Saturday, May 30, 2009

Things that make you happy

Shadow pose the question, 6 things that make you happy? I'm not sure I can keep it that short but will try and pin point it down.

My granddaugher, her smile, laughter, singing and talking, everything she does even the nasty diapers.

Seeing an eagle or hawk in flight.

newborn animals, calves, colts, puppies, rabbits and the rest

the smell of a spring/early summer rain or just afterwards

hearing a great old song that I haven't heard in years

watching a newcomer start to feel better and enjoy recovery

happiness is seeing those I care about happy

emials, text or comments from friends

helping others without expectations

cruising down gravel roads just for the heck of it

knowing that people love me for who I am and not who I want to be

being sober and walking the path

There are 12 just off the top of my head.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thank's Again St. Francis

Well my old friend St. Francis has helped me out again. It was via the Prayer of St. Francis that I started my journey down the Dharma path, see my blog post from July 30Th 2008, it was also published in the April 2009 issue of the Grapevine under the title "Finding My Way".
Tonight I chaired the 7:00pm meeting at the mental health hospital, we were able to finish by 7:45 since there were only a few there, then I headed south to the county jail to co-chair a meeting there. We have a slight shortage of people willing to commit to doing service work at these essential institutions, but we are working on it, had one older member show up again at the hospital to help tonight, God bless her. While I was waiting for my partner to show up I opened the 12 and 12 and read the Prayer of St. Francis to help quiet the committee that is trying to keep me obsessed, they are getting quieter but I am having to do a lot of mediation and focusing on the moment to get them to shut the "F" up, another opportunity to work on me some more. After reading this wonderful prayer I had an epiphany! Below is the prayer

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
Amen.


I read the prayer to work on "me" in dealing with the craving for a compassionate relationship, it has been 13 years since I have been in one so sometimes the loneliness creeps in especially when I meet an attractive woman who seems interested, I ain't dead yet so there is still time, plus it will happen when it is meant to happen, if I force anything I will foul it up big time. The prayer did what it was meant to do, got me out myself but not in the way I planned it because of the epiphany. The Epiphany was how well the prayer goes with service work in places like mental hospitals, jails and treatment centers. I broke each line down, each line relates to an aspect of getting out of "me" and giving to someone who is a bad situation. The words; hatred, wrong, discord and error all relate to the inmates in jail and tell me what I can do for them as a recovering alcoholic who practices the 12 steps and spiritual principles in his life daily and was once in their rubber slip on shoes and orange jump suit. Doubt, despair, shadows and sadness refer to the mental health hospital patients where once again we need to carry the message loving kindness, peace and joy, we need to have our soul light shine on their shadow, I first came through the doors of AA with stitches in my wrist from despair. Above all else we need to give them HOPE, hope that this can be their last visit to these places if they are willing try something different, hope that there is a wonderful life to be lived free from the bondage of active alcoholism and addiction. All the negative words can apply to both inmates and patients plus people going through treatment for alcoholism or addiction. We go in these places to provide what comfort we can, we don't piss and moan about "our day" wanting them to give us comfort while we sit on our pity pot. We open our hearts to empathy, accepting why they are there, yes we share are experience, strength and hope which is a form of trying to be understood but we share from the spiritual language of the heart and don't go all tent revival preacher on them. We give them unconditional love, we love them for who they are and we ask for nothing in return, they don't have to love us back or even like us, we don't care, we are providing a service and love from a power greater than ourselves. We forget about ourselves and our troubles, we forgiven them of their short comings just as we are forgiven of ours, we understand the power of shame, guilt, fear and anger because in active alcoholism and addiction they once ruled us and we share with them a way out from under it even if only for a few minutes. We try and plant a few seeds knowing that some may take years to germinate if they ever do. We who have died metaphorically from being beaten down by active alcoholism and addiction, now have been given the gift of Awakening through our spiritual experiences as a result of the 12 steps and continued practices.
This is what St. Francis and his prayer showed me tonight. I am sure on another night under different conditions and suffering it will reveal something else.

Peace Love and Light
Scott

Amazing Race to Enlightenment



Berry over at Ox Herding posted the above cartoon and I thought it too not pass on to you all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Spiritual Weekend,

Well hang on to your skivvies friends this might be a long one. I am going to write about our weekend camping trip, there is so much to tell, about the group, about what we did and about what I learned, educationally, spiritually and emotionally.

We were 10 adults and 4 kids, the adult were mainly in there 30’s, with one early 20’s, the 2 old men where myself and another guy who is 50 but we are young at heart. The kids were twin 13 year olds, 12 year old and an 8 year old, all siblings. We ended up taking my station wagon, no not the old boat type but a sleeker late 90’s model Ford I am not a total geek (vanity noticed) and also my pickup because we had too much stuff to for the medium sized cars every body had, coolers, lawn chairs and bedding take up a lot of space. We convoyed the 130 miles there with a stop at the nearest Wal-Mart for ice and lunch stuff, rolled into the cultural center at 1:30pm. The weather was overcast with light showers off and on when we were unloading and setting up. The ladies were impressed with the bunk houses, nice beds, linen provided, nicely decorated and very quaint and cozy, the nice restrooms/shower was a bonus even if it was a short walk away, and it didn’t smell like an outhouse.

Once we all got settled in it was education time. We all gather at the museum and were given an amazing history lesson. Most of us were aware that Nebraska was the home of Mammoth’s and Mastodon’s but we were not aware that 14-7 million years ago Nebraska was one of the most heavily populated places in the world for land animals. In those times Nebraska was a lush tropical land not far from a large body of water, unlike the flat plains and rolling canyons you see today. We were shown fossils or replica’s fossils that were found in the same area we were staying at; Nebraska is the home to 22 first time mammal discoveries. We were told about the unique Shovelnose Mastodon, rhino’s, saber tooth cat’s, predators and grazers. From there we were told about the indigenous people who first lived here, their hunting and farming techniques were explained. He worked his way into the time of the first settlers, the time of the buffalo, how the horse change everything, so that what where once farmers became more nomadic and the teepee replaced the earthen lodge. We where also told about the conflicts between the people of European descent and the native’s, how the government used the mass killing of buffalo against the natives by depleting an essential part of their lively hood, buffalo was food, clothing, shelter, and tools. He had different hands on fossils and artifacts so everyone could take a close look and really see what he was talking about. Next we moved to the reconstructed earthen lodge, it was a replica of a lodge dating back 1300 years ago. The life of the lodge dwellers was explained. The girls and women were told what their primary duties would have been, learning how to work animal hides for daily use, plus farming. Boys and men were told our job would have been the constant making of tools for farming and hunting, since the tool material, namely rocks, would dulled or break easily. He told us it took 3 years to make 1 lodge which held around 20 people. He explained how food was stored in the ground using layers and sealed with an ash mixture. He also talked about symbolism showing us feathers, drums, rattles, whistles and other things. He condemned modern society for our moving away from family traditions and unity, for our dependence on all the mod con’s of which he said he is just as guilty of. He praised the simple life that is by far more spiritually gratifying. In the early evening after supper, for some it was buffalo stew made with native ingredients and blue corn muffins, we were taken to the medicine circle. As he said medicine circle was really a lame translation of what it really is, a closer term would be spiritual magic circle. The circle is a place of worship and a calendar based on equinoxes, solaces, stars, moon, and sun pattern, with the number and placement of stones having significances. We were then taken on a hike to a natural spring. When ever we hiked he would point out little things, mostly plants and their various uses, Sunday evening he taught us how to make friendship bracelets from the fibers of the Yucca plant. He told us why the cottonwood tree has dancing leafs, the stem of the leaf is square instead of round and picks up the slightest breeze, he told about the healing powers of moss and cedar tree berries, wild pepper and others. He talked a lot about interdependence with nature; Buddha meets the Great Spirit if you will. So this was our education from a human teacher, the rest of the teachings came from the Spirit.

Saturday night we had a bonfire AA meeting, reading the story “Join the Tribe” from the 3rd edition of the Big Book, after that it was time for smore’s and roasting hot dogs over the fire. Saturday late night/Sunday early morning we had some heavy rains, we used it as a symbol that our souls were washed and cleansed for a new day. Sunday we had a wonderful breakfast of burritos, omelets and smoothies, yes smoothies, the chef brought a power pack so he could operate a blender, which floored my Grizzly Adams ass but everyone loved them so what the hell. I actually gave my girly girl friend a good smile when I came back from taking a hot shower and told her that “I may get all Grizzly Adams when camping but I am not going to ignore a hot shower in the morning if ones is available.” We started our day with an AA meeting reading pages 86 and 87 from the Big Book, the passage that starts out “Upon awakening” and talks about prayer and mediation, we closed with the “Prayer of St. Francis”. The chef and a couple of women were up early Saturday morning so there was talking right off the get go and I was also the other cook, so I never made time for early morning mediation on Saturday but I am use to this and came calm myself even with the activity going on around me. Sunday turned out to be a beautiful late spring day, nice sunshine temps in the mid 70’s, after some arm twisting every one went for a hike, it is impossible for 14 people to stay absolutely quiet, but I did take a couple of kids with me and we went ahead of the pack walked fairly silently taking in what we could, I would point out different things along the trail that they would have missed if they would have been gabbing and messing around. The trail end at lake/pond where the canoes were, so 5 adults and the 4 kids stayed and canoed while the rest went back to camp or into town for more ice. The lake was small and shallow but just right for novice canoe’rs including myself. There was a Blue Heron doing touch and goes along the edge and over the reeds, wood ducks, various birds, saw a big turtle swimming just under the surface and a water snake hauling ass across the surface, lots of relaxing fun. Sunday late afternoon was time for playing some cards, relaxing, ribs on the grill, then an NA meeting followed by another bonfire; more smore’s and grilled hot dogs. At 11:00pm all but 3 of us walked back to the medicine circle, it was on the top of a hill about a ¼ mile away, we laid down in the circle and believe it or not no one spoke a word for a good 10 to 15 minutes, kids included, I did a bit of guided mediation telling them to listen to the song of the wind, feel, hear and see, very spiritual, after that 6 of us had a 3rd step meeting. Monday morning I awoke to a chorus of birds singing above my tent, totally awesome. Once I got the coffee started and after I took a shower, I was able to do a short sitting mediation while the rest gathered in a cabin to shoot the breeze, after the mediation I unfolded my sore legs, the hiking took it’s toll on my out of shape muscles, stretched out and took in what was around me both the visual and the sounds, I was in awe by the cottonwood’s dancing leafs, by all appearances there was no breeze but when I glanced up at the cottonwood leafs sure enough they would be dancing while the leaves of the sumac, elm, and other leaves were still. I heard wild turkeys, cattle, and a multitude of birds and rustling, it was all very sensual and spiritual. After breakfast we packed up and headed home. I stopped at my dad’s headstone on the way home and gave him a bow and silent prayer, along with an AA old timer whose marker is a few rows away from dads.

The general consensus of the weekend was that it was a GREAT time. Four of the people where newcomers with less than a years sobriety and had never done anything like this sober before. They got a good dose of fellowship. Some of us just barely knew each before this weekend but we developed a strong bond. The loner chef was opened up and the last night there shared some honest misgivings about his sponsor and some people in recovery and was given some feedback that if he is willing to use will help him along his path. All of us that went were on the same path both spiritually and in recovery, we didn’t pound God or recovery down anyone’s throat, we lived recovery. We were ourselves, after a very short time all the pretensions and need to impress where laid aside because there was an air of trust. We all agree we would do more stuff together through out the summer. 7 of us have already planned to travel 4 hours north to participate in a weekend long campout and sober float down the biggest river in Nebraska. The Great Spirit smiled on us this weekend and we all know this walking out of that canyon better people. One of my sponsee’s made a strong connection with my niece, both are fairly new in recovery, on the way home we talked about it and how he wanted a strong relationship with her and understood how important it was to let things grow without messing it up with sex. I saw the bond happening but didn’t say anything, he talked to others before he talked to me; I think he was afraid of my reaction since his affection was for my niece. I told him I couldn’t stop him and talked about my own stuff, which is explained in the next paragraph. It was a great bonding time for my sponsee and me. My niece found a new sponsor in one of the women there, and I am so happy for her, the sponsor is solid in recovery and her sponsor is in my opinion the best female sponsor in our whole area.

I mentioned wanting to get to know one of the women better in an earlier post. Well we did, we have a lot in common, interest and spirituality. I was scared to death to ask her if she wanted to have supper sometime, even though we made great eye contact and sometime she would look at me when she was give her thoughts on a subject. This fear of rejection is so powerful sometimes it sucks!! Also the low self esteem, even though I have been told more than once I am an attractive man, I notice that I am not buff and muscular. I talked with a couple of guys just to express the fear. I also reflected back on step 3, know I had to trust my God, and understand that what ever the answer was it would be alright. I waited until the last moment and when she gave me a goodbye hug I whispered in her ear “would you like to have supper sometime” and she replied “sure, call me” well it wasn’t a gushing “yes I would love to” but it sure made my heart soar!!! I called her last night and got her voice mail, it was 8:30 or there about, she never called me back but I have to assume that she just never got a chance. See the self doubt creeping in again, she did say yes to supper and she is an honest enough person that if she didn’t want to she would have said a flat out sorry no thank you. This is another learning lesson for me, my freaking cravings are creating the suffering and I need to look the craving in the eye and say “hey you can’t mess with me like this” which I am working on. I see a whole other post opening up here so I will stop with this. I can take what I experienced in nature this weekend and apply it to my interest in this woman that the universe does as it will and that I am just a part of it and so is she, that what will happen will happen so I don’t need to fret about it.

Thanks for hanging in there on this journey!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Soldier Died Today

This afternoon I attended a memorial ceremony at the veteran's home where my dad spent his last in this life time. The ceremony was for all who had transended during the past 12 months. It was a very nice little memorial, the speaker was really good, he honored the veteran's but did not glorify war other than to speak of the need for WWII and the price of Korea, he left the politics of Vietnam out but talked about men who served because they felt it was the right thing to do, which as a veteran myself I can respect. This poem was on the back of the Memorial booklet, the booklet had nice 1/2 page piece on each member who pasted. I feel it is one of the better poems written about soldiers. Don't get me wrong I am not a war monger or a fan of violence but unfortunately because men are evil sometimes the Way has not been an option. I won't go into my feelings about Iraq, my utter disgust for the war and men who started it, I do though have love and compassion for the men and women of the Armed Services.

A Soldier Died Today (author unknown)

He was getting old and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with buddies; they were the heroes, every one.
And though sometimes to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer, for he has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

No he won't be mourned by many, just his friends, children, and wife,
For he lived a very quiet sort of ordinary life.
He held a job, and raised a family, quietly going on his way.
And the world won't note his passing; though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell of their life stories from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow, who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country and offer up his life?
The politician's stipend and the style in which he lives,
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives,
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps a pension small.

It's so easy to forget them, for it was so long ago
That the husbands, sons, and fathers went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our country now enjoys.
Should you find yourself in danger with your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out politician with his waffling stand?
Or would you want a soldier who has sworn to defend,
His home, his kin, and country, and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us, we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldiers part,
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honor while he's here to receive the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps a simple headline in the paper that might say:
"Our Country is in Mourning, for a Soldier Died Today"

Friday, May 22, 2009

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND


I am leaving tomorrow morning at 10:00am to spend 2-1/2 days camping at a Native American cultural center. It is a remote area with where few people go so the 15 or so recoverying drunks and junkies should have the place to themselves. We will be participating in a Native American spiritual ceremony around the medicine circle which will be awesome!! I personally look forward to some quality doing sitting and walking mediation in nature, being an early raiser I hope to be up before the rest start the coffee brewing on the fire and doing some sitting mediation as the sun comes up. We will be having AA and NA meetings off and on, but hell the whole weekend will really be one big meeting. There are a couple of people I don't know very well and hope to get to know better and to be honest one sweet lady in particular, have to wait and see how it works out, live in the moment and not project or expect anything, the vibe is there but that might be my "craving" playing tricks on me :-D

Namaste to all
Peace Love and Light
Scott

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gratitude List time



The above picture is one I took last night of Angel after she ate a chunky chocolate chip cookie, she had cookie in her hair, all over her face, chest, leg, hands and arms, she cleaned up nicely and mommy knew nothing about it.

On the way to work I had a couple of gratitude thoughts and thought is was time to post a gratitude list again, just some basics that are going through my mind right now, not the whole Big list.

I am grateful that I have a wonderful granddaughter to spoil
I am grateful that that same baby girl feels safe and secure with me
I am grateful that I can hear my granddaughter crying at 4:45am, get up give her some
medicine for her teething and a bottle, be able to go back to bed and then get back up
and make it to work on time
I am grateful that after my employer drop our health care I had the VA to fall back on, so
I am covered
I am grateful that I have a bunch of good friends who enjoy recovery as much as I do
I am grateful that these same friends are going to go on a spiritual campout this weekend
with me
I am grateful that I have the means to go camping at all
I am grateful for service work, even if does piss me off that I can’t get others to help pick
up some of the slack, their lose not mine
I am grateful for having a great kid
I am grateful for being able to put the shoes in the closet for a few months
I am grateful I have more than 1 pair of footwear to choice from
I am grateful I work for an Ag related company and we are stable
I am grateful I can see and smell the smells and sights of spring
I am grateful for rebirth in nature, calves, colts, and all creatures and plant life
I am grateful for having 2 dogs that love me even if they can be a pain in the ass
sometimes
I am grateful for hot coffee and ice tea
I am grateful for chocolate chip cookies and chorizo with eggs, onions and peppers
I am grateful for online friends and family
I am grateful that I never became interest in video games, thus I still write and read
I am grateful I found the Dharma and started my practice
I am grateful I can be comfortable with being non-status quo
I am as always grateful I am sober and drug free today
I am grateful I am alive
I am grateful I never maimed or killed anyone while driving drunk
I am grateful I am not incarcerated

Well I will end the list here. Feel free to add your own things you are grateful for in the comments.

Peace, Love and Light
Scott

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thought on the 12th Step

Compassion moved in when selfishness moved out!! There's a poem in there somewhere but it will have to wait for another time, the Muse flew at me and I am following her this way. At the 5:15pm meetings I chair a few times a week, I am GSR, we have someone read The Daily Reflection and also something from the Big Book. Todays Daily Reflection was on giving without expecting something in return and the passage read from the Big Book was what I consider to be one of the most important and that is page 62 where it states "Selfishness---self centerness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles" and then goes on to talk about how our selfish behavior effected us and others and how we thougtht we were God etc.

As the 2 thoughts for topics went around the room most people reflected more on the Daily Reflection and how during their drinking there was always an alterior motive for helping others and also there was talk about how when we get sober we learned that a lot of times the reward is that we stay sober even if the other person doesn't, a lot of talk about carrying the message and not the alcoholic.

When I chair a meeting I always share last, one if it is time to end the meeting or the meeting is running over I can just end the meeting without saying anything more than "thanks for being here and helping to keep me sober another day" nor if there are newcomers in the meeting and something off the wall is said I can end the meeting with a bit about the solution or a passage from the BB or 12 and 12. A lot of times I don't say much or just read a passage, I figure I don't need to reiterate what has already been said, with the exception of too much secular God talk, if that happens then I bring it back to "God as We Understand" and traditions. O.K. I am selfish in my concern that the message of positive recovery doesn't get diluted with a bunch of opinions left unclarified. Anywho the topics and sharing got me to thinking about Step 12.

It was because I was awaken spiritually that I am able to "try" and carry the message to alcoholics, practicing or otherwise and practice these principles in all my affairs. When I drank I was spiritually dead, there were times when I was compassionate and unselfish because that is my nature but King Alcohol was still my master and I was a slave to him and did what I had to in order to make sure I had enough drink avialable or I wouldn't follow though with things because my drinking made me lazy and uncarrying. As I worked the steps the compassion and unselfish behavior started to surface. I was told early in my first life in recovery to never say no to an AA request and to be of service. This time around I got active in service work fairly early, always being open to helping. Upon reflection I doubt I had very little second thoughts on doing this, it came naturally.

I have always had a spiritual side but up until I started studying and practicing Buddhism I didn't know how to apply it to all my affairs and daily living. People of other faiths do the same because the basic thread that runs though all faiths is compassion and getting out of self to serve our Higher Power and all of creation. Practicing compassion, unselfishness and loving kindness isn't always easy and I fall short everyday but I do my best and my awareness increases everyday if only in small things. I still have a habit of being nice to the pretty women just in case there is a chance that we will connect on a deeper level, damn you libido:-D I like the fact that there is no "right" or "wrong" there just "is" and if "is" is causing suffering then I need to do something about it. I have found for me that my suffer decreases the more I practice compassion, unselfishness and loving kindness. A lot of people I interact with don't know I am a recoverying alcholic working the 12 Steps or a Buddhist; some people I work with, the cashiers at my favorite store or gas station or others in places of business I frequent, they just know I smile at them always have a kind word to say and am generally friendly and that is the way it should be from my perspective.
Well it is 11:00pm and a book awaits.

P.S. Shadow you can steal the line for one of your poems if you think you can do something with it, you are much better poet than me, I'm just a rambling ole drunk in recovery.
Peace Love and Light
Scott

Monday, May 18, 2009

Graduation


Friday was damn windy here and if I said I wasn’t a bit apprehensive about the weather for the graduation party on Saturday I would be lying! For the most part I am fairly good at letting things be the way they are suppose to be, there is no action I can take to change the weather. When people would say “hope you have a good party” I would reply “it will turn out the way it is supposed to”. This is a saying that my sponsor taught me early on and is also a reflection of Dharma thinking. Saturday started out a bit chilly with a breeze but by 2:00pm it was beautiful out, slight breeze but not horrible. We had everything set up in time, I had pre-grilled the kabob’s so all I had to do was heat them up on the grill, the salsa and homemade chips were a hit, had a snag with the punch fountain but I knew something wouldn’t go right somewhere along the line and the punch fountain was that one thing. Mich had probably 25 people show up, mostly AA friends, she was happy considering the last minute plans. All in all the day turned out really well. Poor Angel didn’t get a nap in so she was beat by 5:00pm; she was a good girl though and received tons of attention.

The actual graduation was nice, last just under 1-1/2 hours. It was 6 blocks from my house so I just put Angel in the stroller and we walked down. Mich hit a couple of parties afterwards and was home by 10:30, much to my surprise and relief, not a good night for someone who is trying to stay away from alcohol to be out. Mich isn’t a step worker, nor does she have a sponsor, so her defenses aren’t the best but she manages, I stay out of her recovery so what she does is her business.

Not sure what will happen now. From what I can tell Mich will continue to work at the restaurant. She plans on going to college still but hasn’t made a date yet. I think she is waiting to see what happens with Angel’s dad first, he is in treatment and will probably follow that up with a stay in a halfway house. Won’t hurt my feelings any if she holds off one year before going to college, it will give her a chance to get use to living on her own with bills and such, Angel will also be a year older and easier to take care of.

So that’s how the whole graduation panned out.
Until next time.

Peace, Love, Light

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Parent in Me

I am a Parent! I get reminded of this every so often, in tears and frustration, concern and making another persons burden my own. The last few days I have felt all of them.

For those who don’t know my ex wife committed suicide in February of 2000, she was a long time pharmaceutical junky, she would have short periods of clean time but never could completely beat the monkey, between the drugs and a mess up life due to addiction she finally gave up and ended her suffering once and for all. She left behind an 8 year old girl, my daughter. I had custody of my daughter and had been her main support parent all her life. When my own alcoholism started to get really bad my daughter was in neglected in some ways, mainly I compensated for my alcohol dependency and money spent on booze and smokes by allowing her to do as she wanted which in turn caused her to grow up faster than she needed to and get involve in things that weren’t healthy for a young teenage girl. By the time I got sober again, the damage was done and my daughter was getting into trouble with the law, by the time she was 15 she was in and out of foster homes and by 16 she was in a group home for girls and pregnant, she was a month past 17 when Angel was born. From 2nd through basically 11th grade she attended the same small high school, short absences when she was in foster care, she had always had her heart set on graduating with these kids she basically grew up with. Her junior and senior years have been spent in different schools due to being a ward of the state. Last Saturday she attended the graduation of her old classmates, she came home sometime around 8:30pm, put the baby down and then crashed herself. When she got up later in the evening I could tell she was depressed but wouldn’t say much to me. Sunday morning she got up and was basically the same, I wished her a happy Mothers Day and then she was off to work. It is times like these that I still get angry at my ex for leaving my daughter the way she did. For the most part I have forgiven my ex but once in a while the anger and hurt still flare up. It is times like Mothers day and times of depression that I feel a mother’s words would be of help. Also Mother’s day has always sucked for my daughter, while other kids make gifts for their mother’s or talk about what they are going to do on Mother’s day my daughter is left with an empty place in her heart. Over the years we have planted a special flower for my ex; in fact the Bleeding Heart has always been a part of my flower bed because of her. My daughter rarely talks about her mom but as a parent I catch the vibe now and then that she wishes her mother where still here, I am sure shortly after the birth of my granddaughter my daughter wished her mom could have witnessed the little Angel.

My daughter is getting ready for her graduation, up until a few weeks ago she was all excited about the party and then pretty much stopped saying anything. We had made arrangements to have the party at a friend’s home; the friend has a nice backyard with beautiful landscaping and shade trees. Well the party is to be this Saturday the 16th and my daughter hasn’t said much or asked for any help, other than some minor agreements on having a giant cookie instead of a cake. I had let my daughter take care of getting things together for the party because she implied that she wanted to and was taking charge, my daughter is very independent. Over the last week or so she hasn’t wanted to talk about the graduation party at all, she would snap back a reply when it was mentioned. She has been working 5-6 days a week for the last couple of weeks, and on top of that she is having boyfriend troubles both old and new so that hasn’t helped with her moods. Also being the good alcoholic she is she suffers with procrastination and allowing things to become overwhelming. Last night I cornered her in a nice way and asked her what was going on? Truth of the matter is, her inactivity was effecting me, I was worrying about her and taking on her troubles and gave myself one hell’ve an Excedrin headache!! She broke down and said she wanted the party to be perfect and was afraid it wouldn’t be, she was now stressed out that she had wait too long and wouldn’t be able to do everything or let people know about it. I calmed her down and we put things into perspective. We got the food simplified into having fresh chips and salsa from the Mex restaurant that she works at, giant cookie with a few dozen regular cookies from the bakery; I will make pork, pineapple and shrimp kabobs. She will get some basic decorations, banner, table covers, center pieces and napkins with Class of 2009 on them and the rest we can get at a discount store. She is going to start making phone calls today to tell people from out of town about the party and I will talk to the local people, most of our friends are in recovery so the recovery grapevine will start buzzing away with the when and where. A couple of women at work our taking all her school pictures K-11 and making them into a collage with Congrad’s Michelle with the class colors as a background and borders. So everything will work out fine in the end.

One thing about being a parent that you really can’t explain to someone until they have been there is the emotional rollercoaster that happens every so often. It is easy to tell someone to use tough love, turn it over to God, and detach yourself or other such things when you are on the outside looking in but when it is happening to you the view is a lot different. I can and have at times been pretty good at letting go with love and not enabling but once in a while I still get emotionally involve because I am a parent and my love is strong. The older I get and the more I go though with my daughter especially now that she has a daughter the more I understand where my parents came from. I understand giving a bit of money to help her out and paying for a few things, some tell me not to but I choice to do so as pay back to my parents for the help they have given me along the way. I feel there is a great deal of karma involve in parenting, what comes around goes around.

My daughter is a pretty good kid after all that she has been though. Her troubles have made her stronger and better prepare to face the real world in some ways. She has done the wild drinking and drugging thing and is fairly committed to staying sober and clean, she attends AA meetings when she can and has friends who support her in her decision not to drink or use. She has a lot to experience in life still ahead though. She takes being a mother very seriously and I admire her for this, it is hard to be a teen mother on your own but her goals and priorities are in the right place. The relationship thing is hers to figure out, hopefully she will make some sound decision with them also, and part of the damage my alcoholism and her mother’s drug addiction caused was co-dependency. I am proud of her as you can tell and even though the headaches suck I wouldn’t give them up because they make me a better person and better dad.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Beautiful Spring Morning



It’s a beautiful spring morning here in central Nebraska!! We received about a ½” of gentle rain last night. There is a moderate breeze blowing but that is nothing unusual for this part of the country, seems like we have a breeze or wind 5 out of 7 days. We didn’t receive a lot of moisture during the winter so the rain is really welcome. The farmers are almost all done planting corn and soybeans; they got a late start due to a cold spring. Seems like the seasons are a month or 2 off from what they use to be years ago, we get our worse snows in February and March now compared to December and January but we also don’t get the first frost until late October instead of early October or late September like when I was a kid, so the growing season stays the same.

When I stepped outside at 9:00 this morning for a serenity break I was greeted by the chorus of birds. A mixture of Blackbirds, Sparrows, Robins and Morning Doves singing and flying around, landing on the high wires, the chain link fence or on the ground. To north of our building is a small alfalfa field, yesterday they disked ground, turned the soil with steel disk placed at an angle, I watched as the birds moved in and out of the fresh soil looking for food, should have been plenty of juicy earth worms close to the surface. This is the joy of being able to step outside, inside is a world of anger and blame, outside is peace and harmony, the birds fulfilling their role in the world without emotion or undo selfishness.

Another thing this morning was the smells after the rain, freshness and promises. The weed flowers are in full bloom, dandelions and the small purple flowers whose name I don’t know. Dandelions can be a pain and take over manicured lawns but to me they are beautiful in the spring, they are one of the first flowers to appear, bright yellow, miniature suns shining up from the ground. The Bleeding Heart I planted last year is small but full of awesome flowers. A couple of my rose plants don’t look to healthy, I gave them some special food and hopefully they will pull out of it. I like my flowers, it is the androgynous part of me, that and cooking.

Last night was down right gorgeous, I started building a shed in late September and was ¾ finished when winter hit, last night with the help of my daughters boyfriend I finished everything but painting it, the boyfriend was a huge help since the last thing I had to do was build and hang the door. The door was the reason I procrastinated on finishing the shed also, I am not a carpenter, I know the general concepts and can make do, but nothing is square or level and I know the door would take more skill and thinking than the basic framing and I was right. My first door was wrong so I had to saw the 2x4’s off 2” and move them in to allow for the existing frame, no biggie I pretty much expected difficulties and told Matt this, thank God for power tools!! The door measures 4ft by 6ft so Matt was a big help when it came time to hang it and make some minor modifications and position the hinges. While we were working I told Matt about my dad. My dad may have not been the smartest man when it came to intellectual knowledge, but the man had a mountain of mechanical knowledge, not the engineering kind but carpentry, automotive, electrical, plumbing, heating and the like. Dad gave me his favorite power tool when he accepted the fact that he would never use it again, this tool was a reciprocating saw. Last night had to get the reciprocating saw out for one of the modifications and laughed as I told Matt about my old man and the saw, my dad could use the saw modify holes for plumbing piping or saw through old steel pipes so he could run new PVC plumbing, I can use the tool but with no where near the precision dad did, but then again dad used the saw constantly for 25 years. When I eulogized my dad one of the things I talked about was his mechanical aptitude and how I wish I would have inherited more of it, this aptitude is far more valuable in every day life than being able to comprehend ideas, theories and philosophies, funny thing is though that dad was proud that his kids all have above average intelligence. He would get short with my brother because he lacks common sense and is too lazy to use what aptitude he has but he would also say my brother was the smartest one of us but it also made him sad that my brother never put his intelligence to good use. As much as working class hero that dad was he really didn’t want to see his kids have to spend their lives doing manual labor to make ends meet. Yeah the old man was a paradox some times.

Well this started out a post about a special spring morning and the wonders of nature and turned into reminiscence about my dad. My dad may have left this world physically but he is still standing beside me in spirit when I look for him.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My job, My plans for future

As the busy season at work is dwindling down my afternoons are becoming longer with less to do, so I find myself thinking of things to write about. I am a buyer for a small manufacturing company, our business is Ag related so our busy season starts around September and ends in June, my primary purpose the afternoons is to answer questions or contact people for the answer to those questions, once in a while there is odd emergency order that needs to be place but for the most part not a lot happens. I don’t hate my job or the company I work for, they have been good to me over the years, they were big enablers in the later days of my active alcoholism and have defiantly support my recovery, they have let me take time off when I had stuff going on with my daughter, they provide a comfortable living and are easy to get a long with.

I have been reading some different blog’s lately and notice a common thread and that is not being truly happy in their jobs. This is something I can relate to and for the same reason, people and their attitudes and actions. For me what has happen is the long I stay sober and the more my spirituality grows the less I can justify working with people who’s words and actions go against my spiritual principles. Every morning I have to have a little time for pray and mediation because as soon as I walk into my office I am surrounded by negative energy. My boss has bent over backwards for me over the 10 years that we have work in the same office together but he is a very negative and pessimistic person. I will not and can not repeat his words of profanity and vulgarity, the demeaning way he talks about salesmen, engineers and others who don’t see things his way, yes he is selfish and centered to the max, he is also a sexist and racist. A couple of people in production are the type who are never wrong, everything they do is bigger and better, everything wrong that happens is someone else’s fault, anyone who makes a mistake that effects then is a idiot (that is a mild term) one of these guys works outside my door so I hear him quite a bit and the other comes into my office at break or for no other reason than just to BS with the boss. The rest of the employees are decent with the garden variety personalities. I have been in the manufacturing profession for 16 years with only one previous employer. The headaches of sales order ship dates not matching component lead times, the greedy emphasis on monthly ship goals, inventory errors, vendor errors, the fighting and back stabbing between departments has taken me to a point where I am ready to make a career change and one into a totally different direction. I am grateful for the spiritual opportunities I have received because of my mental conflicts at work. Because of my boss, I have learned to mediate at my desk or step outside and mediate, I have learned to hear and see nature on my trips outside, he has helped me to control my own foul month and work on Right Speech more strongly, to more closely evaluate my morals and ethics and work hard on correcting the errors in them, he has taught me to sit silently and not get caught up in the game, he has given me more opportunities to practice living the 12 steps of recovery and Buddhism than he will ever know. The 2 co-workers have taught me to think more about interdependence and radical acceptance so that I don’t start to mentally slaughter them with the double edged sword in my mind. I have learned to accept where I work and I am in no huge hurry to leave, I am not a huge risk taker and think things completely through before I make a huge life change, today’s economy isn’t safe enough to not think ahead.

One of the paths on the Eightfold Path is Right Livelihood. The worst thing that can be said bout my company when it comes to the effect it has on the environment, society and the world as a whole is that the product we makes assist in the application of harmful chemicals that are applied on crop fields. You will find negative and spiritually unhealthy people in most jobs, unless you work totally alone and then sometimes you are stuck with a negative and sick person too, so the personalities are not a big deal in Right Livelihood. I have stayed in this part of rural Nebraska for my daughter and parents. This is a great area for raising a child on your own even if that child gets into trouble it would have been worse in a larger city. My parents are elderly and my dad transcended last November, I have done what I could to assist them over the years. Now that dad is gone my mother is doing alright because she doesn’t have the extra burden of having to care for dad. Also my oldest sister said she would start assisting mom more. My daughter graduates from high school on the 17th of May and by the end of summer she will be out on her own completely, her plans are to move to Denver and attend massage therapy college, as much as I hate to see her and my grandbaby move that far away it is time she starts her own path in life with all the ups and downs. If she does go to Denver she will have to learn to take care of her own problems because dad won’t be handy to bail her out or fix something which will be good for me also. I have no interest or reason to move to Denver. At one time in my life I liked big cities but over the last few years I have become more and more Countrified, I like the slower pace, I like my open fields. My intensions are to move to Lincoln; Lincoln is bigger than where I live now, with ethnic restaurants, specialty shops, a bohemian community, a Zen temple, lots of AA meetings and a strong recovery community in general. I have quite a few friends down there so the transition won’t be too hard, plus I am fairly familiar with Lincoln. Job wise I want to use my talents for speech, insightfulness, positive attitude, experience as a recovered alky, to a practicing alky whose actions cause his daughter to become a ward of the state and more, to a recovered alky again whose life outstanding and whose daughter life is extremely better also. Lincoln has a lot of halfway house and group homes; there are also a few treatment centers there also. I do not want to be a counselor, I have seen too many recovered alcoholics and addicts go into counseling and suffer from burnout because they spent too much time working on others and stopped taking care of themselves. I just want to be around to assist where I can and give something back whether it be with new people in recovery or troubled kids, to me this is the proper use of the Dharma and 12 steps.

So that is my spiel about my job and what I hope to achieve in the future. First off I need to make some minor repairs to my house so can put it on the market for sale, once that is done I can use the money live on while I find a job in Lincoln and a place to live.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Quick Happy Good News post

Somewhere in a past post I wrote about a guy who was in the mental hospital because he drove his ATV into a moving semi and instead of killing himself broke his neck in 3 places. The guy, Jon spent a month and a half in the mental health hospital, he was finally release about a month ago. I hadn't seem him around meetings but then again the only meetings I attend at the club house are 5:15pm meetings and Friday night Living Sober study group. Last night he showed up at the mens meeting with a good old timer friend of mine, he met Jon at the other Friday night meeting and offered to pick him up and take him to the men's meeting and will pick up again tonight and take him to the best meeting in town. Jon is healing really well, the head gear was removed and he can nod his head, he was in really good spirits last night, shared about missing meetings and how nice it was to start going again, he also got some phone numbers. I know he may not stay around but Damn it was good to see him, to see someone sink to the level of depression that he did and then see him smiling and laughing, these things are gifts that recovery bring for the individual and the members who witness the changes. If you were a drunk like I was suicidal thoughts weren't all that uncommon, I never thought of putting a gun to my head because my ex-wife died from suicide and I didn't want my daughter to live knowing both her parents killed themselves but I sure hope a bunch of times that I wouldn't wake up in the morning or that an accident would take my life and end the intense pain and lonilness, so I can empathize with my friend Jon. I wish him the best of luck, the choice is his.

Another one of those lessons


I called my sponsor and another elder statesman in recovery the other night about a situation that is new to me. Below is the story and the feedback.

I started sponsoring Fred about 3 months ago, Fred is a periodic, and he doesn’t call on regular bases, only periodically. Fred is new to recovery so the periodic calling doesn’t surprise me, we have sat down and talked a few times, went through some suggested readings out of the Big Book, more or less pointed him in the right direction and figure he will call me when he needs to or is willing. I need to say that Fred has called a couple of time when something was going on he needed to talk about, so he does communicate just not as much as suggested, (suggestions are just that, a suggestion from people who have traveled the road before you and are living a good life in recovery but they are not commands and you don’t have to follow them if you don’t want to, freedom of choice). Fred called last night, he wanted to set a time to meet and talk, we decided to meet prior to the Tuesday night men’s meeting and ended up talking for little over a ½ hour. Fred was engaged to a woman named Linda; they had known each other for 3 years and been engaged/living together for about 6 months. I have known Linda for 2-1/2 years; she has been in and out of recovery, spent time in a halfway house, and spends time in and out of the mental health hospital. Linda is one of those sick people who craves attention, jumps around in relationships and cheats a lot, if she doesn’t get attention she does things to make sure she gets it and some of those things aren’t very health. She is bi-polar with manic tenancies; she goes off and on her meds depending on her moods. I don’t think she has ever had much more than 6 months of clean time since I have known her. She has a hard time getting along with sponsors because of wanting to things her way or wanting to be babied, she is compulsively dishonest too which doesn’t help her relationships with the people who try and help her. Like the elder statesmen said last night she is one of those sick and lost souls. Fred is aware of some of this but the old saying “love/lust is blind” pretty much applies to how he sees things; he is realizing some things though so the blinders are opening. Last night Fred told me about all the games Linda was playing with him. My response was to not communicate with her and remember that both of them are sick people. Both have been going to a couple of meetings a week mainly at the local meeting house and Fred is afraid of running into Linda at a meeting, I suggested going to different meetings which we are blessed to have around here.

Now here is where sponsorship and using the network of solid people in recovery comes in to play. I called the elder statesman to get his views on Fred’s honesty, Fred worked for the elder statesman for quite a while, he told me to take what Fred says with a grain of salt, o.k. so now I can hopefully weed out what Fred is saying and not buy into the exaggerations. Linda has a new AA sponsor; she also has an NA sponsor who she seems to be fairly close with and from what she says uses. The AA sponsor just happens to be my sister. This created a whole new dynamic to me sponsoring Fred. I am not overly close with my sister, in fact since she has gotten sober we have drifted further apart, she is part of the Christian sect of the local AA scene and I am not; I am very active in service work and receive quite a bit of attention from it and also from being insightful so I perceive there is a bit of jealously going down, as I have said before my ability to do service work and my insightfulness are both gifts and I down play them as much as possible. Having said all this my sister is still my sister and I want to look after her best interest. My sister doesn’t know Linda at all; she has only been to a couple of meetings with her. My sister is very na├»ve; she is sugary sweet, talks a lot about God and not a lot about basic Big Book recovery, she isn’t well versed in AA literature, so her recovery is based more on what her sponsor says, what she picks up in meetings and stuff from her Bible study and Christians in Recovery group. I have a feeling Linda choice my sister because she is so nice and probably subconsciously Linda feels my sister will baby her the way she likes. The things that were going through my head where; do I tell my sister what I know about Linda and maybe save her some emotional turmoil, do I let her know that I am Fred’s sponsor, just in case a hassle surfaces? While waiting for my sponsor to call me back I thought to myself “if Marilyn wasn’t my sister how would I react?” The answer was that with the exception of a couple of very close friends I wouldn’t say anything; to the close friends I would only mention to be careful. The thing with sponsorship is that as we sponsor people we learn things about ourselves, we may not be able to keep the sponsee sober but we keep ourselves sober, we get a bigger picture of our strengths and weaknesses, sponsoring has amazing highs and bitter lows but if we see these highs and lows in the right light it becomes a wonderful act of service and an opportunity for more spiritual and recovery growth. My sister has a good sponsor to talk to, she will have use the tools she has to be as effective as she can with Linda and she still may fail in helping Linda work the steps and stay sober. When I was talking to my sponsor he said that if someone is BS’ing us not being honest, eventually we figure it out. He agreed with my assessment on whether to tell Marilyn what I know about Linda, yes we want to protect our siblings but are we really protecting them when there may be a life lesson to be learn, our selfish desires shouldn’t get in the way of learning about life on life’s terms. Something else we talked about is anonymity and tradition 12; anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions ever reminding us to place principles before personalities. I am responsible for Linda’s anonymity, what she has said in the meetings, what I have observed and heard from her are private matters. What Fred says to me is private, this is something I am very strong on, I don’t have serious conversations with the people I sponsor when others are around, I don’t share information that is told to me in confidence with others with the exception of my sponsor or trusted elders and then I don’t give the persons name. Whatever happens between Fred and Linda is in the hands of the future, if there is “my sponsor says this. Well my sponsor says this” incident which brings some kind of confrontation between my sister and myself then I will deal with at that time and hopefully have the awareness and insight to deal with it a constructive and compassionate manner. I am sure I have probably read too much into the “what if’s” in having my sister sponsor someone who is a complicated relationship with one of the guys I sponsor, but for me the best thing to do is talk it out with someone I respect, also non-action is a great help, just sitting opening the mind to what is going on and seeing all views of the story.

Don’t know if any of this makes sense but another way me to understand things is in writing them out. Grow is so important spiritually and in recovery and it is things like the above that give me a chance to grow, to see a couple of defects that need attention and once again to practice living in the moment, stop projecting and kick your expectations to the curb.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The answer is "yes" not "What"


I just became fully aware of a bad habit that needs to be corrected. It is a habit that is the residue of generations. When my daughter says “hey dad” I respond with “what” instead of “yes”. I noticed this a few weeks back, I had just sat down after an evening of running around, warm supper in my hand, movie just started and out of the bedroom comes “hey dad” to which I replied “WHAT”, I was informed that I didn’t need to respond in that manner!! I did apologize and justified the response by saying I just wanted to relax and that she could come out to the living room to ask the question instead of yelling at me from the bedroom, like I said justification. Today at lunch Mich asked me a couple of questions and my response was “what”, driving back to work I realized how this was an inappropriate response.

There are certain things that my parents did in raising me that I consider inappropriate. Some of these I have either not repeated at all or corrected as soon as I caught myself doing them. My dad was a hard working, law abiding man, who could get along with most people; he was fair in his dealing with others and showed a strong since of social etiquette in public. In private he was angry, physically and mentally abusive; he was a racist and intellectually ignorant. It is easy to weed out the ugly parts of my up bring and make sure they don’t mature with my parenting ways. Some how I ended up being the opposite of my dad, non-violent, open minded, intellectually curious and worldly. Oh I do have a nasty temper, I am the picture of my old man when I lose control, I yell, I swear a blue streak, slam tools or what ever is hand, I even have his evil eye thing. I don’t like this side of me and over the years it has surfaced less and less. But yet there are still the more subtle things like the response to “hey dad” than remind me I am still genetically tried to my parents and some of my actions are mirror images of theirs, mom was passive aggressive and I can go there too.

I guess by being aware of negative actions and reactions I can slowly correct some of the ignorance and wrong doings from the ancestors. Maybe my daughter won’t repeat some of my shortcomings and I will interact with my granddaughter better than I did with her mother. There are still a lot of small habits that I am not fully aware of yet or have a hard time catching myself doing. I work really hard at not using shame and guilt related words when I am giving my daughter constructive criticism, for the most part I can keep my voice clam and even also.

One of the biggest difference between how my parents brought me up and how I have brought up my daughter is the showing of love and respect, respecting her and her input in discussions, hell my parents didn’t allow discussion let alone input. My daughter has been raised open, which has been both good and bad, she probably experienced some things at a young age that was better left until she could fully comprehend things, so maybe this is an area where she can take my parenting errors and correct them with her daughter. So the thread of generations continues, my grandparent’s ways where modified a bit by my parents, my parent’s ways where modified by me, my ways are modified by my daughter and her daughter will probably continue the pattern. Maybe at the end the thread parenting Nirvana will be achieved.
I think I am slow gasping “non self”. I am ever changing, so the self I was at noon is different than the self I am at 4:15pm and when I go to sleep tonight there may be another change take place, yeah slowly I am getting it. Sweet!!!!