Friday, October 31, 2008

Give Me The Reins

"Thanks for helping me get my head screwed back on straight."

Sometimes I arrive for my session with Fr. Charlie feeling like a bobble headed woman in need of a neck adjustment. Yesterday was no exception. Spiritual direction should really be renamed Let's-Peel-Another-Layer-Off-The-Onion, shall we? Some days it feels like baby steps towards something healthier, the layers coming off slowly and carefully and then others it feels like someone's taken a knife to the onion and said, let's get to the core right now.

There's a bit in the Big Book of AA that talks about an alcoholic being like a director who, if everyone else who just follow directions, the play (of life) would be grand, except people don't cooperate very well and it all goes to shit when a person is expecting people to hop to it. I try to direct the whole shebang from time to time. The ensuing anxiety isn't worth it.

Yesterday, during the session, a picture popped into my head of holding a pair of reins and then suddenly flinging them in Jesus direction. I felt like my life was like a pair of runaway horses and I wanted to stick my head in the sand until it settled down again. I doubt there's any merit in head in the sand theology. Jesus gave me back one of the reins, put his arm around my shoulder and those darn horses that had been galloping hither and yon, settled right down and the ride became much less bumpy.

I wanted to judge myself for keeping one of the reins. The whole God is my co-pilot bumper sticker came to mind and how many times I've sighed at the sight. Never mind how much time I've simply driven my life as if God were dead. Then it occured to me that there is much about life that is simply about doing the next right thing. We were given a brain and can function in many everyday capacities without it being a big deal. Sticking my head in the sand was a way of copping out - as if God would tell me everything from what colour of shoes to wear to whether or not I needed to wash the dishes before bed. I can only imagine God sighing, "give me a break". No wonder Jesus gave me back one of the reins. However, sticking my head in the sand over stuff that I need divine direction for, is going to make for one bumpy ride.

I doubt if life's circumstances will miraculously be smoothed out overnight. I do know that when I'm not trying to run the whole damn thing the ride will feel much less bumpy. I can hear my bobble headed neck thanking me already.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Each Small Choice

"We become humble with each small choice to accept ourselves as we are. We become whole as we let that choice be enough for today."

That was part of one of my daily readings this morning. One I needed to be reminded of, too. Accepting myself, as is, for today is enough.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I dreamed of my grandad last night. I never saw him cry in real life but in the dream he just sobbed. If someone looks like they are doing just fine on the outside I don't stop to think they might not be so great on the inside. I'd asked him how he was and his face started to contort into crying and he was fighting it and I was praying that Jesus would help him let go and cry. And he did. He was so sad to be alone and without my grandma. It was a scattered, weird dream. Putting up my Christmas tree in mid October and finding out someone was growing pot in my garden.

My dreams have been very disturbing lately, so last night's dream was a relief. Much tamer than normal.
It's always good to wake up, though.
Kind of like life....much better to journey with awareness than stumble around in dreamland. Not that it always feels that way, but today I'm grateful to be awake.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sanctuary Bound

Yesterday we realized just how much time we spend in our living room after I got ambitious, rented one of those rug cleaners, and shampooed the carpet. That meant shoving everything from the livingroom into the kitchen/diningroom and onto the deck. We can barely squeeze around it all to get to the bathroom. The living room was off limits last night as we waited for the carpet to dry. So dearest one and I went for a walk, I chatted on the phone with only daughter and my sponsor. We went to bed early. Sitting in front of the computer is not my idea of a good time when it's the only available option Youngest son pushed the easy chair into a little entry way that faced the livingroom, and watched TV over a small bookcase. The TV was the only thing I didn't move, so youngest son was glad I thought to bring the remote control out of the livingroom.

My living room is a sanctuary to me. It's where I sit and pray, journal, read, and where dearest one and I visit. We live in a small trailer and the livingroom is at one end of it. I can be in there and be oblivious to the mess that may be scattered in the rest of the house. Hmm. That sounds like having a little bit of denial to keep me company. I'm not the greatest housekeeper but the living room is one room I try to keep tidy. Tomorrow the furniture guys will deliver a new couch and loveseat. We've never had new living room furniture. Our old couch was a 1940's antique whose frame was falling apart. It also looked like someone had taken a razor and shaved parts of it bare. I often wondered about the stories that couch would tell if it could. I have a small easy chair from that era as well, and although its seat has a hole worn through and the armrests are threadbare, it's frame is still solid so I'm not ready to part with it yet. It spent yesterday and last night banished to the deck. I can only imagine the story it's getting ready to tell of being put out to pasture. I wonder if it will breathe a sigh of relief when it gets carried over the threshold this evening? I know I will be glad to nestle in its arms again.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Well, I keep clicking around on the net this morning and then coming back here and seeing this blank page. Kind of like opening the fridge all evening and expecting to see something different inside.

I went to bed with a raging headache last night and woke up with it this morning. There are worse ways to start a Monday. In days gone by it could've been a hangover headache and it's not so there you go. Perspective is a beautiful thing. So is headache medicine.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Forming Hope

Dearest one and I wandered together from place to place in town yesterday. At one point we found ourselves in a furniture store visiting with our bishop. Deep in conversation, we were brought back to reality by the salesperson inquiring if she could help us. Oh, right, we're not in a living room in our house, we're in a living room in a store. With that there were hugs all around and the bishop went his way while we continued ours.

We were passing the time in town, waiting to go to a wedding reception for one of our nieces in the evening. Wow. Get several hundred people together sharing food and fellowship and the noise level is overwhelming. In the midst of the cacophony we were able to connect with people we haven't seen for a few years. Sometimes I'm very aware of the twists and turns my spiritual life has taken as I sit among women whose hair is covered and whose dress is modest and feminine. At one point in my journey I sat among them in similar attire. Occasionally one of them asks me if my spiritual journey is the poorer for the lack of it. A wordy explanation is pointless. With my styled hair, dangling ear rings and blue jeans I can only smile and tell them no. I will always, however, have a special spot in my heart for that period of my life. It taught me much about myself and others. It's helped form me to be who I am today. When worn in simplicity and pureness of heart, I continue to see a head covering as beautiful. That period of my life was one of gross manipulation though, so simplicity and purity of heart were not part of my story. I desperately wanted them to be, but intention and reality are two different things.

Eventually dearest one and I made our way through the crowd and back to comfort of our car. As we drove home we talked about the highlight of our day. The best part for me was sitting in the food court with dearest one. He gave me the angel in the photo above, an angel of hope, and a card that brought tears to my eyes. Then he looked at me and said, "You've been doing a lot of hard inner work lately." We reached for each other's hand across the table, our eyes communicating the words that were stuck in our throats.

Dearest one must have run into a dozen people during the course of the day who he knew from somewhere (not counting the gazillion relatives at the wedding reception). In the mall there was the man he drove truck with, at the library -someone he worked with at a hospital. At the restaurant someone else was a patient's wife from long ago. At the reception last night I met a woman who was at oldest son's wedding this past summer. She talked about getting to know oldest son and how her and her elderly husband observed how he treated his love with respect. I imagined them watching out their living room window seeing him open her car door, or just the sensitive way he has of showing he cares. I looked at her and said, "He learned it from his dad." We then talked about our menfolk and how one of the dominant traits in the men of dearest one's family is their tenderheartedness. She nodded in agreement and then told me her husband was like that, too.

As dearest one made his way towards me in the furniture store yesterday one of the sales people turned to me and said, "Your husband is an incredible person." Turns out dearest one had nursed her father as he was dying. There is a sacredness to sharing this part of a family's journey that dearest one holds in his heart. I looked at the grief lingering in her eyes and said gently, "yes, he is."

Remember how cynical I was the other day when I heard this song playing on the radio? Wait a few minutes, hours, days and my attitude might change. After all, there is always hope. As I wrap up this post the song is playing on the radio again. It's been a few days of that kind of tenderness around here and it's a balm to my healing heart. Thanks be to God.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


"I feel like I'm a boiled egg whose shell has been cracked and rolled back and forth across the counter. There's the thinnest of membranes holding the bits together."

That's what I wrote in my journal yesterday morning
and shared with my counselor later in the afternoon.
It's been a while since an image came to me
as a metaphor for where I'm at in the journey.
It gives me hope that the image was one of being crushed, yet intact.

This has been the most draining of weeks.
Emotionally, I'm spent.
The continual clicking of pieces falling into place,
in the puzzle that is my story ,
humbles me and gives me great hope.
There is no way through but through.
Yesterday I was given the grace to
put one foot in front of the other.
I'm trusting the process even though
I cannot see around the corner.

I feel like I'm walking with a new awareness.
Stripped of another layer of denial,
there's no going back.
That is good and scary news.
Surrendering what is and will be.
Held ever so gently,

Comic Relief

Here's a bit of comic relief for your Saturday morning.
It's been a tad bit too serious around here this week.

The first is thanks to an email from one of my faithful readers, Mich. I found a site online that has it all there so enjoy reading the signs.

The second is from another regular reader. That post has the potential to drive me crazy but I did find some comic relief in it in an otherwise seriously intense day.

Serious posting will now resume.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Attitude Adjustment In Progress

It's bound to be an interesting day when I start it by sternly telling the energizer bunny to get over herself already.

Here's some pug entertainment to brighten your day. Not our pug, but the energizer bunny looks just like her.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Most Hopeful Layer

"Vulnerability is disarming. It compels one to go to that level, too."

Heart felt words from a close friend last night.
Often I've told dearest one he is the most beautiful
when he is the most vulnerable,
when he let's me in to see who he is.
He can tell me the ugliest thing he sees within himself
and I have yet to be repulsed or disappointed.
It's easier to feel that about things
left unsaid or imagined
than about reality.

We're in a new place relationship wise.
Walking hand in hand to that deep place
where fears and insecurities,
which have been kept under wraps
our whole life long, are being revealed.
We're slowly uncovering who we really are,
like a shy bride on her wedding night.

It's the most hopeful layer of the never ending onion.

Honesty is easier to write about than to live.
To open, what feels like a pandora's box,
and reveal who I am?
That's scary shit.

My recent slip forced me to face some ugly truths.
Well, I guess no one is forced to do anything
they don't want to in recovery.
But if I wanted to move forward, then
facing those truths was my only option.
And, no matter how loudly I may whine about growth,
I will only shrink from it for a limited time.
I'll be damned if I'm going to let fear rule my life forever.
Life is too short to tuck tail and run.
The scary part is that facing those truths
means sharing them with dearest one, too.
My struggle with this addiction in particular,
affects our marriage at a deeper level than either
the alcohol or the eating disorder.

So facing forward means telling the truth
about how it is within me.
Recently, I realized I do most of my processing in my head,
where it stays safe and secure.

My head is the worst safety deposit box there is.

So I'm learning to say outloud thoughts I usually keep to myself.
Learning to share from the vulnerable, troubled spots of my heart.
Sometimes it's benign things like,
"He said this and I felt that."
"She shared this and I had instant tears and this is why."

Other times it's something that has the capacity to hurt,
yet it does more damage unspoken, so I take the risk.
Recently that meant telling dearest one that, at times,
I will go to any length to avoid being present.

I told him this in a restaurant where I was
fessing up about my latest slip.
I'd asked for a corner booth because I didn't want an audience
if I ended up in tears when I said this is what I did.

"And behind what I did these are my issues, these are the things that keep me in this loop of slips. This is where I need you help and your patience."

While I felt like I had reached the limit of what was forgiveable, dearest one's steady, loving gaze told me otherwise. He reached across the table, took my hand in his and made me look him in the eye. He wanted me to see that he meant it when he told me he was here for the long haul, no matter what that long haul looks like.

It's a steady, tough climb to a saner, safer, more intimate place.
We continue to be disarmed and compelled by each other's vulnerability.
Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

At Arm's Length

Insomnia was my friend in the middle of the night.
Maybe my body was in shock because I had a clean kitchen.
I sat in candle lit darkness and brought to God
my page 86 answers. It was my first attempt
at writing it all out instead of lying in bed
and trying to mentally review my day
before my eyes slammed shut.
I quite liked it.
In AA they say if you want what we have then
do what we do. And I admire this woman's
sobriety, so answering those questions on paper
is my way, in part, of doing what she does.
I have a sneaking suspicion had I been in the habit
of writing them out I wouldn't have put off
fessing up about my slip.
That was closer to the edge of relapse than
I want to be ever again.

Did I mention I've reached that age
where reading glasses are a must?
Part of me wants to make a joke that
maybe with glasses I could see
pages 86, 87, and 88 in the Big Book better.
But I know it's the following of what those
pages hold that's important.
Of course it does help if one can read it first.
Which I can, without glasses, I just have to hold them at arms length.
Hmmm. I was holding them at arms length mentally as well.
Well, there you go.
I've written myself right into a corner this morning.

I was going to tell you about the hen house times ten
that the eye glass place was last weekend.
They were having their annual sale and I swear
everyone and their dog was crammed into that building.
I tried on a handful of frames, looked at the sales rep
and told her I had no patience for the whole process
when the place sounded like they brought a hen house indoors
and then put it on speaker phone.
So I picked out a pair, any pair,
and left the cacaphony behind.
After all, they're only reading glasses.
I won't have to actually look at anyone when I wear them.
Page 86 won't care what I look like.
It just hopes I heed its message.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Spoonful of Medicine

So much for having a next right thing kind of day.
I was listening to the radio and heard someone request this song and thought to myself, someone is sucking up big time.
Having that response, instead of thinking about
what a nice song it was, jarred me and helped me
realize that I was having
a rather cynical kind of day.
Not good.
Cynical used to be my modus operandi.
I don't miss it.
Not one bit.
Doing the next right thing
is a good antidote for cynicism.

I've been avoiding cleaning the kitchen all day
which was the next right thing since I opened my eyes this morning.
Instead I went for a walk.
I read my daily reading books.
I journalled.
I wrote out the questions from page 86 of the Big Book
so I can answer them tonight.
I sat in contemplative prayer for nearly the whole 20 minutes.
I took this test to satisfy only daughter's curiousity.
For the record my main colour is gold.
What's yours?

Now I'm off to wash dishes and clean the kitchen.
The energy I've expended today avoiding doing that makes me think of M. Scott Peck's book The Road Less Traveled. In it he talks about avoiding doing the thing that is taking up the most energy in our head and how if we only did that at the beginning of the day we'd free up energy for other things.
Sometimes I sabotage my very own spoon supply.
Come hell or high water I'm going to have
a clean kitchen before I go to bed tonight.

On The Other Hand

Today is a day of doing the next right thing.
I always feel better when there is a bit of productivity in my day.
Did you catch that?
How the next right thing translates in my head as activity.
I'm quite sure somewhere in every day
the next right thing could be sitting still.
I mean, before my head hits the pillow at night.

Dearest one likes to tease me about what a creature of habit I am.
I eat the same thing for breakfast every morning. I get up, fix my food and come sit at the computer and start writing. On the other hand, being a creature of habit also means I throw my clothes on the floor and squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle. There you go.

Have yourselves a great "next right thing" kind of day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Scratching My Head

How ironic is it that I can delete anything in my inbox at the first click of a button but when I want to delete anything from my spam box it asks me to double check and make sure I really want to say goodbye forever. Just had to get that off my chest.

The Last Taboo

It's dark out yet, maybe some time for candle lit prayer before the rush of the day starts. Today I'm going to town to pick up a new-to-me car. For the first time in 30 years of driving I'm going to have my own car. We've tended to drive junkers for as many years as possible. I have a love/hate relationship with vehicles. When they work I love them, when they don't and they cost me money, I tend to hate them. My van is nearly 15 years and 340,000 kms old. If I had my way I'd drive it right into the ground. But it's become unsafe to drive lately. I've used my 24 hour tow service several times in the past month and a half. I'm just writing all that to remind myself that replacing it is not only sane but responsible. It made its last voyage to church and back yesterday.

Dearest one was surprised I actually replaced the van. He knows what a tightwad I can be am. Man, I have issues with money. I laid in bed last night and talked to God about how easy it is for me to mix up money with trust. What else can I do but hold open my hands and ask God to help me with this? I'm not the funnest person to live with when it comes to money. I can be so miserably rigid but unable to do anything different. These days I'm in a slightly healthier place about money but not much. It's hard not to judge myself for it. I'd much rather be one of those people who err on the side of being so generous with money they can't pay their bills. Well, not really, that would make me feel just as tense inside, but I surely would like a healthy relationship with money one day.
Money seems to be the last taboo to talk about on here.
Writing about sexual addiction is easier than about my relationship with money. I doubt I'll do it again.
So for today I'm just going to enjoy my car.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Looking Up

Every time I open one of my daily reflection books I see my bookmark which says, "Look up and live." It's such a good motto for recovery. It's probably not what the power company had in mind for its use when they distributed it but, hey, it works for me.

I've had the worst attitude lately towards someone new in my life.
Came pretty close to flipping them the bird last week I was so, so pissed off.
Without the 12 steps I'd still be making excuses for my reaction.
Fr. Charlie reminded me this week that recovery gives me choices.
Healthy choices.
Like opening my mouth and saying my piece, not depending on
the other person to change in order for me to have some peace.
And while I can bitch and moan with the best of them,
and sometimes even bitch and moan that the 12 steps beckons me
to take the high road,
in the end I'm glad I have choices.
Besides, it kept me from sticking out my foot
and tripping this person as they walked by me.
Damn, that was close.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Peeling Back The Layers

Today was six weeks since I've been to an AA meeting
with my home group.
This past week one of the members called me up
to see how I was doing,
saying he hadn't seen me around for a while.
I explained I'd been away, blah, blah, blah.
I felt my hackles rise and defenses go up.
So much so that I had to journal it all out,
get it out on paper so I could see what my problem was
because it was clear I was the one with a problem.
It took a few pages of writing to see that his question
was one of care and concern and plain old,
"I miss seeing you around the tables."
The only accusatory tone to be found was in my own head.

This was all before I fessed up earlier this week.
His phone call set off warning bells for me that I perhaps
needed to take a closer inner look,
especially if I was going to start feeling
like my fellow AA members were my enemy.

Today, when the member chairing the meeting
mentioned that he and this member who'd phoned me,
had been wondering how I'd been,
I was able to talk honestly about how defensive
I felt during that phone call.
How it was a catalyst for some inner work.
There isn't any other place in my life
where I can tell someone that their phone call
got my hackles up
and that I was able to use that as an opportunity
for some inner work.
It is a gift to feel safe enough
to be so honest and not be judged for it.

Earlier in the meeting I'd read aloud these words from the Daily Reflections: "True humility and an open mind can lead us to faith...". The book was passed to me to read aloud and I hadn't yet read it today. As I looked at the words humility, open mind and faith the tears started to pool. My voice trembled as I read.

There was safety around the table
and I shared how defeated and back to square one
I'd felt this week.
Shared that there must be a fucking infinite amount
of layers to the onion.

I thank God for being loved as the layers get peeled back.
For those who, as I feel raw and wounded and sometimes, beyond hope, only see the beauty of the journey and the potential that is me.
For those who don't take it personally when the peeling back
gets so painful that I lash out.
Who will lovingly tell me that lashing out is not their problem.
Who won't own what is mine to deal with.
Who will see my ragged honesty as a beacon of hope.
Whose own honesty has given me hope in the bleakest of times.
I am blessed.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sweetness and Pain

"What you see as being back at square one,
I see as another layer in the onion.

Wise and comforting words from my spiritual director yesterday.
Not sure how many layers there are to the onion that is my soul,
most likely they are infinite.
Where I saw defeat and despair,
Fr. Charlie saw hope and healing.
Which is why we shouldn't try to journey alone.
Our perspective is too limited.

I haven't felt this humbled,
or this hopeful
in a very long time.
There is a sweetness and pain embedded in both.

The mulitple conversations this week
where I confessed, sifted through,
became vulnerable,
has left me exhausted this morning.
Tears have filled every crevice
and are waiting to be released.
Healing, healing tears.

Through the sifting yesterday,
one big piece of the puzzle
found its place.
A huge "aha" moment, a gift of the Holy Spirit
through the words of Fr. Charlie.

Guilt dissipated in an instant
with the connecting of dots
between a deep wound and an attitude
thirty years deep.
I felt such relief when I realized I'd had no other
point of reference than the one I've carried for so long.
A twisted, warped attitude that found its ugly point
of reference and now
can be reframed.

I feel like there is the thinnest of gauze
between my naked soul
and what could be.
Beauty bubbling forth from the depths.

All is gift.
All is grace.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Choosing Sanity

Things got a little hairy at AA yesterday.
I was glad I wasn't chairing the meeting.
When things go off the rail anywhere, I instantly tense up
and feel like I'm 9 years old, looking for the nearest exit.
But the moment passed without much broo ha ha and the meeting continued. It didn't even come close to getting physical but I felt all tense as if it could.

It's actually quite a testimony to AA that
people don't come to blows every time a meeting convenes.
I mean, if you asked for a show of hands of how many present
used to try and solve issues by using their fists, I think
the majority might very well raise their hands.
I've thrown a few punches myself.

I'm trying to type this post by looking around the energizer bunny.
She's sitting on my lap trying to lick my face.
She moves within 3 inches of my nose and licks the air as if she were slobbering me with kisses. I swear, sometimes she reminds me of a kid who sees just how close to the line they can get without crossing it.

I'm off to see Fr. Charlie today.
Fessing up for lines crossed that I'd convinced myself
were only being skirted around.
It means resetting my abstinence date, too.
Pride says not to go to that extreme.
Rigorous honesty says it's the only sane choice to make.
It's hard not to rationalize, justify and minimize.
And I could continue to if I wanted.
But the consequences just aren't worth it.

When Fr. Charlie kept telling me during our last session
that he was hearing shame and guilt seeping through my words
it startled me.
I sat there and thought about the last time I felt like that.
Where were my actions contributing to those feelings?
I came up with only one answer.

I briefly mentioned a slip.
His eyes registered what I'd said,
but I ignored him, glossed right over it and kept on talking.
He didn't interrupt me.
He didn't confront me.
He left my words hanging for me to hear their echo.

And they echoed as I walked to my van, echoed all the way home.
I sat and remembered going to confession about my sexual addiction a few years ago and having Fr. Charlie ask me how deep the shame and guilt was that I was I covered in. I replied by putting my hand above my head and telling him I was buried in it.

God, that was a such a low, low point.
Within myself I could find no hope.

So I sat the other day knowing the shame and guilt were only puddles on the ground which I was walking in with every other step.
I knew I had a choice to make if I didn't want the puddles to join together to make one giant puddle that I couldn't walk away from. One giant puddle that would eventually creep up my shoes and start to bury me.
I knew I could either continue to minimize, justify and rationalize it all away.
Or speak it out loud, and get honest.
I've since had three conversations
with three different people about it.
Speaking to dearest one was the most difficult.
But, by the grace of God, I did it.
Lord, oh Lord, have mercy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How Sick Do I Want To Be?

A full day of appointments from late morning until late tonight.
I'm grateful that's even a possibility.
With any luck I'll be able to get
to a noon meeting as well, just be there a little late.
My sponsor said last night that was just fine.

I'm dropping off my resume and cover letter today for a job.
It's been over 5 years since I was last in the workforce.
I like comfortable and predictable.
But I know being uncomfortable and
being in unpredictable circumstances won't kill me.
That will be my mantra if I get the job.

Tomorrow I'm off to see Fr. Charlie.
An appointment between appointments.
That last one brought some stuff to light
that I needed to face.
It took me a while to mull it over
and then some more time to get up the courage
to speak to someone about it.
Actually between picking up the phone and
dialing my friend's number I had an internal conversation
where I convinced myself no fessing up was necessary.
Then I asked myself how sick did I want to be?
So I fessed up.
Humility is good for the soul.
I now need to go back and speak to Fr. Charlie about it.
His radar was spot on last time
and I wasn't ready to admit it.
I am now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Gem Of A Screed

It's one of those blank page kind of mornings.
I keep reading other web pages and coming back here as if expecting to see something other than a blank page. I think that fits the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

One of the most recent reads from my book pile has been by Heather King called Redeemed. Here is one of my favourite passages, close to the beginning of the book, where King has given a brief summary of why she turned to God for help, especially for help with her addictions:

"But why do you need God for any of that? you might ask. Why not just be better - love your neighbor as yourself - on your own? Because personally I'm too scared, too lazy, too selfish to be better on my own. I want to be better but the fact is I get real bored, real fast, unless I am getting a ton of approval and attention. I like to dress it all up and hedge it all around and try to hide it, but my basic stance toward all human beings is: what can you give me? I have a kind of spiritual advisor who helps me look at my...I'd like to say "issues," but they're really more like massive, glaring defects. If I'm stuck, this woman will often have me write about it as a way to help me see where I might have been wrong, where I haven't let go, where I need to pray. Recently I wrote what I secretly thought was a masterly analysis of the troubling situation at hand. It had pathos and humor, it had corollaries and tributaries, it had a quote from Dostoyevsky. I was halfway through reading this gem of a screed to her over the phone when she interrupted me. "But were you selfish?" she asked. Man, was I pissed. Selfish? She totally did not get it. I should never have tried to explain myself to someone who was not nearly as smart as I. She did not even begin to grasp how complicated the thing was, how multilayered, how deep. It took me two days of inner raving, ranting and seething before I realized: I'd been selfish."

You gotta love a woman who is so honest.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Between Spotless and Chaotic

It's been a quiet weekend. Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the soon-to-be-frozen north. Dearest one and youngest son have been at a men's retreat all weekend. I will join them for Mass this evening and then we'll all come home. Last night the energizer bunny started barking at imaginary things after we'd gone to bed and that freaked me out. I am scared of the dark and don't like being alone at night. Thankfully I soon went to sleep without too much trouble.

I've been cleaning and reading and being quiet this weekend. Okay, being quiet is easy when there's no one to talk to, but I did go all day Saturday without turning on the TV or radio and I limited my Internet time as well. Yesterday I did pretty much the same with the exception of watching one of my favourite TV shows last night. I found that going 12 hours without much Internet activity will not kill me and that nothing much has changed online in those intervening hours anyway.

Today there is more housework to do. Getting some order in my surroundings always feels better than the chaos that it sometimes disintegrates into. Housework has never been my thing and I've had to work hard at finding some balance. There were years and years where it was either spotless or chaotic, with no happy medium to be found. Oldest son was transferring files from one computer to another for me this weekend when we came across lists of household chores and schedules to make sure they got done. I groaned at the sight. It was rigidity at its best. Other people may be able to keep lists like that and still function normally. I can't. Give me a list and all common sense goes out the window as I try and check every sucker off it. These days when I make a list it has to be short, reasonable and I have to hold it with an open hand, if I hope to keep my sanity intact.

The worst of the spotless moments was how in control of everything I felt plus the energy I spent trying to maintain that facade. The worst of the chaotic times was how out of control I felt and how much I didn't care to do a darn thing about it. These days I try to find a happy medium. I know that when I am headed for spotless I am feeling out of control and am trying to control something tangible to make myself feel better. I know when I'm surrounded by chaos there are things I'm avoiding looking at on the inside of me.

I've observed people's houses for years, trying to learn from their level of spotlessness or chaos and assess how I feel in their surroundings. I envy people who tidy up after themselves without giving it a thought. Things like making my bed and doing up the dishes after supper I have to consciously choose to do, otherwise it doesn't occur to me. I've learned that given the choice between spotless and chaotic I lean more towards feeling comfortable in chaos. Then there are those homes which are simply tidy, not spotless, comfortable, not chaotic. That is comfort at its best.

I like comfort. I like comfort zones, too. In the past year I've gone out of my comfort zone many times, reminding myself that sometimes going beyond my comfort zone will enable growth that can't happen any other way. This week I'll be doing it again. I wonder if anyone gets beyond being scared of new opportunities?

I've been searching the classifieds weekly for over 6 months now looking for a part time job. I've been glad that looking for one is even a possibility because for the past 5 years it wasn't. I like working with people. My favourite job of all time has been working as a cashier. I decided a while ago that looking for a job where I'd be on my feet all day probably wasn't going to be the best as far as my spoon supply went. I let go of that as a job possibility and have been trusting the right job would appear at the right time. This past Friday as I opened up the classifieds I told myself if the right job was there, I'd apply for it. And there was my dream job advertised. They're looking for a full time person but the nature of the work is something that would lend itself to part time work, too. This afternoon I'll put together a resume and cover letter and take it from there. In the meantime there are clothes to wash and floors to be vacuumed. How's that for a short list? Have a great, sanity intact, Monday.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Imperfection Is All I Can Offer

"Sin is a great teacher. Of course, we have all sinned as Romans makes very clear. One of the wonderful discoveries as you work with Jesus is that he is never upset with sinners. Go through the four Gospels, it is very clear in the text.
It's amazing the energy we put into ferreting out sinners, punishing and excluding them, and yet Jesus is only upset at people who don't think they are sinners."
~from The Little Way

This was the quote today from the Center For Contemplation and Action. There is always a mantra to go with the day's quote and today the mantra was imperfection is all I can offer. That mantra is basically what I say to Jesus all the time. Well, except for those times when I get me and God mixed up and I think I'm God. When that happens eventually I end up admitting how imperfectly I try to do God's job. I've had progress and perfection mixed up the last few days so today's quote was the reminder I needed.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Feet To Do It

A pink streaked sky greets me this morning.
I really dislike being alone at night so I'm glad it's morning.
This feels like a put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other kind of day.
That's not a bad thing, just reality.
I'm glad I have the feet to do it.

The weather man said there was no snow in the 5 day forecast.
That's the time of year it is here when it comes to weather.
Which should tell you I am a true Canadian because weather is often the first thing we talk about. Every week when I call my mom she asks about the weather first, about my week, second.

Yesterday I was listening to the request hour on the radio when someone phoned in who sounded so much like my friend Karen. Not sure how long it will be before remembering that she's gone will stop sending a zing of pain right through me. As I was thinking of her I realized the song this woman requested was one that they played at Karen's funeral. Well, wasn't that enough to make me cry and cry?

So even though this feels like a put-one-foot-in-front-of-another kind of day, I'm going to choose to walk it with a smile on my face and a good attitude. My friend Karen knew she was dying and she wanted nothing more than to keep on living. This day's for her.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Whole Fam Damily

Oh, lovely northern weather. It's trying it's darndest to snow out there. There are enough breaks in the clouds thankfully that it won't amount to anything, won't even accumulate on the ground. But it is a taste of what is to come. Unfortunately snow could come to stay any day now.

Dearest one and youngest son will be away at a men's retreat until Monday evening. I used to love being alone for days at a time. And while I still like solitude I don't like being alone at night. By tomorrow I'll be glad that oldest son is coming out for a few hours. Speaking of oldest son, he hurt his shoulder this week at work. This is where my kids inheriting the connective tissue disorder really sucks. Having it makes healing that much longer of a process and injury that much easier to happen. I hurt my shoulder eight years ago simply by pumping my arms too vigourously power walking. It still gives me grief. Anyway, prayers this weekend for all these men in my life would be appreciated. Thanks.

My kids and dearest one love to tease me about being "flat surface challenged." That means I pile stuff on any flat surface around me, from the floor to the desk top. My goal this weekend is too see a little more of both floors and desk tops and a little less of paper and clutter. This morning, in the frantic rush to get out the door, the car keys were no where to be found. Youngest son immediately pointed fingers my way. As in, how could we find anything with all the flat surfaces covered? Ha. My keys were hanging up on the key rack.(amazingly enough) Dearest one's were in the car where he left them last night. I rest my (sometimes hopeless) case.

I found myself trying to micromanage dearest one's life all last evening and this morning. Finally this morning dearest one stopped and just laughed and laughed at my behaviour. I looked at him and said, "I know, I'm going backwards fast." He laughed all the harder, gave me a kiss and reminded me he manages his professional life just fine on his own, even without a secretary. We both agreed that neither of us misses the old me, the one who spent all her spoons trying to micromanage the whole fam damily. The good news in it all is that I could admit it, and we could both laugh at it, and I could give up and let go. Well, it helps that he's away until Monday night. It's much harder to try and micromanage someone's life who isn't even home although I must confess I've tried that, too.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Blank Page

The blank page has been scary lately. I made a commitment to myself at the beginning of July to write daily. Or at least post something every day. Mostly what I do is try to live in take a simple moment in daily life and write from there. When I spend too many days simply getting through them and not paying too much attention to anything around or within me then I come to the keyboard feeling like the blank page is my enemy. Not because I want something to write about, although I do, but because it tells me I am simply letting life slip by unawares.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Know What?

"The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

We must never presume that we see. We must always be ready to see anew. But it's so hard to go back, to be vulnerable, and to say to your soul, "I don't know anything."

Try to say that: "I don't know anything."

Maybe you could think of yourself as an erased blackboard, ready to be written on. For by and large, what blocks spiritual teaching is the assumption that we already know, or that we don't need to know.

We have to pray for the grace of beginner's mind. We need to say with the blind man, "I want to see.""

from Everything Belongs
This came from a daily meditation I receive by email from the Center For Action and Contemplation. On my trip I found an older edition of the book Everything Belongs in a discount bin and bought it even though I have my own copy that is underlined and dog eared. It's one of my favourite books of all time. So if you'd like my second copy just leave a comment and at the end of the week I'll put all the names in a hat and pick out the winner and send it off in the mail to you.

The energizer bunny is having an adventure getting used to frosty mornings. Today dearest one took her out for her morning business and before he could say anything she ran across the frost covered deck, failed to slam on the breaks due to the frost and went bump, bump, bump down the 3 steps on her butt and stopped. She turned and looked at dearest one and instead of running out the gate and heading for the field to do her business like she normally does, she took one step to the left of the walkway and peed right there. Poor thing.

I've gone bump, bump, bump down the stairs of life more times than I can count. And it always reminds me I really don't know what I thought I did. [And when I get scared the urge to pee right then and there is overwhelming. Makes me wish I'd done those kegel exercises like I was supposed to.]

Not knowing what I thought I did is not only humbling but freeing once I get over the initial shock of it. I'm praying for the grace of a beginner's mind today. I don't know about you but I used to hear phrases like beginner's mind and think it must be bad because isn't that a Bhuddist phrase? And didn't good Christians ignore everything that didn't have a Christian label on it? Lord have mercy. I wonder what would happen spiritually if I really had a beginner's mind. If I was able to lay aside my inflated ego, lay aside my presumptions and became totally open before God. I wonder.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere

This is the view out my window as I type this morning. I find the bare trees lonely looking and stark. The grass looks like there was one humdinger of a confetti party on it. I was awake by 5 AM, it's going to take a few days to adjust to the time zone change. I lay there and it's 5 o'clock somewhere, went through my mind. I grinned, glad that I no longer need reasons to drink. Okay, that sounds off, like I drink for no reason at all when in reality I haven't had a drink for over 20 years. Hmmm, is this going to end up being one of those type and delete kind of posts? The kind where I end up typing myself into a corner and push the magic button that makes it all disappear?

Today I'm thankful for the little, ordinary routines that will make up my day. Going for a walk (the bears and cougars are gone as far as we know), doing yoga, making my bed, cleaning the house and cooking a good supper. I'll make some phone calls and reconnect with friends. I'll make time for the energizer bunny to spend time on my lap, too. Life is good.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I've never been a morning person, you know the kind that open their eyes and are immediately awake and ready to face the day? I'm not exactly a night owl either. Just let me sleep and no one gets hurt. This morning I was up at 2:30 AM my time and it's now just about 5 PM. If I last until suppertime before sliding between the sheets I'll be surprised.

The energizer bunny was all happy to see me and to show me two piles of doggy puke for me to clean up. Welcome home baby, welcome home. She even tried to kiss me, which is not allowed at the best of times, let alone after she's been sick. She's sitting on my lap as I type - tucked between my belly and the keyboard. Good thing I have long arms. She is sweet and I missed her. Her continued attempts to kiss me tell me she missed me, too.

On the plane I sat beside a young man who works for one of Canada's Christian Universities, not that Christian is an adjective, which I pointed out to him. Not sure what he thought of my peppering him with questions about the emerging church and Shane Claiborne and Donald Miller. One of the interesting things we talked about was his observation that the Church is not teaching kids how to think; what to think, but not how to think. If I had to choose between the two I'd take how to think any day, wouldn't you? One of my laments about home schooling is that for many years it was portrayed and I bought it hook, line and sinker that if I only taught my kids what to think then it would be a guarantee they would not only choose a certain path but walk it forever more.

Real life delivered something else entirely.
And better in the long run.

I've had and continue to have my own journey when it comes to learning how to think. I told him that I thought the Church was a great breeding ground for dysfunction. When he asked me to explain I shared with him how coming from a family where if one kept all the rules, spoken and unspoken, one was less likely to be in the line of fire. How that pattern dovetailed quite nicely into church life where there were all these unspoken rules one kept in order to fit in. Like always being "fine" and thinking Christian equalled never having problems. Or at least not ones you talked about.

Gee, I think I was a bit cynical today. Hmmm. Although I didn't say any of that sarcastically, or in a gee, I have it all figured out now, how could I have been so dumb before kind of way either. I believe in embracing the whole journey, for as Anthony DeMello is so fond of pointing out - that which we renounce violently we are forever bound to. I said the whole dysfunction spiel matter of factly. That doesn't come across when one types it without being able to type inflection as well. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Boy, typing all this is waking me up. Not sure that's a good thing. It's like I'm getting my second wind. Bear with me. The friend who came with me to Owen's told him I was nothing if not truthful. She forgot to say I was also still opionated as all get out. A few times the young man beside me in the plane picked up a magazine, picked up anything, to read. Then I told myself to shut up until he talked to me again. Which he did. Several times. Just before we landed he gave me a business card so perhaps my viewpoints weren't all that hard to listen to. Going through all that made me realize anew just how far I have to go when it comes to listening and being present and how much easier it is to chatter away, especially when I have a captive audience. I sat there in the quiet moments wondering what he would blog about our conversation. If he had a blog, which he doesn't. We talked about those as well and how the blogosphere is impacting the Church.

Anyhoo I am home and it feels good. I wonder if I will ever get over the marvel of plane travel and how it can be that I woke up half way across the country this morning and tonight I'll sleep in my own bed. I kept looking down at the fields and lakes below me all the way across this country and reminding myself what a privilege it is to travel. I also realized for the first time how one particular viewpoint I've had of God has changed. I was peering down at the ground 40,000 feet below me and thinking how small everything looked. I thought about what specks we are in relation to the universe. Then it came alive to me that truly God's spirit lives within us so it's no longer a God way up there looking way down here at little old me and you. It's God's spirit, moving amongst us, within us, growing and expanding with every breath.

I'll be quiet now and let you have a chance to talk.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The High Road

The friend I'm visiting drove many miles yesterday so I could meet a real live blogger (hey, I'm one of those, too). She said later that she'd wondered that maybe we were going to meet an axe murderer or God knows who. I mean really - how does one know a blogger is who they say they are? I was pretty confident this blogger was not an axe murderer or even a stranger, really.
After several detours and phone calls for directions (map quest is slow to record detours and construction) we arrived at the house of this blogger. I'd emailed him earlier to say I was looking forward to meeting him and his family, that I'd almost written I was looking forward to getting to know him but felt like I already did through the years of reading his writing.

Our visit was comfortable and life giving. And much too short. It left me wondering how it can be that one can meet someone face to face for the first time and cut through all the niceties in what seems a split second and move to honest conversation seamlessly. I left wishing we were neighbours. Wishing dearest one had come with me because he would have met a kindred spirit, someone who understands the gift of the Eucharist from that place where words won't suffice. I realized we have precious few, well, no one in our face to face life, who has travelled the kind of path we have spiritually. When one does there is so much that is understood without needing to be voiced, all the while calling one another to take the high road. It can't get much better than that.

After a delicious lunch (gotta get that biscuit recipe) we braved directions and traffic (we only had to turn around once)and found the home of a woman I hadn't seen in 25 years. We'd been exchange students, guests in one another's homes, 30 years ago. I found much comfort in hearing her voice, the unique twang to her words that brought me back 30 years in an instant. We visited a few hours and took pictures and caught up on what's happened in each other's lives. Thanks to the Internet we were able to look up on Facebook pictures of oldest son's wedding and show her photos of my family. I had one of those moments yesterday where I realized I'd always feel like I was a teenager in her presence....our lives are linked so far back. It just doesn't compute that 30 years have gone by since we first met.

We ended the day by driving along that big highway that scares the crap out of my mom - she'd be worried if she knew I was travelling on it yesterday - and meeting up with my friend's brother for supper. He was eager to talk about his faith journey and we had the greatest visit about the path that lead us to today. His face just radiated the transformation of his inner being. I met him when he was a teenager who barely tolerated his sister's friends. We had that instant connection yesterday that comes from sharing a vibrant faith. Cool stuff.

This morning I walked to church here in little town on Lake Erie. It's always interesting to me to see how much is the same and how much is different in each parish. Today I felt like it was almost a race to get through the Mass and on to the rest of the day. Not sure how the Mass can last an hour at home with only 10 people present and be done here with 10 times the number of parishioners, in just over half an hour. The nourishment is the same. The atmosphere isn't. This particular parish will close in a month. I looked at the people this morning and wondered where they'd go and what a loss of community it would be for them, especially those who quite likely have experienced everything from their own infant baptism to confirmation to marriage to baptism of their children and grandchildren in this church.

After Mass I stopped and read the parish paper (the front page had the headline "Treating addiction as a spiritual malady" - how appropriate) while sitting at a picnic table overlooking the canal. From the canal one gazes out towards the never ending lake. At one point the bells rang and the bridge parted in two and lifted so that several boats could pass through. For this northerner it was a real treat to watch.

Tomorrow I get on the plane early in the morning and arrive home over 12 hours later. I'll be offline until Tuesday. Quite possibly early in the morning because the time change is going to take some adjusting. It will be great for getting up earlier but a train wreck for trying to stay awake past supper time.

The journey continues.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Road Home

" 'But' - people say to me -- 'if you consider that apart from fulfillment of the Christian teaching there is no reasonable life, and if you love that reasonable life, why do you not fulfill the commands?' I reply that I am a horrible creature and deserve blame and contempt for not fulfilling them....Blame me, and not the path I tread and show to those who ask me where in my opinion the road lies! If I know the road home and go along it drunk, staggering from side to side -- does that make the road along which I go a wrong one?"
~ Leo Tolstoy

I quite like this quote. Don't we all just stagger from side to side no matter what our particular story is?

The AA meeting last night was quite good. I learned something from each person who spoke. It was my first experience of a Big Book Study meeting. It is always a gift when, I don't know - grace descends like a blanket - and instant tears come to my eyes and I know, again, what an incredible gift the journey is. What an incredible gift it is to be sober and in recovery. I had a chance afterwards to spend some time with a young woman with 25 days of sobriety under her belt.

I'm off on a road trip today. I'm going to meet a real live blogger!! I haven't mentioned who it is or anything before because I haven't cleared it with the blogger if it's okay to mention names. I'm also going to meet up with someone I was an exchange student with 30 years ago. We haven't seen each other for nearly 25 years.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Emotionally Sober

I was awake in the middle of the night and listened to my MP3 player for a while. Before I came here I downloaded several talks from AA that one can find on the internet for free. Last night I listened to one called emotional sobriety. It was a good listen. One I'd listen to again. What he was talking about was exactly what I didn't have before I went to treatment last year. And I don't have it in its entirety either, never will, but I try and point myself in that direction daily.

Tomorrow night I get to walk two doors down and attend an AA meeting here. What I look forward to the most is knowing I will be among people who "get" who I am before I even open my mouth. It's the only place I know where the good and not so good choices I make on a daily basis are only mirrored by yours and neither of us pretend it is any other way. We have nothing to prove to one another. And instead of beating ourselves up for those choices or tooting our own horns too loudly we get to sit in the quiet solidarity of our common humanity. It doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Loving It

What a fantastic day yesterday. We went to the school where our friend teaches and became part of his class for an hour. Just so happens his students are reading a book which is set in the province I live in so he invited his students to ask questions. He particularly emphasised my writing and that brought lots of questions from his kids. At the end of the class he had me and my friend do peer editing of his students' writings. That was cool. The three of us had studied journalism together so encouraging reading and writing is dear to all of our hearts.

When we arrived at his school he was out teaching phys. ed. He told us later that when he turned around and saw us coming towards him he thought to himself they are getting close to 50 so that means I'm getting close to 50. (We later corrected him and said we are NOT close to 50) He told his brother after school that yesterday he felt his age. For my girlfriend and I yesterday we felt like we were in a time warp and were 18 again. We took a drive through the college grounds and saw the dorms where we had lived still standing as if they hadn't been upgraded in 28 years. We went and parked in front of the house where we rented the upstairs together. We peered closely in the dark and saw the same very old windows still in place and I ran to the door and saw our address still on the mailbox. This many years later the house is still being rented out as two different apartments. We wondered if they'd fixed the banister yet. The banister that came off in my hand when I'd grabbed it to get up the stairs. I'd been on crutches that day so having the banister come off the wall made a precarious venture up the stairs even more so. We loved our little apartment.

We drove past the restaurant where we used to stuff our pockets full of their little loaves of bread to tide us over a few more meals. We really were starving students. My friend reminded me yesterday of the time we spent all our grocery money on the fixings for lasagna because her parents were coming for supper. When they arrived her dad didn't want or like lasagna so he took us out for supper. We ate that lasagna for many days. Then we remembered that when we did have money we spent it on stupid things. Once I spent $95 on phone calls to dearest one over a weekend long drunk. I made $300 a month then so those phone calls were part of being young and foolish.

Yesterday we felt like we were still young and foolish but in a good way. We watched the students walking along to class and remembered when we did the same thing. Then we realized with a little horror that to those students we would be old. I told my friend it's a good thing I dyed my hair last week. Otherwise I would have gone from old to ancient in one glance.

That all said I'm glad to be where I am. I don't regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. The whole of it has brought to me to this day. And today I'm loving it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


We're off to see a friend from our college days today.
He lives in the city where we went to college
so I imagine we'll stop and see that, too.
Lots of memories to be had.
Dearest one and I met in this city.
He travelled from where we live now
to way down here to meet me for the first time.
We'd been penpals since I was 14 and he 16.
The rest, they say, is history.