Archive for Alcoholics Anonymous

The Unexpected

Nineteen years ago in March, a car driven by a late for school 16 year old single mom rear ended my car at a stop light.  It changed my life.  After 6 years in 12 Step programs, a successful corporate ladder climb, and departure to start my own national business this event rendered me cognitivelyconfused, 12 Step stunned and significantly socially impaired just when I was dating, ready to marry and start a family.  I didn’t see it coming, this karmic kick in the rear. 

What happened?  A closed head injury, just from the whiplash.  They get worse over time before the brain starts to do whatever repairs it can manage.  The doctors didn’t know what to tell me about how long recovery would take.  Really, they just didn’t know enough.  They’re still learning.  Thanks to advances, now they’d be able to scan my brain and see what areas were firing normally, and which ones weren’t, and then attend to proper rehab.  That didn’t happen for me and I lost the business, my plans for children, much short term memory and self esteem.  People I knew in and out of the program became upset with me when I didn’t return their greetings (because my brain didn’t recognize them anymore) or when I stopped talking midsentence and stared into space.  My brain could no longer process normal levels of information, so I stopped attending meetings and driving because I cried for no apparent reason around that many people and moving objects.  Talking, reading and understanding and decision making appeared to regress to around age 6. 

The point of sharing this is that even after finding the 12 Steps, life has presented challenges to me – and things got better.  It was a much longer road to recovery from a brain injury.  I lost years (about a decade) of my life in many respects.  And, I began to learn compassion, patience and letting go at an entirely different level.  Now,after multiple layoffs and in my second semester of grad school I’m actually considering a doctoral program (only considering).  That’s a miracle.  Just being in school is a miracle.  I’m married, own a home and enjoy a fuller life than pre-injury.  The 12 Step programs, and the loving kindness that members have extended to me through the years helped me reach this point, and still support me on the journey.  The unexpected can happen in our lives, but it doesn’t have to become the story of our lives.  We have other options – always.  That is the miracle of the 12 Steps.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am always making progress! ”

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

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Winter Beauty

Today I woke up to another beautiful white blanket of snow.  Where we live, snow happens often in the Winter.  This year we’re having less sunshine than normal for our Winter season and it’s a great opportunity to focus on what’s good about the weather, instead of how dark and dreary the day to the eye.

My teachers of how to focus on what I like, what’s good, and what there is to be grateful for come from 12 Step programs.  At meetings, women and men have taught me how to find the “silver lining” in the darkest of days and the toughest of situations.  Their courage and positive attitudes have taught me to have hope always, and develop patience.  Somewhere in 12 Steps or some other philosophy is the idea that it’s the tough, unappealing times that teach us how wonderful the easy, attractive times truly are – everything’s relative.  I can wear rose colored glasses and enjoy my day as p. 416-421 in Edition lV and 448-452 in Edition III of the AA Big Book tells me.  Or, I can sit in the problem and waste the day.  Accepting what is, and learning to find the positive and support it in my life is an answer that works for me.

There’s that Acceptance again.  Something I used to fiercely resist, but which now I usually enthusiastically embrace.  There are moments where my persistence faulters a bit, but usually, the acceptance wins out.  Yeh!  It’s so much easier, takes so much less energy and keeps me in the present moment most of the time.  So today, the snow is beautiful, the house is warm, the cat is fed and I’m making good progress on my homework.  I’m happy, and even though the website isn’t letting me post a beautiful picture today – I’ll add it when it’s working again – I’m happy to be able to focus on all my blessings, right now.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am present 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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Learning My Limits

I’m sorry that my posts were sparse this last week.  My course load in school is heavy and it’s causing me to learn about reasonable limits for my time and energy.  In fact, it’s also teaching me about perfection.  This week I was confused about what was due, when, and in what classes.  Very unsettling.  In fact, for the first time in my life I handed an assignment in late.  Ugh!  But, you know it is showing me how human I am.  So I lost a few points. It gave me an opportunity to apologize to a teacher.  A new experience.  He understood, and he now has the assignment, even if it’s a day late.  I’d already done all the reading, so it was a simple fix.

This is a new experience for me, and while humbling, it’s not the end of the world.  There was a time where guilt would have hounded me.  I’d have racked my brain about how I could have made such a mistake.  I’d have beaten myself up for not being perfect.  No more.  There are tradeoffs for the choices we make in life.  With 6 grad school classes anyone is bound to get a little confused.  And I wasn’t the only one who was confused.

So, no harm done.  My dignity and self esteem are in tact. I’m resigned to the fact that this semester is a challenge.  And one of the solutions is to double check with a classmate about assignments due.  In each class, there are a couple people whom I feel comfortable enough to call for confirmation on what’s due.  They’ve all been happy to help, and it lowers my stress level to make sure I’m on track in this simple way.  It’s also helping me get to know people who will be my colleagues in the field when we all graduate.  Relatedness is a good thing.  I feel very blessed by their kindness and the opportunity to be human with myself and others.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am learning to be more human.”

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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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Attraction

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So many of us, in our enthusiasm early in the program want to share with the world what we are learning and experiencing in the program.  When we do, our experiences can be disappointing.  The 12 Step programs can cause fear in others or threaten those who are still using.  Friends may cringe, criticize or distance from us.  We could be met with derision.

Fortunately, we are taught that Alanon and Alcoholics Anonymous are programs of  “attraction not promotion.”  In my earlier days, I was known to leave a pamphlet at a relatives, or I talked about the 12 Steps to people who probably didn’t want to hear it.  One relative was very embarassed, criticizing she said ” She thinks she’s an Alcholic,” in a deragatory tone.  Thanks to my sponsor and others in the programs I learned that my changed behavior and new way of life would be example enough to attract.  Our enthusiasm for the positive changes in our lives we can share at meetings with newcomers who can be inspired by our experiences.

Now, with people outside the programs I can share in brief that I go to AA or Alanon if it appears someone is looking for help.  I can invite them to a meeting once – then let go.  That is planting the seed.  It’s up to God when its’ ready to sprout.  And I can always be there with others in the programs if someone requests help.  As we change and grow, people see the difference which creates interest in what we’re doing that’s working.  Attraction works.

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am of maximum service.”

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.

Practice – My mind holds only what it thinks with God – on the hour.

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