Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gratitude and Cabin Fever

I have cabin fever. I didn't make it out of the house today like I planned. I got up and got dressed and my customer called and said she had the flu. She didn't want to see me or expose me to something lethal. I appreciate that.

I have been in the house three days and I am a little loony. One of my friends called and we decided to do something tomorrow. We are going to just get in the car and drive south for the day. It sounds good in theory and I can't wait.

I could have gone out today but I decided that I should tackle some final issues with the IRS, the thought of it is wearing on me. I promised the agent on the phone that I would complete everything within 30 days. This should be it and I am trusting that it is. Now that I am out of depression it doesn't really seem that complicated and I could really beat myself up over the time and cost of waiting this long. But I am past that.

I am glad I got it finished today. Even if it meant not leaving the house. I will be happy when I don't dread going to mailbox. Really at this point another letter from the IRS doesn't even hardly raise my blood pressure.

This whole situation makes me realize just how far I have come in life. If this had happen before the program I would have spent so much time beating myself up about it and I certainly wouldn't tell anyone about it. But you know I am a kinder person than I was back then I can have compassion for what others are going through and I can have compassion for what I have gone through. Just because I didn't admit my mistakes before didn't mean they didn't exist.

Back then I judged people harshly because I felt I was judged harshly and I was, by me. I never measured up to my own standards. I still don't but now I can say it's OK to be exactly where I am today. I can accept my limitations and yours too, assuming you have any.

I am a survivor and the past three years have been the worst in my life. At times I didn't think I was going to make it. I spent so much time in the hall waiting for the door to open that I thought I would go insane.

I use to be so superior saying I would never do this or never do that and I have had to eat those words many times. This is part of my own spiritual awakening and has revealed my own shortcomings. My own failures have made me a stronger and better person. I am eventually grateful for the lessons when some time has passed and the pain is just a distant memory. I am not there yet.

Having the IRS chase me and paying some penalties isn't such a big deal after all that I have been through. I made it, I am healthy and happy and out of the hall. I can work a little harder and if business is good, I can pay even more taxes next year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Home Alone - Practicing doing nothing

I stayed up late last night and watched two movies and Cupcake Wars. Today my motivation was low to continue doing projects around the house and besides I got just about everything done yesterday.

I thought do nothing today would be fun but found it next to impossible. It was the perfect day for it it was cold outside and nothing much going on. I have an appointment with a customer tomorrow so today was wide open. It really did my best just to relax and hang out with myself but it felt really uncomfortable.

I went upstairs where the sun comes in a big double window and just laid there. I thought about how animals don't worry about being productive. They make sure they have food and then they nap or chase each other around. Why is the prospect of doing nothing seem like such a burden to me.

I am driven by nature and the fact that I did most of the weeks chores in one day and then watched movies tells you a little something about me. Being still is the most uncomfortable feeling for me. I do meditate regularly but usually in the midst of a more hectic day. Something to squeeze on to my to do list.

My sponsor always says we are human beings not human doings. So today I just laid there looking out the window thinking about doing nothing. This was the best I could do. I did fall asleep thankfully for a half hour and then back to doing.

I am glad that I am taking this week off, except for meeting a customer tomorrow, it will be good for me to entertain myself and see what bubbles to the surface. I felt great yesterday and antsy today. I can live with antsy.

I saw a quote that said dogs are happier than people because they have no opinion of themselves. I going to hold that thought for as long as I can.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Who lives here? - Food fight

Yesterday started out interesting while preparing Alton Browns "Chocolate Lava Muffins" I was putting the sugar away and the whole shelf fell with four quarts of spaghetti sauce on it.

The sauce went everywhere and before I could get to it my blind dog had her head in it. Never underestimate the will power of a dog, even if their blind, to get to food quickly. She is sporting some red ears for the holiday. I had to act quick because I was already late for dinner at my friends house. I scooped up the sauce with the dust pan and threw everything else in the sink. About that time my neighbor,the one with the dogs, decided to bring over some Christmas treats. At that point I was still in my bathrobe but I somehow managed to make it to dinner on time OK maybe ten minutes late.

When I got home last night my kitchen looked like scene from a frat party food fight. I started cleaning and the thought occurred to me, when did I ever buy spaghetti sauce? I honestly couldn't remember ever even buying it. They expired in 2009 so I am guessing just after I moved. I decided I better look at all the packaged food and discovered a lot of things I didn't know I had. Marsh mellow fluff, what would I use that for? Maybe someone else has been living here besides me.

I am joking of course but the spaghetti sauce incident has spurred some serious cleaning today. I feel like I am moving into my winter cabin. You know like in the movies when they go to the cabin for the first time at the beginning of the season. Everything is dirty and covered and by the end of the movie it is all cheerful an happy. Everything looks like me but its like I am seeing it for the first time in a long time.

Taking this week off will give me time to get my house in order. In some strange way I feel like something is on its way. Something good I can't really explain it but I trust my instincts, just not my shopping skills.

I am starting to trust that I am really back this time. I haven't had a dip in my mood even with all this holiday stuff. I am grateful to be back and looking forward to life's next big adventure.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Miracle - When your ready

Here on Christmas Eve I thought I would write about a miracle. Not that miracle but something in the spirit of the season and what working the steps has to offer.

My personal miracle is that I am happy. I won't bore you with a repeat performance of my grief and depression. I think if you have ever read this blog you have heard it before, over and over again and frankly like you I am sick of it. But it was honest and where I was in my life and I have moved on.

I want to write about my own spiritual awakening that resulted from the steps. Not just once but over the years many many times. Some were just ah ha moments others were oh my god moments. Some obstacle that has been there all along reveals itself. I think it suddenly appeared but really I had used my cloak of denial to hide it from myself, in some cases for years.

All the pain in my life comes from my inability to accept the situation at hand and my need to hold on to what no longer works for me. The only way I can do this is with denial. I must keep the dream alive and if that means I have to deny reality than so be it. This is of course and art form an takes years of practice. When I came to Al-Anon I found so many people just like me. I could clearly see their denial and really wanted to help them. Come on now their problems were so so obvious.

The steps worked for me then and still work for me now. They help me to slowly reveal what has been there all the time. It can be something small which I can buzz through the steps sometimes all in one day. With other problems it took years to really get to the core of the issue. The time it takes me has to do with the degree of denial I am in.

Sometimes I have to overcome a lifetime pattern that has set me up for failure over and over again. I can't seem to break the pattern the pain is familiar and I hate to admit it but comfortable. Same play different actors, still no happy ending. A better version maybe but the outcome is always the same. Then I, the star, am shocked that the ending was the same. The audience, my friends, are bored to death and say they have seen it all before.

Then it happens somewhere along the road I here that small still voice OK it isn't so small or still it says. What the hell are you doing? One eye open. Can we not do this anymore, haven't you learned anything? Both eyes open. The spiritual awakening has began and it isn't pretty. Next comes the what I call the scramble it is really uncomfortable denying the denial. It takes some serious pain for me to get past this point. But I eventually get there when I decide I can live without that belief or person or dream. The ironic thing, by this time, all that is left of it is in my head.

This is where I have to be nice to myself. I am letting go of patterns developed over a lifetime. A power greater than myself comes in handy about now. I am fully awake and I am pissed. Why didn't someone point the obvious out to me so I didn't waste all this time. It is all so clear. At this point those who love me roll their eyes and yawn. I wasn't ready, maybe I needed all the little things that led up to this and maybe it wouldn't take if I didn't get the full lesson

So there you have it my version of a spiritual awakening and when your ready you are ready. It all takes time. In the beginning you think it is the drinking that is the problem (yours or theirs), then you realize you are the problem and luckily the solution all wrapped up in the same package. A present just in time for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Amends to the dead - Maturity

I took the day off yesterday and woke up late. I bundled myself up and turned the various heaters on in the house and proceeded with some over due chores. I have felt pretty good lately and a little overwhelmed by the spiritual growth I have been having. I am not sure why but I believe the god of my understanding knows just what I need when I need it and not a minute sooner.

I felt anxious about the day with so many opportunities to work on my to do list. Analysis paralysis I guess you could say so I decided to write for a few moments just to avoid beginning any of those things on the list.

I started with the usual gauging my mood for the day and recapping my thoughts about my post yesterday. Then my thoughts turned to my father and the grief he must have felt when he lost my mother. My recent experience with grief has given me the opportunity to experience what he must have experienced. The death of the dream is what I call it and for me I didn't even want to be in the relationship anymore.

I wrote a story from his perspective the night my mother died. He told us how he sat in the parking garage that night not wanting to face what he knew was ahead of him. He said his legs were like lead and he couldn't move. To know that you are about to lose the most important person in your life must have been devastating. Facing that at that moment.

He fought hard for my mother harder than she did, I think. He took her to every kind of doctor all over the country even when we didn't have the money. He even tried an illegal drug that was made from apricot pits, this combined with a macrobiotic diet. When this didn't work we went to faith healing services. This was our life for two and a half years.

Writing the story from his perspective made me realize just how devastated he must have been. I have been there recently and it if fresh in my mind the debilitating pain that nothing can sooth. Day after day just going through the motions of the bare necessities and even sometimes not even they were taken care of. I am not saying I experienced the same loss but I can have more compassion for him.

This was my father, a man with so much grief he shut down. I remember the morning he woke me up to tell me about my mom, she had gone on to be with Jesus. He couldn't function without her. He stopped paying bills and stopped eating.

All this is familiar to me and for the first time in my life I can really put myself in his place an not looking at it through the lens of a child. I could always say he did the best he could and I realized that long ago but being able to put myself in his shoes has changed me to the core.

I feel I understand as I never did before what it was like to be him. I couldn't have done that without experiencing it myself in my own way. I loved him and he loved me and writing helped me to heal and to say I am sorry for not recognizing his struggle sooner.

He is gone now but this is about my spiritual growth and I felt his presence yesterday while I was writing. I am growing up and once more using what I have learned in the program to find peace with the past.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rosa Lee - A life long gift

I wrote couple of post yesterday but they felt uninspired so I didn't post them. I think I had some processing to do and just needed hash things out for myself. Writing is the best way for me to get to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible.

I am little tired today because I stayed up to watch the lunar eclipse last night which peaked around 2:30 AM. A friend of mine was doing the same and text me at 3:00 she was more dedicated to the event because she was willing to stay out in the cold longer. I just went out for a few minutes a couple of times. It was very cool.

Things are pretty calm in my life and in my spirit these days. I talked to my friend from grammar school for four hours on Saturday. It made me grateful for the mother I had even for a short time. I could have had her mother and been raised in fear. It made me see how living life from the perspective of a victim can be passed on to your children. She is still fearful like she was when we were kids believing something bad is waiting just around the corner.

We were both raised in the Pentecost and our mothers were best friends. We went to different churches and the churches reflected the differences in our mothers. My mom believed in an awesome God and that anything was possible if your motives were pure. Even when she was deathly sick she accepted that this was the way things were suppose to be and that she would be transitioning to her true destination.

She was ahead of her time and I truly believe not meant to be here long. She inspired everyone to greatness an really only cared about spiritual things. I remember at the funeral home they had to open all the other rooms just to accommodate the people coming and the flowers. They said they had never experienced anything like this before.

I spent a lot of my life feeling sorry for myself and trying to fill the void left by my mother's death but now I realize just how lucky I was to have a mother that saw the glass as half full.

My sister and I have taken two totally different spiritual paths but they both have led us to the same place and we now have more in common than we ever thought possible. We have been talking about our childhood for the first time ever. She asked me to write down any Christmas memories I have. I have done that many times for myself and will be happy to share my rose colored version with her.

To my mother Rosa Lee who taught us how to be ourselves and not who people thought we should be. I thank you for the gift you gave us so many years ago a desire to pursue a spiritual path. It has taken me far and my quest never ends. I love you mama and I know your watching over us.

Montreal— The Canadian Press

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Uncertainty - Act as if

I am in the office today and feeling not exactly motivated by what is on my desk. It is dark and rainy looking outside. I am happy that it is in the 60's today after reading a post about waiting for the water to thaw to take a bath.

I am alone in the showroom today and there is some kind of fumes in here. We have another cabinet business in the back but no one is there. It could be the paint and body shop next door who knows. I am the canary in the mine around here. Sometimes when I arrive last I get an instant headache, everybody says they don't smell a thing. I think they have all been in the business to long. The fumes collect in my office because it is the last office. I have opened the doors to get some ventilation.

I wasn't sure if I had anything to really write about today but I thought I would give it a whirl. I read the first page of my computer journal November 28, 2008 and it inspired some gratitude. I realized that some things have changed a lot and others things are still the same.

It was the dreaded day after Thanksgiving and I didn't want to be at home alone so I came into the office. The owner was about to have surgery for colon cancer and the other designer was about to have her first baby. I was holding down the fort. Looking back, in my state of mind, that was pretty hilarious. I was worried about the business staying afloat with only one crazy designer at the wheel for about four months. It just goes to show that anything is possible.

What this makes me realize is that what is going on on the inside, other people can't really see, even though I was crazy and a loon 24/7 I managed to work and keep the business going. Things are not as they appear is what I am getting at and just because I feel crazy doesn't mean I appear crazy to other people.

Act as if, isn't this what they say in the program? I always felt that this was kind of emotional dishonesty. I had spent so many years in denial I didn't want to pretend any more that everything was just super. Thinking about it now, for me it just means going about your business, not pointing out my own shortcomings so they are up for discussion.

Keeping my fears private and finding a more compassionate audience is being mature. I am extremely critical of myself and it is hard to not just lay it all out there. Start down the list, in my experience this can give some people the opportunity to turn my on insecurities back on me. Luckily I have weeded most of those people out of my life and I have to admit, before the program, I did that to others. Especially with the people I was suppose to love. It was part of my tools for survival. I have other tools now.

I am happy to report the owner has recovered from cancer and heart surgery. My partners baby turned two last weekend and the business is still open. I am still crazy on the inside but this time crazy in a good way. I am not telling all my secrets and writing about this today has made me see that I worry too much. On my best days my faith is strong and on my worst days the uncertainty in more than I can handle. Today I am somewhere in the middle.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good News - Serenity Prayer

I opened my email just now to find an message from my ex now that is not the good news. The message said hope you are well and you are having a nice holiday. That is still not the good news. I just sat there for a moment and my head began to think about all those years together and what I don't have now.

The truth is that the holidays were no different than the rest of the time. If anything was done I did it and I did it alone at the holidays. Some years I did nothing and some years I was Martha. I didn't resent it I just accepted it happiness is an inside job. I made a list of what I wanted and on Christmas morning everything thing on the list was there. So that is what I don't have now.

I can't say it doesn't sting even after three years but I also know it is just this moment and I am feeling great these days. In fact tonight I ran three miles and started a painting for a friend of mine. She wanted a painting of a sea turtle. It is turning out really nice. I spent a half hour with the dogs just now and they are so much fun I could here them howling when I left. Dogs are great.

Back to the good news. The email said my best friend from my childhood left a message for me. This is great news. We lost contact over the last ten years and then her mother sent me a card with their numbers and I lost it. I have looked everywhere and just last week I thought, I wish I could find that card. Her family was very paranoid even when we were kids so they all have unlisted numbers and would never be on facebook.

Her parents were divorced and back then,in the church we belonged to, no one got divorced. Her dad was a traveling salesman and ran off with his secretary, they are still married. Her mother never remarried because of her religious beliefs. Ironically my friend also married a traveling salesman, but she is his secretary. Life is strange but you get use to it eventually.

They lived on our same street and her mother was my mother's best friend. When I left home at 16 she was the one that took me in. It was quite the experience with five teenagers working and going to school at the same time. The house was really small and I spent that summer in the garage with the cats. I was happy to be free just like I am now.

The parking was something out of a comedy with six cars coming and going. The neighbors weren't too happy with us at the time. I was lucky because with work I was usually the last one home and the first one to leave in the morning. Of course we all had girlfriends and boyfriends. She was a saint really and she tried to give me motherly advise but I was 16 and knew everything. I moved further south after that summer. I broke up with my one true love and needed a geographical cure and to find my next one true love. I have been here ever since.

What trip down memory lane. This brings to mind where I came from and how far I have come. Those were not the good old days for me. I remember even back then I had the Serenity Prayer hanging on the wall in the garage. I never doubted that I would make it and I feel I have been guided all the way. I don't believe in regret and never wanted to go back to any age.

What I have learned is you get what you get and you do the best you can with it. I use to think, you suck it up and move on, but finding the steps helped me to clean house and take care of myself. To find happiness where you are. Nothing last forever joy or pain so I can make the most of the joy and know that the pain will pass.

That is good news.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Love Fest - Being Enough

So I have just returned from a love fest next door. The two dogs I am taking care of, in my neighbors absence, decided that tonight they were initiating me into the family and proceeded to lick me simultaneously while I sat in one of the three easy boy chairs in the living room (no couch).

I might have mentioned before one is a German Shepard named Willow that was rescued from and abusive home and is skiddish. That is actually an understatement, while she was drinking water in the kitchen she would come out periodically to check to see if I was still sitting in the chair. She then felt secure enough to drink and repeat the whole process. She has been on many hunger strikes in the absence of her usual pack. The other dog is your average I like anybody dog. I felt very honored to get such affection from a usually distant dog.

The last sentence speaks volumes about who I am at the core. Dogs or humans gaining the trust of those that don't trust easily, makes me feel special. I can admit that only after spending a lifetime choosing this type of relationship. Maybe it is just a mirror of myself the wounded part or maybe it is enough to go where no one has gone before. I have found it is a trap for me and once I am in I can't get out. My issues with loyalty and abandonment would never hurt someone the way I have been hurt.

I never leave even if the red lights are flashing and sirens are going off it isn't enough. I am loyal to the death in my case a spiritual death. When I find myself there I look in the mirror and see a complete stranger. I can remember my first counselor telling me she thought I would have eventually left my husband, she was wrong. I would have remained a zombie waiting for something to change.

Luckily for me those that let you in can shut the door a lot more quickly than it opened and once shut it is over. I have stood there outside that door more times than I want to admit, thinking of ways to get back in. Obessing really, let me get my list out.

I am making light of a life long reoccurring nightmare and I can do that because I finally get it. I like the challenge earning that trust and feeling special being on the inside but in the end everyone has to save themselves. I was never willing to save myself. I thought it was more important to save the other person. Here in lies the problem, who is going to save me?

My sponsor always said my picker was broken and she was right. It all comes down to still looking outside myself for validation and to feel like I was enough. Being enough for myself, I can make better choices in relationships.

Tonight I know I am special because I am loved by the 100 lb German Shepard next door and I am enough.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Scribbles - Sharpie Therapy

Now that I am for the most part I am feeling my old self again, ok not really my old self, who needs that, I am hoping to share some lighter things, technically this isn't one of them.

The scribble above was done at a very low point of my grief. When my mind had me in the shadows and I just could not do anything of any consequence, so upon the suggestion of my therapist I started a doodling. She had me do one while we talked and it looked similar to the one above. She pointed out the fact that everything was connected but separate. Her thought was that I still felt connected even in my grief.

I continued to doodle, it was very soothing to just focus on the paper and the clarity of just pen and paper. No judgement of myself just whatever came out. I wish I could do that with myself more often, the no judgement part. I am not the way I was when I started the program back then I had nothing good to say about myself or anyone else for that matter.

I find it interesting that all of my doodles are curved and fluid and usually without lifting the pen. This is the opposite of what is my preference, I like straight lines. This is why designing kitchens, with all those boxes and tile with all the squares really suites me. I can only think my sub-conscious is trying to balance that out for me.

Most of my scribbles are black and white. I bought myself some colored markers but found that I was happier doodling in black in white. That seems appropriate since life is easier when you think everything is black and white. I think in the case of my drawings it was one less decision.

I thought I would share something that worked for me when I was just trying to make it through a dark place in my life. I am happy to report that I am not there anymore and being able to spend the last two days mostly with myself is proof enough for me.

Just for today I can accept myself as I am. I have to believe that it is possible.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Boundaries and Cookies

It is really cold here today and windy. We don't have the best heat here in the south so it feels especially cold and the wind is actually howling. We are pretty wussy down here if it drops below 60 and tonight it will be in the 20's. We make up for it by enduring the sweltering summer heat and 100% humidity with little complaining, OK maybe more than just a little. I put some of my plants in the garage but decided the ones on the lower deck are on their own.

I am taking care of my neighbors dogs this week while they are on a trip. They seem to travel a lot even with two year old twins and a 5 year old. They are of hardy stock and pretty organized. Somebody in the family has a timeshare that they regularly go to. They use to call me at the last minute until one time I said I couldn't handle nine days. Since then they give me more notice.

I have trouble with boundaries and so do they. When I first moved in his dad was really sick and they had to leave suddenly so I volunteered. Then it became a pretty regular thing and an assumption was made that I would always be available. I really didn't mind until I was already over loaded and I got that call. I didn't answer right away, I felt ugh in my stomach, I was already overbooked and running from yet another bout of grief and or depression so I compromised and said to find someone else for the weekends. So they did and now they give me more notice.

This time it is different and I feel great. I stopped running so fast and let whatever grief or depression that was left catch up with me in August, to my surprise it didn't kill me. It held me down for a few weeks and stomped on me but then I got up and brushed myself off and said "is that all you got?" and went on to sort out the mess I had made while running. I started slowing addressing those things I had ignored while being under water emotionally.

I actually love those dogs. They are a sharp contrast from my own blind and deaf dog. I love her even though she only acknowledges me at meal time. At 18 that is pretty good. When we moved here three years ago she was like a new dog. I think she was relieved to get away from a stressful situation or maybe that was me. She is a tough dog and still fights me when I give her a bath. I can hear her in there snoring now.

Life is good today. I temporarily repaired the water bed so I can sleep in my cocoon during these cold nights. I ran four miles on the treadmill and then went to a friends house for dinner and ate six miles worth of cookies and now I am home in my not so toasty house. All is well.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A little less holy

It is quiet here today. I am in the showroom alone the owner has gone down south to see his new great grand baby. He has so many kids, grand kids and great grand kids he can't remember all their names. It is nice, he rarely takes off even though he could if her wanted. This is really his home, the showroom and he is still here six days a week.

I started a few different post and have ditched them for some unknown reason. Today I am moving slow and enjoying being alone here today. A couple of my customers came in one a new job the other picking up tile to finish her kitchen.

I feel good and have plans to drain the water bed later even though it is cold and the thought of messing with water is not appealing. Our contractor said there is some kind of device you can hook to your drill that is like a small pump. When I leave here I am going to the depot to see if I can find one.

I am trying to relax and take care of myself since business will be dead until after new years. It is a time to reflect and prepare for the future. In refection we can focus on regret or we can accept that we did our best and this was all we could do.

I had a heated discussion with a friend last night when I said we all do our best but sometimes it isn't good enough. Decisions we have made have hurt other people it wasn't intentional and we were working with what we had to work with. Our parents did the best they could with what they had it doesn't mean that it didn't leave some pretty big holes is our emotional make up.

This idea that it wasn't good enough sent her over the edge. She said it was what shaped us and made us who we are today and accepting people as they are or were is important. That everyone is exactly where they are suppose to be.

This isn't about blame for me, it is about recognizing how we got the holes and how we can heal them. We have done things that have caused harm to others and if we recognize that we can heal ourselves and others with amends. It did shape who we are today but for me I was Swiss cheese by the time I got to the program and my goal is to be a little less holy.

Isn't that the point our lives became unmanageable for a reason and figuring how my thinking became messed up I can move on. Most of it was from a child point of view anyway and as I become more mature I can stop taking the past so personally.

We finally agreed to disagree and decided to end the discussion with changing the premise to: Wouldn't it have been nice if ___________________ hadn't happen to me or Wouldn't it have been nice if __________________ could have been there for me.

Take what you like and leave the rest.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Broken Mirrors - Vampires - IRS

I started my day feeling pretty good with the sun streaming in the guest room window, if I ever had guest it would be a guest room. This has never happened before in my house because my bedroom has no windows. This would bother most people but it is great for sleeping. Evil doers love the dark is what my mom would say, I did always want to be a vampire. Hmmm.

It is weird I know but the original master had french doors that opened to the porch and then they converted the porch to a second living room. Which has made a perfect studio for me complete with a wet bar to wash my brushes. What is really weird is that when I moved in they had covered the french doors with floor to ceiling mirrors. You could still see them from the bedroom and they had blinds on them. If you opened the blinds then you saw the back of the mirror. The mirrors were the first to go luckily I don't believe in bad luck because we broke them all.

The day got ugly for awhile when I had to take care of some issues with the IRS. If you are in business for yourself you triple your chances of getting to know the IRS and with me out of my mind and depressed. I prefer one or the other but both will land in a heap of trouble. I had paid everything but the regular business side of the IRS was not telling the threatening your past due side and I was becoming scared with every letter. I called a friend who had experience with this and she said you must get in your car and drive down there. This seemed a little extreme to me but this the final piece to getting back to my right mind, it has been a long time, let me say.

I spent a few hours getting my ducks (paperwork) in a row and decided I would call. I stopped for a moment and spoke to HP and said you know that I know I did this but I could use some help putting things right. I am not asking for leniency just some co-operation. I dialed the number and the wait time was ten minutes. In ten minutes I spoke to Eleanor number XXXXXXXXXX. I explained my situation and she put me on hold and when she came back, she said the money had been posted to the wrong quarter. She did want to go over some other forms I was missing and I agreed to send what she showed was missing. I told her I had been depressed and my paper life had suffered the most and I appreciated her help.

I am embarrassed by all of this especially when I have been a corporate manager in charge of a budget that was in the millions. This is what depression and grief did to me I could not, sort this simple process out, to safe my life. I even took the stuff to a professional and still ended up in trouble.

I couldn't think clearly and when I could, I used that clarity take care of my customers and keep my business afloat. I have been trying to get this done for so long. About three months ago I owed a pretty large amount of taxes for me. I didn't know how I could pay them and still have anything to live on. I said ok HP I am going to write down the things I willing to do and these are the things you need to take care of. My side I wrote housekeeping, seems simple but if your depressed not so simple. That was all I could commit to and on HP's side I wrote money for taxes.

So I started cleaning and taking care of things the way healthy people do and forgot about it. A couple of weeks later I got a check in the mail for exactly the amount I owed. Apparently one of the companies I had sold cabinets for was giving out bonus money for anyone selling their product. It is very high end and I hadn't sold the product until recently so I didn't realize they were giving out these bonuses. So I paid the taxes.

I believe in miracles and today was miracle getting this resolved. I get paralyzed with fear when I can't see a solution. I forget the power of believing in something greater than myself. I also forget that there are no wrong decisions and HP's timing is perfect and even works to include procrastination. I guess I needed more proof that no matter what, it all works out. I will add that not ever the way I might think and not always without suffering.

So I didn't have to get out of my pj's and drive down to the IRS that in itself is worth celebrating. Grateful today and believing in miracles once again.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sprung a Leak - Disaster

So last night after my post I went into my bedroom to watch the tube and suddenly I felt wet. I maybe old but not that old. My water bed sprung a leak. I know what your thinking, you have a water bed isn't that from the dark ages. Yes it is but it I love it. It doesn't look like a water bed so unless you lay on it you wouldn't know. It keeps me warm and I sleep like a baby.

I had to move upstairs and sleep on my sofa bed. It wasn't terrible but it wasn't the cocoon I am use to sleeping in. My bed is old and needs replacing my ex and I bought it the first year we were together. I think it is appropriate the I am emerging from grief over that relationship and I am getting rid of the bed. I also got a dual mattress in case I might share it with someone else one day. That is looking forward to the future.

I thought about how I might have handle a crisis like this before the program. Actually, back then I had such a tight control over every inch of my life that if someone sneezed and it wasn't on the schedule I was devastated. I know what is important now and I realize the insanity of thinking I can control anything. By the time I attended my first meeting everything that I thought was certain in my life was gone.

I felt victimized by my circumstances and had to make changes in my thought process. First I had to learn that if I thought of myself as a victim then I was a victim. They told me no victims just volunteers. This seemed harsh what about all the wrongs that had been done to me? This is where it took time and I wasn't ready for a long time to look at my part in the disaster of my life. Then came compassion, compassion for myself first that I didn't know better, I was trying to survive. I didn't have the tools to cope with the behavior caused by the addiction in my relationship.

This is where it gets tricky having compassion for those that hurt you. It is so hard and for me some of those people were not alcoholics. It helped me to look at each person and find a way of accepting they did the best they could, just as I did. But I didn't inflict the kind of pain they did, how do I know? My tongue was sharp and I could lay low and strike at a very opportune time, when the other persons defenses were low. We all see things through our specially made lenses blocking out the things we don't want to see.

I was a martyr and occasionally I am still a martyr, on my worse days, but it doesn't last long. I have grown up in a lot of ways and don't allow myself the luxury of feeling victimized. I hate that about the program taking responsibility for every piece of you life, not being able to wallow in self pity. You can still do that but you will have to do that with someone outside the program.

I never know where this writing will take me each day. I start with something and then it totally changes. So back to my disaster, I ordered the bed and for the next 14 business day I will be without my cocoon and I will adjust. It isn't life or death and I will survive.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Am Sam - Pleasing Others

I thought I better write before I run out of steam. I have been home for an hour and have eaten and finished up a scrabble game I started last night. I don't usually have food in the house but since I cooked this weekend I might have eaten a little too much for dinner. I am sleepy and it is below 50 outside and it is a good night to hibernate.

Nothing too exciting today at work just some paperwork. I did have a few customers come into the showroom. The first was an older woman with her grown daughter looking for a kitchen to install by Christmas, this Christmas. We do have a few displays we would be willing to sell. They decided to come back Saturday with the husband, nothing like waiting until the last minute.

The second customer to come in was previous client, we put his kitchen in a few years ago and wants more cabinets and a bathroom vanity. He brought a young boy with him, maybe about nine, I would it was his son, but he kept calling the man David. He was very articulate and had an opinion on everything. As they were leaving I said nice to meet you and I asked him his name, I thought he said Tim and he blurted out, I am Sam and then we bumped fist, not my idea.

After they left, I commented to the owner about the kid and he said while I was talking, Sam plugged up the toilet with paper towels. Oh well some things never change, kids and bathrooms not a good combination.

A pleasant day even if we are freezing our butts off here. I was suppose to go to a city council meeting tonight and see a presentation on a plan to improve my area of town. I was going to meet my old boss there because her husband is getting into local politics, I really didn't feel like going and I had a customer call and wanted to come by after work, so I sent an email saying I wasn't coming. A cop out I know, she was a tough boss and everyday in the office was a test of courage mixed with friendship. I know she will be disappointed in me. I never could please her no matter what I did.

Once, when she was still my boss, she asked me to feed her birds. She had a two page detailed list of instructions and homemade bird bread for them. I was terrified because she loved her animals more than any human. I came in and the bird was missing, I thought I was going have a stroke. I looked everywhere the cage was still shut, how can this be? The bird had burrowed under the paper at the bottom. I would have had to quit if the bird had been missing. I probably mentioned this tale before but I was really scared of her then.

She probably figured I wouldn't show up tonight. I was glad to have an excuse, not to go, but the truth is somewhere deep inside I still want to get her approval. I always was just short of the mark even though she kept promoting me there was always and under current of criticism. This is a pattern for me with those that do not trust easily. I am in one minute and then suddenly I am out. I then try to get back in by any means possible until I am exhausted and give up. I want to good enough.

I have disappointed a lot of people lately since I withdrew from my social commitments but it has been good for me and I needed to stop looking outside myself for approval. It was a test for me, was I enough for myself on my own? Could I love myself if I didn't have a list of things I had done or people I had pleased each day.

The answer is yes. I am enough just they way I am. I don't need to meet the expectations of others to feel worthy of love. But it had to start with self-acceptance, self love to make that shift. If I am whole I can give without needing something in return. I can stand on my own two feet and do what is healthy for me spiritually.

It hasn't been an easy time for me being alone, but without distractions I have healed places in my heart that I thought would never heal. The emptiness I have carried since my mother died. I wanted someone to fill this hole but I was the only one that could do that.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Past Present Future

Pretty quite day overall but it didn't seem like it was going to be that way. I had an emergency call from my cousin because her cable and phone had been turned off and she needed help and was calling from a neighbors house. She has a trust fund that she lives on and can't manage her money.

My cousin has some learning disabilities and only lives in the present moment. What that means is if she has money in her hand, then it must be spent. I am a co trustee and before my aunt died we set it up so she gets a check every other week. The rent and utilities are paid directly and she still is out of money the first day.

She seems to call when I am in my own crisis but today it didn't bother me. She usually works it out on her own or does without until the next check. I had four calls before I got out of bed this morning. I could hear the ring tone from my bed and felt a sense of dread as it kept going off. I thought it was her and then I imagined all kind of other trouble that might be lurking for me out there. This is the nature of working for yourself and the fact that you are never really off.

I decided to take a different approach today. I got up made some coffee and came back to my bed and got out my journal. I wrote a little and then wrote my intention for the day asking HP to help me find joy in the day no matter what presented itself.

I got dressed checked my voice mail and decided not to call my cousin back. No cable or phone is not a life or death matter. The other calls were work related and one said call her back tomorrow the other I met her to make a final decision on her tile design. We ended up having lunch and then I took her to my favorite art store and then we went to the antique mall. My favorite things combined with work.

I then got a call from a friend and she invited me for dinner. We had Thanksgiving again and then we watched while she decorated for Christmas. She had ornaments that her kids made when they were in kindergarten. Her daughters are grown and one was there when she put the disintegrating angel, from the first grade, on top of the tree.

I don't celebrate the holidays much anymore. That is where I am in my life right now and maybe that will change next year. It is about family and tonight I thought of my childhood and about the special things my mother did for us as part of the holidays. She also saved every ornament we made. Seeing my friend and her family made feel a little Christmas cheer in my heart.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pork and Meatloaf

I have spent the last hour playing Hit the Road on Bored.com and having some much needed fun. In the game you are responsible for getting people across the street without them getting hit by a car. Hey I can do that, it is helping people right? Just like life is isn't as easy as it looks. Their remains are scattered on the road when you fail. It really gets crazy when they put you in charge of the traffic lights, so much responsibility. I had to quit at level 12 too many casualties meant I was maxed out for tonight. It was hysterically funny, am I a bad person?

I have spent the day just hanging around the house. I started pot of soup with some pork I made at Thanksgiving. Don't I froze some, so anyone out there counting the days since Thanksgiving. I originally cooked it with green chilies and tomatoes. Today I had some butternut squash that I cooked in a cast iron skillet also from my grandmother, the skillet not the squash. I wanted to give it a roasted flavor before adding to the soup. It was a pain to cut it up though I had forgotten how dense butternut squash is, I know you usually bake it, but I didn't want to wait. It actually tasted great when it was finished.

I have been organizing the house today and did come across some stuff from the past. I am sentimental in a way that would probably make your eyes roll. I keep stuff from people that I have loved or that have loved me. Sometimes it is a piece of clothing or in this case a letter written by my ex-husband after he had been married a few years and we were speaking again. I kept everything he wrote me during our years together. He was a great writer and this particular letter was a letter of amends.

In his letter he said that he had learned a lot from our relationship and that it had made him a better man. He always had a good heart but his childhood left him without skills to work through the pain and ended up turning to alcohol for comfort. We were the same really soul mates in a very unhealthy way. We were equals in that we had deep unresolved pain and thought another person was the answer. He thought he had picked the wrong person and moved on.

I have thought about him a lot the past few days. I was playing the old Meatloaf CD Bat out of Hell yesterday, this was one of our favorites. The famous dashboard light song where he is trying to laid and she says "Will you love me until the end of time?" and he says yes and then "now I am praying for the end of time to hurry up and arrive". We would sing to each other to the top of our lungs. We had been married a few years by then and appreciated the sentiment. We had a lot of laughs and that is why we stayed together, but the drinking crept in and that was the end. Our pasts had destroyed our ability to have a future together.

I can be sentimental because it was million years ago and time has healed that wound. He introduced me to real music and real food. We met in a bar and he was a cook and I was a patron. I had been eating his food for two years before I even met him. He was a great cook and went on to be a chef and then I stepped in talked him into leaving that life. I thought it promoted drinking and I wanted a family. So he got a corporate job and met his new wife. What is it we say, we didn't cause it, we can't cure it and we can't control it. I didn't think he had a drinking problem I just wanted him to come home at night.

Oh well, that relationship taught me a lot too. I was so sick and in so much pain by the end that it was a joy when he finally left. He was angry and drinking. I was scared of him, I thought it was my fault. I wasn't good enough to make him happy. I will never be that person again because of the program. He was cheating and drinking and pissed off at me for just being alive.

This is a far cry from an amends letter and my rosy picture of him in my head right now. I don't know if he was alcoholic or whether he has a program. All I know is that he wasn't the same person when the drinking escalated.

I think this post has been good for me. A review of the past with rose colored glasses first and at the end not so rose colored. Relationships suck sometimes and you just have to do the best you can and hope it works out. I hate growing up.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mustard Greens and Music

I am home tonight and making some mustard greens and listening to some music. If you are not from the south, mustard greens are collard green's bitter cousin. You are suppose to cook them with some smoked pork slowly for a few hours and then serve them with cornbread.

In my grandmothers house this was a huge process. Greens were not just for Thanksgiving and I helped her look the greens many times, this is what she called it, looking the greens. She said they always have grit on them and after all the waiting you don't want anyone to get any grit. Her method called for stripping out the spine and filling a sink full of water and letting them soak until the sand sinks to the bottom. We would repeat this process until she was satisfied that there was no grit.

These days I feel like those bitter greens. I have had my spine ripped out and now I am floating and waiting for the grit to sink to the bottom. Silly, but I couldn't pass up that analogy. It is appropriate for me right now, but I am not bitter today.

Waiting and being subjected to a cleansing of sort. I think I must at least be on the third soak by now, not quite ready but soon. Then comes the slow cooking, worth the wait? I hope so, because patience is not one of my virtues. I think that is the point.

Never pray for patience I have heard and for the record I have never prayed for patience. I am changing I know and tonight I am feeling happy and in a place of acceptance.

My grandmother would say anything worthwhile is worth waiting for, or her own version on that. In my family there was no such thing as instant gratification. If you didn't work for it it wasn't worth anything. I hope she was right for I am here just floating and waiting for the grit to sink to the bottom.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Eye of the storm - meditation

I have recovered from my temporary place despair yesterday. It is good that I know it is temporary but it is experience that has taught me that and sometimes in the midst of the storm having that information doesn't help at all.

I saw an interview with Marie Osmond about her son and his suicide and how one month before he was excited about getting into the college of his choice. I get that, despair can come up so quickly and seem so paralyzing that you would do anything to get relief. Being young you don't have experience to know that it will pass.

When I was in high school living at home in an impossible situation the thought of suicide did cross my mind. I thought I will never survive this and I was a minor and couldn't leave, I had left before and was brought back.

To me despair is when you see no way out, you believe that you will always feel that bad. I was 15 and I knew at 16 I could leave and I did. In the mean time I slept for almost 9 months. I made a decision that when I was at home I would be unconscious. I lived because I believed they were the problem and I knew that if I could get away from them I could be free. I knew that only time stood between me and freedom. If I could do something to kill time I could make it.

I am not sure why I went into all that today but there it is. I guess for me when I go to a dark place sometimes it seems more devastating than at other times. Grief is familiar and perfectly healthy really. When you lose something or someone important to you, you must grieve in some way. Despair is another animal and care must be taken to get help. You can't think your way out of despair because despair makes you think there is no solution. You need a second opinion.

So I got a second opinion yesterday from a professional. It seems perfectly clear when it comes from someone else. She is spiritual and knows I am game for anything that will make me feel better so we did a meditation. She had me lay on the floor on a blanket and imagine I was lying in the grass looking at the sky. It was clear and blue and the sun was shining and then small wispy clouds started collecting and then darker clouds. All the time I am safe in knowing that the sky was blue behind the clouds. The storm came and I was perfectly safe and then the sun returned and dried me off and the sky was blue once again and then more whispy clouds.

I feel great today and know that good or bad, this too shall pass.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Darkness to Light to Darkness

What a difference a day makes. After my post about being in a great place I ended up not sleeping. I don't know whether it was exercise or caffeine or what but yesterday was pretty awful. Spiritually and emotionally I felt like I slipped back into darkness and fear.

I don't know where I am going these days, I always believed my life had a purpose and in moments of fear and doubt now, I am not so sure. I have made decisions in my life that have led me to where I am today. I don't blame anyone but myself for those choices. I get into trouble when I think, whats next? Is this it?

I look around and people are going on about their lives. My partner at work spent the entire day making a Christmas list for herself and her husband to give to her family. With specific item numbers. This seems so foreign to me and makes me feel like I am some kind of alien on the planet.

I thought about skipping the blog writing today given I am living in the shadows but the writing is about honesty.

I am grateful for many things in my life and I know this time of darkness will pass. I will find my way even if I think I am taking too long to do so. I actually feel better than I did last night but I called my counselor to get a reality check.

I beleive that at some point in time I will look back and understand what this time in life was suppose to teach me.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Can Run

Just getting off the treadmill my friend gave me a couple of weeks ago. She is very generous to give it to me. I have a gym membership until the end of the year but I really only like to run. It will be great to be able to run at home.

I think it is funny that I have started running the past couple of years because I always claimed that I hated running. I have always fallen for runners, literally an figuratively and would never join them willingly when they ran.

When I first met my husband he was 22 and 6'4" and weighed 165 lbs. He always said he was built for speed and he could run like the wind. I of course at 5'2" was not built for speed and always felt inferior in many ways to him. He always wanted me to run with him and I couldn't keep up, I finally started riding my bike while he ran. This was early in our relationship when we still thought we should spend every minute together.

I think the reason I claimed to hate running was it seemed more important than me. It was immature of me, but my feelings were just a symptom of what was really going on. I felt left out and was trying to manipulate the situation which ended up putting more distance between us. In the end I was right they were running away.

It has taken me time and distance to accept that communication is hard even with someone you love. How is it that you start out in love and it feels like nothing can ever come between you and then one day you wake up with a stranger? How do you keep that from happening?

I had resentments about running and rebelled by not running. So I have to admit now that I do like to run. I will never run like the wind but I can crank up the music and get those endorfins flowing.

I feel strong tonignt physically and emotionally. I can let go of those resentments and the runners that go with them. They can just keep running.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturation and Sudoku

I woke up early this morning and felt like a million bucks. I started reading and having my morning cup of coffee and then dosed back off. The phone rang and it startled me I didn't feel like answering it, I could feel my mood had slipped.

I was having a dream that I was staying in a small cottage on someone else's property and when I walked in the door I interrupted a couple of robbers. I ran screaming from the house. I am sure there is a message here, but I will need more time to process this.

I have gone about my business today but I never got back to the elation I felt when I woke up the first time. I have finished a painting that I don't really like and I am not sure why I don't like it.

The picture was of some succulents I found in a magazine and using acrylics thinned like watercolors I painted it light and airy. I did this a few weeks ago and went back to it today to see if I could finish it. It felt too washed out and so I added more color and then more color. I hate it now. With painting is can be like cutting your own bangs when you were a kid and you just keep trying to even them up and end up going to school looking like a freak.

Sometime I get that way about life. A little seems good so a lot must be better. I am about extremes. I couldn't admit this until recent years and I have accused others of it plenty of times. You spot it you got it, right? When I am really into something I am really into it and then I am done.

Saturation is what I call it and I can never see it coming. I try really hard but inevitibly I hit the bottom exhausted and have no choice but to move on. Being ADD and complusive is not a great combination for a balanced peaceful life. It is my secret though, it isn't obvious to the outside world, only to my closest allies.

Once I spent an entire vacation in a hotel room (with three other people) doing Suduko puzzles. We had just discovered them and everyone was content to stay in the whole week pratically. After that week, I have never touched a Suduko puzzle again. After the trip they went on to higher levels etc. not me I was done.

So when does just enough turn into too much? Like today when is being alone with yourself and your introspective, analytical, complusive, ADD mind too long? I think I have answered my own question. Happy to get back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

God and me (and J)

I got a call last Saturday day from the bishop. The shop owner is a priest in a charismatic episcopal church and his bishop calls from time to time looking for him. I was there alone told him that the owner was at the church. It was a church work day.

He seemed surprised by this and went on to explain that he was doing a house blessing in the afternoon and didn't want to alone. He said the guy was in AA and didn't think the guy had any friends. I said if he is in AA he probably has a ton of friends, he said he didn't think that the people in AA really believed in God. I said I wasn't sure that was true and left it at that.

I thought about my own struggle with even the word God when I first started going to meetings. Raised in the Pentecost they talked about Jesus and Gods love along with the part about if you sinned and didn't ask for forgiveness before you died, even if it happened five minutes ago, you were quite literally toast.

My earliest memory of my connection to Jesus was when I was five and I thought when they said, Jesus was coming any minute, they meant any minute. I stood outside one night when I saw some big search lights in the sky, looking for Jesus. He didn't come, I least I don't think so. Once I got the gist of the burning in hell part I would pray every night to be forgiven for anything that might be a sin that I didn't know was a sin, I wanted to cover all my bases.

It was a lot of pressure and as I got older it took a toll on me, once as a teenager I had some evil spirits cast out of me, but that is a story for another time. That was the end of my desire to be apart of the trilogy, until turning 30 and attending

Until then everything was black and white. Either you are in or out none of the grey stuff or thinking for yourself. I was out, I knew that for sure because I wasn't perfect and was sinning so much that I really couldn't begin to keep up with the list.

So I had to start at the beginning unlearn all that had been imprinted on my young brain. I didn't want God in my life and I certainly didn't want to turn my will and my life over to him. But I got over that because I started feeling better so I just put on my denial cap and kept going.

When I finally faced the God of my understanding I acknowledged that he was an A-hole and let my mother die and my father marry a evil person and then let me marry an alcoholic. I understood him perfectly. I had been victimized by the God of my understanding.

So how does a person get past that kind of thinking, one day at a time of course. Actually, I don't know exactly, I think the biggest thing the steps taught me is that I was not a victim. I had to get past the warm fuzzy feeling it gave me to be a martyr and start over. It is hard to say my life sucks to a room full of people that can say right back, I can top that. So I guess I found out I wasn't special so I had to get on with living and I did.

I actually feel grateful for those life changing events now. Those events led me to the program and the program taught me that I didn't have to listen to the voice in my head and that people can change. It is really remarkable the transformation I have seen in other people and myself. Even now I have mini awakenings, when I see how my thinking is totally messed up. Is there more, oh I am sure there is.

Coming to terms with God and sifting through what I was taught and what are my own beliefs is true freedom in every since of the word. I always say to my friends when I can't deal with my religious up bringing I just pretend I was raised Methodist, they seem so much more peaceful.

So I am good with the trilogy now and I am not talking about The Lord of the Rings, although I like that one too. I can'tbcomplete this post without noting that it is very interesting that I ended up working with a man that is a charismatic priest. My God of course has a sense of humor.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Shoulds and Spys - Character Defects

My day was full of I should be doing this and that, you can say it as many times as you like but if in your heart you have not intentions of actually doing anything about it, what is the point.

I have pretty much stop shoulding on myself over the years but occasionally like today I had envisioned so much productivity. First I was going to go to showroom since no one was there today and get some paper work done, but I couldn't make myself do it. Then I thought I would work on some much needed household projects, but I didn't do it. It was like the boss was on vacation and I was left at the office to keep things running and I decided to see how hard I could work at doing nothing.

This is my character defect that I use to think was an asset. I think I must be productive. Everything I am involved in must produce or accomplish something. It is even better if it serves multiple purposes. A good example is blogging, it helps me address daily spiritual issues, improves my writing skills and entertains me, for a short time.

Doing comes naturally to me and I can honestly say that I don't know how to do nothing or have fun for that matter. I tried to think of the last really fun thing I did and it was playing Cafe of facebook. I liked the cooking and serving it felt like I was really accomplishing something and then there was Farmtown, not to be confused with Farmville. Don't even get me started I created a second identity so I could have myself plow fields and work two farms and bonus I could get more stoves in Cafe.

I finally had to back away from the games because my virtual life was taking more time than my real life. I did get bored once I had the whole thing running efficiently as possible. So you can see I have a problem even defining fun most less downright goofing off.

So today the boss was on vacation and since I work for myself it is like having a spy in the office. I will have to come up with some pretty good excuses for myself when I get to the office tomorrow.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks - No Drama

I have returned from my meal and I think I am in a carb coma. It was really delightful everyone seemed open an genuine. I got hugs from strangers and the food was really good.

The matriarch of the family had everything down to a science. She of course had been up since 5 am and we ate at precisely 1 pm. The precision of the step up made me think, maybe an Al-Anoner, but she is a teacher so maybe that was where that organization came from.

With all the usual southern Thanksgiving fixins. Turkey with pan style dressing made with cornbread and sage, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, mac and cheese and potato salad. She went all out with the desserts, she made all of them except the coconut cake. There was banana pudding, key lime pie, cheesecake, sweet potato pie and peanut butter cake. I brought mac and cheese an she made her own or somebody else did.

No drama today, we ate cleaned up and it was all over in a couple of hours. All the tables (from the church) broken down and loaded up and it looked like nothing had ever happen.

It was pretty amazing to me because when I cook it looks like something exploded in the kitchen and I might do the dishes and then wait until the next day to finish getting things back to normal.

I asked her how she got to be so organized and she said she was a single mother for seven years and worked 60 hours a week and if she had a system for the housework she could spend more time with the kids. Nice.

Feeling grateful today and not thinking about the past. Accepting where I am in my life and feeling refreshed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Making a change for the holiday

It is the first time in a couple of decades that I will actually be spending Thanksgiving with people I am actually related to and not my chosen family. I have been estranged from my family for most of my adult life. My sister loves me but her circumstances clashed with my circumstances over the years and we both have made other choices for the holidays.

When my dad died about six years ago and I went to the funeral his only living sister took an interest in me and started calling me. I didn't think it would last because that side of the family are not much for reaching out. I did good to hear from my dad once a year when I called him on his birthday. She has kept up with me and I actually stayed at her house last year.

Her son lives about an hour from here and they are coming to visit him for Thanksgiving. I have been to his house a couple times and his family is really nice. His wife called me and invited me for Thanksgiving.

I have spent the last hour making my deluxe Martha Stewart recipe for mac and cheese. It is basically fondue with macaroni in it. It will be a southern style meal and it should be fun I hope.

I have cooked Thanksgiving for a lot of years before I moved and last year my friend and I decided to skip it and we made apple pie and snow crab. I will miss my friends this year but it seems nice to actually have family interested enough to invite me.

This has been at the core of my life long insecurities not really being that important to my family. I have recreated this over and over in my relationships with emotionally distant people. I finally get it now after all these years these relationships felt like home.

My aunt gave me more insights into the dynamics of how my father was raised. She has said there was no affection only discipline by my grandfather. This helps me to understand my father and his limitations.

So tomorrow we will feast and I will find out what it is like to be with my family of origin on Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

First on emotions - then a family disease

It is the time of year for me that brings up a lot of emotions. Being dumped twice at Thanksgiving gives me cause to be just a little cautious this week. Deciding what are emotions from the past and what it is I am actually feeling today.

What I have learned is you don't have to be a slave to your emotions but ignoring emotions will only delay them. I dreamed this morning that my ex not only had an affair but was sleeping with everyone in our high rise apartment building. Everyone knew but me and they were all consoling me. We lived in a house not an apartment so I interpret this as me thinking I should have known. It is pointless to go there but it tells me my subconscious is still acknowledging the date.

I am feeling sadness just below the surface today. I can accept that this too shall past and know that leaning into it is the fastest way to move on. I have learned the hard way that resistance is where the pain lies.

I went to lunch with my co-worker and ran into my original sponsor and she said I was thinking about you last night. I was thinking about her last night too. So this afternoon I called her and we discussed the above issues. I have known her 20 years and she knows me probably better than anyone emotionally, all my fears and how my mind works and I trust her to be honest with me. I felt relieved after the call and went on with my day.

Just as I was getting back to the office my nephew called. I had to look twice because he has never called me before. Unfortunately he got his brain from our side of the family the analyzing side. Thinking too much, being keeper of all things the beacon in the storm. Most reliable in a crisis.

His dad is an angry adult child of two parents addicted to prescription drugs. His volatile unpredictable behavior over the years have brought out different traits in their three kids. My brother in law recently started taking medication himself to cope with his sister's addiction to drugs and they haven't seen much of him since.

My nephew is in his early 20's and is trying to decide a career path and his mother wants him to go to law school and take over her practice. She told him to call me because she thought since we have similar personalities I could maybe give him some insight. He started by giving me the run down on the Thanksgiving plan and how he's forcing the rest of the family to go the his aunts house because this is what his dad wants and if they buck then there will be a scene.

I feel for those kids and I know their road with be tough. My sister has done a good job raising them to be confident and not follow the crowd. But the things they have endured with their dad and my sister's denial will shape their lives forever.

This is why it is a family disease. The grandparents didn't need help because they were taking drugs prescribed by a doctor. They are both gone now leaving a legacy of addiction behind.

On the bright side they have me and they can have a program if they need and want some help. My sister has been to Al-Anon but didn't feel that she could relate since she isn't married to an alcoholic. She went because her husband sister's son needed someone to go with him. She did have some advice for the group. We have all the answers and I lives are still unmanageable.

What was my advice to him about his career? Well I said if he is like me he is probably ADD and will need a variety of different kinds of tasks to keep him busy. He is a people person and can be disciplined when he in interested in a subject so law might actually work.

Do what you love and you will be a success, at least in your own mind.

Monday, November 22, 2010

When is one day at a time denial?

I opted to go to a meeting at lunch today. It has been about 3 months since I went to a meeting, I just felt like it, so I went. The meeting was on gratitude to follow the Thanksgiving theme and I do feel grateful that the program gave me a new life and a new way of thinking.

After the meeting I got a sandwich at the AA snack bar and sat down at a table outside to enjoy the warm weather and eat my sandwich. I woman from my meeting was getting in her car and suddenly turned around and came back an sat beside me. She began to tell me how after 20 years her husband stop drinking and now he has been sober for a year and things have only gotten worse.

His friends did an intervention but when he got out of rehab he didn't go to AA. So she is living with a angry dry drunk. She has determined that she is in grief over the fact that sobriety didn't solve the problem and she is still alone. She has been in Al-Anon for the whole 20 years and now what is next?

She says she is just going to wait it out and live one day at a time and see what happens. I have done a lot of waiting in my own life because I thought if I just stuck it our some miracle would come along and things would be better. In my first marriage I waited while the alcohol virtually erased the man I was married to and by the time he left there was nothing left of me either.

Is the one day at a time scenario just a form of denial? I have used it when I was in crisis and could not imagine a way out. I know that it is another story for those staying sober one day at a time, but denial is dangerous and you can wake up and decades have past and nothing has changed.

This is how I felt about the conversation today a lot of people stuck and not thinking they deserve more or can't even imagine the possibility of more. It is easier than facing the unknown to stay in the cocoon of our own making. You will never turn into a butterfly if you don't eventually come out and it might turn into a body bag at some point.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Seasons come and go - Living in the wild

I am sitting on my porch here on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I bought this house almost three years ago, really just for the porch. It has a large porch over looking a little inlet off the river. The subdivision is tucked in between some apartments and some swanky riverfront homes. It has some pretty amazing wildlife mixed with the sounds or emergency vehicles and whatever is going on on the river.

The porch is on the second floor because I live on a hill, so it is like a tree house. I have been watching the squirrels and now I can hear a bird of some sort washing their wings. With all the growth this year I can't see but a patch of water, but I did venture out a few weeks ago when I heard the noise to see what it was. The bird was going under and then flapping it's wings to dry off.

The first year here I was catatonic for the most part and really don't remember much except for sitting on the porch. Last year I was better and decided that I should do something about all the critters I was living with. The raccoons were taking over and living on top of my porch. I saw a momma and two babies through the clerestory windows from the living room. The squirrels were living in the walls in the winter time and it wasn't until I came out on the porch and disturbed them that I decided to do something.

I can't kill anything except an occasional water bug so I just decided to just make things a little less inviting. I hired a friend to close up the holes around house including a mouse hole leading to my attic. When my air went out this summer the guy was in the attic and informed there was quite a party going on up there.

I have been out of it for a long time and when he said that I wasn't embarrassed in the least. Someone or something should enjoy this house because certainly I wasn't. I was lucky to find it when the market had tanked. I really needed this porch and a place to call home. I spent 13 years fixing up someone else's home and somehow I never felt like it was permanent. You would think I would relax at 10 years but I think somehow I knew it wasn't forever.

Being with an agnostic can be lonely at times. I think that they are probably happier than we are at times, always seeking the truth. When we met I was past the point of trying to change anyone and was in a place of accepting someone as they were. I know I will look back on this time and see how it was for my benefit. I was content in that relationship but I wouldn't say happy. I stayed because I thought I should be happy with being content. So here I am neither happy or content.

I am making progress though, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning last night putting the finishing touches on the re-designing of my house. This is my core of happiness my home, my space and I haven't felt like I belonged here until now. I was resisting where I was at the core level, as long as I didn't acknowledge it, it didn't exist, just going through the motions.

It has been ugly, all of it, feeling like it was all a lie and facing that I am on my own again. None of that is really true but that is part of the acceptance the anger the denial. Today I am at peace and have a beautiful home to call my own and the ability to take care of myself. I have people that love me and a program that has expanded my life in ways I could never imagine. It was the program that taught me about freedom, freedom to be who you are and the freedom to change who that is daily. No rules, no limitations only the ones you give yourself.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Changing things back

I woke up this morning and decided that I didn't like some of the changes I made in my house. A few weeks ago I spent the weekend re-arranging my furniture and after living with for awhile I decided I didn't like it and I spent the evening changing some of it back.

It feels good to be see little glimpses of my old self coming to the surface after such a long period of grief and depression. At my lowest I didn't see any point in being alive most less moving the furniture. Everything seemed like such a monumental task, even small things like loading the dishwasher or even opening the mail seemed more like climbing Mt Everest.

Today I woke up feeling hopeful with no particular dread on my mind. I had my usual cup of coffee and wrote in my journal. I was scheming about changing the furniture back and then I felt my mood slip just a little when I thought about my life, the big picture. What will become of me and starting asking the big questions, is this all there is? Then I shook it off and got my butt in gear and left for work. This is how I know I am not depressed anymore. If I was still depressed I would have crawled back into bed with my clothes on and spent the day there.

It is a tough time of the year for me with both of my long term relationships ending at Thanksgiving and I have to be gentle with myself. The promises say we will not regret the past nor shut the door on it. For me that means accepting where I am and those relationships shaped who I am today and knowing it is all going to work out.

I a happy to not be where I was three years ago or three months ago I am moving forward with the faith that I will get the answers I am looking for when the time is right. For now I will settle for just changing the furniture back to the way it was and leaving everything else alone.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Getting Lost

Last night I got lost on my way to a Thanksgiving potluck dinner. This is not unusual for me, I have resisted getting one of the many talking navigators because I am oppose to yet another electronic running my life. Besides I like to think of myself as a good navigator despite the fact that I am lost a lot of the time. After an hour of driving around in an unfamiliar part of town I gave up and headed back home.

In life my navigation skills have taken me down many a wrong road. Sometimes I just became impatient with the process and took the first road I came to without much thought. Then I would eventually wake up to find myself in some kind of personal hell of my own making only to blame someone else or God for the situation I was in. Some of those choices changed the course of my life in ways I try not to think about now. There is no wrong path path just sometimes a shorter more pleasant path. I don't believe in regret and for me time eventually reveals the importance of every moment good or bad.

I recently decided to speed up one particular path and face something I have been avoiding for quite some time. A person that caused me a lot of pain and I wanted to get some answers some closure so I can move on. But it wasn't the right time because after three attempts to meet there has been one obstacle after another. Oddly enough I don't feel like it is so important anymore and maybe what I needed was to just let it go. I think the lesson was to just face my own pain and insecurity and move on.

The 12 steps and a spiritual path doesn't guarantee an easier life in fact being present and accountable for yourself at all times can be down right painful sometimes. When I realized I was totally responsible, I thought great and then it hit me, I have no one to blame anymore for my feelings.

What no one tells you when you start the steps is once you have that awakening there is no going back. This must be the way they felt after the apple incident in the garden.

So here I am working my program tailored by my higher power, just for me. Accepting that even when I feel I am lost I am always somewhere and I will eventually find my way home.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What do you want from me? - Expectations

I spent the afternoon with a friend yesterday and she talked of how she feels she has disappointed everyone in her life. She feels she is not a good friend, mother of wife. She said her aunt has been expecting her to call her an visit her regularly since her husband died and she just hasn't had the time. She lives four hours away.

We want to be loved and admired by the people that are important to us and even loved and admired by the people that are not. This is a slippery slope and ultimately a no win situation. First you have to start off as a mind reader because most relationships that I have been in no one is clearly communicating their expectations of me and sometimes those expectations change on a daily basis.

I still think I can read minds because as a child I became very good at analyzing a situation and performing in a way that was pleasing to others. This part of my personality went into over-drive after my mother died and I tried to be the daughter my step-mother wanted me to be. I dressed the way she wanted me to, I spoke the way she wanted me to and she still despised me. I know now it wasn't about me.

It made her happy for the moment and then she was mad again. I would regroup and reinvent myself and it worked for awhile until it didn't. This set me up with a pattern that I repeated in my alcoholic marriage and every relationship until the program.

I have been in a life long string of relationships where I get left. What my step-mother taught me was that I would never be enough. Every time someone leaves it makes me think that maybe it is true. What the program taught me is that it is true. I will never be enough for someone else, but I can choose to be enough for myself. I can do what is right for me and live in peace or I can try to meet the expectations of others and hope for the best.

Being the best person I can be, Step 11 takes care of that and accepting that as being enough is the only way for me to feel like enough, at least for myself. I want to be loved like everyone else, but what life has taught is it is impossible to meet the expectations of anyone or even the expectations I put on myself, for that matter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Walking the Line - Trusting the Process

I have been walking the line between the past and the present over the last couple of weeks and I am not sure where I stand at the moment and wonder does it really matter. Trusting that everything is in perfect order can be a real stretch when you want something to turn out the way you picture it in your mind.

I know what I want or do I even know what I want and again, does it really matter. Step three, made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God as we understand him, seems pretty easy if you put it that way but in practice the ability to let something go depends on how important the outcome is to you.

This is where I lose it. Have I done everything I can do without God's help? I can feel my heart aching for things to go my way and the my mind saying this situation is impossible and will never work. Don't get your hopes up verses expect a miracle. So which way do I go?

Before the program I felt I had all of the control and none of the control over my life. What I found out is that both are true, but the things I thought I had control over I didn't and things I thought I didn't I really did. I have control over my own thinking this was a big surprise to me. I can choose to let my thoughts ruin my day or know that they are just thoughts and I can be crazy another day.

The things I thought I could control, just about everything else, I had absolutely no power over. People just went out and did what ever they wanted without even getting my opinion. Couldn't they see the mistakes they were making?

So here I am back to the beginning, having to let things go and turning my will over. The truth is I don't know what is ultimately best for me. When I look at God's track record in my life, I can see a lot of successful decisions he has made for me. I can't take credit for any of the really great things that have happen to me because they were a result of some painful things that happened in my life. Things I would have never willing chosen to go through myself.

I will let go today and decide again tomorrow. Walking the line makes me feel anxious and powerless and I can make a decision be happy today, if I let go and trust the process.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thinking Small

I spent the morning judging builders here in the area that submitted remodeling projects to the builders association for recognition. The number is limited because it cost to submit and so only the bigger names actually are represented.

I was assigned a partner and we drove around and looked at some incredible spaces. It was hard to judge some of the smaller projects against the ones with unlimited budgets. One project, the house was taken to the ground and rebuilt the other was a cottage that the owners grandparents owned and had been empty for six years before the remodel. It was also gutted but the basic structure was the same.

My partner for the day was a interior designer and obviously passionate about what he did, we discussed the difficulty in finding people willing to pay for design services. He said he charges for every minute of his time and his belief in himself keeps him in business. He said even if he has to pass up on a potential customer he won't do a free consultation.

I was thinking about how easily I under value myself and especially what I do. I have a degree and I have spent a lot of time and energy keeping up with the current design trends within the industry. I have passion for what I do and I give my all with every project.

I was with a customer the other day and I said not to worry that I wouldn't let her make a bad decision and she said well you think highly of yourself. I said I support myself making design decisions and she wouldn't want to pay someone that isn't sure of their choices.

I was conditioned to think it is bad manners to be proud of your own skills or as my mother would say "don't toot your own horn". What is wrong with having confidence in your own skills. A lawyer wouldn't say oh I am not really that great, modesty wouldn't be an asset, so why should I down play my abilities.

So I am going to stop thinking small, it doesn't help me to not be confident or not appreciate my own abilities. If you are relying on the advice of someone don't you want them to have confidence, I do.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Spoon Feeding - Expectations

I had to tell someone today that their kitchen would not be ready for Thanksgiving. I did not know until yesterday that this was the expectation. The project was turned over to the general contractor and he told me this morning that he was unaware of this expectation. It is part of the job.

I my business it is a delicate balance between the expectation of the customer and the reality of construction and design. I try to gently inform my customers the reality of the process of a renovation before we get started but most people don't want to hear it. There is no way to factor in the time it takes for people to make selections or if some unknown construction issue is found.

First it always cost more than you would expect and then it always takes longer than you think it will take. I have found that the process starts out based on generic selections and what happens when it gets down to it we want something nicer and that cost more a little here a little there. I call it spoon feeding and I do it to myself, I want to deny the reality and then I just adjust as each expenses comes along.

It has been a hard lesson for me to realize that not everyone really wants to know what it is really going to cost. I know what your thinking, you are thinking well I do and there is the rare bird that really does.

If I bring in my general contractor and he gives the whole cost up front every one thinks it is too much and they are in shock, even me. So they go off on their own and hire individuals and in the end it usually cost about the same. It just feels better not to see the big picture.

I think the remodeling senario translates to most situations. When I first came to the program I couldn't even see the alcoholism to admit my husband was an alcoholic seemed so permanent so uncurable a label, to much. Then finding out that I was the one with the problem whoa wait just one minute, then it started to sink in and I adjusted and started to see some truth in those words. If you told me it would take me this many years and I would always be in recovery myself, I would have walked out the door.

Life is a process and we have to accept things when we are ready and some people are never ready and that is not our responsibility. I can only do my best and accept that spoon feeding can be a little easier on everyone.

Monday, November 8, 2010

In the Dark - Gratitude

I am working today on my day off. I am happy to have the work and really need to close some new deals before I lose my momentum. I spent the day helping a customer with tile selection and then back to the office.

When I arrived my office or what I call my office, it was dark. I guess the big fixture over my desk went out. The owner decided that he should change the light bulbs, I tried to convince him that it was unlikely that all four went out at the same time, but he didn't listen. He is stubborn like me and had to see for himself. Then he proceeded to climb on top of my desk with my laptop sitting there open. After changing the bulbs surprise the light still didn't work. When he was moving the ladder out, he hadn't secured the cover and it came flying down and missed me by an inch.

It seems to me that when I am stressed and have a lot going on the universe starts conspiring against me and sends me a few extra things to deal with. I think we create our own reality and if we start thinking negatively then we get more of the same.

With that being said, the weather was beautiful today, my customer was good company and we got to eat lunch outside at one of my favorite restaurants. Further more, I have the kind of job that allows me moments such as this to stop and collect my thoughts and send them out into the world.

I hope your day was as lovely as mine.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What is the right thing to do?

My dog is very old 17 maybe 18 years old and can't see or hear at this point. She shows her age as old folks do sleeping all day and staying up all night.

We have this routine each night. I settle in around 1:00 am and fall asleep pretty quickly I usually sleep for a couple of hours and then I hear her nails tapping on the floor. Just as I leap up it is too late and she has relieved herself on the floor. It doesn't matter at this point because I have tile on the floor. I clean things up and go back to bed. At this point she is awake and starts wandering around the house bumping into things and about daylight will settle back in.

The other night I woke up and couldn't find her anywhere. I thought the doggy rapture had taken place. I searched the whole house and finally found her wedged underneath an ottoman coffee table I have at the end of the bed.

She is in pretty good health and her quality of life is still decent. It is me that is suffering. I know if I took her to the vet they would recommend putting her down. Taking a life, it is hard for me to even kill bugs most less something I love. I did make that choice for my other dog when she no longer could stand, that seemed clearer to me than this does.

I did try something different last night I put her in the kitchen and closed my door so I couldn't hear the tapping. I do feel more rested but it did seem strange not to feel her presence in the room.

I guess I will know when the time is right.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Painting a New Me

It was the nicest day here and I finally got around to planting a bunch of plants given to me over a month ago. I have felt real guilty seeing them there in the driveway but I have been too swamped to do anything about it. So today was the day. Nobody was out in the neighborhood. I guess with church, Halloween and football they're so many choices. I could hear screaming so I am thinking our team was winning or some one's team was winning.

The plants looked dead some of them but I planted them anyway and hope for the best, sometimes plants can surprise you like that. I cleared out some old asparagus ferns that the previous owner probably planted 20 years ago I had to dig them up. I am sure I left enough behind that they will return when they are ready.

I worked in the studio this morning and painted some and then took an inventory of the paint colors I have. I have really evolved with my thoughts about painting. I had it rough in high school with all the super stars in the art class. The teachers always catered to them. Once my favorite teacher ask me and another average student to paint the sunset for the school play. We were excited and honored so we painted a fiery sunset and it took us all night. When the play opened and the curtain was raised it wasn't our sunset it had been over by one of the superstars.

We were crushed and I didn't want to ever go back to class. She could have told us we were so young and already felt insecure about our talents. But she was probably twenty something herself and didn't know how to say it wasn't what she wanted.

I didn't try to paint again until my mid twenties when I was unemployed and then only under the direction of the Bob Ross method painting on TV. Happy little clouds. I still have them and yuck. I was so afraid of being judged or feeling silly so as long as it looked like everyone elses I was happy. I was so sick an insecure.

I didn't paint again until this last breakup. When you are in a relationship your free time is not your own. It is made up of compromises and if that doesn't work you end up not doing anything but watching tv. I never really realized I was giving my life away a piece at a time or I should say an hour at a time.

So here I am alone and back to my first love creating. I like all forms of creating and watch all the shows that have to do with the creative process. Everything we touch and see was an idea in some one's mind or in the mind of God. It never gets old to me and if it does I will just create something new.

Since I came to Al-Anon, after my first marriage ended, my need to please others and feeling inferior, has just about vanished. I accommodate when it is a win win situation but what I have realized lately that I have to really listen to my gut before I say yes to do something. I can easily get to where I say yes because I can't think of anything else at that moment that I would rather do. But having nothing scheduled actually gives me time to think about things I do want to do.

Sorry, I went off on that tangent it is a big issue for me and something I have been trying to understand. Doing something is not always better than doing nothing.

Now I paint what I want. I like to paint ordinary things. I painted some light bulbs a couple of nights ago. So what, I am not that girl that was jilted in high school by her favorite teacher. Let's face it art is purely subjective and unless you paint like the masters, which was already done by the masters, who cares.

I evolved in the program and my art has followed. Relationships change even the relationship with yourself. It is good too, that the girl inside me can let go of feeling inferior and accept the gifts God has given me. It has been a long haul.

Happy Halloween