Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Missing Someone

The muse woke up this afternoon and I jotted down this poem

Missing Someone

I am missing someone today
Burning eyes without a face
Eyes I see are many to me
Collage of those I hold dear

I am missing my dad today
His death is still surreal
More like he is on vacation
Less like he is dead
Dear man I miss you most

I am missing some friends today
They took their lives
The booze and drugs that took control
In the end they were all alone

I am missing someone today
Burnings eyes through life
Mystic haze
Touch me deep inside

I am missing my heroes today
Lennon’s imagination
Stevie Ray with his beat up Strat
Cash’s song for everyman
Waylon’s hypnotic voice and the black hat
Marley singing for one world for one love
Pickers, singers and poets, who touched the very heart of me

I am missing an ex today
She wasn’t my true love
She was my dear friend
Suicide ultimate act of selfish pain
Easier to die than face tomorrow

I am missing someone today
Someone I have never met
Someone who will show up later
A friend to fill a void and maybe move along

I am not missing me today
I am here
I am aware
No longer incarcerated in the prison of my soul

Yes I miss someone today
But sadness is free
I have loved
I will love again
Missing someone is being alive in the world

S.E.W 12-30-08

Reflections 2008

Obama won
No more smirking chimp
Slinging dung at the world

Granddaughter born
Bring a bright light into my world
So much love and joy in a beautiful face

Daughter getting it together
Growing up and getting wiser
Understanding mistakes
Living in solutions

Spiritual awaking
Daily opportunities
Wall of selfishness slowly
Crumbing down

Becoming a son
Helping out instead of needing help
Having to parent the parents on occasion
Role reversal what a bitch

Watching the old gray wolf die
Letting go of the strong one
His soul is peaceful now
Breathing no long a chore

Watching ones loved
Crash and burn
Trampled by the disease of addict
Saying the last goodbye to an angel

Staying sober
Service work
Helping others
Desires and cravings thing of the past
Daily reprieve with spiritual help

New friends came
Old friendships renewed
Friendships passed when there season was through

Watching a sibling grow ill
Spiritual and emotional sickness
Powerless to help

Planted new roses
Built a flower bed
Built a tool shed
Not perfect but that’s alright

I learned to see beauty more intensely
Morning dew on a spider web
Hearing birds over road sounds
Touching the earth
See how we all connect

Did some new things
Didn’t do some old things

Got to spend some time camping
Next year
Learn to manage money better
Stop smoking
Find a new career
Join a sangha
Learn to sit cross legged in mediation for more than a couple of minutes
Maybe move to Lincoln
No hard core expectations
Just basic plans for change

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Walker and some Toys

Life is so simple when you are 5 months old! Life is good when you can sit in a walker with 2 attached toys and a couple of others to just play with. You can lean back and look at grandpa’s wallpaper or the interesting things on the shelf. What is Christmas? What is a Monday? I am not hungry and my diaper is dry, life is good. If I get bored all I have to do is make a little crying noise and grandpa will pick me up, he will hold my arms and let stretch my legs and that feels good. He will talk to me in a silly voice, his voice is the sound of love, he won’t hurt me. Grandpa likes to sing to me in his rough, gentle voice, or rock me to sleep even though I don’t want to sleep, too much to look at and try and understand, but I can’t fight the soothing swaying back and forth the gentle patting of my back, I stop fighting and drift off. My life is good and I want for nothing. Grandpa says we are blessed, whatever that means. Mommy will come soon, she will kiss me, take me home and then I can sleep in my bed with Pooh to keep me company and mommy to make sure I am not unhappy too long when my tummy is empty or my bottom is wet. Yes life is good when your 5 months old

Friday, December 12, 2008

What's that sound??

“Its time to stop children, what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down” thank you Stephen Stills. No I am not thinking about the changes that hopefully will be taking place in Washington on the 20th of January 2009 when Obama is sworn into office. I’m thinking about feelings/emotions. I often have I not stopped and listen to the sound that was going down, my heart was trying to tell my head something but I wouldn’t listen, listen to the sounds of feelings surfacing. Damn there goes the shattering sound of love, the deafening blast of anger, the whine of loneliness, the scream of fear, hurt sounds like a thud, shame is the sound a baby makes when it sucks its thumb, oh yeah happiness is the gentle summer breeze and serenity is the sweet rustle of a mountain stream. Through a bit of grace most of my feelings are mild lingering’s, anyway the negative ones are, the positives ones are generally with me but I am complacent and don’t hear them nor thank them often enough. Been helping some people who are young in sobriety and feelings and emotions are a tough subject, I remind them it was the same for all of us. Everybody stuffs there emotions to some degree or they substitute emotions, anger replaces fear, belittling people replaces ones own feelings of insecurity and low self esteem. People use all kinds of things to keep them from hearing their feelings, video/computer games, the internet, TV, movies, reading, crafts/hobbies, work, shopping, religion, school, relationships, alcohol, drugs, the list can on and on; in moderation none of these things are bad and some are healthy. Taking time to stop and listen for me has been a work in progress, like finding balance in life/the middle road. I have my good moments and my bad. On a good day I can hear the emotion and offer to set down and have coffee with it, on a bad day I run scared until I stumble, fall and hear her voice in my ear, suffering is my own choice, or as my old friend Ian would say “misery is optional”. So I invite the emotion for coffee, we sit opposite of each other on equal terms neither have power over the other, it is when I can do this that I am restored to serenity. Emotions and feelings have no real power, they can appear all big bad and scary but they are wisp of illusion and perception. I will never be able to stop having emotions but one day at a time, one moment at a time, I can learn to put them in their own perspective. “What’s going down” is life on life’s terms whether I like it or not, yesterday, today and tomorrow

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Some Signs and symptoms of inner peace

I nicked this from http://coffee-shop-dharma.blogspot.com/ Some signs and symptoms of inner peace:

* A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.

* An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

* A loss of interest in judging other people.

* A loss of interest in judging self.

* A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

* A loss of interest in conflict.

* A loss of the ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.)

* Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

* Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.

* Frequent attacks of smiling.

* An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.

* An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Wow the first bitter cold day of winter has hit 12 degrees and add the wind chill and we are well below zero. I had to pry open my car door this morning since the rain from last night froze it shut. Time to change my attire, time for the knit hat and heavy gloves. I live in the Platte River valley, which doesn’t have a lot of trees so the north wind comes sweeping over prairie hills just to the north bringing with it a full mouth bite. The cold north wind is a fact of life for winter life in Nebraska. There are a couple of other places I have thought about living, northern California and central Colorado come to mind but Nebraska is my home and the home of my family and closest friends. We have 4 complete seasons here, nothing half ass, bitter winters, scorching summers, amazing springs and falls. I love the quiet back roads, you don’t have to drive too far even in the cities like Lincoln and Omaha to find a gravel road where you can drive along at a comfortable pace and take in the farm lands pastures with cattle and horses, groves of trees, the peaceful track of a shallow river. Hopefully I will be moving from central Nebraska this summer to the more populated city of Lincoln, the main reason is to be in a community that has a larger population of fringe dwellers, alternatives, bohemians, and people like me. I have close friends in recovery there so the transition will be easy. The time has come once my daughter graduates from high school to move to a place where being a liberal isn’t quite so much associated with being a Satanist. Plus there is a larger spiritual community there and in Omaha. This is just a goal, nothing is written in stone so I don’t have any huge expectations on the line that can cause me to get my Y fronts in a serious twist if the plans fall through. So much about the future, today it is cold but that is alright, I live here and accept that.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Rebel Jesus is having a Birthday party again

Well it is that time of year, the time of greed and gluttony, A.K.A. Christmas time. Probably didn’t take you long to figure out I don’t care much for Christmas. It starts with everyone asking me “did you eat your fill or did you stuff yourself” when asking how my Thanksgiving was. I hate this fucking question because if I say “I don’t partake in gluttony” then I open up a whole can of worms about ideologies, traditions and such. I have nothing against eating my fill if I am hungry but the gloating over how much one eats in a gluttonous way is repulsive to me. So with the overeating of Thanksgiving the bells of the Christmas season are rung.
Black Friday was the same as every other year even if the economy is in the shitter, people being as un-Jesus like as ever fighting over bargains, shoving their way around stores, a few deaths related to shopper’s greed celebrates the birth of the Prince of Peace. Black Friday can be a fun time for those who find fun in standing in lines at the wee wee hours of the morning waiting for stores to open hoping to get some great bargains for gifts, the adrenaline rush of intense shopping, not my thing. But like it is like heavy traffic, it can bring out the worst in people, instead of accepting it for what it is, something snaps, people get hurt, and self will run riot on steroids.
I don’t mind the music in small doses, in fact I actually like some of it, Tran Siberian Orchestra is extremely good and I have Christmas album by Jethro Tull I absolutely love, but like chocolate too much of it is a sugary overdose. I tend to go home after a day of Christmas music and listen to gritty blues or folk. Radio stations never seem to play the classic “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses or “Father Christmas” by the Kinks around here, but there is always YouTube for them when my teeth hurt after hearing, one too many Bing, Dean or Perry songs.
I do make an extra effort to show loving kindness though. When I am checking out at stores, I try to be cheerful, joking and kind to the poor cashier. I put up a few decorations for my daughters benefit. Next year Angel will be old enough to enjoy the decorations so grandpa will go out of his way to make sure she has plenty of pretty things to look at. If I get a bit sour at meetings I explain that it is nothing personal to those who get giddy over Christmas. I go to the family things in respect to my mother, late father and daughter. I will buy a few toys for charity so that the less fortunate children can have a few presents too.
Kids are the saving grace of the season for me. Adults seem too phony, yah they give gifts but they expect something in return, put a price tag on shit given and received, which includes time and effort. Adults forget about the magic of Santa Claus and Jesus, oh they say they no but most are too caught up in the artificial to see the true nature of these men. I apologize for throwing all adults together; I know there are those out there who truly understand the meaning of Christmas. Children now, they know all about Santa and Jesus. They know that both are magical. Santa the magical elf who brings presents and spreads happiness and joy. Jesus the baby who was born poor in a manger on a cold night, the baby who would become the man who taught of love and tolerance for all, he the bringer of Heaven. They are to young and innocent to understand that his name is also used for evil, for hatred, an excuse to kill gays, abortionist, non-Republicans and non-Christians. Children will tell you Jesus loved the little drummer boy most because he was poor like him, they will notice the poor around them and wish they could help. They will ask Santa to bring a present to a friend less fortunate or whose home life is bad. Children’s eyes light up and the sparkling beauty of the decorations and electrical magic, and hopefully their parents will be able to have some quality time with them by going out and seeing the lights and decorations.
So that’s my bit on Christmas. I leave you with some lyrics from Jackson Browne’s song “Rebel Jesus” they sum up my feelings as well even if this post is a bit of a Bah Humbug.

But please forgive me if I seem
To take the tone of judgement
For Ive no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In this life of hardship and of earthly toil
We have need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel jesus.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Broken Watch

I know some of this is redundant with what I have posted in the past, but I am submiting this post for possible publication with a recovery magazine, plus sending it to some people who don't read the blog but have been a part of my recovery.

On November 28th 2006 I drank my last drink of alcohol. The day was normal in all aspects with the exception that I was packing my stuff for a trip to a drug and alcohol treatment center the following day. I don’t know how much I drank probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-18 beers which was fairly normal. I went to treatment with no real plan of quitting, I was going because my drinking was out of control and I was having frequent run ins with the law, also my daughter was getting really worried about me and starting to hate the life we lived. Basically my back was up against the wall I needed to do something, but the something was to regain control over my beer consumption not quit, yep I was sick. I had found myself in similar situation in 1987, that time it was my mental state and fear of getting into trouble with the Air Force, doing something to solve that situation lead to 9 years of sobriety which overall were damn good. This time 10 years of constant drinking had lead me to heavy denial about how bad my drinking had become. I can go into the morning drinking, the drinking and driving, the drinking while working, the tardiness and all the rest but won’t. What I want to do is reflect back on what has happened and why the cravings left me a few days after entering treatment and have not returned something I don’t analyze much but since I have an AA anniversary coming up and will receive a chip on Wednesday night I have been thinking about lately.
Probably the first thing I can think of that happened was within a few days of treatment I reconnected with my Higher Power, which was minimized once I started drinking, fact of matter was I never wanted to stop drinking so the Higher Power wasn’t there to aid me, just something to keep me somewhat sane during times of despair. My Higher Power first showed up in the form of me being a part of a group of others who where having problems with alcohol and drugs, then in the face of someone I know from my past life as a sober member of AA, she showed me love and compassion rather than the scorn and shame I was afraid my former AA friends would show. During my years of drinking my old dislike for organized religion reared its ugly head and I even came to resent AA as an extended arm of organized religion. When I entered treatment I was given a copy of the book Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book) I skim read “Bill’s Story”, devoured “There is a Solution” and “More About Alcoholism” when I started reading “We Agnostics” my mind was reopened to why I had such great respect for AA back in 1987 and one of the attractions that kept me coming back; that was the freedom of find and worshiping a God of our own understanding. My old prejudices and resentments started to fade fast after reading that chapter, I accepted that the God as we understand him message is sometimes diluted at meetings especially in rural areas where Christianity was strong and members tend to drift towards it and less towards open ended spiritualism. I walked out of treatment after only 2 weeks different, revitalized and compulsion free, my insurance wouldn’t pay for the whole 4 week stay.
From December to April I was without a driver’s license and a car, I lived 25 miles from work and AA meetings. I depended on a friend to get to work, I would stay with the only close friend left over from the drink days after work, neither her or her husband were heavy drinkers, I would hang out at there house until meeting time, then walk to the meeting and catch a ride home with my sponsor or my sister, or occasionally my friend would give me a ride home. The Higher Power blessed me with a sponsor who lived fairly close, who was going to college in an other town but drove through the town where meetings were held a few times a week, we would either meet at meetings or he would pick me up on his way home. This wasn’t an everyday thing, usually a 2-3 times a week, this way my daughter wasn’t home alone every night, but by now she had gotten used to running her own life, which would cause problems down the road. My sponsor would ask me to go with him if he was going to an AA event on the weekends but for the most part I spent the weekends at home alone, reading or watching movies with my dog for company, since there were no meetings in the town I lived in. I was an avid reader for a long time but during the last years of drinking alcohol robbed me of my ability to sit and read, I lost comprehension over what I read and patience for sitting and reading so it was a joy to sit and read again. Never once during those times of being alone without wheels did I crave a drink. Being without wheels served a few purposes it taught me how to be comfortable being alone, allowed me time to reflect and mediate, write. Another thing is that one of my old hobbies was to drive around the back roads with beer, now without wheels if I was having emotional turmoil in recovery I couldn’t just hop in a vehicle and cruise around which might have triggered picking up a 6 pack, I was forced to stay put and deal with what was going on or use the 2 ton phone.
The first year of sobriety was what it was, 1 year of living full of highs and lows. My daughter got into some trouble which eventually lead to her being place in a group home for girls. I got closer to my parents and in doing so realized that they needed to move closer to where my sister and I lived so we could help them out as their age and health was starting to cause difficulties. There was the sharing of myself with my sponsor, my fears, my regrets, my insights and such, working the 12 steps. There was the building of my spirituality, probably the strongest thing to come out of this was understanding perceptions and how I couldn’t base my understanding of a Higher Power on how I perceived others based theirs. Once I broke through this perception I was truly spiritually free.
So what has happened in the last year, my second year in recovery? I found a spiritual foundation for living via Buddhism. The irony of my finding out that Buddhism was a religion that I could learn to practice and dedicate myself to came via a prayer by a Catholic monk, St Francis. I read the prayer of St Francis in the book 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, I wrote the prayer out long hand, taped it next to my front door, and would read it every morning prior to leaving the house. From my prior dabbling in Taoism and brief readings of Buddhism I recognized the eastern religious undertones to the prayer, the complete abandonment of self, services of other, and by doing these things one would find contentment and freedom.
Another thing that happened was my watch broke and I decided not to get a new one. I had a bad habit of looking at my watch a lot, being over obsessed with what time it was or how long something was taking. I still am conscience of time, when to go to work, when my breaks are, when a meeting starts and the normal things but gradually I have eased up on the obsession of how much time is going by when something is happening, how long or short of time some thing is taking, I still have a long way to go but I am getting better.
So my whole second year of sobriety is a direct result of my adapting Buddhism into my life and not wearing a watch. I understand that suffering is inevitable, it happens whether we want it to or not, suffering is caused by desires/selfishness, by applying the Eightfold path in my life, I can control how the suffering effects me and my actions have a direct effect on those who come in contact with me, either positive or negative, with positive being the desired effect. Because I no longer wear a watch I am becoming more at ease with living in the moment, the right here and right now, I don’t fidget as much, don’t get worked up as much over how much time is left or how little of time is left, time is as it time and it is up to me to use it constructively. Here are a few situations that have happen to me in the last year. When it was decided that my daughter would be moved to a group home and be there for at least 8 months I moved to the town where I work at and attend most of my meetings which by the way is also the town where my parents live. The move created a conflict between my daughter and me, she wouldn’t accept the move because she had set her mind on graduating with the kids she had went to school with since 2nd grade, being a teenager she would not listen to my reasoning based on economics and the uncertainties of her situation, there was no certainty when she would be allow to move back home with me. I over came my stress of upsetting her by extending my support group, becoming a ware of my emotions via prayer, mediation and use of AA steps and suggestions. In the end she accepted the move though a bit begrudgingly in the beginning, lesson learn things work out if we give them time and stop adding fuel to fire (re-stirring dead embers). In December my daughter found out she was pregnant, I accepted this without getting overly upset, what was done was done, abortion and adoption where not options, not for religious reasons but out of personal reasons. The pregnancy proved to be a building block for a stronger relationship between my daughter and myself, she started taking her own fledgling sobriety more seriously, wanting to attend meetings with me instead of just “going along”. The damage of the past was repaired by our spending more quality time together and phone calls, she also noticed that some of the girls in the group home had no positive interaction with their parents and that her old man wasn’t that bad after all. Again it was through living in the now that I was able not to get overly emotional unstable during all this which also consisted of mixed feeling towards the father of the baby. My granddaughter was born on a beautiful July 4th morning, the city of Lincoln was quiet and peaceful, standing outside I was awed by the beauty of nature intensified by her birth. My daughter had to have a C section but all went well and my granddaughter’s father was there for her birth. I am forever grateful that I was sober that morning, and that I was able to be there for my daughter, that there were no resentments between us, I owe this to spirituality, fellowship and the 12 steps of recovery. I spent those days she was in the hospital in complete contentment not overly concerned with what time of day it was or trying to find something to do. My daughter and granddaughter moved back to the town I live in after their release from the hospital, she had successfully completed the requirements of the group home, she was then moved to an independent living program which she is still part of. I do my best to let her live her own life, giving suggestions without being a dictator, I baby sit when need be which isn’t constantly. My granddaughter is an intelligent and content baby, I believe this is due to the harmony in her life, the harmony of having a sober mother who tries to stay away from drama and the harmony of a grandpa who is peaceful and serene most of the time. The last major thing that has happened to me many would say would be the hardest to deal with and that was watching my dad’s health slowly get worse and then watching him die. I won’t lie and say it wasn’t sad and troubling at times but the sadness was never overwhelming. The way I got through this was by understanding my suffering and his and that we were both powerless over it, no matter how hard I wanted to make life easier for him it wasn’t in my power to do so. While I was watching him die I kept thinking to myself I wish this could be his last breath, to counter that I had to remind myself I wasn’t in control and was being selfish, I focused on the moment instead of getting into a bunch of useless projecting. As sad as his final last breath was, I knew he was at peace, no more pain, physical or mental. The other thing was we had made our personal peace with each other. Being sober I was there to help my dad when he couldn’t help himself or things were too much for my mom to handle. There are other things that have happened that some would find stressful but I have been able to handle with relative ease.
I don’t very excited about too much anymore, I have learned to handle stressful situations at work, to mentally fend off the negative energy created by my supervisor and some of my fellow workers, I don’t caught up in the game of blaming others or belittling others, even my financial situation which isn’t the best at times is manageable if I don’t give in to the stress of it and use awareness to figure out what I can and can’t do. I have learned with a little prayer, mediation and living in the moment that even when life gets tense and crazy that I can stay fairly serene and sane. My new journey has just begun but as long as I remember that it is practice and sometimes slow progress that my life will be filled with happiness and joy no matter what the situation is. The choice is mine today whether I dwell in the house of suffering watching my watch or whether I accept the suffering, move on and live in the moment at hand.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Thread is Tied Off

Wednesday night a friend of mine died from alcoholism, she was 47 years old. Cyd had reached the point of not caring anymore, she was tired of fight the disease, and in the end she took an overdose of Tylenol and washed down with vodka which caused her already damaged liver to shut down.
At one point in her life Cyd had 10 years of sobriety then she lost a child, started drinking again and was never able to stay sober for any length of time after that. The longest time she may have had in the last 10 years was a year; normally she would get 1 or 2 months. She never quit trying though, well not until the other day, she would go to meetings, get a sponsor work the steps and then for reasons unknown to every one would drink again, disappear for a few months and then show back up and start all over again. She had run her course of treatment facilities, mental health hospitals and even jails. Last night I lead the meeting at local mental health hospital, Cyd’s last trip up there was this summer, I generally don’t talk about suicide or depression when I go to meetings at the hospital but last night we all needed to think about the gravity of the disease. My ex-wife died from suicide, like Cyd she gave up fighting the disease, the struggle of day to day life was just too much to bare, tired of one more attempt and one more failure, in the end the thought of dying was more peaceful than the unknown of living. I don’t condone suicide but for some alcoholics and addicts it is the only way to achieve peace. I would guess that a large portion of alcoholics and addicts were suicidal to some degree when the disease was active, this would be true especially for older ones. I was 24 when I cut my wrist because I just didn’t care any more and thought the other side might be better, it was this event that lead me to recovery, during the relapses years I never thought too seriously about blowing my head off, OD’ing, gassing myself but I did get to the point that didn’t care if I woke up in the morning or not, or if I had a heart attack while driving which would cause an accident that took my life. Suicide is the ultimate selfish act but the life of active alcoholism and drug addiction is a life filled with total and complete selfishness 24/7.
Some words on Cyd; Cyd was the most intellectually intelligent person I knew in recovery!! Cyd could quote the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous), the Bible word for word. She was the only person who know anything indepth about Eastern religions, she not only know about Thich Nhat Hanh, the Tao, Kornfield and others she had read them and would talk about what she had read. She would also talk about Kahil Gilbran, Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Steinbeck, John Irving and any number of authors that might catch her fancy. I envied Cyd’s ability to remember passages from books or song lyrics, my memory is shot and has been for years, not matter how many times I read or listen to something I can’t quote verbatim the words. Cyd and I also shared a love for music, I remember a few months back she had bought a copy of Joni Mitchell’s newest album, she was like a school girl in her excitement about how great the album was and the depth of the lyrics, I still haven’t heard the album but will go get a copy to honor my friend. We would talk about the great singer/songwriters both the well known and the less well known, she liked Townes Van Zandt, Lucinda Williams, Nanci Griffith and others who’s music isn’t played on commercial radio stations. A year ago last June I took Cyd to a state AA function and on the way home NPR was playing blues, her knowledge was amazing, she could recognize the different artist the radio was playing, once again not your normal popular artist. These are some of the things I know about Cyd in the short time she was my friend. We weren’t really tight but would stand outside a meeting a visit while smoking or once in awhile I would give her a lift home, but spend 15-25 minutes with Cyd was like spend a day with someone else.
One last thing; all the knowledge and intelligence in the world didn’t save her life in the end!! I have known people who are too intelligent and analytical to grasp recovery but I really don’t think that was Cyd problems. I am taking a wild ass guess here and saying that if anything she couldn’t let go of the suffering no matter how hard she tried, the suffering for the lost of a child, the suffering she inflicted on her other kids lives due to her drinking sprees, the suffering of loneliness but in honestly only she knew. Did she frustrate me with her relapses yes, did I stop caring no, and I am not alone. Tonight there is going to be a viewing and wake, the event will be filled with a bunch of recovering drunks and druggies paying respect for truly one of their own. She was a thread that wove it’s itself into our lives and we are richer for touching the thread, for seeing her star burning bright and even seeing it fade.
Love Ya Cyd, peace and harmony

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Watching the Wheels

It is getting closer to the anniversary of John Lennon’s death, December 8th 1980, I clearly remember the morning. I was a senior in high school, I got up like every morning came upstairs to eat breakfast prior to catching the bus when the news come on the radio that John had been assassinated, my world was totally knock off it’s axis. At 17 I didn’t understand as much as I would later in life how important John was but he was still a hero of mine because of the music and his personality. He had also just released Double Fantasy after a 5 year hiatus from recording. Every year since his death as December draws closer I think a lot about him, some people start thinking about Christmas in November but I start reflecting about John. John is really never too far away since I have a picture of him on the door to my coat closet. Today my mind has turned to John again, in part because I am a bit bored I suppose but also because of some of the readings and talks of late and maybe because I am coming up on a sobriety anniversary and I get reflect when it comes around, shit why try and figure out why it is happening, I am writing about it so let it be it in the moment.
I have to admit I am not a huge fan of John as a solo artist, I like him better than solo Paul, George or Ringo but he ranks in the teens when it comes to favorite artist. But I am a huge fan of the man himself blemishes and all. I love Dylan who in my opinion was the greatest poet of the 20th century and the most important figure in contemporary music but Dylan has always been elusive, hiding behind lyrics, intelligence and many crafted faces. Lennon was open, he literally stood naked in front of the world, we saw his anger, fears, compassion, eccentric thinking and his love. There is a great scene in the authorized documentary “Imagine” where a dirty stoned hippie kid shows up at John’s house in Tittenhurst, he starts tell John that he thinks some of John’s songs were written about him, like John had some psychic connection to him, John tells the kid his songs are about him (John) about his life, what is going on in his life, what he had to eat or if he took a healthy shit that day and the people involved in his life, John kindly argues with the kid and then ask the kid if he is hungry and has the kid come in and eat something, the film shows John and the young man eating together, now if that isn’t compassion from a man who at the time was one of the top celebrities in the world. I don’t know what is. There are plenty of other moments in John’s life were he was just as open and honest. Check out Imagine if you get the chance the whole movie plus bonus info is great!!
You can’t write about John without Yoko. One of the fascinating things about John his is love for Yoko and her love for him. Yeah in the beginning it was obsessively weird, Yoko in the studio while the Beatles were recording, the 2 constantly together, the recording of 2 Virgins and Unfinished Music Part 2 where John recorded the last heart beats of baby dying in Yoko’s womb maybe even baghism. Their love for each was extremely strong. You think of all celebrity males out there and how most of them like their “arm candy” old farts like Clapton, Jagger, Rod Stewart and even McCartney still trade in women once they start showing a bit of age for some young hottie. Part of the reason a lot of people disliked Yoko was because she wasn’t gorgeous and yet she got John Lennon. Theirs was a true love not based vanity but attraction that was more than skin deep. They went through their ups and downs like other couples, John’s lost weekend proved to be both a failure and a success. I think that by the time Sean was born John was just burned out from being a music figure head and the whole music/celebrity scene so staying home with Sean while Yoko took care of busy was a joy to John. John hadn’t had a normal life since he was in his early teens so he welcomed the chance to stay home and do what needed being done. The muse called back to him but by then he was refreshed and revitalized and Double Fantasy is proof of that.
Now a bit about some of his songs that have meaning to me. Two years ago on December 8th I was in treatment for alcoholism, like most mornings I was up an hour before the rest of the group, it gave me some quiet time, I started writing a poem about John and while writing “Help” came to mind, “when I was younger, so much younger than today, I never needed any ones help in anyway, but now these days are gone, I not so self assured, now I find I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors.” Yeah that is where I was at that moment finally willing to ask for, “help me if you can I’m feeling down, and I do appreciate you being around, help me get my feet back on the ground, won’t you please please help me”, thanks John for the tears back on that day I needed them. “Imagine” is the greatest of all Utopian songs but there is nothing wrong with being Dreamers and striving for a better world. When I think of beautiful ballads “In My Life”, “Norwegian Wood”, “Love” “Nowhere Man”, “A Day in the Life”, “Watching the Wheels” “Woman” “Mother” Beautiful Boy” come to mind. I love “Cold Turkey” for the rawness of the lyrics, I have watched someone go through cold turkey and John nailed his experience and everyone else’s down. “Woman is the Nigger of the World” is one of those songs that seems to get left out of great Lennon songs because John uses the word nigger, the song is a brutal essay on women being the slave of slaves, if you have never heard the song Goggle the lyrics and see what I mean. “Working Class Hero” is another song I love for his honest observation in lyrical form, yeah so what that he wrote it while living a good life, but spoke openly about the social ties that were holding working people down. As for the socially conscience songs, “Give Me Some Truth” tops my list, followed by “Revolution”, Merry Christmas (War is Over), “All You Need is Love”. Here a few more that I just like for no reason other than they are great songs, “I am the Walrus”, “Don’t Bring me Down”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Instant Karma”, “Isolation” “Whatever Gets You Through the Night”, “Come Together” “Oh My Love”, “Ticket to Ride” “Nobody Told Me”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”, “Across the Universe”.
So here is a bit of a ranting ramble on John Lennon, written on a slow afternoon sitting at my desk. Like many other greats who have gone on before I am glad the world got to know his spirit, I am glad he touched mine in a positive way, the world and I are both better because of John.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Perspective on relapses and alcoholism

I rent a room out to guy who is recovering from alcoholism and addiction, he had 10 months clean and sober, lived in the half way house for those months, was doing really well there. He took his recovery seriously, attended different meetings regularly, did service work, helped the new guys at the house, was never overly cocky about his sobriety, he was one of those newcomers you would say was standing on solid ground. The reason I asked him if he wanted to rent out 2 small rooms in my house cheap was that he was doing so well and he is rather quiet and respectful, which suits my quiet life style. About the time Adam was starting his transition out of the half way house and into my house the half way house announced it was permanently closing it doors due to lack of funds and paid staff, which was a blow to the guys living there because of the support the house gave them. Adam moved in to my house and was doing really good for a few weeks, going to work daily, making appointments (UA’s), going to meetings and hanging out with the guys from the house and others in recovery. Just over 3 weeks ago things started going bad for him, his great grandmother died, his dad who is a practicing alcoholic and addict got the hell beat out of him at a dive bar which lead to him having a fairly major stroke, bit by bit Adam started sinking into depression. I availed myself to him the best that I could, being there for him to talk to but never pressing him to talk, my thinking was that I wanted the house to be a safe and comfortable place for him to live in and not have to worry about answering to me, plus most people won’t open up unless they are ready to. Finally he checked himself into the local mental health hospital, I wasn’t home at the time and later he told me he had drank a 6 pack and a bottle of cheap wine which added to the depression. He was released on the 7th and spent the weekend with his family, seeing his dad in the hospital. He came back to the house Monday the 10th and we talked a bit and he seem alright and know he needed to get a new or second sponsor plus get back into going to meetings. Tuesday night I went to a meeting and got home around 8:30 at about 8:45 a police officer showed up at my door looking for Adam, one of his friends had called the police department stating that Adam sounded depressed and they were afraid he was suicidal, I told the officer that as far as I knew he was at an NA meeting, I gave her the location of the meeting and also the name a guy who would be in attendances, I would later make amends for having a police officer show up at an NA meeting they tend to get a bit more weireded out about cops than alkies do. My friend from the meeting called back asking where Adam was because he wasn’t at the meeting, so I check his room and sure enough he was on his bed sound asleep, I told my friend to send the officer back over and I proceed to wake Adam up and told him the officer was on the way over. He was way out of it, sounded like he was dosed good on anti-depressants, the officer talked to Adam and after about 15 minutes waiting to see if his behavior improved with time the EMT’s were called to check him out in case of accidental overdose. When the EMT’s arrived and after talking to Adam a bit he admitted that he had mixed vodka with his med’s, ¾ of a 1.75 liter bottle. Adam was taken to the emergency room and later he voluntarily readmitted himself into the mental health hospital. When I talked to him last Thursday he admits that not going to meetings was a big part of the problem, he was overwhelmed, scared and felt he couldn’t honestly talk about his fears.
Since I started working on this post 2 other people I know rather well have relapsed. One is a woman who has been in and out of recovery for quite a number of years. She does well for awhile then for what ever reason she picks up again. She was in pretty bad shape this time, luck would have it she asked for help and is detoxing at her sponsors house. The other is a 17 year old kid; he drank Saturday night, got messed up, felt like shit and was at a meeting Sunday morning. He mentally felt bad you could tell in the way he talked. I think the sad part for him is realizing he can’t enjoy drinking anymore, as much as he wanted to have a good time like his friends he just felt low and knew he was losing control.
Alcoholism and drug addiction suck!!!! We as alcoholics just want to have a couple of beers, speaking for myself, just to relax, lighten the stress of the day a bit, and enjoy some social merriment with friends. We can’t do this ever again once we cross the line from casual drinker to alcoholic, if a person ever was a casual drinker, I never was. The heavy drinker may drink daily but if something bad happens they can quit drinking without any trouble. The alcoholic is caught up in an obsession with alcohol and has no or very limited control over how much they drink once they get started. I was of the limited control type, I would drink until midnight or 1:00am by which time I was sleepy enough to crash hard, very rarely did I pass out but then again I was a beer drinker. What I have in common with every alcoholic is that once I start drinking I crave more, it doesn’t matter how much money I have, I wrote bad checks and stole for more, it didn’t matter if I was in trouble with the law, no drivers license, no insurance, on probation, it didn’t matter that my daughter was living in a foster home, or was out running with much older kids drinking and driving, needed new clothes or something nice for school, it didn’t matter that my parents were worried sick about me, all that mattered was drinking. If I wasn’t working I was drinking and when I worked at a convenience store I would drink while I worked sometimes. If I did worry about all that was wrong with my life I would drink to forget, I would try and drink the shame away, the self hatred, and fear. Yeah fear probably the one thing that drives all alcoholics deeper into the disease and contributes to relapses like those of Adams and my female friend. Adam said he felt overwhelmed and my female friend she was having a tough time with feeling insecure, she just starts to feel good about herself on the verge of getting completely honest and then the insecurity sabotages her and she drinks again. A non-alcoholic when faced with financial problems will not spend money they don’t have on booze and smokes but not an alcoholic, the alcoholic will not only spend the money they will also spend more money on something for their companion or children to make up for the guilt they feel about spending the non-existent extra money on themselves. A non-alcoholic doesn’t watch a movie or TV show and recognize the brand of alcoholic the characters are drinking by the bottle shape or fuzzy label nor do they get thirsty watching someone drink an alcoholic beverage. I am not saying society needs to do anything about alcohol in public, alcoholism is my problem and I need to be comfortable around alcohol.
This beings me to what is an alcoholic to do and what could of the people above done to prevent their relapses. I have mentioned meetings in this post and previous post concerning recovery from alcoholism. The importance of meetings, is you are with other people who share a common problem and have a common solution, it gives you and opportunity to make new friends who don’t drink thus replacing the dangerous ones who do, it is a place to remember where our drinking took us, in most cases it is a place filled with hope when life seems hopeless. When I got away from meetings I forgot about the bad times and negative emotions that came from drinking, not that I dwell in the past I just need to be reminded of it, I need to see the newcomer still shaking and smelling from the effects of the night before, the mixture of fear, desperation and a slight bit of hope. I need the camaraderie of other fellow travelers. The 12 steps of recovery are also a must, they aren’t something to rush through nor are they something to procrastinate on, thus the reason for a good sponsor. A sponsor is a mentor, someone who has something you want, not a material things though having a nice fishing boat or sweet ride isn’t a good reason for picking a sponsor . My sponsor is a very pragmatic person, spiritual in nature, insightful. Mentors me by sharing his experience, strength and hope, he gives suggestions based on what he has learned. He isn’t a dictator or a god, just a human I trust and am willing to listen to. Wow that was an unintentional transition into thrust, honesty and willingness. First I have to be willing to do what is recommend of me to stay sober, to not give in to fear, anger and impatience. Too many new people in recovery get impatient, they want instant gratification, hell that’s what we got from booze, they want to feel good NOW, they want there problems to go away NOW, they want others around them to see how they have changed and they want those same people they have harmed to respect them NOW, sorry campers it doesn’t work that way most of the time. The same is true with spirituality it takes time, it is about progress not perfection, we sit in meetings and see others who are happy, peaceful and serene and forget that it has taken them time to get there. It is all about today, this moment right now, for today I won’t give in and buy that drink, for this moment I won’t drink, for this moment I will say a little prayer asking for help from whatever Higher Power I believe in. I have to honestly believe that I need help not only with my alcohol problem but with my own perceptions, character defects, with spirituality, I need help learning how to communicate with others, and I need help getting out of selfish thinking and fear. I have to be completely honest in that I am totally powerless over alcohol and that when I drink it causes mental, physical and sometimes legal troubles, that no good whatsoever comes from me picking up a drink, by doing this I can think the drink through. I no longer crave a drink but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about having a drink, I pass a store advertising 30packs on sale, note the price and what a good buy that is and remember the 30 pack would only last a couple of days for me then I would need another and another, plus the problems that good buy would create.
Spirituality is a must for most of us, not 100% though, I know of people who still maintain complete atheism in recovery but they are rare exception and not the norm. Via the 12 steps and 12 traditions we are free to believe in a God of our own understanding; it can be as simple or complex as we make it. Again the newcomer needs to be patient with this process, to may try too hard to believe in another’s concept of God and feel their concept inadequate which can lead to relapse or a bad case of the poor me’s. The use of prayer and mediation has a very quieting quality to it; the belief in a Higher Power makes us feel less alone and also that there is a purpose for our lives. It gives strength in living in the moment knowing that the future will be what the future is. I have to take action, do footwork, faith without works is dead. In being aware of my character defects I then have to work on them to the best of my ability, some days I am good at it and some days I am bad at it.
Service works is also beneficial in staying sober, whether it is making coffee, (the nectar of people in recovery), helping with setup/cleanup, chairing a meeting, reading when asked or working at the district, intergroup or area levels as a committee member or chair etc. I am a service work junkie, for me it is about giving something back to those who so freely gave to me and making sure AA survived, it is also my way of helping the newcomer. Reaching out to the new person whether they are a newcomer, visitor or new members who just move to the area is important to me. If people hadn’t reached out to me at that first meeting I may have never come back and on the flip side when I moved to a new town people didn’t shake my hand and I thought they were being unfriendly and stopped going to meetings which played a part in my drinking again, they are not at fault I choose to buy that 6 pack, no one ever poured a drink down my throat.
All that I have written comes from my perspective; it is my opinions and thoughts and has nothing to do with AA’s stand on the subject’s I have talked about. No one speaks for AA as a whole. If there are things that you disagree with please let me know or if something I have written is unclear please let me know and I will try and clarify my idea better.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

R.I.P Dad, Leslie O Wolf

My dad’s spirit transcended Saturday at 4:00p.m. my mom, both sisters and myself where with him when this life ended, he was 84 years in this world. He was put into a drug induced coma so in the last hours of life he felt no pain. My dad is free now, his suffering, physical and mental has ended. Those of you who have lost a parent or close loved one know the sorrow. I am grateful that I learned how to say hello to the sorrow and embrace it has really helped me out the last few days and will continue to help me out. My head is still a bit fuzzy, my concentration on the moment comes and goes as it should for now, I do the best I can to bring myself back to what is in front of me without fighting the feeling.
Dad was cremated and interned at the National cemetery in central Nebraska with full military honors. The funeral and the arrangements for the funeral went as well as could be expected when 5 individuals are in a room filled with sorrow, making plans for remembrance of a loved one. The original plan was not to have minister officiate but my sister remembered an old friend of my dad’s who was an ordained minister and my sister, the one who I have religious differences with, honored me by reassuring me that the minister was down to earth and not a thumper. My brother, sisters, mom and self agreed that the 4 kids would each give a personal reflection, eulogy, about my dad.
What I said in general was; while sitting by my dad watching him die I opened my phone and looked at pictures of my Angel and took comfort in her innocent smile and beauty, outside sitting on a bench I reflected about her life beginning and dad’s life ending. My reflect brought me to the idea of how dad taught and instilled ethics, morals, and how to behave in public where taught to me, in a messed up aggressive way but I still learned and am a better person because of that, and how I passed them on to my daughter who will in turn pass them on to Angel. I talked about how dad didn’t know any other way of expressing himself that is was characteristic of men of his generation and background and how years ago I had forgiven dad for the harsh way he treated us. I related the story dad had told me more than once about when he was in the army he learned manners and etiquette from the city boys, dad was a farm boy, and how important it was for his family to know how to behave in public. He showed that no matter what your up bring is you can rise above it if you choose. I also talked about how he had great mechanical aptitude and I only received a ¼ of it, also how when we where kids he couldn’t teach us what he knew but later in life he could, he mellowed with age in all aspects of his life.
I am ever so grateful for my friends both in and out of recovery, they provide an ear to listen, a heart to comfort and love. I am grateful for the teachings without which this would have a been a lot harder. As always I am grateful that I am alcohol and drug free today, and that my dad and I made peace with each other, I forgave him and he forgave me. I never told my dad I was wrong for my behavior while in the grips of alcoholism, he won’t have understood but I made my amends by doing everything I could for him the last years of his life. I managed to say an “I Love you” to my dad a few weeks back, funny I can say this to a lot of other people but with him it was hard, still think deep inside I had to be strong with him and showing of emotions was just something you didn’t do, fucked up I know but that is just how it is.
My dad was my dad, for good or bad, he helped me out and loved me his own way. We became friends which sadly wasn’t the case with my brother. My brother still harbors resentments towards my dad and he is 60 years old. I can’t help my brother unless he ask so for now all I can do is accept that is suffering is his to own.
My mom is doing fairly well and my sister and I will keep close contact with her for the next weeks or so, also my mom’s youngest sister has been very carrying and a great help.

Rest in peace dad, I love you still

Friday, October 24, 2008

First Hello of Winter

Well the first hello of winter came, welcome back cold north wind, snow and rain. Stepping out outside I am aware that my insect friends are gone for the season, the ladybugs who have been extremely present the last couple of days are no long hanging around on the post outside the backdoor, grasshoppers, crickets and beetles that I would see while smoking have moved on also. No more spiders and their glossy webs to admire, gone for a few months waiting for rebirth come spring. My bird friends are still around for a bit though, doves, sparrows, killdeer’s, swallow’s and the occasional meadowlark, soon some of these will be moving on also. Shortly the sound of Canadian geese will fill the air along with the huge flocks of sandhill cranes making their way south. When the cranes and geese return it will be time to get in the car with a thermos of coffee, drive along the river roads and admire them feeding in the freshly harvested bean, corn and alfalfa fields.

Not a fan of winter but it is a fact of life in the Midwest, the land doesn’t have enough trees to block the wind completely. Don’t mind the snow but the ice is annoying, mainly because it is the pits to drive on and you have to be extra careful of other drivers. I have a bit of a different mindset this year so I wonder will I be more aware of the season and will my eyes see more than before, or as the months move along will I become more blinded and just get anxious for spring? Time will tell, time to put more focus on seeing beauty all around me. It is easy to see beauty in nature during spring, summer and fall, but the sleep of winter with the cold is another thing. Like everything else it is mine to hold or throw away, to be open or closed. Live in the moment, the now, the seen and unseen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gratitude Check

Reviewing my past post there is a thread of discontentment going through them which isn't a true reflection of me, these are just things that I needed to write out for my own peace of mind, releasing by writing. I am positive and optomistic 98% of the time, I am not optomistic about the state of the nation or the economy but I take a pragmatic approach to that, we have way over spent, part of this was caused by a un-needed war, out sourcing of American jobs, being heavily indept to China, unaffordablity of health care(the small company I work for dropped employer supported health care last year due to the cost), general cost of living, fuel cost, just to name a few. In my personal life though I stay positive and upbeat but like everyone else there are certain things which bring me down on occasion but I deal with them as soon as I recognize what is happening.
Graditude: that I survive years of heavy drinking and driving under the influence and that I never hurt anyone while under the influence,
That I have a job that provides me with a comfortable income
That I am fairly healthy
That I have a good relationship with my daughter
That I have a beautiful granddaughter who thinks the world of her grandpa
That I have the privilege to legally drive
That I have the privilege to vote
That I have the privilege to worship the religion of my choice
That the 1st Amendment is still intact for the most part
That I am capable of taking care of my parents in their time of need and paying them back for all the years they took care of me
That I own my own dwelling, no morgage, that I can afford to pay my essential bills
That I can afford to eat decent meals
That I have running water, heat for when it gets cold and a/c for when it gets extremely hot
That I have found a path that I enjoy walking which helps me live in the moment, be aware of self/ego and gives me tools regain my inter peace when I replace it with fear.
These are just a few of the things I am grateful for, I could go on a lot longer, listing my dog, bed, music library, reading material library etc. Sometimes it is important to just reflect on what I really have and am truly grateful for and blessed to have. If all of this goes away tomorrow I hope I will have the strength to carry on being positive knowing none of these things are essential for true happiness.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Damn I hate doing the right thing sometimes

So Friday I get a call from my oldest sister telling me my youngest sister visited my dad in the nursing home Thursday which is a good thing but she also left dad a book, “30 Minutes in Heaven”. First off because of the dementia dad hasn’t been able to read a book in quite awhile, second my dad has never been a religious man, he believes in God in his own simple way but nothing more than that. My oldest sister told me my younger sister told dad “you want to go to heaven don’t you”. My words to my oldest sister were something along these lines “oh for fuck sake, he doesn’t need this kind of crap to confuse him or stress him out anymore than he already is”.
My youngest sister has always been self righteous, opinionate and self serving, thinking she knows what is best for everyone else in the family, one of those who points at the splinter in someone else eye while ignoring the log in her own eye. In January of 2007 she admitted herself to a treatment facility for alcoholism; it was there that she found God. Up to this point she was pretty open to the idea of a universal God, one that was all inclusive and didn’t need blood atonement from his son. As she has progressed in recovery through AA she has become very much a Bible thumper, thinking the God of the Bible is the only God. Since we live in a small AA community we sometimes attend the same meetings. Over time we have grown further and further apart, she talks about God in the biblical since in meetings and I talk about spirituality in general. I don’t talk about Buddhism openly, but I do talk about the Dharma without people knowing that is what I am talking about, usually in the context of suffering, ego, selfishness, mediation, right speech, right mindfulness, right view and awareness. It has taken some time but I have finally stopped think that people are judging me by what she says, talk about ego, but because I knew her before she still gets under my skin because I knew the person who was a lot more open minded, someone who was a lot more unselfish when it came to her family. She has become a person who has less and less to do with her family and spends her time with church, AA, AA friends and work. She rarely visits my parents and only calls a couple times a month. She has pretty much stopped talking to me, we see each other at meetings but she doesn’t approach me and I have taken the low road and stopped approaching her but I always say hi in case she wants to approach me. My selfishness is that I feel she needs to spend more time with my parents and find out what is really going on with them instead of making assumptions based on only a few hours a month.
I really wanted to take a copy of “The Art of Happiness” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama or “The Tao of Pooh” to put on dad’s dresser just to spite my sister. I know this is wrong thinking and I had a hard time not obsessing over it. I had small battles going on in my head most of Friday, battles between right and wrong. At the meeting I went to Friday night we discussed the Serenity prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, he courage to change the thinks I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” This prayer always comes back to me; I have to use the tools I have to change my suffering, anger in this case. My anger in part is due to the fact that I perceive that my sister is harming my dad who I have been rather protective of the last couple of years because of his health, I am selfish because I don’t trust others best intensions based on their perceptions of what is right for him, there is a part of me that is being a martyr, damn I hate admitting this, because I have been doing the biggest share of the footwork pertaining to my parents well being and because of this I want things to go my way. I can accept the other Bible thumping members of AA but I can’t accept my own sister being one. I can’t accept that she doesn’t have balance in her life, I see her suffer needlessly, my selfish suffering wanting to fix her suffering. Not sure where all this is going to lead, we are like 2 sword fighters standing at ready waiting for the first one to make a move and commence the battle. It doesn’t have to be this way but I am at loss on how to handle it, so for now I won’t, I will just take care of what is in front of me to do and when my discomfort with the her comes up do my best to release it and fertilize what could become a resentment if I let it.
None of this messes with my staying sober but it does mess with my inter peace. I guess it is time to grab the cushion and see where mediating on it goes. I know that by writing this out I have uncovered some things I hadn’t thought about before.

Comments appreciated

Friday, October 3, 2008

Dylan's It's Alright Ma

As I fumble arounded this afternoon, thoughts and lyrics flashing back and forth, the song process went from Rage Against the Machine which lead to Woody Guthrie which took me to Dylan. With the debate and political opinions on the blogs I read plus what has been going down with me the Dylan song that sticks in my mind is 'That's Alright Ma ( I'm Only Bleeding)" Dylan has written some great songs/poems (depending on how you view him) my favorites depend on my mood but this song is my un-disputed favorite. I love the mixture of images, the razor shape criticism of society and the fact that 33 years later it is still relevant. It is too long to post so here is a link.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hello Sadness, I see you

Yesterday my oldest sister, my mom and I took my dad to Grand Island, about 50 miles from where we live to admit him into the Veteran’s nursing home. My dad has been gradually getting worse with dementia, confusion, forgetfulness and lately hallucinations. He has chronic black lung disease and requires oxygen and breathing treatments, it takes very little physical stress for him to run out of air. His dementia has caused him to fight about which breathing machine is which, simple little chores around the house, he wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t back to sleep which in turns causes my mom not to be able to sleep. My mom is 79 years old and it has become difficult for her to take care of him so it was decided the best thing to do for both of them was have dad put into a nursing home were he could get the care he needs and hopefully he won’t angrily question the nurses, even if he does they can handle him better than mom can. The morning was filled with the basic paper worker and lunch, I could gradually see the stress building up in dad, finally we took him to his room, there are 2 men to a room, and unfortunately it appears that the other occupant of the room is very hard of hearing, has dementia himself and sleeps a lot in his chair. Dad now lives in a small space with a bed, small recliner, dresser and TV. I stayed with him in his room while my mom and sister went out to get stuff for his room. He sat on the edge of the bed somewhat in shock and realizing what was going. He told me “ I thought I could handle this but I can, I want to go home, I can’t sleep here!” the once proud and strong man sat on the edge of the bed like a small child wanting to go home, he was scared and afraid of being alone. I am grateful I had the strength to stay strong and explain to him the best I could why he had to be there.
A just over a year ago my daughter Michelle got her second MIP, minor in possession of alcohol, this was on top of a couple of other violations she had in the past, she went through a lengthy evaluation for chemical dependency and mental health issues, the evaluation showed she was an alcoholic/addict with detachment and abandonment issues, the court ordered her to be placed in a group home for girls. Without any warning I was called at work that they were taking her away to the home and if I wanted to see her I needed to get right home which I did. This incident was the first time I ever faced tremendous sadness, I have felt sadness when my grandmother died and when my ex committed suicide but those 2 times where nothing compared to watching my baby being taken await, scare and alone. My spiritual awareness wasn’t as strong a year ago but I was able to get through it with the help of a long time friend and other friends. Yesterday I relived the sadness I felt when Mich was taken away, the sadness of being helpless in caring for and relieving the pain of someone I love.
Driving away from the home I opened myself to the sadness and cried. I thought about first 2 noble truths; All life is suffering and suffering comes from desires. My suffering was caused by the desire to wishing things could be different for my dad, that he could just die and move on to the next level, my suffering comes from my selfish desire to change the way life is unfolding at this moment because it doesn’t match my needs or desires. I mediated on my part of the suffering and repeated the first 2 nobles over and over and the sadness was gradually calmed and I accepted what was happening. I turned on NPR for the drive home and one of the stories they had was about widow women in some part of Iraq that are forced to live in trailers with their children, the trailers have no electricity or running water, they are located in the brutal Iraqi heat, the women have no means of income and some have resorted to bagging or prostitution to earn a little money to survive on. My heart went out to these women; I have lived in basic trailers before and know that they can be pressure cookers and or freezers, as a spoiled American the trailers I lived in did have electricity and water. I thought about even though things were rough for my family and me how lucky we were. My un-wed daughter lives in a halfway decent apartment and receives food allowance from the government so neither her nor my granddaughter go hungry, my granddaughter is healthy and happy. I have a vehicle to drive, a job, a comfortable mobile home to live in, plenty of food, electricity and water, the streets of my town are safe and even if my government sucks I still live in a free country where I can choice to practice the religion of my choice without fear of imprisonment. I am glad for little moments of clarity that keep me from getting overly complacent.
I am sure I will shed more tears, today was rough, in part because I can still see him sitting on the bed sadder than I have even seen him before, another thing was that since I am his Power of Attorney the doctor called me this morning and asked me about life saving measures and I had to tell him, no resuscitation do only enough to make sure he doesn’t die painfully. The doctor also told that because of how thin my dad was, 111lbs at 5’8” and with the black lungs he didn’t foresee him living another year. I have step out a few times today for a smoke, I walked into the grassy area, stopped and opened myself up to nature, I am awake to nature, sights, sounds, smells and feel, the breeze wrapped around me like a lover and it felt good, caught the shadow of a big bird flying over head, saw a yellow winged butterfly gliding in front of me, heard the songs of the Killdeer’s in the freshly plowed field, that and much more. I am not alone today and that is good, I can openly feel today, today I know how to say “Hello sadness, I see you”, hopefully I will be able to greet the feelings that come tomorrow. Thanks to all my wonderful teachers, those I have and haven’t met.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fear, used car, wooden ladder, speaking at a meeting

I am reading Tara Brach’s, “Radical Acceptance -- Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha”, which is an awesome book, today at lunch the chapter I was reading was about “fear”. I read a couple of sections and then reflected on what I read and what is going down in my life.
The used car; I am having some conflict with Michelle (daughter) over buying a car, she is currently using my car to get a around in. She doesn’t have the money to buy a car but I told her I would help her out and find an inexpensive car for her. She has also been looking around and she found a mid 90’s Grand Am that has a broken timing belt for $500.00, she has always loved Grand Am’s and that has been the model of car she has set her sites on getting. I have to tried to tell her in a nice way that this isn’t a good deal because without a timing belt you can’t really tell if anything else is wrong with the car. Saturday she showed up at my house and started talking about the car again and how a couple of friends told her the car was a good buy; being only 17 she trusted what the salesman is telling her also. I told her no I wouldn’t buy the Grand Am for her and that I was going to buy my sisters Taurus for her for the same price; I know the Taurus is in good mechanical shape. Mich got pissed and told me no on the Taurus and she would buy the Pontiac on her own. So now the problem is I really need to set down and talk with her about all of this. The fear factor is in making her upset, my drinking took it’s toll on her and deep down inside is still the fear of losing her love, that sick story within that says I don’t deserve her love since I was a lousy parent during my heavy drinking days, which is partial true and partial false but the fear is sometimes more powerful than the reality. I know I need to face my fear about her, know that yes she will probably still be angry at me, yes she probably won’t comprehend what I have to say since her mind is made up but I know it is all temporary. We have been down this road different times in the past when I have had to make decisions which she didn’t like but in the end she accepts things. The fear involving Mich is the most powerful type of fear, I tease people who are afraid of animals, yet I myself become immobile when it comes to confronting my daughter over something we have a big disagreement on.
The ladder; I borrowed an 8ft wooden ladder from a friend so I could repair and seal the roof of my mobile home Saturday. I was able to climb up the ladder and on to the roof but when I tried to step on to the ladder to come down and get some supplies I couldn’t do it. The old wooden ladder was wobbly and I am not comfortable with heights nor my balance on ladders so I was stuck. Thankfully I had my cell phone and smokes with me, I called a friend who wasn’t doing anything and he came over and brought a fiberglass ladder which was totally stable and I had no problem climbing up and down it. While I waited for my friend to show up I smoked and thought about my fear and dealing with it. I thought I would be able to over come it this time, I tried mediating to overcome the fear but still every time I reached my leg out and touched the next to the last rung on the ladder I started to shake uncontrollably so I just had to accept that it wasn’t safe for me to try and force myself to climb down the ladder. Nice thing was I wasn’t ashamed about my situation or my fear it is what it is, some people can monkey around on shaky ladders all day long, I can’t, some people freak out over bugs, spiders, snakes and such and I have no problems handling any of them, o.k. never had to handle a poisonous snake but it wouldn’t freak me out to do so. So here was a fear that I dealt with in an appropriate manner.
The meeting; yesterday I went to my regular Sunday morning meeting at the hospital, the usual people where there. Topic was on basically using spirituality to over come fears and live in the moment to the best of our ability. About mid way through the meeting, my head started getting fuzzy from too much coffee and my thoughts were all mucked up. I honestly try and share from the heart at meetings but I had too much Tara Brach running through my mind, along with the caffeine and nicotine, since I was reading her for around an hour prior to going to the meeting. I was trying to focus my mind on being humble and not preachy, but it was still pretty fuzzy when it came my turn to share. I very much wanted to pass with just saying I was grateful to be there alive and sober, but since I always share something I told myself I had to share. So pride in hand I proceeded to share with half a heart and mind and from my ears what I heard sucked!!! Here I was afraid of what others would think about me if I didn’t share, afraid that people would think I was going through some emotional funk for not sharing, pride was telling I needed to say something profound, to impress people, to share the Dharma in a non-direct way. Once again I brought suffering upon myself for selfish reasons, I disrupted my inter peace due to my perceptions/expectations of other peoples minds which were hidden from me. But l learned I hope, it has been a while since I have done this and the last time I did I felt like shit then also, maybe this is just something I need to do every so often to remind me to stay humble, to go with my inter spirit.

Fear so many faces, the good fear keeps me safe and ask for help. The bad fear plays havoc with my insides. It can also be a thief like when I don’t ask someone who appears interested in my out for coffee because I am afraid of rejection. It is a creator, it creates opportunities for me to work on procrastination when I am afraid in financial situations to ask for help but have no alternative to and realizing the sooner I ask for help the better. Fear the teacher, fear has taught me a lot and still does so if I am aware. I am stepping deeper into mediation which is improving my awareness. I hate tiny steps but that is what I have to take right now, the tiny steps are good but the little Veruca Salt inside my head sometimes screams out “I Want it NOW”. Oh well such is life, I woke up this morning I smile at the day, gave thanks for being alive and sober, focused on compassion and the Eight Fold Path, even though I may stubble a little here and there I feel that by starting the day with those things in mind I am able to recognize emotions, act and re-act in a much better way than I have ever done in the past.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Leaf on a Stream, going with the Flow

I have been going through a lot of changes lately. Having my daughter back in my life after her living in group homes for the last 10 months and now her living on her own but close by has provided me with an opportunity to practice letting go. I have had to ease off on making sure she is making her appointments and taking care of business, if she is going to live in the real world she needs to learn how to handle real world situations. I haven’t thrown her out in the cold but I have given her the opportunity to make her own mistakes and learn from them. She has the assistance of the HHS independent living program for now to get her use to living on a budget and other living skills and hopefully when she is done with the program she will be equipped to live on her own and take care of Angel.
Angel is still a bright spot in my life, I am so grateful that I am sober and can be a part of her life. She continues to be a very content baby unless hungry or wet. She takes in the world around her, looking at things, she smiles at calm friendly voices. She has started trying to talk, her mouth moves like crazy, cooing and making grunting sounds, she has also started laughing out loud. Last night was a real joy I was singing Beatle songs to her and she was doing her best to sing back to me. The bonding is a special and beautiful happening.
My dad will be moved into an assisted living unit at the Veteran’s home in the near future. It has been sad watching this once proud and strong man wither away to nothing and losing his ability to comprehend things in the process. The blessing is he doesn’t have Alzheimer’s just dementia, some times he is with it other times he doesn’t have a clue or his mind goes back 20 or 30 years. A couple of weeks ago he woke up in the middle of the night and started messing with the outlets because he was dreaming he was troubleshooting an electrical problem the next day he asked me if I would check to make sure the circuit was right, I had mom remove any extension cords from the room in fear that he might accidentally shock himself in one of his delusions. Having to pay closer attention to my dad and struggling with him when he gets the bouts of delusion is taking its toll on my mom who has always suffered with anxiety and thus she goes through periods of confusion and anger. So the time has come to have him place in the care of others. I am grateful I have been able to be a calming voice and able to take them to appointments when need be.
All this and more have been going on but the one thing I have noticed is how I am dealing with things and also other changes in my behavior. I don’t get very upset or excited much anymore. Each morning I do a short mediation and prayer, the mediation consist of maybe 30-45 seconds of relaxed breathing followed by a prayer of thanks for waking up (because of my drinking past I should be dead) then a prayer that Thich Nhat Hanh wrote which says “I smile at the world, a new 24 hours to practice compassion” followed by asking for guidance in applying the Eightfold path to the best of my ability and the removal of the bondage of self. By doing this every morning I am amazed at how often when I start to get excited, anxious or angry my mind brings up living in the moment, pause, breath deeply in and out, focus or refocus, I am able to relax if I do these things, I also identify the emotion and if it goes against the precepts or path I correct the action or make a mental note not to repeat the action, I am slowly becoming aware. This doesn’t happen all the time and I get impatient with myself for not being better at countering my suffering but at least I am doing what I can do. In reality I am extremely happy with the little progress I have made. The negative energy at work is affecting me less and I am letting up on mentally slandering certain co-workers but trying to understand them with compassion and not contempt. I am going some minor public speaking and even though I have been very nervous it hasn’t shown very much. My use of profanity is also getting better, “right speech”. So much has change since I started down the path of the Dharma, it would be long list if I listed everything but the main thing is I am aware and I am aware that some of the things I use to do just don’t set right with me anymore, I have also gained strength by giving calm response in confrontational situations, well most of the time anyway. I stay out of the future a lot better and don’t project so much on conversations I may have or events that haven’t taken place, I still to the footwork by planning out what I can, or doing what needs to be done, but I don’t worry as much as I use to. I am still undisciplined but that is getting better, I have started sitting mediation at night, now I just need to work on getting up earlier and doing the same, I still put off some unpleasant things but bit by bit I am getting better at doing them too. I have found some teachers in Nebraska and now need to contact them; I need to mediate once again to overcome my fear about being a raw newcomer to the Buddha. The of what they will say to me, even though I know they will act with compassion the “old self” still dwells deep inside and is very insecure.
I am gratefully for the disease caused me to crash and find a new way of living one beyond the 12 steps and the rooms that I need as well. I am starting to see a balance between recovery and this spiritual path.
Thanks to all the teachers who have helped me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lyrics to Ripple by the Greatful Dead

Once in a while for seemly unknown reasons a bit of a lyric or a complete song comes to mind, when I follow the muse I see that what I am hearing in my head is just what I need to hear at that moment. "Ripple" just popped up out of nowhere, possibly because the boss is listening to late 50's and early 60's pop and I needed something more introspective than those simple songs of love and breakups, or i just needed to be reminded of the beauty of this song, not going to think anymore about and just go with the flow and enjoy it. So fellow travelers here are the lyrics to the awesome Greatful Dead song "Ripple"

Lyrics: Robert HunterMusic: Jerry Garcia

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music?
Would you hold it near, as it were your own

It's a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they're better left unsung
I don't know, don't really care
Let there be songs to fill the air

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of man

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go, no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall, you fall alone
If you should stand, then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way, I would take you home

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thoughts on Suffering

Lately I have heard a lot of people express then own suffering due to the fact that they can’t relieve another persons suffering. Most of this is from recovering alcoholics and addicts who are witnessing others who have been exposed to the principles of living sober and clean go back out and continue to destroy their lives with alcohol and drugs. Another incidence was that of a co-workers 14 year old nephew who died suddenly from a brain aneurism. Because of this I have taken a look at my own perceptions of suffer in others. When the young man died my boss said something to this nature “God sure has a strange way of doing things, taking a young life like that” to which I had no response but in my mind I thought, God had nothing to do with the taking the young mans life, he was a part of the circle/cycle and moved on, that and physical death happens. Concerning the relapsing of and the dying of active alcoholics and addicts, my thinking is that there is nothing that can be done for them until they are ready to seek help and that a fact of life is alcoholics and addicts die all the time because they are trapped in their disease and aren’t willing to use the available tools to escape. In some ways all this sounds really cold hearted, here is where mediation comes in, but it isn’t meant in this way. All people suffer and all people have a change to learn how to live with suffering in a positive way, free of addictions and dogma, it is their choice. Life is what it is, good and bad, yin and yang. I have compassion for those who suffer; I can empathize with their struggle, especially the ones who are living in active alcoholism and addiction and even those who struggle with Spirituality because I have been there to a greater or lesser extent. My way of understanding suffer is that to suffer needlessly for something that is out of my control disrupts the inter peace and blocks awareness of what is present in this moment. I can feel another’s pain and offer compassion in the form of helping them but I can’t remove their suffering, only they can do that. I give freely of what little I know about dealing with suffering without going too far in-depth unless the other person is willing to go with me. I feel this is all I can do as an individual. I feel genuinely sorry for the person who is extremely upset over the suffering for another and reach out to them; or who is suffering for uncontrollable conditions in their own life. I wish I know an easy way to convey to them the essence of suffering and how to raise above it a little at a time but I don’t. I can hand them a book written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama or Thick Nhat Hanh but they wouldn’t read it unless they were ready to and most are not, they read the Bible but the only answer it gives is to believe that Jesus is the son of God and he died for their sins, pray to him and all will be well, oh and go out and convert others to this way of thinking.

I am I wrong in my understanding of suffering? Am I being selfish or egotistical?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Spiders Web

In the grass outside the overhead door at work is a vertical railroad tie, which sticks out of the ground about 3 feet. This morning I stepped out for a smoke and a bit of peace, yes I still smoke haven’t quite found the willingness to surrender yet, I rested my foot on the top tie and looked down and there was a very beautiful sight. A spider had spun a solid web from the tie to some grass growing next to the tie, during the night moisture had gathered on the web, my eyes where awaken to a very delicate glimmering work of nature. You see my morning started at 8:00am with the boss vomiting negativity, vulgarity and profanity right off the start, I was able to go inward and deflect most of it and not let it bother me but it still lingered in air of the office I share with him. It was 9:00am when I stepped out and noticed natures little bit of artwork and engineering wonder. Lately I have been practicing looking beyond the obvious so I mediated on everything that made the web and the effects it has as a whole. First there was the spider who made the web, the spider would catch insects in the web, eat them and then defecate which would in turn nourish the earth so the plants would grow providing food for the insects she would eat and support for the web she weaved that captured the insect. Then there was the moisture which provided life support for the plants, predator and prey. The sunshine had its special ingredient to the process and then there was me, the human. I depend on the earth, water and sun to live so these elements are a part of me and so I am a part of the vegetation, predator and prey, we are all one. It is amazing to start waking up and noticing such things as a spider web and how much more it is. I have also been practicing concentrating on the voices of the birds, focusing on them and blocking out the noise of construction, trains and even my co-workers. These few minutes taken in mediation are providing me with a great inter peace one that I take back with me into my office, a peace that helps me build an aura against the negative energy. For now I can’t change jobs but I can find the inter peace to make my time at work less stressful for myself and also others who experience the same feelings.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008



I haven’t thought about Aleksander Solzhenitsyn much for a few years, when I see an article with is name in it I will read it out of general interest, I can’t say I am greatly saddened by his passing or shocked, he was 89 years old which is amazing considering what he lived through. He had his quirks and I disagreed with him politically on occasion but deeply respected his opinions because of his background. I do owe a great deal of gratitude to him though! I read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich when I was a teenager. It was this short novel that spiked an interest in Stalinist USSR; later I read The Gulag Archipelago. As I read more about Russia and the years Stalin was in power I received an understanding for a culture vastly different than my own and the politics of Totalitarian govening. I read about J Edgar Hoover and the anti-Communist movement in the US and Westerrn countries and came to realize that they weren’t a whole lot different than Stalin. Yes they didn’t killed millions of people or bandish them to remote work camps that only gave people the bare minum of supplies to live on but I have a strong feeling they would have if they could have gotten away with it. Nixon would have used more of Stalin’s techniques if also, especially against the counter-culture. The whole extreme Right Wing movement, neo-con, that has risen up since Reagan is in idealogical lock step with Stalin, one party total control, dissents will be punished, dissents are to be silenced or imprisoned, they are getting away with more than their share of un-Constitutional deeds the way it is. If you spend any amount of time reading or listening to the most popular right wing pundits it doesn’t take long to figure this out, also people like Cheney, Perle, Norquist, Wolfowitz, follow this same philisophy, W Bush is just a puppet for these people. So it is because years ago I picked a book called One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich that I am aware of how my own government can imitate a Totalitarian regime. Thank the powers that be that we still live in a democratic society where there is freedom of speech and free elections, although both have been limited the last few years, because we still do have people in high office who question the motives of others, who will investigate coruption, who will speak up for the good of all our great citizens people like Feingold, Slaughter, Waxman, Conyers, Kennedy, Sanders; these Stalinist haven’t achieved their goal, I have a feeling they have also read Solzhenitsyn and owe him a bit of graditude too.
So RIP Mr. Solzhenitsyn, thank you for your writings, your bravery, your will to live under the harstest of conditions, thank you for my freedom, thank you for an inspiration you may have given to others living in political exile or prison, those who today who may not be able to freely speaker their mind but having read your books have gathered a little more strength to keep moving forward.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Grunpa's Girl

Grunpa’s Girl

The more I am around my granddaughter (Angel) the more I am amazed at her and notice little things and gain insight into myself and life as a whole. Of course all this has been assisted by the writings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hahn. I look at her and realize how perfect she is in that she has no prejudice, no hatred, no unreal fears, no preconceived notions, wow she is a Buddha. Problem being is those things will come along in the future to a greater or lesser extent. I did my best with her mommy, but I still had the shadows of ignorance in my soul; she was the only kid in the small town of Overton Nebraska who was raised listening to Dylan, Jackson Browne, Bob Marley (not the best of junk from Legend but original recordings where the songs were about social injustice, Jah and Rasta), socially conscience singer/songwriters, she understood human and civil right, learned to respect people of different races, culture, sexual orientation, religions, she was taught that dancing to the beat of a differant drummer was a good thing and that the following the status quo was sometimes emotionally and spiritually unhealthy, she learned that it was alright to question your government even when the government was at war, she learned about war from a veteran (me) who opposed the invasion of Iraq, when she showed an interest in Punk at around 12 she received disc's by The Clash, Dead Kennedy’s, Ramones, Iggy, Black Flag, Bad Religion and Sex Pistols for Christmas. All this was the bright sided, the side my addiction didn’t totally kill, the teacher. The other side was not having enough money for new clothes or shoes because the old man spent it on booze and smokes, the house being an embarrassing mess, being left on her own or being allowed to run wild in sometimes dangerous situations, living with a fear of dad going to jail or killing himself, she was raise without understanding spirituality, strong moral and personal ethics, she didn’t understand self discipline because she wasn’t shown any at home, she has abandonment issues today because I was a drunk and her mother was an addict who committed suicide when she was 8 years old. With any luck she can take that suffering and turn it into a positive tool so that Angel never has to experience all of this, that she can make her life with Angel a better one than she had in those areas that sucked. Now that Grunpa is sober and clean he will do what he can, if nothing else I can be a living example of spirituality, compassion, love, tolerance, happiness and hope, as long as I don’t let up on my basic routine and fall down the hole of addiction again, all I have is today and today I am living life on life’s terms and doing my best to walk a spiritual path. So much for the deep stuff.
I am totally amazed at how happy and content Angel is, so peaceful. At only 4 weeks old she is smiling and acknowledging love and affection. The only time she gets upset is when she is hungry and she does like her milk, healthy appetite she does have. Her neck muscles are getting stronger, last night she was able to hold her head up for a little bit, she is also pushing with her legs. From all appearances she is observant and looks around at stuff the best she can. It is and will be a total joy to watch her grow and see just what her individual personality and traits will be. Is she going to be a very active child, always on the go? Or will she be mellow and content? Maybe with any luck she will take the middle road. I have no doubt she will be a bit independent, too many independent genes and influences in her life for her not to be. Did she inherit her mother’s strong will? If so then her mother is in for some Karma pay back. All these questions and many more will be answered in their own time. For now I just give her love and compassion, I talk to her in a calm voice using regular words and leave out the baby talk. I hope we can grow together, that I can continue to learn from her and she can learn from me. I jokingly told her mother that the first word she says will be Namaste. Oh Yeah, Grunpa is my lazy speech word for grandpa, it comes out grunpa which is a cool new twist, did I mention individualism :-)