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.

Morning Routine: Peace, Happiness and Productivity

Before I get started, I have a quick celebration to share!  Today I am 128 days sober.  This is uncharted territory for me.  I am feeling strong and excited 🙂

Now that all of our summer trips are done with, I was able to start a nice morning routine and so far have been able to stick with it.

I’ve been trying to get up during the 7-8:00 hour, as that allows me a good deal of time to read and journal.  I’ve been reading The Lotus and the Lily, by Janet Conner.   This is a 30 Day Soul Program and I am really enjoying it.  I am currently on day 13 of 30, so almost halfway through.

Lilly book

This week, I’ve done my reading and reflection in my journal.  Then most days I was able to take Jules to the dog park.  Going to the dog park is therapeutic in itself, I could spend all day there.  One day it was busier than usual, so I left my phone and headphones in the car.  I usually listen to a book or podcast while I walk around the perimeter.  But on this day, I was walking with nothing other than the thoughts in my head.  I reflected on what the reading for that day was about, which was Thought Worms (those negative persistent thoughts in your head that won’t leave you alone).  I was pretty stumped after reading that day’s chapter, but gained much clarity on the subject while I walked around the dog park cuddling all the cute muzzles I encountered.  I was so pumped that I filled my journal when I got home because I didn’t want to forget my ideas.

file-5

I’m finding that sometimes after I read, I need some extra time to process the information before applying it to my life.  Time walking around without my earbuds has been helpful and I will continue to purposely leave my phone behind.  I said earlier that I am enjoying this book but wanted to mention it again.  The exercises are easy and quick to read through, and have been helpful for me in regards to finding inner peace.  Having a morning routine came from this book and has helped me stay out of that summer funk that I’m so overly prone to.  I recommend this book if you are looking to pep up your life and cleanse your soul a bit!

I’m not sure if it was having the morning routine, or the daily exercises in general, but this has been the most happy and productive week I’ve had in awhile.  My front flower beds have been looking horrible for at least 4 weeks now.  I hate it because it makes our house look so dumpy from the road, but I just couldn’t get out there– mentally I couldn’t do it and my ankle has been bothering me so that was an excuse too.  Maybe it was realizing that I want my house to look dumpy because I don’t deserve a nice house, well thought I didn’t deserve it (that pesky worm!). But every time I pulled in the driveway the sight of all the weeds gave me feeling of dread.  I finally realized and decided that, YES, I DO deserve to live in a house that doesn’t look dumpy.  I spent a good 3 hours yesterday cleaning up and it was so satisfying 🙂

I’ve been productive in other areas too.   Getting up and focusing on something rather than mindlessly on my phone or watching TV has been so powerful for combating that funk.  I’ve gotten some things done that I’ve been putting off for quite awhile– including getting my oil changed and cleaning out my car–two things that I hate most and try to get out of whenever possible.

I also started physical therapy for my ankle.  This has been SO helpful I only wish that I knew about this resource sooner.  I am doing specific and effective exercises daily at home and going in twice a week.  She does a great massage on my ankle and calf when I go in, it’s terrific!  The best part is that after my ankle is better, she is going to design me an exercise regimen for home to keep all my joints healthy and will tweak it as needed or if I’m having a flair.

In my opinion, ANYONE who is diagnosed with a chronic physical disease should see a physical therapist at least occasionally for maintenance and I’m disappointed that it was never even discussed with me as being an option.  I thought to go on my own and requested a referral, in which my rheumatologist sent me immediately.

OK– that’s my update ❤ ❤ ❤

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 ❤

D Day July 3rd

I hate today.  I will always hate today.

5 years ago I was up north with my little family waiting for our extended family to join us.  On July 2nd I got a call that my mom was in the ER and needed emergency surgery for a perforated bowel.

I wanted to get the F out of Walmart (we were shopping for groceries when we got the call) and go straight to the hospital almost 3 hours away.  Hubby was more optimistic.  He thought she might even feel well enough to make it up there by the weekend.  We went back to the cottage and grabbed our essentials and headed down.

Hubby dropped me off at the hospital, picked up my nephew and took the kids home to entertain while my sisters and I waited and worried.

She went into the hospital in severe pain, but they had 2 or 3 surgeries ahead of her (one we would later find out was an elective surgery– but they did it before her anyways) so they didn’t get to her surgery until the evening.  She survived the surgery, but we left knowing that she had a very long recovery to go.

We went back to her house and we drank like fish.  We laughed, cried and talked about how we were all going to get pregnant together.  We finally went to sleep around 3am.  We woke up to our phones ringing around 4:30 to get back to the hospital because she was crashing.

When we got there, the ICU doctor took us into a very small room.  She told us that our mom’s heart had stopped and they got it started again but it took a long time and felt like they were assaulting not saving her.  She told us that our mom was on a medication right now that was keeping her alive, but they would eventually have to take her off.  She also said that with her heart stopped for so long, they had no idea if there would be brain damage.  We told her to go ahead and take her off the medication.  It would be what our strong and independent mom would want.

We watched her die.  It is just like in the movies.  On top of that, the hospital plays a lullaby every time a baby is born.  So as I watched my mom die, I listened to a new life coming into this world.  It was eerily similar to the video for Live’s Lightning Crashes video.

That’s my story.  Today is hard.  I’ve always been with at least one sister, but today I am home alone with my kids.  I am going out to lunch with my dad and then going to get my hair done.

Hubby is on vacation after today, and we will head up north either tonight or tomorrow.

I keep telling myself it is just a day, but it affects me even more than I know.

I just hate July 3rd.  The End.

Coming Out

Hi Readers–I need your help!  Day 97 here!  My 100th day is Friday and I’m excited to make it the best day ever!

I’ve been thinking a lot about coming out on Facebook to family and friends.  Mainly I want to do this for accountability– especially with summer festivities in full swing.   I am planning on posting this on Friday but wanted to post here first.

I welcome any and all constructive criticism.  I have no idea if it sounds too long, too wordy, too vague, etc.   Here the draft I came up with:

Today is a special day for me, today I have 100 days of no alcohol! 

My journey began back in the spring of 2016.  I had developed pleural effusion, diagnosed at the ER when I was being checked for a lung clot.  I was told there are many reasons I could have gotten it and to follow up with my general practitioner.  

As I waited for the follow up appointment, I was researching pleural effusion (I had never heard of it prior to this) and found out that it could be caused by liver problems.  Knowing that I was drinking WAY too much, this information kind of put me into panic mode.  

When I went to my general practitioner for my follow up visit, I had decided to ask for help with my drinking– I knew it was time to STOP what I was doing to myself.  I had even researched a local inpatient rehab center and thought I might need to go there in order to help me with this “problem.”

Leveling with the doctor, and being 100% honest about my “problem”  was one of the single handedly least effective things I have done in my life.  He told me that I didn’t belong at the inpatient center– that was for drug addicts (I think those were his exact words– and I know now that this is the most untrue of the untruths).  He told me that his office has a GREAT outpatient program at his office and to call their social worker for more information (he RAVED about this social worker).  

Problem #1 was that the social worker he referred me to no longer was working there.  Problem #2 is that once I DID reach a social worker (same building, different office), she would not let me join her program because I was still actively drinking.  Granted, I didn’t know HOW to stop and every phone call I made seemed to be a dead end. I knew that AA was out there, but honestly, everytime I thought about having to go to an AA meeting I would just start bawling.  

I spent the entire summer thinking that I was nothing but a failure and that no one could help me.  This was all very untrue–there is loads of help out there and shame on the doctors who are completely clueless when it comes to addiction.  

Towards the end of the fall I discovered podcasts that were centered around that taboo topic of sobriety.  As I listened to these stories some ideas became wildly clear to me. First off, it is OK and (somewhat normal) to go to an AA meeting (or another recovery meeting– there are many different options out there).  Secondly, there are SO many people out there who viewed their drinking as problematic and have stopped– people JUST LIKE ME. I instantly felt not so alone. I found a few Facebook groups to join that were recovery based. 

This opened up a whole new world to me.  In fact, as a person who was watching all this wonderfulness, but still not able to get there (I was still drinking at this point), it always reminded me of my favorite movie, The Wizard of Oz.  I was in black and white kansas and all of these sober people were in the land of Oz, enjoying a colorful and vivid life. I still did not know how to get there.  

I finally decided that I wanted it more than anything else in the world.  The first few days were HARD. It was abnormal and uncomfortable. On the 3rd day it was my late mom’s birthday and Anthony came home to me crying in the kitchen while making dinner.  He hugged me, thinking that I was crying about my mom. I was crying because I still had some boxed wine in the garage and I wanted it, SO fucking bad. I was crying over fucking poisoning myself– not my dear mom, and that haunts me to this day.  

When you make the decision to stop drinking, it’s not abnormal for the process to take a couple or even a few years.  I stopped for over 90 days in 2017 and for 127 days in 2018. I feel that this last time is probably my final time and that I am done with relapsing (God willing).  

The point of this long rambling post, overall, is for my own accountability.  We have a lot of summer parties coming up and I don’t want to get sucked into the cycle again– no matter how appealing it seems.  

Secondly, if you or someone you know needs help feel free to reach out to me.  I still hate the experience I had talking to my doctor– and still shocked and outraged that he was not able to give me ANY useful information with a matter so serious.  How can modern day doctors be so uninformed about such a huge issue in today’s society?  

Lastly, if you think you NEED a drink because of X, Y and Z, consider this:  Alcohol has the same chemical makeup as ethanol (gas). Not only is it truly a toxic poison that does a number on our body, but it affects our brain as well.  I’ve always considered myself an anxious person and was surprised when I noticed my anxiety go way down during sobriety– and for me to feel real joy. There is something beautiful about going through life day in and day out without the need to escape through alcohol.  

Overall, I have much less stress and have developed real coping mechanisms instead of reaching for an instant numbing agent.  If you are a drinker, I have nothing against it–or you, it is just not for ME. I’ve already had my lifetime allotment of it, so I will have to pass.

If are stuck in a cycle and are sick and tired of waking up sick and tired, give me a call ❤

The Four Agreements: Agreement 1 – Be Impeccable with your Word

I’m on the upswing of a minor funk, I can feel it.  I think getting out of my comfort zone by going to scout camp and then anxiously waiting for my little’s return kind of put me into a tailspin.

It’s Monday and I’m trying to plan my week so that I can be productive, happy and fulfilled.  I have my 3rd step meeting with Arlina on Thursday, so I have to do some step 3 reading and worksheet.   I also want to get out and walk today (it’s been forever).  Jules has been getting really sluggish on walks, so until we figure out what’s going on with his health, I need to find an inside workout regimen to stick to.  That or riding my bike– but I bought an ankle brace and now my foot is doing SO much better so I want to start running again– might be time to dust off my treadmill.  I also want to get back to the Lotus and the Lilly 30 day soul book, which I started way back in March.   SO much to do & all fun stuff too!!  OH and I need to go to a meeting.  I’m planning on going today and maybe 1 or 2 other days this week (they are conveniently every week day at noon and like a mile down the road– it doesn’t get any easier than that).

 

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz 

Image result for the four agreements

I call the Four Agreements my life’s bible.  I strongly believe that the four simple principals promoted in the book can be used and applied to any situation.  This book has helped my anxiety with relating to others immensely and I want to write about my experience with applying the principals.

The first rule of this book is to be impeccable with your word.

While this seems fairly straight forward it takes on many subtle and profound aspects as you begin to practice. Very simply to be impeccable with your Word is to use your Word in the direction of love and truth. It’s not as simple as it sounds.

How we apply this agreement in practice can be complicated. For instance, suppose we have a good friend and are friends with their spouse as well. We’ve found out that the spouse is cheating on our friend. It is in the direction of truth to tell our friend that their partner is cheating on them. On the other hand delivering the message and facts is not very kind and loving and will hurt their feelings. It also might not be considered very respectful to inject our nose into the business of other people’s relationship. In these critical situations being impeccable with your word can appear to go either way.

You can create how you feel emotionally by generating emotions, and then you feel them. You can create dynamics of respect in relationship by being silent and listening attentively. You can create a different experience for your self and others by refraining from an emotional reaction. You create an income for your self by how well you express caring in the activity of your work. You create a different self image of your self by putting the power of your faith in a thought you have about your self. This can happen in a very subtle and almost passive way of just accepting what you think about your self as true.

You express in a multitude of ways through out the day and being impeccable with your Word applies to all of them.

Silence can be Impeccable

Silence is an expression. And sometimes silence and refrain says a lot more than words can. Your actions are a part of how you create. To hit someone doesn’t fall into the category of expressing your self in the direction of love and truth. To greet someone with a kiss on the cheek is an expression that says more than a thousand words can.

Your Fears go against your Self

To live with existing fears in your mind doesn’t fall into the category of being impeccable. Maintaining fears of public speaking, asking someone out on a date, or a fear of failing is not in the direction of love for your self. Keeping your self in fear is an ongoing expression in your own mind that causes you to hold back in your actions of love for your self and others. Fear is at the heart of NOT being impeccable.

To Be Impeccable with Your Word is not as simple as it sounds. When you explore the meaning of this agreement your understanding will expand. You will begin to pay attention to the smaller moments of the day. Thoughts that used to go unnoticed or passing comments that seemed to be no big deal before become significant. As you become aware of the subtle expressions of the day this agreement becomes more challenging than one originally thought.

To really master being impeccable will require that you heighten your awareness not just to the words you say, but also to the emotions you express, your attitude, your actions, and where you express the power of your belief. You will need to develop a discipline of mindfulness to be impeccable in these expressions through out the day.

To Be Impeccable with Your Word is an art requiring constant vigilance. It is not something that you can decide to do one day and master by the end of the week. The mastery of any art, like music, painting, or sculpture, requires practice. To master the way you express your emotions, actions, thoughts, beliefs, will take practice just like any other art. In the beginning it will be challenging to just learn the basic skills.

You too will let go of what you created in your life years ago, and work on bigger and better creations as you develop. Each day is an opportunity to create a new piece of art with your life. Last years art is already far behind you. Learn, grow, and develop your skills through your creations, but don’t let them define you as an artist.

When you apply the practice of doing your best to be impeccable you discover that it has incredible rewards. To express your self in the direction of truth and love allows you to create your life as a masterpiece of beauty.

To master being impeccable with your word will take many moments of practice. You will likely throw away many of your attempts as being clumsy and not what you want. But that is okay. For with each action and attempt, you improve as the artist of your life.

Be careful not to believe the judgments that are likely to come from that inner judge. Make a commitment to do your best everyday and it will help you avoid self judgments as you practice and improve. Remember that in the midst of all these expressions that the real art you are working on is your self and you are worth taking time for.


 

A few weeks ago, one of the teachers at my school came into my room to complain, she was visibly upset.  Our secretary, and older, very outspoken and sometimes downright rude individual, had bad mouthed her to another staff member.  One of the things that was so upsetting was that she was about to retire and had tried to make every aspect of this school year a positive “last” but this was a painful memory that she would remember for a long time and would cast a shadow on her retirement.

She basically came into my room to vent, because sometimes you just need a listening ear.  So I listened and sympathized.  This book came up in our conversation, as I knew this teacher has read it and so has our secretary.  The teacher told me that she was going to talk to her about what she said and how it affects the morale of the staff.  I suggested she recommends this book to her (athough I know she HAS read it– but isn’t applying the rules to herself..).

Sometimes when you are talking to someone who you are really close to, it’s easy to talk and (sometimes) giggle at other people.  I question myself ALL THE TIME.  The bonus is that most people that I’m close to has read this book, so they all know what I’m talking about when I start to scrutinize our actions (Are we being gossipy?  Am I being impeccable with my word?)   It most always promotes positive and productive conversations– and allows us to establish norms that are not going to spread poison.  In most cases the person and I either agree that, “Yes, we are being rude and judgy and it’s not helping anything so we need to stop” or “No, if he was here with us he would be laughing too, so we are laughing with him, it is ok.”

One last thing I want to say about being impeccable with your word.  I don’t (can’t) trust people who spend time talking about others behind their back.  It is Not. A. Good. Look.  If you’re talking about X, Y or Z behind their back, then I’m SURE you’re talking about ME behind my back.  Perfect example of this is my school secretary.  After you read this blog, you are going to think that she’s absolutely dreadful.  That is not the case, but she is a gossip.  Not in a mean way, more like a lovingly grandmotherly type of way.  BUT, while I love her, I generally keep my distance because I know that whatever I tell her is likely to come out, possibly in a distorted way.

I hope that you enjoyed reading about the first principal of The Four Agreements.