reprimand anyone who is not a child, I had better stand back because here comes the retaliation. Intuitively I know this. I have tried this over and over, it does not work. I’ve learned over and over and have finally surrendered to the concept of how simple it is to Let The River Flow. Progress is key, not perfection-not for me.

Another One That I Have Is:
I don’t first think of people imputing ill motives. I give them the benefit of the doubt- even if many others have ‘warned’ me.
Even if I end up hurt. So what? I’ve been hurt probably a thousand times over, still kickin’, learnin’ and growin’ on the inside. The fact is, I am a grown woman and can make decisions based on what I see, what I’ve witnessed of that person, how they have shown up in my life- not merely and loosely what I hear from others. Especially gossip. Gossip is not grounded in anything real. Just flighty opinions airing around, catching heavier drama.

Another One:
Always apologize for hurtful words or actions.
This creates a clearing like nothing else. The result is always good.

Another One:
Willingness to forgive and then with time, real honest forgiveness.
It is the biggest form of love that I have ever experienced of myself and others. Absolutely beautiful! When my mind says, "Hold a grudge, don't let this go."...I let it go anyway. Some things take more work to forgive, but it always passes.

Another One:
I try to keep myself as open and penetrable as possible. This to me is a form of love.
Life is hard enough to come at it already protected, impenetrable from even that which could be good. I want a lot of the good stuff…so I keep myself open. Open to hurt, too, but for me it’s worth it still. It’s still working in my journey.

Decisions are not black or white all the time-good or bad. I believe there is some gray area.
Often I am weighing unpalatable choices. It’s not just black or white all of the time. Decision making in my life has proven to be very difficult at times. Frequently I have had bad alternatives no matter what my choice is and then it just comes down to which causes the least amount of hurt and pain. Belief and prayer helps to give me hope that I will make correct decisions, ones that are in alignment with good…but many times I believe I have miscalculated. Do I beat my head against the wall? No! That looks too painful! Ouch!

Third to Last:
I try hard to not judge a book by it’s cover.
The moment I decide to create judgment about anything or anyone I only know from surface, not knowing what’s in-between or underneath, I have officially lost my curiosity and humility. I have jumped onto my horse and galloped away-all while looking like an idiot and feeling like a shark. This always ultimately equals pain for me. I don’t like pain even though I know it helps me grow –yadda yadda yadda- but who likes pain? So darnit, I try really hard to stay curious and humble. Do I fail OH HECK YES I DO! Then comes the pain…then the learning…you know the drill.

Second To Last:
Stay clean and sober.
It just works for me better than the alternative.

Last (even though I could share many more):
I would love for God to smile at me someday and say, “You gave a lot of love and had respect for yourself. You never apologized for me. Nice work. Now let me show you your next assignment.”
That’s it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Trading The Ultimate For The Immediate

When I was younger I never realized the importance of the facts in that the decisions I make today design my future. I do now. Today, I can honestly say that I am at peace with myself. I love the woman I have become.

As a child, I was more kind and giving, trusting and caring. Around 6th grade, however, I realized that people can be so cruel and inconsiderate. I became disheartened. One incident after another occurred and I fell into a victim state of mind. My grandmother passed in my early teens and I turned to pot and alcohol to cope with the pain. Faith that God had a plan was only woven intermitantly. I became indifferent in all my decisions.

In my late teens, I clung to a dream I had had since I was a child- to become a moviestar. Hope rose up and gave me direction. Minus my drinking (denial of a problem still strong), I intuitively knew what to do and what not to do. All the books I had read, knowledge and wisdom from others who had 'made it' was instilled in me now. I was so glad to have taken all that advice seriously and apply it to my life, for wonderful things happened. Though drinking, money and men were immediate gratifications. They took presidence over my dream and I lost my way.

After becomming sober in 2005, I realized I needed new dreams. Again, I dove into books to learn more. I had direction if I continued to focus on what I ultimately wanted. Instant gratification had lied to my soul and the person I hoped to be. I knew it would all come in time if I simply did what I knew inside I had to do-for the 'ultimate'.

Dreams came true left and right in my life, though I was still dissatisfied. Why? I had worked so hard! Sober, married, great career path, accomplishments, money, foster mom, houses, amazing friends and family...why wasn't this enough? This attitude effected everyone close to me and I was depressed.

After a divorce and doing more of the same victim thinking for quite sometime, I felt so stuck. Where had I made a sharp left where I should have made a soft right? I started listening to others who were wiser than me. Praying constantly. Finally, I got it! Let go of my pride (hadn't been working for a long time). I decided to get more involved with my program of recovery. It didn't happen overnight, and not even in just a few months, but it did happen-The Spiritual Awakening that was promised years prior. BAM! To my knees I went. My ultimate was things, accomplishments, what others thought of me, money. Garbage! God needs to come first or I will be lost inside and I will be a mess.

Now, today, my Ultimate is asking His guidance in all things I do. Continuously sharing, caring, loving and keeping my eyes on the Ultimate that's been working for loving life, people and myself-Eternal Life. Everything else just falls into place. Inside of this direction I feel whole, grateful and inspired daily; staying sober of the mind, body and spirit.

No longer do I wish to trade the Ultimate in for the immediate. I firmly believe in God and, also, that you can't keep a sober girl down.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Poetry-Journey Back To Childlike Innocence

Life starts as nothing short of love and discovery,
Eager to wake and be alive,
Innocent play and belly rolls of laughter,
Eyes moist with pure life,
So much fun and kindness.

Then judgement starts the gears of fear,
The most loving tongue turns wicked, Knowledge depresses the glimmer,
Leaving isolation as the only comfortable place,
Within self. No harm done here.

To escape life one medicates or puts on the mask,
The pain and empty is just too heavy and cruel,
Get off and get away...down the drain,
Feeling all the aches of lifes' weight,
It's just too much! Please help.

Something is shifting differently,
Backpeddling just only to catch up,
All staring back and shouldn't have been,
Peeling away all of the layers,
Facing all with faith, trust and courage,

Hope and strength are lifting the spirit inside, Signs are all pointed in the same direction, Inside where He placed His spirit,
Reminder to stand up and live curiously, Purpose shining through each movement and moment,
Open and willing to try it again. Journey back to childlike innocence.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Where I Go When In Solitude and What I Leave With

Since moving back to my home state of Minnesota, I usually find my car traveling to the apartment complex where I grew up-especially when I'm dealing with a difficult scenario or some overwhelming sadness...or even just PMSng. Ha! Where I go when in solitude helps rejuvenate my soul, infuses me with peace and brings me back to a happier state of mind.

The memories of sitting in the parking lot puddles after a big storm with my cousins; watching ants carry small twigs all in a line on the sidewalks; the summers of watching MTV while eagerly waiting for my mom to come home and take me out to the pool (always trying to beat my own time under the water); pretending I knew karate by the pool (my nerd side); playing on the playground with my peers; setting up babysitting jobs and seeking other jobs for my friends; sneaking across the field to the drive-in movie theatre; riding my bike around and around in circle to see how low I could get to the ground and actually touch pavement; playing Girl Talk and Mall Madness at my best friend Kasi's house; jamming out to Janet Jackson's "Ecapade" over and over, loving how she yells, "Minneapolis!"; my mother reading me bedtime stories like Stephen Kings' "It" and needing to keep the hall light on as I fell asleep (I loved when she read to me, especially scary stories!); lying on the plush grass of the courtyard, desperately seeking shapes of animals or angels in the clouds; being amazed at how high my cousin Rachel could climb up into a tree; New Year's Eve's spent at my aunt Jackie's with my cousin Leif singing along to all the music on Dick Clark's special; walks down to the trailer park and swimming in the nearby pond with my cousin Ryan and best boy friend Jesse...life seemed so blissful and fun.

Those fond memories, though, remind me to be grateful; change my attitude if it stinks and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. I'm lucky to have had the up-bringing I did have here, and I never want to take that for granted. When I go and sit in the parking lot beside the courtyard, I'm reminded to not take life so seriously and how beautiful life truly is, if and when I keep it simple. Never would I have imagined that a 4-building apartment complex and the area around it could have that much of an impact on my life...not until I started to realize that lasting treasures are not found in things, but rather in memories and relationships with people. I always leave there with a bit more understanding and a sense of ease with the world-and myself.

Note To Self: Over-analyzing leads to depressive thoughts. Keep it child-like. Just do what is right, be kind, enjoy life, be curious and you're golden! Just for today, what would you like to discover?

Dear Readers,
 Do you have a place like this where you can go for solitude? What do you leave with? I'm loving the emails and would be delighted to know more about you!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Relations With Others

Sharing Just for Today
Relations With Others

"We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all."

Step Eight
All human beings struggle with self-centeredness. The chronic self-centeredness that lies at the very core of addiction makes that struggle doubly difficult for people like us.

Many of us have lived as if we believed we were the last people on earth, utterly blind to the effect our behavior has had on those around us. The Eighth Step is the process our program has given us to honestly examine our past relationships. We take a look at the writing we did on our Fourth Step to identify the effects our actions had on the people in our lives. When we recognize harm done to some of those people, we become willing to take responsibility for our actions by making amends to them.

The variety of people we encounter in our day and the quality of our relations with them determines, to a great extent, the quality of our very lives. Love, humor, excitement, caring - the things that make life worth living derive much of their meaning from being shared with others. Understanding this, we want to discover the true nature of our relationships with other people and mend whatever breaks we may find in those relations. We want to work the Eighth Step.

Just for today: I want to fully enjoy the companionship of my fellows. I will examine my relationships with the people in my life. Where I find I've harmed others, I will seek the willingness to make amends to them.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mission Complete: Advice From Happy, Married People

I've noticed in recovery, relationships that last are kinda few and far between. When I ask the happily married couples I know why, they responded with, "Takes work", "Not content", "Upbringing", "Not ready" and "Selfish." I thought to myself, "Wow, I've got a lot to learn." Eventhough I was married just a few days shy of five years, it didn't last. When I get married again, it's for good. I better learn and apply new principles!

So I went on a quest to get advice from people who I know have happy marriages and who've been married atleast 5 years-that's 1,825 days! If it really takes 10,000 hours to become a professional at something, they've done that atleast 4x (the couples have been married much longer than 5 years)!

Written exactly how the responses were given to me, these couples had some time to think of the 5 top pieces of advice that has worked for them (and of course, they shared more after-see below). 3 from MN, 1 from CA and 1 from NYC. These couples taught and inspired me with their wisdom through being happy pros. Woohoo!

1) You must be happy first, and when you are, your positive mood will ultimately affect your relationship with your spouse and all the other people in your life, too.
2) Let go of and move on from the "small" and "insignificant" quirks and annoyances that both YOU and your partner have.
3) Be a good friend, listener and supporter of your partner; and sometimes put your partner first.
4) Everyone needs a little space and time to pursue his/her own interests and hobbies with friends or alone. You don't have to do everything together, AND you shouldn't feel guilty for wanting alone time.
5) Give compliments! It's nice to hear them from the people who love and care about you most.

1) God is All Things.
2) Self Content.
3) Unconditional Love.
4) Open-Mindedness and Acceptance.
5) Compatibility.

1) Having God come first.
2) Separate personal checking accounts, but one joint household account for budgeting.
3) An hour a day or a date night once a week where you have face-to-face talk time...walk together.
4) Honesty. No secrets. Spouses should always know where the other one is at. Secrets are not honest.
5) Saying "I love you" every day with kisses, as long as your teeth are brushed.

1) Honesty.
2) Trust.
3) Compassion.
4) Doing things for eachother even when someone doesn't ask.
5) Intimacy.

1) The past is...passed. Leave it there if it isn't part of the present.
2) Love unconditionally the one you are with. Don't love hoping that your spouse is going to change. If you knew their character defects when you married them, then accept them the way they are. After all, you fell in love with them the way they ARE, not the way you hoped they would become.
3) Does love mean never having to say you are sorry? Nope. You should be willing to say, "Sorry honey, I screwed up", and mean it. Also that it won't happen again.
4) Forgive easily. If your spouse says they're sorry, accept it and understand that if you don't first forgive you shouldn't expect to be forgiven. That's in the Bible and found in the Lord's prayer, "Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US."
5) If you exchanged wedding vows, remind yourself of just what you promised. "I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love and honor you all the days of my life." Those words "Honor" and "Love" aren't meant for just now and then. Honor means to hold in high esteem, and to show respect.

Extra Advice I Learned From Also:
-"If you have a happy marriage, you are one with your spouse. It doesn't mean everything is easy, nor does it mean that you won't be angry at times."
-"Sometimes they seem like a lot of work, until you realize how much you've been given."
-"Getting through those tough times and putting them in the past so they don't affect your present and future is one of the keys to a successful and lasting relationship."
-"Have your own bedroom and bathroom for your own personal space."
-"Listen and sympathize. It builds trust."
-"You don't always have to agree with your significant other."
-"Take responsibility for your own happiness."
-"Have mutual respect for one another and don't pull each other down. If you're sad and depressive, go see a doctor. If you have a pain that lasts a long time, see a doctor. Your spouse is not your doctor and if they are, you're both in trouble and I wouldn't want to hang around you both much."
-"When you say you're going to do something, do it. If you don't you systematically destroy trust. Marriages with lack of trust need hard, sweaty work."
-"Be loyal by making sure they know you'll always stand by them. Put them second to God in your life."
-"Encourage eachother."
-"Express how you both are feeling toward one another. If there's a problem, make sure they know about it. You should feel safe with your spouse and confident."