Coping with Life Stress without Alcohol

The fall is moving along with what seems like should be record breaking speed.  I can’t even believe that we are in the middle of September, wasn’t it just August?   Maybe working at a school makes it seem faster.  Every year, that first marking period seems to come sooner.   Then it’s the second, then third and before we know it we’ll be out for another summer stretch.  Next year I will have a Senior in High School so I wouldn’t mind time to slow down for a bit!

With being so busy I had to scale back on my self care routine.  Along with working full time I recently signed up for 2 fall graduate classes, so I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I told my family I would no longer be buying groceries or making them meals (at 11, 16 and 42, I think they can handle it), but know that I can’t keep out of the kitchen for that long.

It was during that 1st week of school when I realized that my self care needed attention. I was having a rough afternoon.  My youngest and I were scrambling to make it to his school’s Curriculum Night and I was griping about how nothing was going right that day.

“Mom, you should meditate.”

My youngest remembered a time when I told him that when I stop making time to quiet my brain, everything seems to go wrong and he was thoughtful enough to suggest it.

And I never think they are listening.

But he was right.  I was going at near 100% all day, then have to rush home and get ready for all that and I was tired, my brain needed a rest, my body needed a recharge and I was forgetting about all of my tools.  Duly noted.

The first couple of weeks of school has been ok.  We have some things going on in our family, like my father-in-law may have cancer.  It’s a 50% chance and he gets a scan in about a week, but we’ve been waiting for a few weeks now, so we are all anxious for results.  It’s really affecting my hubby, but sometimes in good ways (I think).  He’s spent more time with his parents this month than the whole year combined, but I think that is necessary and important right now.  My SIL has her kids back full time and seems to be doing ok.  Her 16 year old is at our home often and I worry that he seems down frequently.  He’s usually pretty open with me and when I ask him about things he says they are going ok, and genuinely seems to give me honest details about what’s going on at home.   It’s hard to not worry sometimes.  I know it does absolutely no good, but…

Today is Saturday and I am having some of Will’s friends over for an early birthday “pool” party.  Last week was the warmest week we’ve had in awhile so we threw it together in like a week.  And I didn’t remember when we were planning it that my hubby and oldest are gone all day at a wilderness first aid training up north.  So, it’ll be me vs. like 5 tweens.  I initially felt and acted really pissy when I found out they wouldn’t be here to help me. I probably wouldn’t have planned a birthday party, and was originally super stressed out but am feeling fine about it now.  I’m glad that I have something to occupy me while the boys are gone.

We had some pretty significant water coming into our spare room (which is in the basement) last week.  It was leaking a little bit occasionally but it seems to be getting worse.   So tomorrow we will have to take out all of the junk in that room, pull up the floor and the paneling off the walls to see if we can fix it or if we have to call someone.  As a side note, soaking up bucketfuls with a sponge is tedious and mentally draining.  And with as much water that was in there I’m praying that my elliptical and treadmill still work.  The good news is that I’ve wanted to work in that room all summer, but didn’t want to do too much due to the leaking.  Now hubby is going to take out a closet on the other side to make the room a little bigger.  And with the room dry, clean and nice, maybe we’ll actually use it.  I hope the leak isn’t a super invasive and expensive to fix, but I am excited to clean and fix that room.

Above all of the big stuff and little stuff in life I’ve had an everlasting feeling of gratitude.  Today I am 171 days alcohol free.  I no longer think much about drinking.  The magnitude of this hits me at random times.  The other night, as I was getting ice for ice water I thought back to the days where I watched our ice supply closely.  I knew how much I wanted for drinks and would ration the frickin’ ice.  I would easily fill 3, 4 sometimes 5 or 6 glasses each night.  Usually with either wine or white russians made with rice milk.

On this night I felt proud to scoop up a glob of ice cubes to nourish my body with water.  Quite different than quietly sneaking into the ice bucket, because of the awful shame and guilt I felt.

Aging parents, crazy siblings, stressful jobs, expensive home repairs, college classes, teenage diabetes, this is a lot of stress and I am coping JUST FINE.

Better than just fine because I can deal with it without KILLING my physical, mental and emotional self.  Addiction is the highest form of self-abandonment, yet if there was any time that would be ideal to abandon myself, it would be about now.  Thank God, I have too much love for myself right now.

OK, well, I’ve got to get moving.  It’s after 8:00 and I have until 3:00 to get everything done.  I hope this party is a success!

 

Thought Worms

Happy Day 163 alcohol free!  WOW, it feels good to say that.  I know my year anniversary is still over 6 months away, but thinking about how fast the fall goes and then BAM March will be here in no time.  Really, if I can continue on this trajectory, then this is very realistic and exciting!

I’m feeling really empowered these days, even on the tough ones.  I am so thankful for my sobriety journey– even the relapses and months/years lost– it has now become powerful fuel to keep my AF mission burning.

I spent many years knowing that I drank too much.  I thought about stopping for probably over 10 years before actually trying.  One thing that always tripped me up is thinking about summer vacation sans booze.  I thought this for YEARS and absolutely dreaded “having” to do this.

Since this time, I just lived through my first sober summer as an adult, and you know what?  It was the best summer vacation ever.  I don’t remember ever feeling this happy and fulfilled.  I mean, sure I have my down days, but not like previous summers when I’d go through weeks of depression.  It also was my first sober start to the school year (except being pregnant), and it’s been a great start so far.  Both work and play are so much better when we are not bogged down by resentments, guilt, shame and the everlasting miserable hangover.

I’m still learning daily how to manage my inner self (you know that obnoxious voice that can be so insulting and miserable).  For example, two nights ago we had Curriculum Night at my school.  My room is always bustling and busy with parents and this time was no different.  I had a lot of really great conversations with my parents– about a lot of different things, some personal not all school related.  As I walked out to my car that night I felt happy and energized.

Driving home was different.  During the monotonous drive on the freeway my mind started to fester and negative thoughts started running through my head.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.”

“Was that the right response?”

“When we talked about X, I hope I didn’t sound like an idiot!”

“I think I did sound like an idiot.  Everyone is going to find out.  Everyone is going to think I’m so stupid.  Ugh..”

And it went on and on and on…..

I was a little cranky when I finally got home after 8:00.  I pretty much did my chores and then laid down for bed.  I was exhausted and couldn’t wait to sleep– only sleep didn’t come but those negative thought worms did.  The same dumb thoughts over and over again.  By this time I recognized them for what they are, joy sucking parasites.  I told them to leave, and they eventually did, but I had wished that I booted them sooner.  They are so mentally and physically draining!

So, I’m learning.  And growing.  And learning some more.  And experimenting.

Please take a moment today to be kind to yourself, maybe even give yourself a compliment, or two.  Give a compliment to others.  Turn off your screen for a bit.  Connect with nature.  Forgive someone, or yourself.  Spend a full minute, or more, quieting your mind and focusing on your senses.  LIVE.

I am proud of my journey ❤

Working It

Work, work, work– it makes the world go round, and keeps us fulfilled ❤

Last week was my first week back after the summer break.  In the years past, I have been more than ready to go back to work.  Long unstructured days with my kids, drinking too much night after night, day after day, I can see why I was eager each summer to get back to normalcy and routine.   This time going back was downright brutal– not at all like it’s been the past.

Summer 2019 will be fondly remembered as the first entire summer of my adult life that I didn’t drink (minus the times I was pregnant).   The long days consisted of getting up early, reading my spiritual soul book, spending time reflecting while I walked with the dog or took him to the dog park, writing, meditating, spending time with family, taking care of my yard and scout camping trips.  Most nights I was in bed long before midnight and loved to wake up early and feel mega productive before noon.

My thought worm (incessant negative thoughts that suck the life out of you) says “Wow, just think of how much better and farther you would be in life if you had spent the past 10 summers being productive!”

Those pesky thought worms that fill you with negativity– I squashed mine!   I LOVE this journey I’m on. If I didn’t have all of those drinking, non productive summers, than I wouldn’t be so much appreciative and in love with this one.

But that’s how those thought worms work.  They try to steal your joy at every opportunity– don’t let them steal yours!

So my point is this.  Summer 2019 was grand.  I am quite scared to go back to work and to lose what I’ve gained (another thought worm).  I’ve been more in touch with my soul than ever before and I’m kind of terrified to lose that too.

Last week was easy.  I had to go in on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  My room is all ready to go and now that the first week is done I’m actually really excited. Because our numbers are so high, we have 2 full time academic support teachers this year, which means I get to start out the year with a lower caseload than usual.  Also, our community approved a bond a few years back so this summer our building got renovated and all the classrooms got flexible seating and a Smartboard.  I was skeptical that my little room would get anything and was pleasantly surprised and so excited to have new furniture.  I don’t have a Smartboard, but they took down my Whiteboard and it looks like my wall is wired for a Smartboard so I’m hopeful that I will have one soon.

My room is long and narrow and I have never been truly happy with the furniture set up.  With the new furniture, it is SO much better.  It’s more roomy, flows better and there is even more seating than before.  My students are going to be SO excited come Tuesday (they love my little room anyways, it’s a comfort for them, but now it’s even better <3).

 

So…. I’m going to ignore all of the thought worms that pop up.  I’m going to spend this weekend fully appreciating the last full days of summer.  I’m going to move my body and get good sleep.  I’m going to finish my mandala and live with intention.  Work or no work, I am productive, happy and fulfilled ❤

The Gift of a Lunatic: Part 2

In case you missed part 1: https://thedevildrinksvodka.com/2019/08/06/the-gift-of-a-lunatic-part-1-of-2/

The gift, finding the gift, this is where I left off. Every tough situation is a lesson or gift.  What could I learn?

I set out to do some research.  I went to the city website and found the sale of the house and found their full names.  Then I stalked them on social media.  I can’t explain to you why I felt the need to find out more about them, but I did.

The Mrs. is wise.  I am a pretty good detective, but I was not able to find out much on her, other than her baby’s first trip to the ocean was this year.

Luckily for me, the Mr. is less private and I got some good information.  I found out why it seems as though he doesn’t have steady work this summer– and it made me feel kind of betrayed.  He is one of me.

Nooooooooo.

How can an elementary school teacher yell such profanities at a neighbor that he’s barely met before?

This was my gift.

You see, it didn’t stop there.  When I found out that he and I do the same thing, my ego was in overdrive.

I thought these sort of thoughts emotions were long gone.

I hadn’t felt like this since high school.  I wasn’t good enough, everyone is better than me.  I felt like this again when we lived in this same uppity town when I was in college and we were poor.  In this town, high school students typically drive high end cars, a long stretch from the 10 year old white rusty Ford Taurus I was driving, barely able to pay the bills.

You see, when I found out that my neighbor was a teacher, it was suddenly really important for me to find out where he worked.  Did he work in our town?  I’ve been trying to get into my town’s schools for a few years now– so ouch!  He probably has no commute and makes more money than me.

Does he work at a charter school?  That would be ok.  My job is better.

Is he an administrator?  That didn’t make me feel good at all!

Wow.

Before you start worrying about the feelings of my ego, don’t.  I found out that he works for a district about 15 miles south– which was acceptable to my ego.  That meant he commutes as far as me and probably makes about the same income.

When we moved back to this uppity city, I was a new person.  First of all, I had just lost my mom, so I really didn’t give a F*** about material stuff.  Secondly, this was 10 years later.  We were now a dual income family instead of one parent in college plus both of our kids were in school by now so we didn’t have daycare expenses.  I was cool and confident.  I didn’t care that I drove a 10 year old Escape- I knew that I was as good as any other woman out there.  I was largely aware that my neighbors tended to be materialistic, it was evident every time they brought up their vacation home or an extravagant trip.  I didn’t care.  We laughed when our vacation home came up because it surprised our neighbors that we had one because we don’t feel the need to brag about it constantly.

I’m not knocking our neighbors or trying to tell you that I’m a saint.  I’m just trying to give you an accurate picture of our neighborhood.  We live on a dead end street, so maybe our street’s gossip is a little worse than normal.  In this city, people tend to be very materialistic and judgy.  There are also many totally awesome people in this city who are not so materialistic, but it took me years of having an open mind and heart to learn this!

So, after 5 years of living cooly and confidently, I’m suddenly questioning my worth– all based on finding out my neighbor’s profession–which happens to be the same as mine.  Overnight, I went from being the “cool” kid to not feeling like I measure up and not feeling good enough.

Quite honestly, I expected to figure out maybe a large lesson and a smaller gift.  I think this experience has been a little bit of both, however, I’m still learning.

I appreciate the enthusiasm of my ego and quite honestly it was exciting to see her after is seems like she was dormant for so long.

Feeling inadequate made me self conscious about all of my weeds.  I think this is part of the reason why I’ve been working hard sprucing up the outside.  I was too comfortable and being uncomfortable sometimes can be beneficial.  I’m not a competitive person, but it’s not a bad thing to want to make your home not look like it’s abandoned (not to be dramatic but my front yard was way overgrown for too long and shame on me for not caring).

This was a few weeks ago, and I’m not feeling so inadequate anymore.  I’ve done a lot of work to the outside and plan to keep making both the outside and inside of my home nice– just like the work I’m doing with my soul.

Motivation was the gift and “don’t get too comfortable” is the lesson.

 

 

Soul Work

It is Monday morning, almost 9:00 am and has been a great day so far.  I woke up at 6 and was out the door around 7 for a walk/slow jog.  Afterwards I talked to my sisters while drinking coffee and now I’m about to get ready for some appointments.  My youngest is still in Florida with his grandparents.  My FIL was having some health issues so my hubby flew down there on Saturday so he can help drive them home.  I don’t know when they’ll be home, hopefully by Thursday or Friday. I miss them SO much, especially my youngest who has been gone for what seems like forever!  Last week I had little time to do my soul work and communicate with my soul.  I was able to spend a lot of time on it over the weekend and so far the work has been profound.  Here is from my journal:

I’ve been doing this 30 day soul program (The Lotus and the Lily, by Janet Conner) and have been stuck on forgiveness since last week. (Had some super profound things happen during this entire process). I actively forgave people in my life including myself. The book spends several days on forgiving yourself & I wondered if I was being 100% honest with myself. My book has a long forgiveness poem but it didn’t resonate with me so I decided to write my own. Days went by and I couldn’t think of how to write it or what to say.

The days leading up to yesterday (Saturday) were crazy & I was excited to finally have time to meditate, read & reflect.

My meditation session was uneventful except for feeling a strong pulse in my lower abdomen which was just strange.

Afterwards I sat by the pool by myself watching nature & thinking. Random thoughts or messages just came to me:

I still needed to forgive myself (and maybe also my hubby) for getting an abortion when our oldest was still a baby. My birth control pills were expired & I got pregnant. We were broke & overwhelmed. Although it’s bothered me throughout the years (I sometimes think there should be a middle one and that really does weigh on my heart).

Maybe telling hubby about my late period & him taking it good was to help me forgive him too.  I didn’t plan on telling him before he left, but Saturday morning was so strange.  Not long after I got up, I got a random message from the son of an old friend, Erin. I worked with Erin as a teenager/young adult and knowing her impacted my life in a great way.  I was impressionable and she was almost like an idol to me. She had her own apartment, an awesome Jeep wrangler and was a workout guru (AKA BADASS).  Unfortunately she died suddenly from cardiac arrest back in 2013 or 2014. 

I told him stories and he seemed to enjoy them and expressed that he doesn’t remember much about his mom.  As I talked to him & realized he doesn’t remember his mom that much my heart was so sad. I feel this plays a part. I’m too old for a baby & will die & he/she won’t know me? Or could be risky to my health – if something happened to me during the pregnancy Will would be the same age as Aiden when he lost his mom— can’t have that! Or maybe it’s to remind me that there are many kids without a mom and to help take care of those ones too.

After I realized that I’m holding onto the abortion I tried to let it go. To forgive myself, I thanked the anger for its lesson and gifts. I told it that I will never ever turn a child away in need- this is what I interpret to be the lesson. I told it to be gone and that it’s free.

I knew I would start my period now.  I even texted it to my sister.  Sure enough that night I started.  

Oddly, a few hours later I had some time & didn’t want to forget any of these thoughts so I wrote down everything from yesterday. At the very end when I was all done random thoughts just spilled onto the page without thinking much about it. Those thoughts are now that forgiveness poem/prayer I put off writing all week.

 

I have my work cut out for me this week.  It is quiet around here, and I’m grateful for the time and space to soul search.

I think the thing that bothers me the most is that I was really frightened when I thought I might be pregnant.  But this scare went on for a good two weeks and towards the end I was pretty sure I was on like week 5 and having implantation bleeding.  When that started I really started to think and then calculated a due date. I would be due in May– which is actually pretty perfect!   I got really excited.

In the book/program that I’m doing, this is the final week and it is a week of setting intentions.  This is perfect timing.  I really need to figure out what this all means and what my intentions for the future really are.  It’s a terrifying prospect for me, actually, which makes me think this week might take longer than a week to get through.

This week I will nourish my body, medidate, move my body, read, write, but most importantly, I will listen to my soul. 

sOUL

The Four Agreements: Agreement 4 – Always Do Your Best

This is the final- and possibly the most important rule yet.   When you know you are doing your best, there is no room for questioning yourself and instead of feelings of guilt and shame, there’s a feeling of peace in the heart.

The teacher who teaches next to me is exemplary.  She is a phenomenal teacher and is great even with our most difficult students and families.  She advocates for us as a staff when she asks our principal tough and uncomfortable questions during professional development.  She advocates for our families by attending the many committee meetings that she is involved in.  She is someone who I always strive to be more like– truly a remarkable woman.  Her teaching badassness is not even her best asset.  She is also the mom of 3 (now adult) boys and a cancer survivor.

One day last year the gossip mill was running overtime at work.  This teacher, Karen, was part of the drama.  Her grade level team had our most difficult grade last year.  Out of the 60 something kids in that grade level, many are not native English speakers, 14 have Individual Education Plans for reading, writing or math difficulties and probably around 15 who have attention difficulties or behavior problems.  Her grade was at an end of the year data meeting where administration and teachers examine student growth. Last year, the students did not seem to be split equally.  The male teacher seemed to get the best deal, with only one student who has an IEP and no major behavior problem students– while the other two teachers had several students with strong behavior needs as well as several students with intense learning needs.  Incidentally, the male teacher had the best growth of the three teachers.

An argument over student growth occurred during that meeting.  I wasn’t there, so I only heard the information secondhand.  But, as my closest work pals and I talked about the audacity our principal had, as he basically shamed the 2 teachers with less growth we wondered why Karen continues to take on way more roles than is expected.  Even though my principal can be a bit of a snake, Karen will always step up to help.  It hit me later that night, Karen lives her life “Always doing her best.”  I’m sure that’s it–  after all, she is the one who recommended The Four Agreements in the first place.

Your best will look different day to day.

When you do your best, you don’t give the judge the opportunity to find you guilty or to blame you.  If you have done your best and the Judge tries to judge you according to your Book of Law, you’ve got the answer: “I did my best.”  There are no regrets.  That is why we always do our best.  It is not an easy agreement to keep, but this agreement is really going to set you free. 

When you do your best you learn to accept yourself.  But you have to be aware and learn from your mistakes. Learning from your mistakes means you practice, look honestly at the results, and keep practicing.  This increases your awareness.

Doing your bes really doesn’t feel like work because you enjoy whatever you are doing.  You know you are doing your best when you are enjoy whatever you are doing.  You know you’re doing your best when you are enjoying the action or doing itin a way that will not have negative repercussions for you.  You do your best because you want to do it, not because you have to do it, not because you are trying to please the Judge, and not because you are trying to please other people. 

If you take action because you have to, then there is no way you are going to do your best.  Then it is better not to do it.  No, you do your best because doing your best all the time makes you so happy.  When you are doing your best just for the pleasure of doing it, you are taking action because you enjoy the action. 

Action is about living fully.  Inaction is the way that we deny life.  Inaction is sitting in front of the television every day for years because you are afraid to be alive and to take the risk of expressing what you are.  Expressing what you are is taking action.   You can have many great ideas in your head, but what makes the difference is the action.  Without action upon an idea, there will be no manifestation, no results, and no reward. 

A good example comes from the story about Forrest Gump.  he didn’t have great ideas, but he took action.  He was happy because he always did his best at whatever he did.  He was richly awarded without expecting any reward at all.  Taking action is being alive.  It’s taking the risk to go out and express your dream. This is different than imposing your dream on someone else, because everyone has the right to express his or her dream.   

We’ve lived at our current house for almost 5 years now.  Up until this summer, my home projects were stagnant.  I’ve had the past 5 summers off, with minimal tasks getting accomplished.  For years I couldn’t figure out what my problem is.  I LOVE our house– I really do– after all a very significant epiphany urged me to talk my husband into buying it (it was his parents).  Especially the outside, it is so peaceful and serene.  Despite my love for our home, the beautiful gardens that his parents used to keep so pristine were constantly overflowing with weeds.  Our serene pond was surrounded by a jungle, as was the front of our home. So the outside was a constant source of feelings of being overwhelmed.

(read about my ephiphany here:  https://thedevildrinksvodka.com/2018/06/01/the-epiphany/)

The inside wasn’t much better– a typical year would include cleaning out only one to two closets, and that’s about it.  I just couldn’t get the focus and motivation needed to get anything done.  I would talk to my mother in law about keeping up the house and she had great suggestions.  She was a teacher back in her day, so she lived at this very same house raising her family and catching up on home projects during summer vacation.  She suggested just filling a small grocery bag a day with weeds and filling just one box per day of things to get rid of when unpacking the basement.  That never worked for me, any project I did had to be done in its entirety (and as you can guess that never happened).  Looking at my own parents made me even more confused.  My dad is retired and keeps busy everyday.  He is constantly doing work around his house to make it nicer.  My mom is no longer here, but she was the home QUEEN.  At any given time she was repainting a room or rearranging our furniture.  The inside and outside of our house was immaculate.  She was always busy cleaning walls or floors, raking, weeding, painting, etc.  I always wondered what my problem is.  Hubby would come home on Friday and spend the evening mowing, edging and other yard maintenance while I did the minimal on the inside.  Minimal being making dinner and loading the dishwasher. I’m going to blame lack of both focus and motivation, and as you can guess being so idle did not make me feel fulfilled.

Here’s a newsflash, reader:  If something is prohibiting you from accomplishing something in life, you may want to consider looking into it instead of passively accepting it.  In other words, you’re broken and need to be fixed.

I was so broken and I so desperately wanted this summer to be different.  I didn’t want to start drinking and I wanted to accomplish things.  I didn’t expect to get a ton of motivation to work around the house but I at least thought that I could catch up on my spiritual readings and work the steps.  After my sister went back to Florida and all our trips were done, I knew it was time to get to work, and I did.

Amazingly, as I cleaned out my negativity and intentionally filled up on love, loads of focus and motivation came to me.  Suddenly all of these overwhelming projects were simplified into small and manageable tasks.  It’s been just a couple weeks, but I redid the landscaping around our pond, cleaned up the front beds and cleaned up our patio area that has been filled with blow up pool toys, weeds and junk since last summer.  After my PT appointment I’m going to go shop for some clearance furniture/decorations to spruce it up a bit.  This is what I have in mind:

I’ve done more these past 3 weeks than I’ve done the past 5 years.  Wanna know the best part?  It hasn’t been stressful– or exhausting.  It’s been phenomenal.   I’ve found a strength and creativity that I didn’t know I even had.  It’s been FUN, and so rewarding.  Long gone are the feelings of being so overwhelmed- as nothing HAS to get done and everything really only is the sum of small tasks lumped together.  I only attribute this positive change to getting my soul healthy– which largely includes living the by the rules of The Four Agreements.

 

Peace and Suffering

I wasn’t planning on writing today.  Truth be told, I have some big projects that I HAVE to get done before leaving for Ohio on Friday morning, and I’m starting to feel the pressure.  All of the final projects for my class are due on Friday.  I have to develop and write up 3 elementary writing lessons and then write a 6 page essay on what I learned from the class.  It’s not a lot, but I have been putting it off for over a week now and time is dwindling.  I’m also in the middle of revamping the landscaping around our pond and redoing my herb pots, all of which I need to do before we leave on Friday.  SO much to do and SO little time, so I’ll just take a quick hour long break to update my blog!  But I really need to write about yesterday.

First of all, the topic of the day in my soul book was forgiveness. I read, thought, jotted down some notes and then went about my day before writing in my journal.  The forgiveness chapter was good, REALLY good but I was a little stumped.  I couldn’t think of anyone in my life that I felt I needed to forgive.

Some muddy things happened a few years back and I had a grudge against my mom’s side of the family for a bit. I have since made amends.  I wrote letters to all of my aunts and uncles and have seen them since then along with my adult cousins who I gave some grief to also, but that seems to be resolved at the moment and I honestly feel light and free, and quite relieved to have a good relationship with all of them.

Who else did I have beefs with?  Sisters? No. My dad? No. Hubby? No.

I get annoyed with them, don’t get me wrong, BUT I don’t feel any resentments in my heart.  So I thought it would be good to think on this for a bit before reflecting more in my journal.  After all, I don’t have anyone that I need to forgive, and I don’t have any outstanding resentments (that I can think of) at the moment.  So, I tabled the topic.

Later on, I began working on the landscaping around the pond.  I let my mind wander while I worked.  My thoughts were not good thoughts.  I kept thinking about my SIL (who got her kids back and seems to be doing good at the moment) and how I sat her teenage son down the day before and told him our door was always open if he needed a place to go.  So of course, my mind is now running and since my SIL is unpredictable I fantasized that she found out I told him that and is furious with me.  Surely she will rant to my mother and father-in-law who will immediately take her side.

Everyone will be mad at me.  What if they won’t forgive me?  What about all this forgiveness stuff, how will people not forgivinging me affect this process?  To say I was feeling overwhelmed is an understatement.

Where has my brain gone during this time?  I KNOW about boundaries, I KNOW about not making assumptions, I KNOW that what someone thinks of me has nothing to do with me and I have no control over it.  So why was my mind going nuts with this?  And my brain just kept going, seemed everyone was going to be angry with me with the stories my head was making up– come on voice what are ya doing??

Fast forward to evening.  I brought hubby out to see the progress on the pond and let him know what I had planned and to get his input.  He was so impressed with my work and we were admiring it gleefully as the darkness of the evening overtook the backyard.  After a minute or two we noticed we weren’t alone.  There was a deer watching us about 30 feet away.  We backed up slowly and sat on our low deck steps and just watched her.  She walked a little closer to us and seemed to be eyeing the huge pot of Black Eyed Susans I had bought for around the pond.  We wondered if she would come close enough to munch on them, but she didn’t.  The yard was so pretty, especially with the graceful doe standing by the Birch tree munching on leaves, it was very fairytale like.

The next second my kids were taking out the garbage.  When they came in, my youngest said there was a snake out in the driveway.  My oldest said something under his breath like, “I think he’s dead.”  My youngest was sure it wasn’t dead.  I love all animals, including snakes, so I asked my youngest to show me the snake.

It was pretty dark and hard to see, but it was immediately apparent to me that the snake was badly injured.  I won’t go into details.  I was exclaiming about the situation when my youngest said, “Anthony said he stomped on him.”

I didn’t think for more than a second.  I took the two things both boys had just said to me and I made an assumption.  As a tree hugger, vegan, animal activist, etc, I made a big bad assumption.

I’ll try to make this part quick.  I came in yelling and accusing.  After the whole ordeal was said and done I don’t think he harmed the snake.  He walked past it but said his brother accidentally ran it over with the garbage can without realizing it– or maybe hubby hit it first when he got home as he had just gotten home not long before.  I think he knew that it was having a medical crisis and that’s why he told him he stomped on it.  This situation was actually way more complicated than this with the kids, but I don’t want to go into that right now.  And we didn’t know if we should help the snake, move the snake, kill the snake to put him out of his misery.. it was all very awful.

Later last night another thought (that I can’t remember–but WISH that I could) entered my mind and then it HIT me.  The whole forgiveness thing.  I needed to forgive myself.  In ALL my reflections and thoughts that day, not once did I think about anger and resentment I have for myself.  No WONDER why my mind kept going towards people not forgiving me, LOL.  DUH…

THIS is why it is so important for me to spend time reflecting after the readings.

One last thing.  So we ended up saying a prayer for the snake to heal and wiggle away or to die quickly.  We left him where he was at and I had high hopes that he would be gone when I woke up.  Unfortunately, his soul had moved on but his body was still in my driveway.

When I dropped my oldest off at drivers training I told him that he would need to take care of the snake when he got home.  When I got back, I read the next chapter of my soul book. Today’s topic is “Call in the Vultures.”  It talks about vultures being nature’s purifier and using this example to purify our souls and get rid of anger and resentments.  After reading this today, I told my son to leave the snake and we are hoping his body will be a gift to a vulture– or another wild animal. Curious timing for this topic.

These majestic and tragic moments happened almost simultaneously.  Surely it must mean something or is a lesson?  I’m not quite sure what yet, but that’s a big part of why I wanted to write today.  Nothing about yesterday was ordinary.

The Four Agreements: Agreement 3 – Don’t Make Assumptions

Kay has met the man of her dreams!  I mean, he’s cute, he has a good job and a nice house and he’s super sweet.  There’s only 1 red flag.  He goes out to the bar for drinks with his friends nearly every single night. Kay wants him to spend more time with her at night, but tells herself that it’s not a problem and that as they fall deeper in love, his love of spending time with friends will lessen and he will spend more nights with her. 

Kay had plans with her best friend on her birthday, but was left stood up at the restaurant.  She called and texted her friend Amy multiple times but it had gone to voicemail.  Kay immediately thought of the text message she sent to Amy yesterday and wondered if Amy took it seriously (it was a total joke), after all, she never texted back.  She waited 15 more minutes and finally left the restaurant thinking that Amy ditched her.  Kay was hurt and angry at Amy, after all, it was her birthday and it was mean to stand her up.  Kay stewed about it until that evening when Amy called.  She had forgotten her phone and had to go assist her mom immediately who was having a medical crisis.  Plans with Kay had totally slipped her mind when she got the call about her mom.  

Both are very different situations, but in both Kay has made assumptions that can cause emotional turmoil.  This is a habit worth exploring.  The italic statements are powerful declarations taken right from the chapter of this book.

We have a tendency to make assumptions about everything.  We make assumptions, then take it personally, then blame them and then we react by sending emotional poison with our word.  

We make assumptions everyday about everyone and every situation.  We just DO. 

All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally.

We create a lot of emotional poison just by making assumptions and taking it personally, because usually we start gossiping about our assumptions.

Often we make the assumption that our partners know what we think and we don’t have to say what we want.  Then we feel hurt and say, “you should have known.”

We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions. 

We have agreed that it is not safe to ask questions; we have agreed that if people love us then they should know what we want or how we feel. 

To stop making assumptions sounds easy, but can be difficult to do.  It is difficult because we often do exactly the opposite.  We have these habits and routines that we aren’t even aware of.  Understanding the importance of this agreement and becoming aware of our habits is the first step.  

The day your stop making assumptions you will communicate cleanly and clearly, free of emotional poison.  

Without making assumptions, your word becomes impeccable

Just imagine the day that you stop making assumptions with your partner and eventually with everyone else in your life.  Your way of communicating will change completely, and your relationships will no longer suffer from conflicts created by mistaken assumptions.  

I hope this gives you something to think about.  Pick up the book if you are compelled to do so ❤

The Four Agreements: Agreement 2 – Don’t take anything personally.

This is my favorite chapter and the most powerful, for me.  Don’t. Take. Anything. Personally.  How can we not?  Someone yells out their pickup truck window, “Hey fatass, why don’t you pick up your pace?”   Your best friend lies to you goes out with another friend after cancelling plans.  Your boss yells at you for something that is commonly known to be done by all, how can we not take these things personally?  Furthermore, when these things happen we are left wondering what we could have and should have done differently.

I used to always think that people were mad at me.  I’d see some of my siblings together on social media and quickly wonder why I wasn’t invited and then immediately assume it’s because I am annoying or that someone is angry with me.  Those thoughts would stay with me for the entire day and sometimes longer.

What people think of you is none of your business

This is the first thing that I read that opened the door to this concept. Below is a powerful excerpt from this chapter:

“Nothing other people do is because of you.  It is because of themselves.  All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.  When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.  

Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you.  What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds.  Thier point of view comes from all of the programming they received during domestication.  

If someone gives you an opinion and says, “Hey, you look so fat.” don’t take it personally, because the truth is that this person is dealing with his or her own feelings, beliefs and opinions.  That person tried to send poison to you and if you take it personally, then you take that poison and it becomes yours.  Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators, the black magicians.  They can hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally, you eat it up.  

You eat all their emotional garbage, and now it becomes your garbage.  But if you do not take it personally, you are immune in the middle of hell.  Immunity to poison in the middle of hell is the gift of this agreement.”

I can apply this entire chapter to many different aspects of my life and can see now why I have certain preferences.  For example, I work with 2 women who I tend to steer clear of, and which is no fault of theirs. They both remind me of two people in my extended family that I do not care for, and therefore do not care to socialize with these women if I can help it.  I can see why they would be hurt if they knew that I was avoiding them– but what they need to know is that me avoiding them has nothing to do with them (well except for reminding me of family).

Remember how I said that I used to worry about people being mad at me– or not liking me?  Well, that used to create an enormous conflict in my mind.  I’m thinking that they’re mad at me (WHO is they anyway??) but at the same time I knew I did nothing wrong, so my mind is confused, conflicted and just feels really icky.  Realizing that their actions (and thoughts and words) has nothing to do with me has been so eye opening and powerful for my state of mind.

As I practice this way of thinking, I can see myself getting better at worrying about myself instead of everyone else.  I can also see myself identifying times when the old me would be offended, and realizing the truth of a situation.

For example, during the school year I heard something that made me feel really angry.  One of the teachers I work with blew up at a grade level meeting with my principal and griped about students being pulled from class too much.  I was furious, and took it very personally because I had continuously met with this teacher throughout the year to try to make this situation better.  After I heard this, I had a strong desire to send a nasty email or go down to her classroom and give her an earful, after all, I was livid.  But I had a large group of students for the next hour and had to try to focus on the lesson I was teaching.  After the group left, I had a break and finally had some time to process what I had heard that made me so mad.  Once I thought about it rationally, I realized that this teacher and this situation had NOTHING to do with me.  For real.  Students get pulled from her class all the time, from many different adults, not just me.  For me to get so angry and immediately assume that it was about me was selfish and stupid.  My mistake was hearing something disturbing and not having time to process it before getting upset.  This is going to happen at times, we don’t always hear things at the most optimal times.  A good rule of thumb is to wait 24 hours when angry before confronting someone.

I can name countless other examples from my life, or even things that I see on social media.  In fact, I am recommending this book all the time because I’m constantly seeing situations that are nonsense and could be remedied by living the principles of this book.

I hope this was informative and helps you start thinking about how you may take things personally and how it might affect you ❤

 

Cloudy with a Chance of Rainbows

It is Sunday morning here– and I am on day 116 alcohol free.  I am feeling pretty dang good about it too.  I just passed my biggest test to date and am probably still relishing in the feeling of success.

Last Saturday my sister came up from Florida for the week.  The weekend was full of festivities including a graduation party for one of my nephews and a graduation dinner for my other nephew– both events contained disgusting amounts of poison juice, but I stayed away.

After the weekend of festivities, my sisters and our kids went up north for the week.  At the cottage, alcohol Was. Everywhere.  I knew early on that I was making huge strides making it through.  My previous relapses helped me stay on course.  In the summer 2017 I relapsed after 93 days of sobriety.  I would continue to drink on and off– stuck in the cycle clear until March 2018 when I was able to get another good sober stretch in.  I relapsed in July 2018 after 127 days of sobriety.  Things in my life all around me seemed out of control and I chose to drink after scout camp with my sister up north. Again, I wasn’t able to get back on track until March of 2019.  ALL of these relapses where it takes me several months to get back on course— SO MUCH WASTED TIME.  All I knew this week is that I DID NOT WANT TO RELAPSE and get stuck in that cycle.  SO I DIDN’T.

The week up north was just absolutely perfect.  The weather could not have been better.  We had hot sunny days and cool nights.  The kids got along beautifully and in retrospect I can’t even think of any of them arguing with each other– at any time– which is rare when you stay together in a small space for several days.  My Florida sister hadn’t been to the cottage in 3 years.  We haven’t all 3 been together in at least 3 years.  We had a grand time.  And we slept like a pile of logs too.

My sister flew home yesterday and I just felt the backdrop of sadness all day long.  It’s a little better today, probably because we chatted like normal before she starts her work.  I know it’ll get better– but her heading home was a reminder of how these days are SO different than the carefree days of our past when our life was still complete, untouched by grief.

On the day we left the cottage, we woke up to a lot of rain, as if the quiet town of Tawas was crying. We had one last get together at my dad’s on Friday night.  The weather was like my mood– bittersweet.  I was happy that we all had such a great week but sad to see it come to an end.   It rained, then the sun came out and there was a giant double rainbow.   It was the same weather yesterday, the day she flew home.  Rainy then sunny and sometimes all at the same time.

Such is life… bittersweet ❤