Archive for August, 2009

Growth

Harvest Basket Oct 31 08

The squash in the garden are amazing and abundant.

Each day I find squash in unexpected shapes and sizes and colors.  It’s so exciting to discover the new developments every day.  And these miracles of sustenance that came from little seeds will take us through our way too long Winter with colorful, bountiful, hearty meals.  Again, we’ll save the seeds from the best of them to plant next Spring when the soil heats up.  Next year’s garden plan is already in my head from what I learned this year.

Next year the squash will have the place of honor closer to the rest of the backyard where there will be plenty of room for them to meander and spread out happily in the sun.  They are a glorious plant variety to watch as they spread their tendrils out to secure their position for the heavy fruit they’ll produce.  They really dig in and take a stand where they choose.  Then the fruit sets and within two weeks, a full grown fruit takes the place of a delicate blossom.  They’re gorgeous.  I like to think of those of us in 12 Step programs as squash – blossoms, delicate and fragile when we first arrive and quickly bearing hearty fruits as we commit and plant ourselves in meetings, with sponsors, receiving the nourishment of the 12 Steps which produce the harvest of miracles that start happening so quickly in our lives.  As we do what’s in front of us to do with an attitude of gratitude, it’s a bountiful harvest that cycles through our lives as do the season with our gardens.

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I see miracles today.”

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

Course In Miracles Lesson –  This holy instant is salvation come.

Practice – We have forgiven one another now, and so we come at last to You again.  Father, Your Son, who never left, returns to Heaven and his home.  How glad are we to have our sanity restored to us, and to remember that we all are one.

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Easy To Please

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Our garden is amazing.  Last week the tomato production started and the salads and pasta dishes are incredible – who knew a fresh picked tomato could make my day.

As each week passes this summer, it seems I’m easier to please.  It takes less to make my day.  And often it’s the littlest things that give me such gratification that just the awareness of it feels like a prayer.  Perhaps having gratitude is a prayer.  Never thought of it that way before.  Perhaps every time we acknowledge what is good about the day, what we feel pleasure about, when we compliment another person or express our love for them it’s a prayer.  I like that.

What a great motivation to keep thanking my Higher Power for even the littlest things throughout my day.  It’s a habit for me now anyway, and this new awareness of these statements as prayers makes me smile.  See – new awarenesses come to us out of nowhere, unexpected and unannounced.  This is what keeps my mind open, my perspective fresh and my attitude in gratitude and anticipation.  Thank You God.

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am grateful for today.”

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

Course In Miracles Lesson –  Now would I be as God created me.

Practice – Christ is my eyes today, and His the ears which listen to the Voice of God today.  Father, I come to You through Him Who is Your Son and my true Self as well.  Amen.

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Always Learning

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It would never have occurred to me that I’d still be attending meetings after years and years.  My expectation when first coming to 12 Step programs was that they’d fix me and then life would go on.

As we all discover, the learning continues.  My ability to glean new information that focuses on the solutions continues.  As all of us attend meetings, our lives progress, and we find ourselves facing new situations that we may need the help of others to navigate through.  At times I’ve also sought professional guidance and it has helped me make additional progress.  One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in the past few years is that what I tell myself about a situation isn’t necessarily accurate.  In other words, it may just be a story based on my past experiences that actually has no relationship to the current situation.  Which means – stay in the present moment and keep an open mind.

That was then, this is now.  If we remember that each new day brings new situations we can approach them with a fresh perspective.  Having curiousity, wonder, anticipation and excitement are much more helpful and productive for me than judgement, resistance, defiance, and inflexibility.  The first group come from a place of love and peace, the last group come from a place of fear and limitation.  The first group is the approach that feels more comfortable to me now, and it’s usually the one that motivates my days.  It takes much less energy most of the time.  It’s when my focus is on changing my behavior that it takes a bit more concentration initially and energy to stay in the moment.  After a little practice it gets easier and eventually becomes the new habit of behavior that takes over.  It just takes patient consistency and the new behavior is in place, the new attitude is operating and the miracles happen in my life.  It’s worth the effort, and my sponsor and others in the program are always available to help me reinforce the solutions.  We are never alone in 12 Step programs.

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am keeping an open mind.”

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

Course In Miracles Lesson –  I rule my mind, which I alone must rule.

Practice – Father, my mind is open to Your Thoughts and closed today to every thought but Yours.  I rule my mind and offer it to You.  Accept my gift, for it is Yours to me..

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Step Briskly

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I’ve noticed that some newcomers want to belabor the 12 Steps a bit as they’re working through them.  While it’s important to be thorough and thoughtful about doing the Steps, my perspective of how they are attended to has shifted through the years.

It’s been mentioned to me more than once that in the early days, Bill and Bob took people through all the Steps in a day.  No wasting of time.  The culture where I live may have something to do with the delayed approach observed of late.  Cutting to the chase is not the usual “modus operandi” here.  That’s okay. 

Working with sponsees, I’ve picked up the pace.  We’re working through the Steps in a timely fashion.  No need to belabor the process.  And what’s happening is they’re moving well through the Steps and making more progress, more rapidly.  These are solutions.  Miracles of awareness are occurring earlier, and enthusiasm is apparent in them as we move through each chapter of the “12 x 12.”  They seem to be encouraged by the swifter pace through the concepts of each of the Steps.  Some have been attending AA or Alanon for many years without working the 12 Steps with a sponsor.  Fortunately, they came to the realization that they need to work the Steps.  They asked me to be their sponsor – perhaps because they know from meetings how much the Steps help me.  I learned in my first month at meetings – “There is no recovery without working the 12 Steps,” as my good friend in the Midwest says.  And that’s been my experience, both with me and with friends in the program.  We can try to fool ourselves, but there’s no getting around it.   Once we start the journey with our sponsors, the lightbulbs go on in our minds.  Awarenesses spark into our consciousness, and we start to “get it.”  If we delayed the work, we wonder what we were waiting for, and we’re convinced beyond any doubts that these tools – the 12 Steps – will illuminate the path to our remembering who we really are so we can have the lives our Higher Power meant for us to have and share it with others.  That is experience, strength and hope.

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

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

Course In Miracles Lesson –  God, in His mercy wills that I be saved..

Practice – I need but look upon all things that sem to hurt me and with perfect certainty assure myself, ” God wills that I be saved from this,” and merely watch them disappear.  I need but keep in mind my Father’s Will for me is only happiness to find that only happiness has come to me.  And I need but remember that His love surrounds His Child and keeps his sinlessness forever perfect to be sure that I am saved and safe forever in His arms.  I am the Child He loves.  And I am saved because God in His mercy wills it so.

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Rigorous Honesty

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When we commit to working through the 12 Steps we discover it is a path of rigorous honesty.  For some of us this is a foreign concept.

Recently I was reminded that people who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.  Good food for thought.  My loved one comes from a family where honesty was not, and is not practiced.  Instead of rigorous honesty, what appears to have been status quo was rigorous dishonesty and deception.  It manifested as follows:  secrets and more secrets, phone conversations secretly recorded or listened to on extensions, belongings rifled through, lies told regularly, instead of addressing situations honestly people literally run away from home, no follow through on obligations, people routinely isolated in addictions while the rest of the family pretended it wasn’t going on and tip toed around the situations, and there’s much collusion (including breaking laws) to support the addictions and codependency, general dishonesty and dysfunction.  Many of us can relate to these conditions.  We’ve experienced some or all of them to varying degrees. 

That was then, this is now.  If we are committed to a new way of living we have the option to choose the safe vulnerability that comes from rigorous honesty.  It is a humbling and rewarding choice.  Again we take a risk to experience a new way of showing up in life.  For those of us who have come from an extremely dishonest environment, this can be daunting.  However, as we follow the examples of our sponsors and the instructions layed out in the 12 Steps we find that honesty can serve us well.  It helps illuminate the fogginess we’ve been operating in and gives us clarity about who we aren’t and where we went off track.  It builds character and self esteem to choose honesty.  Although we are cautioned not to cause others harm with our honesty, as in the 9th Step, we are encouraged to practice it in all our affairs.  It takes less energy to be honest and offers us a new freedom we may never have previously experienced.  The freedom to handle life on life’s terms with tools that work.  We see that we can stand as equals to our sisters and brothers on the planet in a way that never felt comfortable before.  Courage may be called for at first, but eventually we build a history to reference of success with our new found honesty and it becomes an automatic practice.  And we learn to be honest in helpful, discerning, gentle and loving ways that encourage others to respond in kind.  We understand how to communicate even what is difficult to address, in ways that others can hear and receive with an open mind.  It does take practice, and it does become easier as we progress through the learning curve.  One day at a time.

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am willing to change.”

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

Course In Miracles Lesson –  Father, today I am Your Child again.

Practice – We  thank You, Faather, that we cannot lose the memory of You and of Your Love.  We recognize our safety and give thanks for all the gifts You have bestowed on us, for all the loving help we have received, for Your eternal patience, and the Word which You have given us that we are saved.

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Safe Vulnerability

mountain rescue

Until a few years ago, I had never heard the two words, “safe” and “vulnerability” used in the same sentence with each other.

Now, the concept of “safe vulnerability” is a state that I calmly hope to experience, especially with situations never before encountered.  Step 3 calls upon us to take a risk, step out of our comfort zone and allow ourselves the gift of learning about safe vulnerability.  About surrendering to a new, initially uncomfortable way of being in our lives.  Becoming willing to turn our will and our lives over to something greater than us – another acknowledgement that we are not Gods.  Our rigidity, inflexibility, seriousness and driven need to control from the past has been about fear and insecurity and an extreme need for safety. 

When we turn our will and our lives over to a Higher Power and start learning to trust, we take another step toward freedom from the bondage of self that the Big Book talks about.  We have been trapped, stuck, limited by the mistaken belief – a story we’ve been telling ourselves – that we can fix it, take care of it, control it.  That we have all the answers.  If that were true we wouldn’t have ended up in the extreme circumstances and desperation that often drive us, finally, to seek help.  What a blessing that we are willing, that we’re seeking.  Ask and you shall receive – and so it is.  We learn about the safety that comes from surrender and letting go, and giving it all to our Higher Power.  All we need to do then is keep our eyes on ourselves and do whatever is in front of us to do.  Do the next helpful thing.   And if we don’t know what that is, we can ask our sponsor or someone else with experience for some guidance and direction.  Suggestions based on experience, strength and hope are gladly offered when requested by those who’ve gone before us.  We can count on it.  And we find that little by little, we feel safety and vulnerability simultaneously.  We learn to trust on a daily basis that our Higher Power is our provider and we will survive.

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am safe in all situations.”

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

Course In Miracles Lesson –  I give my life to God to run today.

Practice – Father, I give You all my thoughts today.  I would have none of mine in place of them, give me Your own.  I give You all my acts as well, that I may do Your Will instead of seeking goals which cannot be obtained and wasting time in vain imaginings.  Today I come to You.  I will step back and merely follow You.  Be you the Guide and I the follower who questions not the wisdom of the Infinite nor Love Whose tenderness I cannot comprehend but which is yet Your perfect gift to me.

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Decisions, Decisions

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We can be debilitated in our emotional maturity when we arrive in any of the 12 Step programs.  When it comes to decisions, we may deliberate for days or weeks on items that would take the average person minutes to hours to decide.

Some of us are soooooo serious when we come to our first meetings.  We over analyze and over think things to smithereens, worrying about whether we will be making a big mistake that will be life altering.  In reality, these may actually be rather insignificant decisions that could easily be pre-empted later if necessary.  In other cases, we are great procrastinators.  We put off what would take minutes to do or decide, until the last possible moment, often injuring others and ourselves with the stress caused by the delays and the resulting difficulties caused by waiting too long and perhaps missing the boat all together.  Once, I actually heard someone quite proudly announce that they were the greatest procrastinator in the world.  Not a title I wish to hold – been there, done that.

When it comes to decisions, it’s been important for me to learn to ask for help when making them.  My sponsor, and others in the program always answered my requests for perspective when it came to making decisions early in the program.  They taught me the critical thinking skills that most adults have already developed – I had not.  It took some practice, and little by little I became more adept at examining the important aspects of situations and making appropriate and timely decisions.  They also taught me to breathe through it.  Honestly, my stress levels would get so high it impeded my breathing.  Fortunately, my sponsor noticed this and reminded me to breathe.  It’s imperative for decison making and the thinking process to have enough oxygen in the brain – they’ve learned on Mt. Everest it can mean life and death.  While not so life threatening for the rest of us, it does make a difference, so breathe.  As I’ve learned to lighten up and not take everything so seriously it’s easier to make decsions.  I can always change my mind if I’ve made a mistake.  Many mistakes can be corrected.  With new situations I can still get stuck, so I ask for help and get through it.  Regarding the procrastination, baby steps led me to stop waiting until the last minute on decisions and actions that were requiring timely attention.  As my self esteem has improved, I’ve felt more deserving of treating myself and others respectfully and attending to things in a timely fashion.  It’s kind of a game for me sometimes in that it’s fun to see how much in advance of a deadline I can complete an item.  No more setting myself up for failure, as in the past.  That was then, this is now.  I can take good care of myself and set myself up for success in all areas of my life with a little common sense and willingness to take action.  Completing projects ahead of schedule gives me a healthy self esteem, and makes my life easier.  It gives me things to celebrate, and it marks my continued progress on the path of sanity and serenity.  It feels good.  And, it allows my Higher Power to use me to be of greater service with others.

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am making good decisons easily.”

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

Course In Miracles Lesson –  Now will I see and find the peace of God.

Practice – Father, I seek the peace You gave as mine in my creation.  What was given then must be here now, for my creation was apart from time and still remains beyond all change.  The peace in which Your Children were born into Your Mind is shining there unchanged.  I am as You created me.  I need but call on You to find the peace You gave.  It is Your Will that gave it to Your Children.

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