Archive for March, 2010

The Birds

Oh my goodness.  The birds are just so happy every morning, singing and twittering away at the top of their lungs.  That’s real twittering.

And they are all calling out in their very own voices.  Distinct.  Consistent.  Looking for mates and celebrating the morning.  Happy, happy, happy.  Wouldn’t it be great if every morning, we all – the humans – called out in clear, singing voices to celebrate the day with eachother.  What if we all were true to ourselves, connected to our inner wisdom and the special, talented and very unique creatures that we are and broadcast that to eachother in complementary notes of celebration and praise for the morning.  For the day before us.  For the joy that is life – if we choose for it to be a joy.

That would be some way to start the day.  What a chorus!  Imagine projecting your best to everyone, every day.  It’s a great goal to work toward.  I’m listening to those birds right now and they are truly inspiring when I just take a moment to listen.  Amazing!  And when I make the time to listen well to another human being, they too, are truly amazing!  What we focus on grows and multiplies – so choosing wisely can make the day.  Today I’ll smile at people, even if I don’t know them.  Sounds like a good start.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am learning to listen to others.”

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

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Comparative Progress

I love to hear people talk about what they’ve learned in the last year and how far they’ve come since then.  The only fair comparision that I’ve learned about is comparing ourselves to ourselves – that’s how we come to know about our own progress.

When people first mentioned how destructive it is to compare our ” insides ” to other people’s ” outsides ” it was a revelation for me.  I’d been doing it since 3 or 4 years of age.  Ugh!  So not helpful, and disruptive to even my little girl serenity.  When I stopped comparing me to you, my life improved.  My serenity was noticeable, and my sanity was more consistent.  It was possible for me to be of real service because no longer was my focus on me versus you, but instead on what I could contribute, in appropriate ways.

Feeling ” less than ” used to be nearly constant in my life because of my comparisons too, but that changed when my thinking changed.  It can still crop up every once in a while, usually only when trying something new in which I want to excel.  But it passes quickly, as soon as my awareness of it accepts the reality.  It’s not necessary, or realistic to be good at every new thing attempted.  Learning that my forte lies elsewhere is just fine, and gives me an opportunity to admire qualities in others.  Like the fine thinking that happens through my husband’s hands when he is creating with stone – he thinks through his hands in ways that would never occur to me.  I have other skills and talents that bring me joy.  How wonderful that we aren’t the same.  All the more to marvel at in the wisdom of the many, and varied manifestations of our Higher Power on the planet.  Truly miraculous.

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

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

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Reprogramming

A woman I sponsor is now sponsoring her first sponsee.  We were exchanging ideas and impressions about sponsoring and what works, when we found ourselves discussing the way our brains start to absorb all of this new information about life skills.  It takes some time to learn how and when to utilize all the knew options – and it requires some helpful tools.

When I was first came to 12 Step programs it was hard for me to remember what to do when I felt anxious.  My mind seemed to go into brain freeze, and all that could be reached on my own was the unhelpful, automatic pilot actions that I’d relied on since childhood.  Often reactive,  they weren’t helpful.  My sponsor suggested making a list of what to do instead, the new more helpful responses.  Alternatives learned at meetings and from working the 12 Steps.  The list was then hung on the refridgerator where it would always be if my brain became stuck.  And little, by little, the new options started to program into the automatic pathways in my brain.  I was reprogramming my brain to operate in a new way – and with practice it was working.  After a while the list was rarely needed.

Six years later, my brain had to start over again.  A brain injury from a car accident had destroyed many of the pathways to that new information.  It was devastating  – but also an opportunity because this time, I was able to watch the rebuilding of my brain in a different way. The brain is fascinating to watch.  Since mine worked in slow motion for a while, it was possible to watch it run (in many seconds) through the same process of internal dialogue and decisionmaking that most people process in only fractions/hundreths of one second.   The injury had left my brain like a file cabinet which was at times locked.  Or it was unlocked but I couldn’t find the right drawer.  Or I found the right drawer, but couldn’t find the right file.  Or the right file was found, but the correct paper was missing.  And sometimes it was possible to find the correct paper, and the words or directions were there, but I couldn’t get the words to my mouth to say.  It took years to rebuild these pathways.  It required using lists on the refridgerator again – and it worked again.  We all deserve helpful prompts to remind us of what works as we build a new network of alternatives and options in our brain.  It takes time, and it is so worth the results when we learn to respond automatically to life in helpful, thoughtful ways.  Patience, practice, and persistence pays big profits in the life skills account.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am doing what works.”

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

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Birthday Blessing

Today is my husband’s birthday.  Last year, it was unclear whether he’d survive the month.  All we could do was let go and turn him over to our Higher Power to see him through his dark night of the soul.

His birthday this year is one of sobriety, sanity, and a Spring day just perfect to play outside.  The sun is shining, we have dinner plans for tonight, and he seems to be enjoying the morning.  Things aren’t perfect.  He’s still working through a healing process.  The point is, that like all the rest of us he too, is making progress.  And he’s alive!  That’s what I’m celebrating.  The rest is just icing on the cake. 

So today I celebrate his progress, his life, the opportunity to enjoy his presence in my life, and the simple fact that he’s alive.  So simple.  He’s a miracle.  Really, with so many devastating things happening in the world I have nothing to complain about, and so very much to be grateful for – every day.  And I am grateful for my husband.  Thank You God!

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am grateful for the miracles in my life.”

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

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Dealing With Depression

A loved one of mine experiences depression at certain times of year.  This phenomena can be depressing, discouraging, and demoralizing to deal with at times.

Fortunately for me, the 12 Step programs (and plenty of personal work) have taught me how to take good care of myself when these bouts of low mood appear.  They do not have to influence me.  And they can be minimized for my loved one too.  Speaking only for myself, the best thing for me to do is keep my eyes on myself.  Being an upbeat, positively focused person helps too.  It means doing my Gratitude List every morning, getting into action (even if it just means cleaning the house in whirlwind time with my favorite music playing, going to meetings, eating well – good organic nutrition and taking vitamins (especially in the Winter), and maintaining an active social life.

The most helpful thing is to get out of me and looking for opportunities to be of service.  When my family member seems to be in a particularly low place, I don’t try to fix them.  However, there are activities that, with a little coaxing we can do together.  They usually seem to be able to show up, and then their mood seems to elevate.  They appear to be able to rise just enough to engage with the rest of us for some, or most of the day.  We are always so happy to have them back in the swing of life with us.  I work on being respectful toward my loved one.  Sometimes, outside intervention is needed.  But, they’ve indicated a willingness to work on elevating their mood via activities.  So far, so good.  While that might not work for everyone, it seems to work when they do get active.  And, the best thing we can do for them meanwhile is take care of ourselves.  What we focus on grows and multiplies every time.  I choose for my focus to stay on what’s working, for me, and for those I love.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am taking care of me.”

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

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Last Minute

Many of us play this game with deadlines and tasks we need to accomplish.  I’ve done it with taxes and some other musts in my life.  An acquaintance once told me they were the best procrastinator on the planet.  They sounded proud of this quality.  It doesn’t make me feel proud.  It makes me feel embarrassed and uncomfortable when my choice is to wait until the last minute on important tasks. 

And it is my choice.  Somewhere in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous procrastinating is described as sloth.  Eeuw!  I don’t like attaching that description to my behavior, but it is true.  And procrastination is a symptom of something more basic and simple.  When reduced to it’s primary motivation, fear comes up the resounding cause of the symptom.  Fear of not doing it right, or not finishing in time, or not feeling deserving of taking care of myself, or not thinking I’m worthy of success.  It’s all an illusion.  Just an emotion.  It’s NOT reality.  Fear doesn’t have to win out. 

It’s so simple to muster the motivation.  Calling another program member and sharing briefly about it sometimes frees me up to get going.  Otherwise it’s like a secret that can fester inside of me.  I don’t need secrets.  They distract me and waste my life energy.  My experience is that if I just do one part of the task, no matter how I feel about it, the fear seems to be less significant, or it goes away completely in a few minutes.  Then I’m restored to a state of serenity and competence again.  Getting into action is all it takes.  We don’t have to want to do it.  We don’t have to like it.  We just have to do it.  The feelings always change for me when my actions are in process, and my focus is in the moment.   It takes so much less energy to just stay in the moment and get into action, get busy.  It feels good.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am getting things done! ”

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More Fun

When I was learning how to be a different kind of person, a member of a group rather than the leader, I had a lot to learn.  One of the simplest things was how to have fun.  At work they made us use these day planners in which we made lists each day of what to accomplish with our jobs.  It worked well for me and helped me be very productive, get noticed, and get promoted.  I figured if it worked so well on the job, it would probably work for the rest of my life as well.

So, I started a list of fun things to do for the year.  To remind myself of my options it made sense to hang it some place obvious – on the refridgerator.  And it worked.  On the list were; try 3  new restaurants this year, go out dancing with friends, have a potluck party, putt-putt golfing, socialize after meetings, playing games and cards, guided meditation, yoga class, go for walks, vacation someplace new, window shop (my budget was limited), museum visits, botanic garden membership, hike in the mountains at least twice a month, skiing, ceramics class, hot air balloon crewing on Saturdays, sketching, day road-trips.  Later, as my budget allowed, I made a list of more restaurants that people said were good and set out to try each one with friends.  It really helped me to have these goals.

Now the list was pretty varied, but for me it was well rounded and got me out of my trend of isolation.  Using a list to spark my imagination about activities really broadened my horizons and nurtured my sense of adventure, my courage and my curiousity.  And, I learned to have fun.  People in the program were great examples to me about the value of getting out of my comfort zone, and trying new things.  I stopped playing it safe and felt the freedom that comes from having new adventures.  It can be exciting.  The trick is to make the time to make the plan to do these new activities.  Then take action on it.  It helps to have a few people to buddy up with too.  But, many times I threw myself into these activities with new people, strangers, and there I made new friends.  Some, I did on my own when necessary.  Many learning opportunities were available because I was into action for me.  And it’s still working!  Perhaps it will work for you too.  Try it and see.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am trying new things. ”

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

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