Archive for May, 2009

Grace

Water_lilies

Several of the women I sponsor have been walking through challenging circumstances.  From separation and divorce, to reunion with a spouse they are willingly working the Steps as they face these opportunities for growth.

And that is exactly what they are – opportunities for growth.  What the Steps do is give us tools to use, guidance and direction and the promise of results.  When we work them, use our sponsors, go to meetings, reach out to others in the program and do service work our perspective changes.   We find courage that pushes us through the fear that we encounter as we face new situations.  The fear is only a signal of potential change in process.  And sometimes that fear is a direct result of the stories we are writing in our heads, which are only in our heads.  So, we learn to stay in the present and take these moments as they come.

Watching sponsees grow in confidence and walk through difficult circumstances with grace and dignity is so inspiring to me.  They constantly renew my hope for the future and remind me how easily God works in our lives when we let go and allow it to happen.  At times I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of sponsoring these courageous, lovely souls whom God has put in my life – that’s when I call friends in the program to hear their experience strength and hope regarding sponsorship, and through them God guides me to be of maximum service.  Thank God these are we programs. 

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am Divinely guided and directed.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson – I will accept Atonement for myself.  Aonly salvation can be said to cure.

Practice – I will accept Atonement for myself.  Only salvation can be said to cure. – On the hour.

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Attitude of Gratitude

Tuscan-Landscape

One of the first things I learned in the program was gratitude.  My first sponsor required me to do a Gratitude List of 25 things I was grateful for each morning.  It was almost painful to do at first.  The concept of being grateful was so foreign to me – most of my life had been focused on complaining about how bad things were and what wasn’t going my way.

At first the list was about tangible things like having a roof over my head, food, a car, a job – even though it didn’t pay much.  Then it moved to the sunny day, warmth in the winter, the comfort of the serenity prayer, AA and Alanon meetings and meditation.  For some reason, the last thing that started appearing on my Gratitude List was people.  It started with my sponor, then other new friends in the programs, family, and even God started appearing on my list.

I still do a Gratitude List every morning to keep my focus on how much I have to be grateful for in my life.  What’s more is that throughout the day I often find myself thanking God out loud for even the little things – the seeds planted in my garden – so exciting – the breeze, good news from a friend.  The more I do it, the more I have to be grateful for every day.  Thank You God, Thank You God, Thank You God.

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I have a wonderful life.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson – My mind holds onlywhat I think with God.  When I am healed I am not healed alone.  Heaven is the decision I must make.

Practice – My mind holds only what I think with God.  When I am healed I am not healed alone.  Heaven is the decision I must make. – On the hour.

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The Bait

Longsheng

Most of us come from family systems that are less than healthy in how they operate.  For generations the dysfunctional patterns of the family have continued.  When we arrive in 12 Step programs we slowly become aware of new ways to show up in life.  These new, more helpful behaviors can be quite opposed to the status quo in our families and our groups of friends – and we don’t have to “take the bait” of the old patterns.

We tend to “upset the apple cart,” so to speak when we begin practicing new behaviors.  While these new ways of being are confusing for our families and friends, they can be quite scarey for us to implement.  It feels uncomfortable and unfamiliar to say ” No,” when we usually say yes.  We’re out of our safety zone.  My family was mad at me when I stopped playing my role as “hero,” but it was worth the discomfort to me and such a relief not to be responsible for making them feel better.  What’s important for us to be aware of is that we can make these changes in kind, loving and respectful ways.  Rather than making it a big deal to take a new tack on a situation, a polite “No thank you,” will do.  Or “No, that doesn’t work for me,” again, politely said or just a neutral “Hmmm,” can extricate us from involvement in an activity that may not be in our best interest to participate in.  Then, to avoid any further discussion we can go for a walk, run and errand or excuse ourselves to make a phone call – perhaps to our sponsor or another program person for moral support.

The more we practice taking care of ourselves, instead of people pleasing, we become more comfortable and confident in our ability to handle these situations with more positive results.  This doesn’t mean that our family and friends will be happy about it.  They may distance from us, or be disagreeable.  We don’t have to take any of their reactions personally – they feel uncomfortable too.  With guidance from the experience, strength and hope of others in the program we come to feel more comfortable in our own shoes and interact with grace and respect with our loved ones.  We can bring the peace of the program to any situation.

     – If you find this helpful, pass it on to others.  For daily updates, press the       orange RSS feed right for directions.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am learning to say no more comfortably.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson – My mind holds only what I think with God.  If I defend myself, I am attacked.  Sickness is a defense against the truth.

Practice – My mind holds only what I think with God.  If I defend myself, I am attacked.  Sickness is a defense against the truth. – On the hour.

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Planting The Seeds

sprouting_seedling

Now that our garden bed is tilled and ready for planting, the questions to ask are what to plant, how much to plant of each vegetable and where to place them in the bed.  It makes sense to plant seeds only from vegetables we plan to use for meals – otherwise it’s a waste of our effort to cultivate them.  And it’s important to plant the appropriate quantities so the harvest fits the needs of our family, but nothing goes to waste.  I’ve been talking to other gardeners for their ideas on each of these questions.  They’ve been a huge help already and saved us from some planting mistakes.  Our garden will have the advantage of good advice from gardeners with experience.

As we grow by working the 12 Steps, we’re encouraged to surround ourselves with people in the program who have what we want.  We’re told to call our sponsors, and use the phone lists to call others and learn from their experiences.  This is how we develop helpful behaviors so we can avoid as many mistakes as possible.  We’re in a learning curve and as with gardening, we don’t want to waste our energy on an unproductive crop of behaviors.  Slowly, we develop discernment so that when new situations arise we can choose from our new helpful options, usually with much more positive results.

Through trial and error we navigate our way through life with this new set of tools which actually require less effort to utilize.  Although we may encounter the usual fears of the unknown with these new, unfamiliar approaches – we can be encouraged by the Promises which state ” we will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us.”   As we have more success, we feel more confident and life is full of more happiness, joy and freedom.  That’s a promise we can live with.

     – If you find this helpful, pass it on to others.  For daily updates, press the orange RSS feed right for directions.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am learning every day.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson – My mind holds only what I think with God.  I will not value what is valueless.  Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.

Practice – My mind holds only what I think with God.  I will not value what is valueless.  Let me perceive forgiveness as it is. – On the hour.

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Little By Little

The past week has been a steady progression in the yard of digging out old weeds and volunteer plants from the previous perennial garden.  It was hard, tedious work.  It required persistence, patience and some physical pain to carefully lift the soil with the pitch fork, flatten it to loosen the soil and carefully lift the old plants taking care to remove every possible part of the old weedy root structure to avoid a return of the unwanted plant. 

As with the garden preparation, thoroughness in the 4th and 5th Steps is required for our success in a new way of life.  It may be somewhat painful, and tedious and involve a persistent approach.  However, focusing on getting every weedy habit that has invaded the serenity and sanity of our lives creates a clean slate from which to plant new seeds of behavior.  If we don’t remove all the old material – we risk a return of unwanted habits.  We learn new behaviors by surrounding ourselves with people in the program who have what we want and practicing the principles.

But, first things first.  We remove the old weeds, then till up the soil – Steps 6 through 9.  Tilling the soil brings the rocks and debris to the surface.  It grinds the soil into smaller, more pliable size so it can be formed and useful to the seeds we’ll be planting.  They need smaller particles to send their new roots into as they germinate, small enough to grab onto with these tender new roots.  We deserve the same advantage as we seek out new, unfamiliar ways of showing up in our lives so that we too can establish a firm root structure for new growth.

     – If you find this helpful, pass it on to others.  For daily updates, press the       orange RSS feed right for directions.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am making  steady progress.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson – My mind holds only what I think with God.  No one can fail who asks to reach the truth.  I loose the world from all I thought it was.

Practice – My mind holds only what I think with God.  No one can fail who asks to reach the truth.  I loose the world from all I thought it was.  –  on the hour.

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Beautiful Weather

z198060036

I woke up to beautiful weather today and it helped me think of happy memories that make me smile.  Strangely enough, that also happens to me when the weather is somewhat stormy or cold, because I have wonderful memories from days like that as well.

There was a time when no matter what the weather was like, my focus was on what was wrong and what I didn’t like.  Thanks to 12 Step programs, no matter what the weather my focus can go to happiness, what’s good, and what I like.  The more I do it, the more good things happen and the more I like my life.  Yesterday it kept occurring to me that I was happy.  I love our little house, and my day was spent digging in the garden, picking beautiful flowers to brighten up the rest of the yard and two different people came to help me with the heavy work.  I’m so blessed.

All of us are blessed each day.  We only need to notice it – and the more we notice it the more blessings we receive.  That last thought just caused me to take a deep, full, relaxing breath of satisfaction.  It feels so good – and makes me wonder what miracles are around the corner for me today – Thank You God.

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am enjoying my day.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson – Beyond this world there is a world I want.  It is impossible to see two worlds.

Practice – My mind holds only what I think with God.  Beyond this world there is a world I want.  It is impossible to see two worlds.

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Learning Sponsorship

alder_paths01

Lately, I’ve been asking others in the 12 Step programs about how they sponsor.  Situations have come up with some of my sponsees that are new to me, and I thought it might be helpful to see if others had run into similar experiences.

As usual, asking fellow members about their experience, strength and hope always provides such a rich resource of new tools.  My original question then led to more conversation about other aspects of sponsorship.  Already, my sponsees and I are experiencing the benefits of people sharing what works.  By using new tools that other sponsors shared with me some sponsees are working through the Steps more easily and making more progress.  I’m relieved to have the experience of others to guide me through some confusion about appropriate solutions.

What a blessing that we have the opportunity to keep learning in the programs.  As sponsors, we are not gurus.  Speaking for myself, I don’t want to be on any pedestal from which I could topple.  We are all here to learn, even sponsors.  Knowing there is more to learn keeps my ego in check, and makes me happy to know that I can keep sharing what works with others.  Another gift of sponsorship for which I am grateful. 

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am always learning what works.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson – My mind holds only what I think with God.  I thank my Father for His gifts to me.  Let me remember I am one with God.

Practice – My mind holds only what I think with God.  I thank my Father for His gifts to me.  Let me remember I am one with God.  Say in the morning, through the day on the hour, and at night.

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