Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Road goes on forever and the Highway never ends!

Hey all. The chorus line from Robert Earl Keen's song struck me as a good title for a post. The road of life just keeps on going even on the dawn of a new year. The new year will bring with it new changes, new growth and new stubbed toes but it will keep on going, my part is to stay on the road, calm the mind and enjoy the scenery even if it gets desolate in places.

"If you want to make God laugh, tell It your plans", "you can plan the plan but don't plan the outcome", "my serenity is directly proportional to my expectations". So some of the things I wish to accomplish this year include buying a camper, getting on day shift either with this company or a new one, spending more weekends camping than I got to last year, taking a vacation east of the Mississippi, tilling up the ground on the west side of my trailer and seeing if I can get vegetables to grow. I hope these things materialize but if they don't my inter-peace will not be effected.

As long as I do the footwork to stay sober and clean I will continue spending quality time with my daughter, grand kids, family and friends. I will continue to my spiritual journey, with willingness I will gain more awareness, I will work on character defects and how they create blocks on the path of loving kindness and compassion. With willingness I will continue to work on selfishness and self centeredness, chipping away at the stone of ego and the big Me which is an illusion anyway. With willingness and a sober mind, I will continue to grasp a little more about non-self and the impermanence of everything.

Tonight there is a potluck and speaker meeting here, my friend Irish Brian is going to tell his story, Brian is a young Irish guy who immigrate to Nebraska to be with his girlfriend, I have heard bits and pieces of his story, it will be good to hear more of it. After this some of the Happy Campers and me are headed 45 miles east to a recovery dance, it is a good time to visit with people I only see a couple of times a year if that, this is the town I went to treatment in so maybe I will run into someone from treatment which would be a joy and blessing. We will finish the night out with a meal, watching all those who remind us of ourselves when we got drunk and went to a restaurant.

I think back on all the new years eves I spent holed up in my house, alone with my best friend the bottle. I was isolated and utterly miserable in my loneliness, the only thing I had to make me feel good was the booze. The booze brought on the delusion I didn't need anyone or was unworthy of love, it told me I was too ugly and weird to be a part of other peoples lives. I look back on that person now and see he was just like Gollum in Lord of the Rings. Gollum was obsessed with his Precious, the ring, I was obsessed with my Precious the bottle. Gollum's obsession lead to his death in fires of Mordor. My obsession lead me to a cold concrete floor with a steel door. Just for today I have a reprieve from my Precious. I live in a beauty shire, filled with love and laughter.

Well campers it is almost time to put the topping on the cheese cake, change into some nicer cloths, never know when I might catch some pretty woman's eye:-)

I hope all of us are able to accept the highway of life as it happens this year, that we find shelter in the storm and understand nothing is permanent, take the good with the bad, always have a song in our heart to sing and dance naked just because we can and it feels good.

Peace Love Light

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mouse traps and other things

Hi all and hope you are doing well with the Christmas season.
First off I bought some live mouse traps. Living in a mobile home I live the typical mouse problem, little buggers find it much easier to get into a mobile home than a regular house. I really don't like killing things anymore, part of it is Buddhism, part of it is respect for all living things and how they have a right to live just as much as I do or my dog. Now I don't mind killing for food if ned be and can do it in case of emergency, say the world as we know it comes to an end, I haven't hunted or fished in years. Now my furry little friends haven't started gnawing on food as far as I can tell, haven't got to the bread or dried goods but they leave their droppings everywhere, kitchen counter, in cupboards, on floor etc. I really didn't want to kill them with snap or glue traps, so I went to a farm supply store to see if there was such a thing as a live mouse trap and yup there is. The trap is a metal box with 2 one way doors on it, you put peanut butter, best mouse bait, in the box, they go for the bait and can't get back out. They are working really well, I catch and then take them to work with me, the plant I work in is on the edge of town with fields on both sides, I release the mice there. They can either find there way into the plant, which doesn't put out poison, hopeless cause in a big plant or they can take their chances with the hawks and owls, hey the hawks and owls need food too. The first couple I caught drove the dog nuts, she kept waiting for them to get out, not sure if she wanted to kill them or just mess with them. It feels good to find a peaceful solution to this problem.
Paula posted a poem about hearing a bird sing in winter. Another change which has happened to me via spirituality is my tending of the birds. When my dad retired he started keeping bird feeders around and watching birds, I never saw what the big deal was all about. I couple of years ago I bought my first feeder and now I make sure it stays full. During the summer I was visited by starlings, doves, black birds and the odd blue jay. Now all that are left are the starlings, I suppose there are at least 20 of them hanging around my house. It may seem weird but I can sense their joy in having food to eat, beside the seed I also crumble up bread for them when it starts to get too dry for my taste, which is usually about 4 slices out of a loaf and the heels. I now understand my dad's simple pleasure in seeing them every day, I call them my little friends. Another interesting thing is the starlings don't eat the sunflower seeds or cracked corn, they scratch it out on to the ground, the squirrels come and eat the corn and sunflower seeds, plus the squirrels found a way to get into the food tote, well they did until I secured the lid.
I told someone my getting sober and changing my way of living was an accident, it was and it wasn't. I didn't want to get sober and live a life alcohol free when I went to treatment. I was in heavy denial about alcohol and my selfish nature being the root cause of all my problems. I was so sick I couldn't fathom a life with out my daily consumption of beer even though I had lived a life alcohol free for 9 years. On the other hand I was whipped, I was tired of being afraid all the time, I was tired of the disappointment and heartache I was causing those closest to me. When I entered treatment I was beat down enough to accept surrender and willing to change my life. It was this willingness which brought about the psychic change. I didn't accidental admit myself into the treatment center, I did it out of sheer emotional pain. I don't know if some form of God played a role in this, if it did it was the God of internal conscience telling me I couldn't go on living the way I was or if I did I was destine for worse things to happen. I do believe the force of love, kindness and hope found in the rooms of AA and NA kept me moving forward. I do believe that when people who share a common problem get together to find a common solution based on loving kindness and compassion there is a divine presence which helps all who are willing to do the foot work, reach out to others and share in the name of loving kindness and compassion. I have seen these types of groups work in the lives of others not just alcoholics and addicts. So I guess there are no real accidents, there are situations in life which happen which either cause us to look for solutions or to keep on living in sickness and self destruction.
Anyway those are just a couple of things which I have been on my mind. It is 12:30am and I need to get to bed, I wasn't tired when I started typing but now I am, guess I need to get this out to quiet a bit of the old brain.
Peace Love Light

Monday, December 12, 2011

Everything is good or normal

Hi all, thought I would try and write a post just to update you all on what is going on here. Angel is sitting on the couch beside me, watching Quest for Camelot. I had her and Carter yesterday, Mich picked up Carter at 10:00pm and Angel spent the night, which is what usually happens because she doesn't want to go home. The kids are doing well, Angel is in the stage of telling papa he is going to buy her every toy she sees advertise on t.v. or if the toy is a boys toy then I am going to buy it for Carter. Carter is doing really well, so far he hasn't had any congestion or infections, last year at this time he had a lot of respiratory and ear infections, hopefully his immune system is getting up to normal.

I have all the kids presents bought, bought a couple of joint presents because Carter tends to play with Angels stuff more than the things you buy for him. He will be 2 on January 3rd, I had to find a birthday present for him as well as Christmas presents, wanted something special for him since I get Angel something special for her birthday, finally found an elephant which shoots small balls out of it's trunk, it will help him with hand/eye coordination. I might get a poolside room at a local motel on the 2nd of Jan for his birthday, I have the day off, so thinking of having a pool party for his birthday.

Bought Mich a pretty necklace which has "You are my sunshine" engraved on it, I will wrap it and put Angel and Carter's name on it. She needs a good vacuum cleaner so that is my present to her. I also bought a new laptop and will give her my old one. She starts college classes in January so will need a computer for school work, my laptop blew a memory board last winter, so it is only running on 1 board makes it slow but will work good enough for her. I am glad she is finally starting classes, the longer she waits the harder it would be to start. It will be rough balancing a part time job and taking care of the kids but she sounds determined, also she has back with Carter's dad and he will help watch the kids.

I am having Christmas dinner at my house. Since Christmas is on a Sunday, I will go to my home group meeting at 11am like normal, then my mom, Mich and kids will come over around 1pm. Not sure whether I will bake a ham or do prime rib, depends on if I can find a small prime rib. I don't care much for turkey and neither does Mich. None of my siblings will be around this year and my niece and nephews will be at their dads house. Actually it will be nice to have just a small family gathering, in the past we have always went to a family members for Christmas.

I bought a Suburban. My Explorer isn't in the best of shape, has a weak cylinder, plus other odds and ends which need fixed. One of Mich's friends is going to buy it from me. I bought Suburban because it will pull a camper without any problems. I should be able to get a good older camper this spring, like I said before, storms and the tent are getting to be a pain in the butt. I am also planning to take a vacation east in late September or early October. I have never really been east of the Mississippi, accept to northern Florida. This years trip to Idaho got me thinking about going east for a week or so, just take off with the dog and go. Of course this is all tentative, but if I start focusing on it I can put the money aside for the trip.

Work is going alright. We had 1 operator quit, so it is just the guy who trained me and myself running the machines at night. They are starting to look for help since we really start getting busy after the first of the year. It would be nice to start training new people now when we don't have parts needing bent stacked up all over the place.

So this is the excitement in my life, enjoying the lack of drama but as we all know things can change over night.

Peace Love and Light

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

5 years

End of the Line
by Warren Hayes

And now the gravity of trouble was more than I could bear,
At times my luck was so bad, I had to fold my hands,
Almost lost my soul, rarely I could find my head,
Wake up early in the morning, feeling nearly dead.

I was never afraid of danger, took trouble on the chin,
Mountains I have climbed, that have killed a thousand men,
Spent most of my lifetime downtown, sleepin' behind the wheel,
Never needed anybody, I was king of the hill.

Oh, when I think about the old days,
Lord, it sends chills up and down my spine,
Yeah life ain't what it seems, on the boulevard of broken dreams,
Guess I opened my eyes in the nick of time,
'Cause it sure felt like the end of the line.

No matter how hard I run, I just can't get away
I try to do my best, but the devil gets in my way
Spent most of my lifetime downtown, sleepin' behind the wheel
'Till it all came down to kill or be killed

Oh, when I think about the old days,
Lord, it sends chills up and down my spine,
Yeah life ain't what it seems, on the boulevard of broken dreams,
Guess I opened my eyes in the nick of time,
'Cause it sure felt like the end of the line.

These are the lyrics to an Allman Brothers/Government Mule song which pretty much sum up where I was at 5 years ago.

First a little humor. I walked into Mich's house last week and she asked if I use the word son-of-a-bitch because her roommate and her don't. Seems Angel was doing something and got frustrated and said son-of-a-bitch, which took Mich and roommate by surprise. Here's the thing, this has been past down from my dad, it was one of his favorite expletives, so my dad is still here and pasting on his ways to another generation. Still papa needs to pay closer attention to the words he uses and his actions, there are 2 mini me's in life, little ones who love their papa and mimic him because he is soo cool :-)

So for the second time in my life I have 5 years of sobriety today, it was 5 years ago I checked myself into a treatment center because my life had spiraled out of control and I wanted to get control back. When I told my family I was going to treatment my intent wasn't to get sober but to get the heat of the family, job and law off my ass. The Doctors Opinion in the Big Book talks about a psychic change taking place and this is what happened to me after a couple of days in treatment. Part of this happened by rereading We Agnostics and getting spiritually grounded and having a 2x4 hit me upside the head reminding me that AA is about finding a God of our own understanding and not someone else's, even if they are trying to persuade you to accept their God, this was part of my fall out with the fellowship.

This year started out with the breakup of my relationship with Lady B, it hurt but accepted nothing is permanent. Understood the reasons and moved on. Understood I was probably more in love with the companionship and intimacy than the core her and life style she lived with her son.

Lost the job I really loved in January, this really hurt. It took a while to get over my hurt feelings toward the executive director, I understood what I did wrong but still felt she was overreacting. But I was wrong for writing about other peoples personal lives on my blog which is a public format. A couple of weeks ago she sent me an email apologizing for what happened, how she was in a bad place and listening to people who didn't have her best interest and my words were just to blatantly honest at the time for her to accept. I wrote back saying all was good and had turned out for the best.

Because I lost my job I moved back to my adopted home town, Kearney. Losing the job was a blessing in disguise. I now live close to my daughter and grand kids, plus back with my old AA group and friends.

My moving prompted my mom to move back to Kearney also, she is much happier in her little apartment, she has other older women to spend time with, her youngest sister gladly helps her out and they enjoy spending time together, my mom has a lot less stress in her life now, another blessing which happened with me getting fired.

I learned to humble myself a lot when I took the job of doing manual labor bending steel for 10 hours a night, 5 to 6 days a week. I learned it didn't matter how much management experience I have, there are better qualified people out there for the jobs I have applied for. I have a steady income which pays the bills and provides me with a bit extra when there is a bunch of overtime. I have learned to handle the sore muscle and accept them. I have learned to and continue to learn acceptance of supervisors who in my opinion are poor managers, all I am responsible for is doing my job to the best of my ability.

I have enjoyed plenty of yard work, something I missed living in an apartment. I have gone camping a few times. I built a shed, even though it isn't perfect, I took the time and used the appropriate tools and materials to make it the best shed I could with the skills I have. I put up a Christmas tree for the first time in a lot of years, I did this for my kids because for me Christmas is about joy in children's faces and not commercialism.

I got into a weird short relationship and learned something from it. This relationship caused me to really reach out to my backup sponsor for help and take a close look at how I react to those things in life which upset me at a deep intellectual and spiritual level. I have also had to look closely at me relationship with those I work with and find ways to accept them for being who they are. My new mantra is "yeah like you are so damn perfect" this makes me step back and smile at my arrogance and ego/selfishness.

I cried at a meeting when I felt over joyed with the knowledge I can spend 4 hours between the time I get up and the time I go to work without picking up a drink. In the last years of my drinking I could not , not drink when I had idol time. I am filled with joy and gratitude that when I come home at night sometimes very sore, I reach for a can of soda or bottle of water instead of a beer. I no longer need to self medicate with alcohol neither do I take a bunch of over the counter drugs to ease the pain.

Some have had a hell of a lot worse year then I have but still I am grateful that through all the low lows and highs I haven't picked up a drink, the compulsion and obsession has been removed, so long as I stay spiritually fit.

What is different about this 5 year mark than the last? My first time around I never really found a spiritual way of life. Today I practice spiritual principles to the best of my ability on a daily bases. Meetings are not enough for me, I need a spiritual path in life. I have also been more willing to share what is really going on deep inside with others. I have embraced living in the moment, focusing on the here and now, do the dishes, bend the steel, I have learned to breath when anxious, I am not perfect at any of this but I work on it and my life is wonderful when I do so.

Thanks to all my blogger friends for sharing their experience, strength, hope and lives with me, I learn much from each of you, you bring me joy and insight.

Peace Love Light

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thoughts on Inner Child

Hey all, seems like time is really flying along, one day it was sandals and t-shirts the next it is boots and jacket, plus holidays fast approaching.

A couple of you have been blogging about the "inner child" which is an odd coincidence because this summer I bought a book by Thich Nhat Hanh called "Reconciliation, healing the inner child". Even though I feel comfortable and forgiving about the circumstances in which I was raised; lack of emotional stimulation and affection, mental and physical abuse, I thought there maybe more I needed to look at, plus Thich always has some great nuggets for better awareness practice. Here is a passage from the book I really like,

"I wouldn't want to send my friends and children to a place where there's no suffering, because in such a place they'd have no opportunity to learn to cultivate understanding and compassion. The Buddha said if we haven't suffered, there's no way we can learn. If the Buddha arrived at full enlightenment, it's because he suffered a lot. We have to come to the Buddha with all our suffering. Suffering is the path. It's through our suffering that we can see the path of enlightenment, compassion and love. It's by looking deeply into the nature of sorrow, our pain, our suffering, that we can discover the way out. If we don't know what suffering is, there's no way we can go to the Buddha, and we'll have no chance to touch peace, to touch love. It is exactly because we have suffered that now we have an opportunity to recognize the path leading to liberation, love and understanding."

Please translate the part about going to the Buddha into what ever makes sense to you. I feel this passage really puts suffering into perspective. Whether I am suffering from the effects of my youth, my alcoholism/addiction, relationship problems, character defects or life on life's term's . It is through suffering I have the opportunity to grow, to learn to better love, show better compassion and understanding.

I have accepted my parents as being the way there were because they were effected by there parents and ancestors, I have to learn to recognize that how I treat my daughter and my grand kids is a reflection of my ancestors as well but in recognizing this I can break the chain of wrongful parenting and suffering.

The kicker is the emotional wounds from others who abused me growing up haven't healed. It is seeing others who remind me of the abuses of my youth which cause my inner child to resurface.
As a kid I was bullied a lot, some by jocks and some by older kids who in hindsight were probably dealing with their own insecurities so they picked on scrawny younger kids. The jocks were the verbal bullies, always saying how big of wuss you were, laughing at your awkwardness and lack of coordination, intimidating you during the ugly and mandatory P.E classes. Side note; I went to a school were the whole population of 7th thru 12th grade was under 150 students, the few kids who were not socially accepted were shunned and picked on, it was worse for boys than girls because boys were expected to play sports all 6 years whether you were good or not. I didn't play sports, I don't have an athletic bone in my body, nor was I ever big enough physically. I could read and comprehend what I read, find insight in literature and the arts, understood and had compassion for social and environment injustices but that didn't count for anything as far as how you were treated by your peers. Most of my friends turned to alcohol and drugs as a means to be a somebody, to feel comfortable in our own skin, some out grew this others like me are alcoholic/addicts.

At work the welders are like the bullies of the plant, they are led by a guy I suspect was an ex-jock. They pick on the non-Caucasians and anyone who doesn't fit into their neat little box of what a man working in a manufacturing plant should be like. Most of this talk is behind backs but of course but it isn't hard to figure out these guys have contempt for people who aren't like them, it is in their attitudes and how they interact with others. They sit in the break room and are loud and obnoxious, make derogatory/vulgar remarks about different races, religions, homosexuals, Democrats and anyone else they dislike.

I have had a few run ins with the welders this week, mainly the leader of the clique. I really dislike these guys and have a lot of contempt for them. The run ins have made me reflect on why have such contempt and dislike. Enter the inner child. The inner child is comparing these grown men to the guys who use to mess with me as a kid, he doesn't fear any physical violence but fears not being able to counter their smart ass remarks with strong enough words to shut them up, remember I suck at quick and witty responses and dislike overly aggressive people. So how does the inner child deal with these people? He displays a sense of arrogance, he displays aloofness and he keeps his contact with them as limited as possible. Now maybe to some people this isn't a bad thing but for someone trying to live a principled life it is.

I need to acknowledge how my sick actions effect my ability to show love, kindness and compassion to all people. The Dalai Lama says the hardest people to show loving kindness and compassion to are our enemies, oh how true this is. I am no better that the bullies when I use intellect as a weapon of superiority. My talents are more cranial than physical but this doesn't make me better than them, yet in my arrogance I think it does and I put off an air to let them know so.

Thich's words are helping me understand how the inner child surfaces in different areas of my life, how the hurt little boy still wants protection. He is also teaching me how to heal the wounds and comfort the little boy, to speak to him and tell him the wrongs of the past can't hurt him now. Thich also keeps reiterating the linage of wrongs we all carry, that sickness is pasted on generation to generation and how we need to end the suffering by showing others loving kindness and compassion whether they return it or not. He talks about how to deal with being hurt by someone close to us and how to get rid of the resentments. I know this sounds a lot like the passage on acceptance from the Big Book, but Thich is going a bit deeper. What I need to do is try my best on a daily bases to work on loving kindness and compassion, especially towards those who remind me of the people who hurt the inner child. I have to be aware of how my inner child will react with bitter cruelty to any who see it sees as a threat. If people dislike me it is probably because my actions effect the inner child in them, maybe they were jealous of the kids who were smarter than them, who think outside the box, who experience life more fully because they are not afraid of people who are different than them, or things which are foreign and new. We may not wish to be like each other but maybe the fears which cause our actions come from the same place? I read this book during my lunch break, so some of the words smack me right between the eyes, which is sometimes the best way for me to take an honest look at my thoughts and actions, plus keeps everything in perspective when my mind starts going places it shouldn't since running the machine can get very boring, just focus on breathing, moment at hand, use breathing exercise based on loving kindness, compassion, getting rid of self.

Anyway those are me thoughts. I hope all are doing well. I am happy to read how some of my friends are accepting life on life's terms, your words help keep me grounded and also make me smile. Love you all!

Peace Love Light and a special Namaste

Monday, October 31, 2011

New service position

HI all, to those on the east coast hope you didn't get hit too bad by the snow, didn't read anything on the news about Virginia and West Virginia so I think a few of you who live there got lucky this time. Our time is coming just don't know when, so far it has been nice.

Saturday we held elections for our AA district, the turn out was low due to the Nebraska vs Michigan St football game and the current D.C.M (District Committee Member) isn't very well liked in the district. Since I have moved back to Kearney I have attended district meetings even though I don't hold a committee position. Those who read my blog know how I feel about service work.

The responsibilities of the DCM are; represent the district at area meetings (in our case the whole state of Nebraska) they take to voice of the local AA to area and vote on issues in accordance to the voice of the local members, they chair district business meeting, support ideas of local members, communicate with the groups, make sure events are posted in a timely manner and try to generate involvement in AA as a whole. There is also an alternate DCM, who assist the DCM and attends area meetings if the DCM can't make it. Next we have secretary, treasurer and committee positions.

The majority of the people doing district service work have been doing it for years but over the last couple of years some younger people are coming into the fold. My friend Jeremy who is the treasurer and I were talking about how the district has become a bit stagnant because the older members don't connect with the younger members.

General rule of thumb is for the alternate DCM to become the next DCM. The current alternate is also not very well respected in local meetings, she is a very sweet lady but her and her husband tend to get a bit preachy and not keep their personal spirituality out of meetings, this is part of the problem with the DCM also, they both tend to imply more of a Christian God, instead of the God of the individual members understanding.

Prior to the meeting Jeremy was going to nominate me for treasurer which I was fine with if that is where the others wanted me to be. Jeremy had decided not to take another AA service position since he is involved in NA service work as well. We got to the meeting and found out the alternate is moving to northern Nebraska in January, out of our district.

I was elected DCM. Jeremy was nominated and elected alternate DCM, the reason for this was; a lady said Jeremy and I seem to work well together, Jeremy accepted the position. Jeremy and I are kind of the spearheads for local young people, we are the instigators for the camp-outs, try and take people to recovery events and gets events started, we have also both been involved in talking to the public about AA and recovery.

My niece who has 3 years sobriety was elected secretary, this is her first time doing service work at the district level. She is another young person who tries to get others involved. The guy elected for treasurer is new to district service work. We have 2 other people new to service work filling committee positions. Our corrections committee member rolled over her position and will be doing it for another 2 years, she is finally making some headway at the local jail, she enjoys area meetings and wants try and improve corrections in our area. To everyone's surprise the Public Information committee member rolled over too, he didn't get along with the past DCM but since his primary job is making sure meeting cards are updated and printed, he said he would continue, the job wasn't that hard and was comfortable with the procedure, he also has a good rapport with Jeremy and myself.

So our district has some new blood. We are younger for the most part, more liberal in some ways but with a deep respect for the Traditions. I told my sponsor, I don't know how much change we can bring about, this is up to the Divine but we bring a new enthusiasm to the district, we have a connection younger members and younger people in general, my sponsor agreed with this statement. Jeremy, Kristin (my niece) and I all would like to generate some events to bring people together, for fun and fellowship, to show people there is more to recovery than just going to meetings. All we can do is the footwork, we can serve the district to the best of our ability, you can lead a drunk to water but you can make him or her drink. Our sponsors and a few other older members have faith and hope in us, which is nice to have, they have offered their guidance and support. We will listen to the group conscience as it is expressed because we are their voice, we may have our own agenda's but our service is to the district and AA as a whole, we are but humble servants and when our ego's get inflated they will be deflated by the reminder that we are just 1 part of the greater whole.

I am honored to be the new DCM and hope I can serve the district and the fellowship well. I am grateful to have Jeremy, Kristin and the others with me I feel we are a good team, we will keep each other grounded and offer each other support. I am grateful for my sponsors and others who have taught me what service work is all about, the successes and failures.

Well I have the day off, Angel is here, she spent the night. I need to shower, then we are going outside to do a bit more work on the shed, yes it isn't finished yet, 95% done, I need to caulk some of the places where the panels aren't quite tight, the last thing to do is build a door. I am going with Mich and the kids Trick or Treating tonight, it will be fun watching them get candy. Angel is going as Snow White and Carter is a cow, we are taking them over to great grandma's before we hit the streets.

Hope all is going well with everyone.

Peace Love Light

Sunday, October 23, 2011

There and back plus a bit more

This is a picture of the elusive western Jackalope , Jackalope are native to only Wyoming and eastern Idaho, rarely photographed or captured.

This is a summary of the trip to Idaho, plus some other thoughts and stuff which have happen over the last few days. I woke up at 10:00am Tuesday morning, worked 4:30pm to 3:00am Wednesday morning, didn't go to sleep because I had to pick my mom up at 6am and then Angel, I drove until 8pm Wednesday night, about 800 miles, yup one long day. I was leery of letting mom drive because her eye was bothering her plus I don't really trust her driving in truck traffic and high winds, she just can't make quick decision anymore. I stopped every couple of hours to stretch, smoke, bathroom breaks if needed and I also kept my coffee cup filled. I drove as far as the first big town in Idaho, Montpelier, town of about 2500. All 3 of us were glad to be done for the day. We got to my aunts house around 3pm on Thursday.

Having a portable DVD player in the car was a God sent, I had bought a 2 disc set of old Loony Tune cartoons and Angel watched them over an over, plus she looked at and colored in the color books, when she got tired she let me know, turn off the player and crashed. I was concerned she wouldn't go with my mom to the bathroom but for the most part she was good about going potty with great grandma. She has only been potty trained for a few months but she is excellent about it, she never had an accident and even though we brought Pull-ups along for her to sleep in she was dry the next morning, I didn't want her wetting the motel beds or my aunts bed. My mom got the biggest kick out of Angel breaking out into laughter in the back seat over something she found funny on the videos. Angel was good as gold on the drive out and back, the only problem was her wanting suckers for stores and papa refusing to buy her one, big screaming fit which only last a few minutes.

Having my mom in the car wasn't too bad, we visited off and on, didn't talk too much about anything important. A couple of times on the way out and back she would bring up family members who had drug or alcohol problems, I tried to explain the obsession of addiction but like most people she just couldn't grasp how once a person drinks or uses their mental thinking and reasoning completely changes and we do things even when we know deep down inside it is wrong. A few times she would repeat the same things over but I am use to this, heard some of the story many times and just blow it off, she doesn't realize what she is doing, so I just let her talk. The one thing which did concern me was her over use of Benadryl, mom has fought allergies and sinus pressure her whole life, she has also become addicted to over the counter medicines and is probably immune to Benadryl and a couple of others, complains they don't seem to work yet will not go to the doctor for something which will work, medical expense have been something my parents tried to avoid, so even with insurance she and I are both reluctant to go to the doctor unless we are very sick, crazy mind set which is hard to break.

My aunt is doing fairly well for a woman of 86, she is on oxygen but gets around pretty well. She has home health care come in once a day, they check on her plus clean her house and do odd jobs for her. Mentally she is much sharper than mom. She is worried about my mom but knows there isn't too much which can be done. My mom's hearing even with aids isn't very good, which adds to confusion, my aunt really picked up on this, plus mom being tired a lot. Having said this they had a good visit still. Angel was very well behaved at my aunts house, didn't mess with all my aunts pretty things, my aunt got a kick out of her and I think Angel kind of help keep things going at times. I had a good visit with my aunt, asked some questions about my moms family on things I didn't know or quite understand. My moms dad died in 1954 and I didn't have a clear understanding of him, mom and I talked about her family as well while traveling. We had a beautiful drive in the mountains on Saturday, 200 mile jaunt, it was a perfect fall day, leaves were just starting to change colors, the air was crisp but not cold.

Angel and my mom bonded really well, this is what my mom was hoping for. Angel would play with grandma, try and talk to her as best as she could. Angel only sees my mom once every 6 weeks or so, so even though Angel knows grandma, she hasn't been that close to her, this trip made them much closer.

One last thing about my mom, even though she has some problems mentally and physically, she is very capable of doing things in her apartment without assistance. She is use to being on her own, it is only when others are around does she get overly confused or flustered, cooking, cleaning and taking care of herself are second nature and something she doesn't have to think about. My moms youngest sister and I keep a close eye on things and will know if and when the time comes for a different living arrangement for her. She is also able to drive herself during non busy hours or she will drive to my aunts house and let my aunt take her shopping, she understands her limitations when it comes to driving. The main reason she wants to continue to drives is so she can go to church and the occasional appointment to the doctor.

My stomach is getting better, still some slight pain which I will have to get checked out in a week or so if it doesn't go away. Wednesday, first day home, I got up and drank a pot of coffee plus had half a pot in the afternoon, prior to this I hadn't drank a whole lot of coffee, even driving I was only sipping on it, maybe only 4 big cups a day. Well Wednesday night at work I wasn't feeling very good, realized the coffee may be the problem, plus I ate super nacho's with meat for lunch, ended up throwing up at work, which made me feel well enough to finish out the night. Thursday I only drank half a pot of coffee and ate peanut butter sandwiches, felt a lot better. I repeated this on Friday. So the process of elimination is telling me, I have to lay off drinking so much of my beloved coffee, freaking downer man. I have laid off the coffee over this weekend plus kept my food fairly bland, both seem to help. Damn it sucks getting old:)

Yesterday we had a small AA workshop. My sponsor spoke, he talked a lot about stepping outside of his comfort zone, something he has been doing for 28 years in recovery. I reflected a lot on what he was saying and how he has taught me to do the same. He said he would rather be a fly on the wall but has learned what has help him grow the most spiritually in recovery has been getting outside the comfort zone. By this I mean, talking to people I don't know, speaking when I really am afraid to, putting aside my fear of being judged, going places where I only know a few people if any at all. My first instinct when walking into a big meeting or speaker meeting is to sit in the back of the room but he taught me to sit closer to the front. He taught me do service work when asked, praying for strength and guidance, by doing this I have spoken to crowds of people without messing my pants, saying what is in my heart and being o.k. with it. We are both shy by nature but have learned and are continuing to learn that it is by stepping outside of our comfort zones that has allowed us to serve the newcomer and AA as a whole better. This has also brought about a stronger trust in my Higher Power and benefits of practicing the Dharma to the best of my ability. When I get into a situation which scares me, mediation and breathing calm my mind. It really amazes me how I am able to do some of the things I do, how I have overcome some of my fears. Yesterday I had one of those moments of sincere gratitude, gratitude in knowing the 12 steps and spiritual principles are doing for me what I can't do for myself and making my life a whole lot better in the process.

Speaking of gratitude. I am grateful I was able to take my mom on this trip, to spend quality time with her, my aunt and Angel. I wasn't craving a beer at the end of a long drive, nor guzzling beer in the hotel or a bar on the way just so I could relax and sleep. I was totally there in the nature of the landscape we drove through even the desolate places. I was in the moment with my mom in the car, I played music for relaxation and not to escape conversation. I wasn't worried about getting pulled over by the few highway patrol cars we saw. My aunt drank her normal 2 mixed drinks before bed and I didn't feel the urge to join her, didn't have a craving for an artificial social lubricant. I use to have to drink to feel comfortable talking to people, today I don't. I am grateful I am able to get out of self, get in a car and take an 82 year old lady on what may be her last trip to see her big sister, yes I enjoyed the trip but it wasn't about me this time, not like camping is about me, something deep down inside told me to do it, I believe it was the 11Th step in action.

Well friends it is after midnight and I have a long day ahead of me, my Facebook friends will know why, so I better get to bed.

Peace Love and Light

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pictures at 11

I am back home and it is close to 11:00pm. Here are some photos of Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. I will blog about trip later. Since I am not smart enough to figure out how to insert an image then post a caption, we will start at the top and work our way down.

Windmill farms of Wyoming; the land in southern Wyoming isn't good for anything, not enough good vegetation for livestock to feed off of and soil is too poor for raising crops, only in few small places close to a river do you see any cattle but in western and eastern Wyoming you are seeing more and more windmill farms, these windmills stretch for a good 5 miles in places, how wonderful is that. Along Interstate 80 there are frequent signs warning you of high winds and I fought winds going to Idaho and heading home, in the winter when it snow you can experience white out conditions which cause the interstate to be closed, oh yeah southern Wyoming and also southern Idaho are literally treeless, only thing which grows well is sage brush. Image being a pioneer on the Oregon trail having to cross this waste land.

Mountains outside of Ogden Utah; trying to show the beautiful orange color of the trees on the mountain side, going home we drove to Ogden then up the beautiful mountain pass into Wyoming. I lived in Ogden for 4 years in the 80's, nice place to live once you get use to its ultra conservative way of thinking, state is run by the Mormon church, separation of church and state does not apply in Utah:)

Next 4 are of the Snake river at Twin Falls Idaho, notice the high gorge, this is all volcanic rock, southern Idaho is littered with volcanic rock and sage brush, in the 2nd picture on the right side you will notice a golf course, I am not a golfer but to me this is one of the coolest golf courses ever, 4th picture is of a spring coming out of the canyon wall, there are 1,000 springs in a 40 mile stretch of river between Twin Falls and Hagerman Idaho. Once again think of what this must have looked like to the pioneers, doubt if any of them saw something like this in the eastern part of America.

Next is the Snake River valley outside of Hagerman, notice the canyon walls are getting less high and the valley has lush vegetation, great soil for certain crops and grazing. Before the white people the natives live here, farming, hunting and fishing, there are huge sturgeon in the river, the native people gone but some of the land they loved is still with us in its natural beauty.

These are hop poles, they stand about 20 feet high, the hops grow up them like pole beans, hops are a pod plant and it is the dust of the pod which is used in beer, just add corn and barley and you have what used to be my favorite beverage.

Last one of the Snake river, taken at Homedale Idaho, 15 miles from my aunts house, by now the river has gotten smaller and shallower, the local farmers depend on it for irrigation, the valleys west of Boise are home to onions, sugar beets, potatoes, corn, hops, dry beans farms, apple, grape and peach orchards, of course their corn fields are puny compared to those in the heart of corn country, Nebraska and Iowa. If we Nebraskans have nothing else to brag about we can brag about our corn fields and cattle;)

Next is a valley in the Cascade mountains north of Boise, I took my aunt and mom for a drive up there on Saturday. It was a gorgeous day, temps in the high 50's, the trees where just starting to turn red, yellow and orange, there was snow on the high mountain tops.

This is the Payette river just north of Boise, taken on same drive. Of course everyone one knows who the curly headed little girl is, she got mad because she couldn't see any fishes in the river like she could at the zoo but had fun throwing rocks in the river anyway.

All the mountain traveling made me crave for buying either a pull type camper or a small RV. It has been quite a few years since I have been in the mountains and really miss them. I want to get a camper so I can take a trip once or twice a year to the mountains of Colorado or Wyoming, both are within a 5 hour drive of Kearney. Tents are alright but campers are so much more comfortable especially if the weather gets bad or it is cold, at least you have a dry, warm, comfortable place to kick back and read if need be.

Well it is almost midnight, I am tired from all the driving, good 12 to 14 hours both days. My little dog is happy I am home and curled up on the couch beside me, I am sure she is ready to go sleep in bed next to daddy, she stayed with Mich while I was gone. Hope you all enjoyed the photo journey and didn't wear your scroll out going up and down between words and photo's.

Hope all of you are doing well, love and prayers to all!!

Namaste, Peace, Love and Light

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hi Ho Hi Ho its off to Idaho

The medicine I was put on last week did the trick and my stomach virus is gone I hope. I lost about 8 pounds which isn't a good thing for me, I am already very slim and can't afford to loss more weight. I ended up taking the whole week off, I needed to rest, regain my appetite and build my strength back up, there was no way I could have stood at my machine for 10 hours. Upon returning to work the boss said it was still alright to take my planned vacation after only being back for 2 days, he understood last weeks missing of work wasn't for fun or DIY projects, also we are slowing way down. The next few weeks will be work 10 hour days 4 days a week, my week day off is Monday, it will be nice to have 3 day weekends for a few weeks.

So I am sitting here waiting for 5:30am to roll around, got off at 3am. I am picking up Mom then Angel. I have drank enough coffee I should be good to go for another few hours, drive about 3 hours then stop for breakfast, by then we will also be out of major traffic and mom can take over driving. I borrowed a DVD player for Angel, so hopefully the movies will keep her amused. Mom can drive in most of Wyoming and if she gets tired she will wake me and I can take over. We will drive as far as the Idaho Wyoming border tonight then the rest of the way Thursday, we should pull into my aunts late evening. If you look at the map, we will be going through Soda Springs and Pocatello, then back south and west to Caldwell which is west of Boise. On the way back I will swing south at Rupert, go to Ogden Utah then north to Wyoming. Most of the drive is through some really desolate country but we do cross through some mountain ranges which are beautiful, I have my camera handy so may get a few photo's for the blog. I will be taking a picture of the great Snake river at Twin Falls, there is an amazing scenic overlook there. Not sure what all we will be doing while at my aunts other than visiting but more than likely we will take a drive north of Boise to McCall, beautiful forest county up there.

Not sure if I will have internet service for my remote router, I think my provider has a tower in Boise, so not sure if I will even be able to get on line, may have to hit a McDonald's and use their WiFi while Angel eats a happy meal.

Well time to finish last minute loading, cooler and snacks. Hope everyone is doing well.

Peace Love and Light

Friday, October 7, 2011

Captive Audience

I love this picture Mich took yesterday. I had loaned her my laptop and she was having troubles loading the WiFi device, so finally after a couple of fruitless phone conversations I went over to her house to get it up and running. Of course when I get there the first priority is Angel and Carter, I tried to mess with the computer first but had 2 grand-kid's at my side letting me know in their own way "we come first". Angel grabbed her Sponge Bob book and told Papa to read it. I held the book open in front of me so both could see the pictures and made up a story based on the pictures and story from reading book before, both kids stood there glued to the pictures and the story. Afterwards they went on and played and Papa fixed the computer.

I may spoil Angel and Carter but they are such as joy in my life, as anyone who reads my blog knows. There is instant happiness when we see each other, they rush to me, smiles with Angel yelling Papa Papa, whether it is at my house or theirs. Carter was so happy to see me yesterday, he kept hugging my leg. It is a really blessing to have them in my life to feel their love and return it. Very rarely do I have anything so important that I can't put them first and if I do have something I don't go around them knowing they can't understand why Papa can't give them his attention. I don't watch them if I am ill, really exhausted from work or have projects around the house which have to be done without interruptions or if there is a chance one of them may get hurt while I am working on something. Mich also knows meetings and most AA events come before babysitting, because without AA there would be no healthy Papa or dad.

Another thing which hit me is; this is really what being in the moment is all about. Stopping whatever the hell I are doing, whatever my mind is racing about and being in the moment with those who mean the most in my life. Be completely in this moment right now with our kids, grand-kids, companions, parents, siblings, pets, friends, newcomers. This takes practice, I still have a hard time being in the moment with people who ramble on, my daughter is one of these, I have to work really hard on staying focused on what she is saying, this is also a lesson in getting out of self.

Anyway this was such a wonderful picture I thought I would share it with you. Went to the noon meeting today, talked with a relatively newcomer I see on occasion, he is going through a bit of a confusing time. Since I am on medical absence from work, I am going to pick him up tonight and take him up north about 15 miles to a bonfire meeting and potluck out in the country. Not sure how much he will benefit from going but I know helping another by getting out of self and spending time with a group of fellow travelers will help me out a whole bunch!

Peace Love and Light

Monday, October 3, 2011

This, that and the other

Hi all and hope every one is doing well and enjoying the beautiful Indian summer.

So I don't go to see a doctor unless things are really bad, last time was probably 4 years ago. Last week I couldn't cowboy up anymore and went to see a doc for stomach trouble, after 3 weeks worth of problems. What finally got my butt to the doc was 4 days of diarrhea and stomach cramps. My blood and urine test all came back good, so doc gave me a prescription for 20mg of Pilosec, this was Thursday, by then I was worn down enough I couldn't stand at my machine for 10 hours so went home from work sick. By last night my stomach cramps and diarrhea had become so severe I was ready to take a trip to the ER. I looked up the side effects of Pilosec and sure enough, diarrhea, cramping and nausea were part of them. When back to doc this morning, he took me off Prilosec and gave me a med for cramping and diarrhea, plus a note to get me off work tonight so my body can hopefully heal some and get my energy back. Scary thing is I have lost 4 pounds in 4 days, not sure how much prior to that. I am a fairly skinny person and can't afford to lose weight. I know I will back to normal shortly, I don't do sick very well and I hate missing work for illness. I still have this preconceived notion about how bad it is to be sick and I cowboy up when I really need to practice self care.

The doctor visit was good for 2 reasons; 1 I was afraid I had major stomach problems, pancreas, ulcer, colon or something along those lines, at 48 years old this stuff does creep into my head. I didn't panic or get too overly worried about what might be the cause of problems, the thoughts went through my head and then moved on without dwelling on worst case scenarios, which is a benefit of learning how to live in the moment. The 2Nd thing is my blood pressure is normal, this came as a surprise. I had been diagnosed with high blood pressure a few years ago but refused medication because my blood pressure wasn't sky high and also for me I do not want to start taking medication on a regular bases quite yet, someone told me once you are on blood pressure meds, you can't get off because your body is too use to them regulating your pressure. I am a pack a day smoker, plus at least a pot of coffee a day, I salt my food because taste buds are shot from years of smoking, so figured I would have high blood pressure.

I think mindfulness practices and mediation have paid off with my normal blood pressure. Both have allowed me to stay calm even under stressful circumstances. Practicing mindfulness and mediation has been something I have done to try and keep grounded, maintain inter-peace and serenity. I never thought another benefit would be my blood pressure. I am grateful and a bit awed by this benefit. Once again living in recovery has proven to be a blessing.

We finally sold my mom's house last week. It had been sitting vacant since April. This is a huge stress release for my mom, it was costing her money. It was also a relief for me. We took a loss but it is alright, it is better to take the loss than have it sit empty through the winter and have the expenses continue. I had to channel my dad's spirit to make sure I was doing the right thing by selling it at loss, I thought about different decisions he has made over the years and felt comfortable in knowing he would have done the same thing.

October 12th I am taking my mom out to western Idaho to see her oldest sister. My aunt is 86 years old and my mom is 82. Right now at work we are slowing down and will probably be slow until the first of the year, so it is the perfect time to go. Driving through Wyoming from November through March can be tough, it is extremely wide open and you can get caught in a blizzard really easily. Also to get to western Idaho you have to cross the mountains, once again this isn't to be done when there are chances of winter storms, so weather wise now is the time to go. Mom has been to Idaho a few times in the last few years but always with my other aunts, I have one aunt who constantly talks and controls conversations. It has been a while since mom has had a chance just to visit with my aunt one on one, so I thought I would take her out. My aunt is my favorite aunt, I lived in Idaho and Washington state as a young kid, my aunt was like a second mother to me, she holds a special place in my heart and I in hers, this may very well be the last time I get to see her alive, her health is iffy and so is my mom's.

We are taking Angel along to Idaho, I almost backed out of doing so but my mom wants to try and bond more with her. Also my aunt has never meet Michelle and Angel is a mini Michelle. Angel is at that age where she is fun to be around so my aunt will get a kick out of her. I have a portable DVD player for movies, crayon's and color books for the ride.

All which I have written is a benefit of sober living. Five years ago I didn't have a drivers license, so couldn't have taken mom on a vacation, I also couldn't have handle trying to control my drinking around her. I wouldn't have been trusted to handle mom's business affairs, in fact I shied away from my parents out of shame for the amount I was drinking. Any medications I was put on got messed up because they counteracted with the alcohol, I am not happy about having to lay off my beloved coffee but know it is what I have to do for a few days and I more concerned about my heath than my coffee, whereas I didn't give up beer for anything. My days of brown bottle flu are over, so I can talk to my boss about loss of work without him thinking it is alcohol related. Recovery and a spiritual life have amazing benefits, I hope my gratitude for these benefits never stop.

Peace Love and Light

P.s. I have nothing against others taking medication on a daily bases, some people need meds to live. Other than my natural supplements and the occasional pain reliever I just prefer to stay away from them as long as I can.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ripping 2X4's learning about life

Hey all, hope everyone is doing well and taking care of themselves. Really love this time of year weather wise, day temps in 70's, overnights in 50's. It would be nice to have it this way year round but if it did then I would miss the beauty of 4 seasons worth of change.

I am building a lean-to shed on to my existing shed. The existing shed is fairly small, some things are in plastic totes, and in general it is hard to organize anything for easy access. I priced sheds and large plastic storage units, cheapest I could find was $150.00 and it was only 4ft high by 4ft deep. I thought to hell with that, I can build one cheaper.

The existing shed is a concrete block shed, it serves as a safe haven against tornadoes, remember I live a mobile home. I am building the new one against the existing one. It will be 5ft long by 4ft wide and 6ft high, not huge but big enough for shelving, it will be my tool shed and the other one will be for storage, plus allow room to actually use it for a safe place to go if a tornado is headed my way.

I am not a carpenter. I sucked at shop class in school, the teacher hated me too. It was mandatory in my school that 7th and 8th graders take shop, I found out early on in 7th grade it was going to be a long 2 years. Teacher was a manly man, wrestling coach and I was well, not. I was very non-athletic, anxious, awkward with tools, impatient with getting precise measurements and cuts, I was also bookish and interest in social and semi-intellectual ideals. My lack of shop skills effected my relationship with other boys, in other words I was picked on for not being normal. It was in 7th grade when I started smoking and became more obsessed with alcohol and drugs, hanging out with others who were not socially accepted. Although I was already alcoholic by nature it was at this time I really started to feel the force of peer rejection, it was the build up to using alcohol and drugs as a way to make me "feel normal and fit in". If I couldn't be good at shop or sports then I would be damn good at drinking and partying, when I graduated high school my legacy was one of a hard party-er, music and social issue fanatic.

I built a shed at another place I lived in, I was sober then too. It was my first venture into doing this on my own. The shed wasn't pretty but it served it's purpose.

While cutting (ripping) 2x4's Saturday, I thought about how my building skills have increased and how my outlook has changed. I use to envy people who can use power tools with grace, take a 2x4 and cut it straight without the aid of a sawhorse, make things square with little effort. My dad was one of these. My dad had great mechanical aptitude but lacked the patience to teach me stuff when I was growing up, later in life he mellowed out enough to show me quite a bit, plus I have been blessed to inherit a bit of his aptitude. I have learned a lot by sitting on the side lines and watching my dad and others work, observing how they use tools and procedures to get the desired outcome. I have also learned a lot by trail and error.

I realized Saturday, something I have known all along but have not stopped to reflect on, the people who can do mechanical things with ease have had many years of experience doing these things, for most it didn't come overnight, they made their share of mistakes, it took them many hours of cutting, hammering, drilling and such to be able to do it quickly. I am not good at toe-nailing (nailing a board at an angle) I am having to do a lot of this. When I built my previous shed I used a lot of angle brackets to keep from having to toe-nail, this time around I have figured out how to do it, not perfectly but I am doing it, saves the cost of buying a bunch of brackets, nails and wood screws are a lot cheaper. The pitch on my roof is a lot more precise also because I stopped and thought about how to do it.

This is all similar to recovery and overcoming obstacles from our past which use to hold us back. I have in the past thrown money at a problem because I was afraid to do it myself, my 7th grader self told me I couldn't or, I have just not done something because I know I wasn't capable of doing it. I looked at others with envy, thought I could never do things the way they did, judged myself on how they worked or lived their lives.

I am who I am, I have strengths and weaknesses. I am not another person and shouldn't compare myself to them. All of us have had to live life by trail and error, we have had to make our fair share of mistakes, whether it is building/repairing/refinishing something or trying to live a life in recovery. People with years of recovery have sawing the wood in their lives un-square also. Each time we do something we hopefully get a little bit better at it, we learn from our mistakes, we accept we may not be able to do it perfectly. Each time we do something challenging it hopefully gets a bit easier. Do you remember the first time you chaired a meeting or spoke in front of a group of people? New jobs and relationships are like this also, we make mistakes, we learn and we move on. We may make the same mistakes a few times but if we have a bit of awareness, honesty, opened mindedness and willingness, gradually we stop repeating the same mistakes.

Building the shed is very much like my recovery. I am seeing how to do things which use to baffle me. I am stopping and breathing when frustrated. I am slowing down enough to take the time to figure things out, cut along the line slowly instead fast and crooked. I am doing things within my means instead of looking for a quick fix which I will pay for later. Recovery can't be rushed and neither can spiritual growth. For me it is a slow gradual process, with stops along the way to breath and reflect. If I build another shed it will better than this one because I have learned from my mistakes on this one. As I put another day of sobriety under me, I have hopefully learned something about this day or maybe week which like those with more years have done. I can gradually build my days of sobriety up, one day at a time, just like one cut at a time builds the shed. I look at my work and know it is my own, mine to own, it is not someone else's. I can't live my life on another's recovery, they have trudged their own road, so I need to trudge mine. I can use another's experience to assist me, just like building the shed, this is the beauty of it. I sit back and watch how others do things, ask questions and then try it on my own. I accept my short comings because I am aware others have short comings also. I am not innocent of competitive recovery, wishing I had what others have but a bit at a time I am chipping away at this block to spiritual growth. Things like building a shed are my God's way of helping me understand things I need to reflect on, once again to understand my strengths and weakness and how it effects me on a spiritual level.

This thought occurred to me after I wrote this post. Just because we have the tools doesn't mean we know how to use them! My dad gave me his tools before he died and I have bought some over the years, just because I have these tools doesn't mean I know how to make the best use of them. Recovery gives us plenty of tools to use but we need to learn how to use them. With sponsorship, meetings, mentors and most of all the God of our understand, over time we get better at the use of these tools.

Peace Love and Light to all!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Paying the Recovery Insurance premium

Hey all and hope my friends on the east coast survived the storm alright!!

I was blessed Saturday with not having to work. This allowed me to go to an AA district meeting. I have been active in service work in one form or another during both periods of recovery. I didn't know early on when I was setting up the meeting in the tin shed in Korea, starting the coffee and lighting the oil stove/heater, I was doing service work and in doing so I was paying on an insurance premium. From Doctor Bob's Nightmare; " 4. Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip."

In November we will be hold elections for district offices/committee positions. Like in a lot of areas finding people who are willing to get involved in service work is a struggle. I had been thinking about this struggle and suggested a the meeting we hold a workshop prior to elections on service work. The suggestion was accepted with one change, we aren't calling it a service work workshop, it will be called a back to basics 12th step workshop, since the words "service work" may keep people away. We decide to keep it short and simple; 2 hours, 1 main speaker, panel of 4 speakers and a Q&A session. We will have it at 9:30am on a Saturday in October, this is done so it will not interfere with the Nebraska football game. You never plan an event when there is a football game if you have any hopes of halfway decent attendance :-)

Here just some of my thoughts on service work. Service and 12th step work are first and foremost about getting out of self. It is about the paradox of giving it away to keep it. We/I need to share about how simple acts of service benefit others which in turns benefits me. I can make coffee, unlock meeting places, setup meetings, cleanup meetings, shake the hand of a new face and those returning. When I hear someone share they are new to the meeting or are returning from a relapse I can tell them I am glad they are here and keep coming back. These simple things take very little time and effort on my part. There is no conscience decision to do this, it just happens most of the time and I don't realize I am paying on the insurance premium. This is the simplest form of 12th stepping, caring the message and practicing these principles in all our affairs. We care the message with our smiles and friendliness which offers hope, getting out of self is one of the principles we try to practice.

I don't know about anyone else but our meetings tend to avoid conversations about basic service work, basic 12th step work. Newcomers should be coached in simple service the same as the other suggestions, my opinion only. It seems once people get sober, they get busy and complacent, they forget there are simple things all of us need to do to make sure AA is here for the struggling alcoholic, whether the person is wet or dry. I know people with many years of recovery who will not get a key for the meeting house, nor will they get up and pour coffee for others around the table. Part of me is angered by their arrogance the other part is sad because they have forgot about what it was like in the beginning and about the old timers who showed us the way by doing simple acts of service.

Service at the local, district and area level isn't that hard either, if one considers how much time we spent being self absorbed in our pursuit of the next drink. This kind of service may require one or two days out of the month. We have a hard time finding people willing to attend local jail meetings, really blows considering how many of us where once residence of the steel bar hotel. We sponsor 2 meetings a month at the jail and NA sponsors 2 meetings; alternating Thursdays. We lost our meeting at the local mental health hospital due to lack of outside involvement, people unwilling to chair or share their experience strength and hope with the patients, unwilling is too harsh of a word, it was more about being too busy/other commitments, not understanding the need for hospital meetings, same can be said for jail meetings. A few of us will say we receive much more than we give when we attend such meetings.

I don't know about anyone else but once in awhile I get stagnant with my regular meetings, when this happens I look for new meetings to go to. Going to a jail or treatment center meeting is a good way for me to get refreshed, along with new meetings with some new and old faces. I hit an NA meeting once in awhile for this reason as well.

In this day and age of recovery, the old 12 step isn't very common. It has been years since I have gone with another member and called on a wet drunk or really hungover drunk. Most people show up at meetings via the courts or fresh out of treatment centers. Yet the need to carry the message is as important as ever. People in the medical and social services professions still aren't really clear about who we are and what we really do, thus the need for continued education of professionals. We need to make sure the primary treatment centers, the ones local people go to, have current contact list and meeting list, also road trips to their meetings so people returning to the area know members when they come back. This applies to jails as well, released inmates feel more comfortable with a familiar face and warm hand shake. Counselors also need current information and need to be on friendly bases with people in recovery.

I am totally aware you can no more wish someone into service work than you can wish them into recovery. The best any of us can do is share our experience with people and hope we create a spark or two. The idea for the workshop is all about creating a spark, either with a new member or old member. Old members may say they have done their time, fair enough and understood, hopefully though they will pass the message onto the people they sponsor or are close to.

Stepping out of my low self esteem image of comfort and into service work has done a world of good for me. It has given me the confidence to speak crowds of people and professionals I feel are superior to me. It has allow me to make many new friends throughout the state. It has shown what true commitment is all about and also responsibility. It has allow me to do some serious 3rd, 6th, 7th, 11th and 12th step work. It is a teacher of humility, service work is about the We of AA and not the Me, its joining hands in the Fellowship of the Spirit. AA will survive without me doing service work but will Scott survive?

Anyway these are just my thoughts and opinions. Local, district and area service work isn't for everyone but let us not forget the simple things though.

I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly. I do it for four reasons:

1. Sense of duty.
2. It is a pleasure.
3. Because in so doing I am paying my debt to the man who took time to pass it on to me.
4. Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip.

Doctor Bob's Nightmare

Peace Love and Light

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mellowed out

This is our campfire from Saturday night. We had 18 people at the potluck and meeting. Nine people camped out. The meeting and fellowship were awesome. The Higher Power has a special effect on people when a meeting is held in the great open cathedral . The sharing tends to come more from the heart; this could be a result of being darker and people being less afraid of others looking too close at them, the special bond with our God's which comes with being in nature, knowing this is a smaller group who are all gathered together for the same purpose, probably a combination of all. We had a woman and her companion show up who just moved to the area and only knew 2 people at the camp out, I love it when someone steps outside their comfort zone for the sake of staying sober, both stated the meeting and fellowship is what they really needed and left with more serenity then they came with. The guy who went to SoberFloat on his own came out as well, another example of being willing to do everything needed to stay sober, live in recovery and establish and new circle of friends.

I really love how the Divine works for 12 step programs. With our busy schedules, odd work hours and days off, it didn't look like we would have another camp out this summer. A few weeks ago the other instigator of the Happy Campers got with me about having a camp out for this weekend and having it 10 miles south of town at a state park. I was able to get the Saturday off, the rest of production had to work, others were also able to get time off or didn't have anything planned. We found a perfect spot for our tents, big enough area around fire pit for circle of chairs, nice shade and bathroom/outhouse close by. I had to work Friday night, so didn't come out until Saturday afternoon. Nine people were at the meeting Friday night, one of the newer members shared his story, this was good for him and others.

I took Angel, my 3 year old granddaughter, with me. I thought there would be other kids which there wasn't but that was alright, we were able to spend some quality time together. I brought some toys along, the over sized bat and waffle ball went over really well, she had fun trying to hit the ball and papa praising her each time she did. She played in the sand by the lake and in general kept herself amused. She never let papa too far out of her sight and was pretty clingy but that was alright. I was afraid she wouldn't go potty in the outhouse; she had a bad experience with a porta potty, she wouldn't go in it and had an accident which really made her upset. She did say it was yucky but as long as papa held her she was alright, she got to the point where she would sit on it by herself. Another example of the Higher Power or maybe Karma working. Having Angel with me didn't allow me to assist in the cooking the way I usually do but others took over without a problem.

In recovery kids for the most part are a welcome part of our lives and events. They are not a burden or hindrance. We understand they are a gift to be cherished, we have a responsibility to make them part of our lives, spend quality time with them when we can. I have noticed, with my circle of friends anyway, kids are welcomed and we all accept them and interact with them, ours and those of others. My friends interact with Angel and Carter and I interact with their kids. The selfishness of active addiction caused us to neglect our kids, they were a burden to our drinking and using. We had to stop momentarily to assist them or communicate with them when all we wanted to do was continue getting messed up. The selfishness of our addiction blocked out the joy of their presence, the understanding of their need for us and our responsibility to them. Today I understand how wonderful the kids are, how important they are to my recovery, even when they are keeping me from doing what I want, they are a lesson in getting out of self.

Work was better this week. Part of it was my attitude and level of acceptance. Part of it was communicating more with my lead man, filling him in on what I was doing, how much time I thought it would take me to do a certain task, this he was able to relay to the supervisor. I was respectful to the guy on 3rd shift and engaged in friendly conversation at times. I still kept to my machine and worked by myself. This proved valuable Thursday night because the 3rd shift crew changed some measurements, measurements which were determined by the lead operator, in doing so they messed up 69 parts. It was not a pretty picture in our area Friday, even with the supervisor not being there. My trainer, myself and the lead man were frustrated and confused as to why they would change the measurements on a critical part after the person with the most amount of knowledge set up the machine to make the parts within specification. I honestly felt sorry for the 3rd shift guys, their arrogance now will have them in front of a board composed of production managers and quality control to explain their actions. My trainer and I both explained the importance of the measurements to the guys when they came on shift, it is sad to know someone has such a big ego they are unwilling to follow directions. Reminds me of active alcoholics and addicts, even when we get into recovery we still like to fly solo until we understand our way doesn't work out and heed the advise of others.

I had a job interview Thursday and a farm retail store. They were looking for a receiving/inventory clerk plus an assistant manager. When I dropped off my resume Tuesday, I told the manager I was interested in the assistant manager position but from my experience most companies aren't interested in me because I don't have a long history of retail. She told me she didn't necessarily look at it that way. The interview lasted 1-1/2 hours. In the end she told me I was very qualified for the receiving/inventory clerk position and bring a lot to the plate due to my background in purchasing and inventory control, she also implied she was interested in having me do another interview with her district manager for the assistant manager position. I told her I was interested in the assistant managers position because it allows for more career opportunities. Friday I have an interview with the district manager for the assistant manager position. At the end of the interview I told her how working second shift was a problem for my recovery, in that I only make 1 or 2 meetings a week and they are for me and I am not able to give something back to the fellowship, via service work or working with others. She told me she has attended Al-anon meetings in the past and understands where I am coming from, HP in work again??

The store has 12 employees, so they are closer knit than a big retail store. Their primary customers are farmers, they sell; fencing, fencing supplies, corral panels/gates, sprayers, small farm implements, repair items for small farm equipment, livestock feed, livestock and pet supplies, tools, gardening supplies, mower, tillers, clothing which is mostly western fashion, same goes for footwear, they have toys like; tractors, farm play sets, farm animals, lots of John Deere stuff. They cater to simple people, I feel I can relate to and assist these people easily. I know if I get this job there will be headaches and stress. I will have to work weekends too. But I will have most evenings off. I needed the job in manufacturing to put my pride in check and my wants. With having limited time off, I have learned to make the most of it. The kids are little so I don't have school and other events interfering with spending time with them. I can ask for a weekend off on occasion if I ask far enough in advance. I will tell them about my planned trip to Idaho and the reason for it and hope they understand and allow me to go. The pay would be a bit higher in one way, I would be loosing out on the overtime pay, so a bit of crunching and budgeting will be needed, actually it is more about spending discipline because I tend to buy wants with OT money. Anyway I will just have to see how the interview goes. If I don't get the assistant managers job maybe she will offer the receiving job to me.

Well I need to mow and trim the yard, finish cleaning the house after Angel's visit.

Hope all of you are doing well. Kristin, I knew about the recipe but haven't had a chance to try it yet, thanks for reminding me and maybe next time I will, we may be camping again in September.

Peace Love and Light

Monday, August 15, 2011


Hey all, hope you all enjoyed your weekend. We have had cooler weather here which is nice. I made the best of my 1 day off by going to my home group meeting, highlight of my week, chilling out and watching a couple of movies, also had friends around to plan this weekends camp-out.

This post is for my sake, if you can get something from it the great, if not cool also.

I have been thinking and mediating on my lack of assertiveness in certain areas of my life and how it causes suffering. I get frustrated with myself because during certain confrontations I lack the ability to stand up for myself in the moment, I can't think quick enough to defend myself or state my perception. This happens most often with people who are more aggressive and have stronger personalities or who I perceive to have power over me.

This awareness and need to work on some form of change has come from my conflicts at work and also the conversation with the ex girlfriend. Accusations where thrown at me about things which I have not been totally at fault on. When under this type of pressure my mind seizes up and I can't think about a constructive reply. After the confrontation I mill it over and over in my mind, thinking of where I was in the right and in the wrong. Problem is it stays in my mind because I don't have the assertiveness to re-confront the person and speak my peace. This has been a life long pattern.

Where this stems from is my life growing up. My dad was a very strong and assertive man. He would stop any counter reply with an angry voice, evil eyes or physical aggression. I learned at an early age to cower when confronted by a strong figure. I was bulled at school for the same reason, never sticking up for myself. My life has been run on fear of strong personality types. This has caused unwarranted shame. Intellectually I know when I am in the right or wrong. Yet I lack the ability to speak up for myself sometimes.

This isn't a constant way of acting. If I feel a person is reasonable I do assert myself, I have stood up to bosses, friends, family members. I can do this either because I have known them long enough to know they respect me or they will not continue to belittle me, they may not agree with what I have to say but they won't hold it against either, we can agree to disagree.

Strong personalities in my perspective are the ones you have to walk on eggshells around. My dad was like this, never knew if something I did, didn't do or said would set him off. These are the people who I feel when confronted will either create bad vibes for a period of time or treat me as less than.

In recovery I have learned to keep my mouth shut to a certain degree and think before I speak, having mindfulness to know whether my words are spoken in loving kindness and whether my intentions are good or not. This is something else I have to work on, being watchful of foot in mouth disease. I have seen where my words or actions have harmed others, learned from them and tried not to repeat them, yet once in awhile I still do this. I have tried not to intellectually bully others but see where my being bullied has caused me to pay back those who have bullied me on innocent others.

I tend to use avoidance with people I perceive have too much power over me. Like the situation at work. My co-worker on 3rd shift has a habit of coming over when I am setting up the machine and taking over the set up. He doesn't explain what he is doing, just like a bull in a china shop he does it. Grant it he is faster than I am and more experienced but I know what I am doing most of the time, just slower out of caution, less experience and some self doubt which makes me recheck some of what I am doing. The guy has a strong personality and ego, this has been noted also by the guy who trained me but moved to another machine, periodically comes over to check on me and chat. This guy, Mr. 3rd shift, also treats me as less than when we work together, always running the controls/show, so sometimes it appears I am not doing anything, which I am not because I am waiting on him. When this happens if the supervisor is walking around it makes me look bad. Now I have 2 choices; one is to accept this, the other is to confront this guy in a proper way and tell him how I feel. I tried last week to distance myself as best as possible from him, this is an attempt to make my work and actions my own, so if the supervisor is around I am working on my own machine and my mistakes or achievements are mine alone. Friday night he was working on his machine with his trainee and came over to my machine, who my trainer was helping me with out of boredom, he started tell us what to do, now at 2:30 in the morning with a 1/2 hours left to work this did nothing but create confusion and animosity. So now I need to put on my big boy underwear and confront the guy next time this happens and tell him I appreciate his knowledge and will ask him for advise but to please leave me alone because he is doing more harm than good, maybe even throw in how he makes me feel very inferior. So I know the answer intellectually now comes the courage to follow through. Thus the mental conflict of years of cowering to strong personalities. Side note, my parts are always done correctly and I haven't had a reject in a couple of months, I may make a scrap part on occasion but it comes with setting up the machine sometimes.

My supervisor is an eggshell person, similar to my last one but at least with her we did have one on one talks which allowed me to express myself, when her mood was stable enough to do so. I don't know where this guy stands, he never talks to me directly, he has made general comments about our operations but never pin pointed who was not doing their job to his satisfaction. The guy is all about big numbers, getting the most parts done on a shift, which isn't always possible due to small orders. He told the lead man to keep an eye on my productivity. The lead man in all fairness told me this as a heads up and I was able to express to him how sometimes it isn't always possible to get big numbers. The lead man is in my corner thankfully. He sees the bigger picture. The 3rd shift guy and his trainee are pets of the supervisor, noted by lead man and other workers, so there appears to be extra pressure on me. When I have my next review which should be coming up in a few weeks, I will try my best to air out my conflicts. I hate being insecure about my ability to talk to my supervisor. I have had problems like this in the past but most of the time they have worked themselves out because supervisors know I am working as hard as I can and see my strong points as well as weaknesses.

Now what can I do about my lack of assertiveness and self esteem with these types of people? First off is to accept myself when I have done nothing wrong even if others think I have, part of this comes in the form of talking the situation over with my sponsors or mentors. In some areas I am very comfortable with me, my views, my stances in life. It just dawned on me, I need to take my faith in my recovery into the work place and use that same faith and conviction when confronted by others who are trying to shame me. I need to learn to speak up, it may not be possible to do so in the moment but for the sake of shutting up the committee in my head I need to do so as soon as I am able. oh boy see this taking some time. With mindful practice in time, who knows how long, I may learn to speak my peace in the moment, do so without sounding like a little kid, to pull forward the inter-strength I know is there.

I feel in the journey of sobriety things are revealed to us when we are ready and able to work on them. Certain situations have not presented themselves in the past because I wasn't completely ready to handle them, emotionally or spiritually. I have learned how to be more assertive in small doses. These doses haves shown me I am worthy, I am not responsible for others feelings. I have learned to handle fear in many different aspects. Life is showing me there are still many fears I need to face. I need to chop the fears up into small doable pieces, handling them this way makes them less overwhelming. I have learned to use breathing and mediation to handle many anxieties yet still find new aspects of life to apply this to, aspect which have a stronger imprinted on how I deal with certain situations. The road of recovery isn't always easy but it is rewarding. The reward comes from facing challenges in life, from lessening the suffering, in finding inter-peace in situations which use to baffle us. The rewards comes in not having a craving for alcohol to kill the feelings of insecurity, of not running away. The reward comes in reaching out for help, either from our God or others.

I am not comfortable with the answers I have found. Growth isn't always the most comfortable of things. I am comfortable with my dad's way of doing things and hold no ill feelings over how I was raised. The uncomfortable comes with knowing once again I have to step outside my comfort zone in order to make my life better, even if better means just accepting the things I can not change after the footwork has been done. I have stepped outside the zone before, I have the experience which tells me everything will be alright in doing so. This is just another aspect of my God telling me to cowboy up and do a bit more self caring. A dear friend of mine says "recovery is not a selfish way of life, it is a self caring way of life." If I care enough about myself I will do the things needed to make my life spiritually and emotionally healthy.

Thanks for letting me babble. In doing so I see things a bit clearer.

Peace Love and Light to all!!