Posts tagged How It Works

Industrious

Tonight a man named Henry came to the door looking for work shoveling us out of the most recent big snow storm.  I had only 10 minutes earlier come in from trying to shovel the front walks and had only made a dent before my back protested and I was done.

I wanted to hire him, but unfortunately the last of my cash went to gas for the car.  His industrious activity at nearly 9:30 pm. is impressive and inspiring.  We are taught in 12 Step programs to do what’s in front of us to do each day.  That is what Henry was doing – making the most of what was an obvious opportunity, thanks to Mother Nature.

Henry was a good reminder, and if I can get the cash tomorrow I’ll call him  – I asked for his number before he moved on.  I admire his industry.  He set a good example for me and for the community as he continued down the street knocking on the doors of homes still snowed in.  Hopefully, he’ll be met with positive responses and receive good money for his hard work.  We all deserve to be fairly compensated for the life energy we expend, one day at a time.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am doing what is next to do. ”

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

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Full Swing

The semester and my internship are in full swing now.  And so far, so good.  It’s been a treat to be in more advanced classes that really focus on application of the knowledge.  Our projects make good use of the theory we’ve learned over the past several semesters and we’re doing mostly projects and papers, with very few tests.

I’m grateful for the switch to application.  For me, that is how real grasp of the material is guaged – by how well we can apply it in real time situations.  Although it’s a little daunting now to have the responsibility of working with clients solo at times, the learning curve is making itself known and that in and of itself tests me.

It seems to be the same with the 12 Step Programs.  With our sponsors, we work through the 12 Steps to learn the information.  But how to apply these new skills is another learning process all together.  With guidance and direction from our sponsor we learn to use the tools of the 12 Steps appropriately, wisely and we start to develop the critical thinking skills that so many of us grew up without.  The ability to think critically, to discern with an eye on everyone involved in the whole picture instead of just focusing on our own self interest is crucial to our growth.  It’s also crucial to maintain our sanity and serenity – from which spring the perfect conditions for The Promises that tell us we will be happy, joyous and free.  Thank You God.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am learning to use what I’ve learned. ”

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

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Divinely Timed

Last night a sponsee called me late.  She’s never done that before so I knew she was struggling.  What I didn’t know was how her reaching out for help at a time of strife would actually prevent me from making a situation worse.

When she called I was in the process of writing an email to someone regarding a difficulty we were having with our communication about an issue.  My frustration was coming out in the text and my words, though carefully chosen, were not necessarily going to be helpful.  Her call was divinely timed and as I shifted to being of service I, too, was put back on track.  Together my sponsee and I focused on page 552 of the AA Big Book, and what to do if we have a resentment.  After that reminder, we focused on pages 416 to 421 of the 4th edition (it’s 448-452 in the 3rd edition) on Acceptance.  These two passages on resentments and acceptance are what kept me on track daily in my first few years in the programs.  And they still work when I use them. 

My opportunity last night was to let this newcomer know that she really helped me by reaching out for help at exactly that moment.  And I assured her that down the road, when she is sponsoring another newcomer, she’ll remember last night as a turning point where she started to learn how the program really works.  She’ll be able to pass on to that newcomer how reaching out for help actually helped their sponsor, just like she helped me last night.  Halfway through the call we were laughing and she sounded so much better.  She’s refocused on Steps 1, 2 and 3 as well and remembering to say the Serenity Prayer.  So am I.  These divinely inspired tools and the timing our Higher Power engineers are stable solutions that ensure sanity and serenity.  They work.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am grateful for reminders of 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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Soil Preparation

Many of us who find the 12 Step programs arrive in a rather slip shod mode.  We’ve been cutting corners for years – avoiding feelings, responsibilities, accountability for our actions and just plain not showing up for ourselves or others, in either helpful or appropriate ways.

The beauty of the programs is that they teach us from the ground up, literally and figuratively.  First things first! Yesterday we started prepping our soil for this year’s garden.  It meant first removing the large debris, then doing a light raking to loosen and gather the smaller leftovers from last year’s crops.  Next, the hard work.  Digging up the weeds that somehow found a home in just one winter season.  We don’t know where they came from, don’t really care either.  They just need to go.  As we dug deep to remove them, roots and all, we discovered gems mixed in – tulips we missed last year from the old flower garden, and the biggest surprise, some baby carrots that must have sprouted late last Fall and are just starting to grow!  They usually take a while to mature, so we left them in and we’ll have a few early carrots this year.  How nice.

We know that if we don’t do the prep work right, the weeds crowd out the vegetables and our harvest is smaller.  It’s also true in the 12 Step programs when we’re learning a new lifestyle.  And that’s really what it is – a new way to be in our lives.  It takes proper prep work.  The 12 Steps help us prepare ourselves with the ground work that makes for fertile soil in our heads and hearts for a new beginning.  It takes a little extra time, but the benefits are so worth the effort.  We may be a little drained from the hard work, but that often leads to good sleeping.  This morning instead of the predicted rain, we have the most beautiful, warm, sunny Sunday morning – Thank You God!  I went out to check on our progress.  Already, I see a difference in the soil as we mixed in some more peat moss yesterday.  The soil is rich, and airy, and smells so of the perfect mornings I spent in the garden last year.  So inviting.  We’ll finish the weeding today, mix in some more peat moss, plant some of our cold crops, then await the rain that’s planned for the next few days.  Perfect timing!

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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Step 7

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Reading through Step 7 in the 12×12 (The Twelve Steps and 12 Traditions) today with a sponsee we had some helpful discussion and revelations.  Now she has “Humbly asked God to remove these shortcomings.”

The Step 7 discussion focused on how we make choices we often regret when we are in fear over losing things that we already have, or not acquiring what we want.  As I reminded my sponsee about the Promises, about how the Big Book says that before we are halfway through we will find a new joy, a new freedom and happiness, she nodded knowingly.  She has already been experiencing the Promises.  She has seen that as her former choices to react to situations shifts to how to respond with more helpful behaviors, the miracles are happening. 

And these are seemingly small changes in behavior.  Yet, these small changes have led her to enjoy more time with her husband, try some new activities that she was never open to before – and she so enjoyed herself – and have dimished the stress that she’s experienced during some life transitions.  Little miracles are happening in her life;  calls from new friends to join them for social events, fun with her husband, opportunities for her to make positive contributions to others without interfering with her ability to take care of herself, a new job.  And she wasn’t even halfway through the 12 Steps when these miracles started happening – just like it says in the book.  How usual.  How wonderful.  This is how it works.

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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 – I will not use the body’s eyes today.

Practice – In Father, Christ’s vision is Your gift to us, and it has power to translate all that the body’s eyes behold into the sight of a forgiven world.  How glorious and gracious is this world!  Yet how much more will we perceive in it than sight can give.  The world forgiven signifies Your Children acknowledge their Father, lets the Father’s dreams be brought to truth, and waits expectantly the one remaining instant more of time, which ends forever as Your memory returns to them.  And now their will is one with Yours.  Their function now is but Your own, and every thought except Your own is gone.

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It Works

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Lately, it’s been gratifying and inspiring to hear my sponsees marveling at how well things are going in their lives since they started working the 12 Steps and doing what works for others in 12 Step programs.

They’re making the connections between the following:  Doing a Gratitude List and how it changes their attitude and they find themselves in aprreciation for even little things throughout their days – How reaching out through phone calls to share about distress they feel regarding situations helps the distress dissipate, and how the call made them aware of solutions they then successfully put into action – The miracles that appear, seemingly out of nowhere building their faith and trust that their Higher Power is providing for them – Working the Steps and the transformation which that process creates within them, and in all aspects of their lives.

How inspiring, rewarding and reinforcing for me to be witness to the metamorphosis that happens for these amazing, courageous women.  At 12 Step meetings I was taught the closing phrase ” Keep coming back – It works.”  In later years I heard people add to that, ” – If you work it.”  And it does.  For those who choose not to work it yet, we can pray.  Those of us who have done the work and witnessed the process in others know how much it offers.  We want those same miracles for all who’ve suffered and come to the 12 Step programs.  The relief and release is such a gift when we realize the Promises (p. 83-84 of the Big Book of Alchohics Anonymous) coming true “before we are halfway through” with working the Steps.  It works.

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 Affirmation for the Day – ” I am willing to do 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 – Let me remember that my goal is God.

Practice – Father, Our goal is but to follow in the way that leads to You.  We have no goal but this.   What could we want but to remember You?  What could we seek but our Identity?

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Patience With Progress

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One of my sponsees has the type of driver personality that makes her want to go, go, go.  And she wants to figure everything out yesterday and be done with the learning process.

While her enthusiasm and ambition is admirable, it’s also part of what has kept her on the run from her feelings.  By focusing on accomplishing and over achieving she has very effectively run from experiencing her emotions and pushing through them to the other side.  It’s the feeling of emotions and then landing on the other side that gives us experience, strength and hope.  Progress isn’t something we know, it’s what we learn by doing and working through the entire process.  Then we can share it with others and inspire them to have hope and take action.  Despite her previous impatience, my sponsee is starting to get it as she pauses when agitated, feels the feelings and allows herself the space to respond instead of reacting.  She’s learning the value of patience from her experience.

Much of the progress we make is happening on the inside, invisibly, in increments.  New awarenesses are digesting and percolating in our consciousness.  This doesn’t usually happen overnight – although it can.  Our minds can take time to incorporate the information and the experience of taking action, and then ” we get it.”  Even if it doesn’t always make sense, we see that when we practice certain new behaviors, life works better and we feel better eventually.  We learn to accept because we see the evidence accumulating to prove that when we work the Steps and practice the Principles and let our Higher Power run the show – it works.  For years I had a math block.  My dad and many teachers attempted to help me understand math, but my mind just didn’t get it.  Then in my mid-twenties upon returning to college a teacher asked, ” Are you trying to understand how all of these equations work?”  When I told him “Yes,” he asked ” Why?”  My response was “I thought that’s what we were supposed to do.”  He explained to me that all I needed to do was memorize the equations, understand how to use them and do it.   After years of disappointing grades in Math, I immediately aced every test thereafter, and earned A’s in every Math class required for my major.  For the first time in my life I was able to make the Dean’s List.  This was possible because someone wiser told me to keep it simple – just memorize it and do it.  That’s how it works.  Our Higher Power takes care of the rest.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am making progress 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 –  Peace to my mind.  Let all my thoughts be still.

Practice – Father, I come to You today to seek the peace that You alone can give.  I come in silence.  In the quiet of my heart, the deep recesses of my mind, I wait and listen for Your Voice.  My Father, speak to me today.  I come to hear Your Voice in silence and in certainty and love, sure You will hear my call and answer me.

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