Friday, February 25, 2011

Still relatively Sane

Hey all! You know some days reading great post really put one back in focus, thanks Gabi, Kristin, Paula and Shadow! Life isn't bad, in fact things are coming together but still others words give me a high, realign my perspective and make me remember what it is all about.

The idle time is starting to lessen, last week the weather was nice enough I was able to do some yard work around mom's. Last fall I started cutting down a tree, there was a 6ft stump left when the temps got too cold for me to work outside. I was able to cut it a 2 ft stump, right height for sitting a planter on or sitting your butt on, also finished cutting the limbs into small piece for campfire burning. I cleaned up the dead foliage as well. We will probably put mom's house on the market in April, so I want to make it look as good as possible, I need to re-stain the deck for sure and there are a couple of minor things which may or may not get done. It felt good to work outside. My sinus pressure pretty much disappeared the days I was able to be outdoors, what a relief that was.

Friday night I went with some recovery friends to a bar to listen to a couple of jam bands play, the music and fellowship were great. I hadn't spent any time in a bar since I got sober, I have been around alcohol and people partying some but not the bar scene. I was spiritually fit to do this on Friday, I observed the drinking without the slightest bit of desire to join in. I was completely aware the pretty young women were young enough to be my daughters, thus no false pretenses they would have the slightest interest in me, the mindfulness of reality told me I have nothing in common with these young women. In a drunk state, my mind would tell me, to hide who I was, talk to the cute girl and try and bullshit my way into her heart and underwear. Sober I hate the facade, being phony, trying to make people like me for what I wasn't or I am not. Sober I am cool with my likes and dislikes, my interest, either you accept me for who I am or you don't, it is what it is. Under the influence of King Alcohol, I am a different person, I want to be socially cool, I want to George Clooney or Harrison Ford. I make an ass out of myself trying to be something I am not, then the real kicker sets in, I know I am not socially cool, I get depressed and fall into a depressive alcohol stupor, full of poor me's, "I will never be loved" and lot of other crap my Master fills my head with. My last years of drinking were filled with isolation because I knew I was unlovable, undesirable and a freak, I rarely ventured outside the "poor me" safety of my house or car. I am truly grateful to understand this today, it is part of the tape I play through when I am around alcohol. I am thankful for the freedom from bondage which allows me to see a good blues or jam band if I am spiritually fit, plus going with fellow travelers is pretty much a given.

Mich's boyfriend was out of town for the weekend so I stayed at her house. I had a great time with the babies, Angel and I watched the last Shrek movie at least half a dozen times, I was good with this, there are a lot worse kids movies she could have wanted to watch over and over. She is papa's little buddy, she didn't want to go with her mom, just hang with papa. Carter and I are starting to bond. He would crawl towards the kitchen and I would say come to papa and he would crawl back to me and stand up on the couch between my legs, give me big smiles. He is really starting to get around and climbing up on stuff. Funny thing is, he still doesn't sit up, he is o.k. in the high chair but can't support himself on the floor. Mich thinks he is just too much on the go to take the time to sit still and strengthen himself for sitting up. Other than this you would never know he was such a preemie baby.

I locked into a mobile home to rent, it is a 2008 models so it is in good condition, good windows, floors, plumbing and heating. I will start renting the 1st or 2nd. I had to go the mobile home route because none of the apartment complexes in Kearney allow pets, my dog is a part of me so she goes where I go. Actually if I am careful the utility bills on the trailer won't be too bad. I do like having a yard, place for flowers and vegetable, plus a shed for my stuff. I decide to go ahead and get a place in Kearney now so if a job is offered I can start work without having to find a place to live first, my lease here is up March 31st, so I had to get something anyway.

O.k. now the job bit. I got a part time job at WalMart working the register/customer service counter back in the tire and automotive department. The job pays just over minimum wage, the manager said if I do well she will give me the max amount of hours allowed, I start in a couple of weeks. One of my recovery buddies told me the convenience store he works at was hiring ASAP, 2 people quit, yesterday I took in a job application and have an interview Monday, his manager told him she would hire anyone he recommended. I worked a couple of years part time in a convenience store so I know the gig, know how to run the gas console, Powerball machine, stock coolers and the rest. so if nothing else it appears I may have a couple of part time jobs to bring in some cash. I figure I can work part time jobs and keep applying for full time positions I am better qualified for, some thing will come along eventually.

Yesterday at 8:30am I got a call from the cattle company about the safety coordinator job, they did a first round over the phone interview, I had given up on hearing from them. I feel I did really well with the interview but my ideas and theirs may not be the same even though I talked pretty straight industry standards on safety with a few suggestions on how to make safety work for the company and employees. The person who did the interview said she would contact me either way if they decide on a second interview or not. I can't play head games with myself on getting this job so until further notice I am keeping on keeping on. I also have 2 other full time applications I am waiting to hear back on.

Been watching a lot of movies, if you get a chance rent " A Kind of Funny Story" wonderful feel good movie. "Twelve" was really good too, different take on the drug dealer and drug user movies. "Get Low" was brilliant, it is funny yet gets you to thinking, cast if awesome, Duvall at his best, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek are both awesome. An older movie I watched which was wonderful in a spiritual way was "Interstate 60" it wasn't a real popular movie so may be a bit hard to find depending on how big your rental store is, it is a road trip movie about choices and finding ones true self but not the clique Hollywood type. There is my Roger Ebert fill in of the week.

Well campers, thanks for all the great words of encouragement and love. I was successful with dumpster diving for boxes, so today I will be boxing up non-essentials. If the weather is getting you down remember spring is knocking on the door, the birds are coming back to the trees to sing to us, flowers are talking of rebirth and we will be sitting outside barefoot before you know it.

Peace Love and Light

This just in 4:45 pm 2/25/11, I got the 2nd interview for the Safety Coordinator job, Tuesday at 9:00 am. Face to Face interviews are where I can shine, I am fairly relaxed, I don't give snap replies, I process questions and in most peoples eyes this is good because they know I think before I act or react, I don't kiss up either for good or bad, I do my best to be my honest self. When I did interviews I didn't like people who kissed up or tried to suck up to me, bragged about themselves. It is good to be self confident but there is something phony in my opinion about a braggart, I feel braggarts tend to be all for themselves and less about being a part of team or willing to go the extra mile for others. Any hoo keep me in your prayers and positive vibes. Man I will really have to stay busy until Tuesday, see the anxiety rolling in right now.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Love Beats Hate-Learning to Love

My friend Lori at wrote a wonderful post on Love Beats Hate, complete with her little's holding up poster boards, please check it out. This is an FB cause/challenge I won't take part in for personal reasons but I will honor Lori's request to write a piece on it out of friendship and it is something I have compassion about and like reflecting on.

"In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher" His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I don't know who first told me "you shouldn't use the word hate, it is powerful and ugly". I doubt is was my parents, even though they didn't use the word hate much, they were just not strong teachers of intolerance, although they did teach us to treat others as we would like to be treated, kudos to them. Who ever it was, the phrase has stuck with me, my whole life.

Removing and correcting the word "hate" from my thoughts and words has been a life long challenge. To this very day when I catch myself thinking "I hate" this person or thing, I have to change my thinking to "I dislike". For me to hate is associated with wishing destruction upon someone. Either the physical, emotional or social destruction of that which goes against my beliefs, likes or thing which is treating to me. My biggest challenge in this arena is media figures who I believe to be dangerous to the world, America or even my small part of the world. It is really easy to say "I hate Fred Phelps and all he stands for" but to wish harm on him is wrong. If I believe in the force of the Universe, spiritual principles, then I must believe some how, some way, these dangerous people will pass on and have hope we as humans learn something from their ugliness which we can use for good. The evil of Hitler and the Third Reich has been a great teacher for intolerance in places where intolerance has had a strong hold, it has been used in intercity schools to counteract gang violence and association, it has been used in racist parts of the US to show kids where racism leads. It is sad 11 million people lost their lives to such evil but the loss has not been in vain and will continue not to be in vain as long as there are people willing to teach and live by principle of intolerance and assist others in understanding where it can ultimately lead.

For me a lot of changing my thought process has come from teachers who have been persecuted for their beliefs yet have been able to show compassion to the persecutors. How dare I in my grandiose way hold a resentment/hatred towards someone who has bruised my ego, challenged my philosophy or simply stepped on my toes. Holocaust survivors talk about having forgiveness for the atrocities against them, they may dislike but are not hateful and bitter, they understand how harboring hatred would ruin the rest of their lives. The Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh are both teachers of how I should show compassion to all, even towards those who have hurt me. These two men witnessed unspeakable crimes against their people yet have found it in their hearts to show compassion and love. I do my best to do as the Dalai Lama says and use those who transgress against me as teachers. I have never had any major acts of violence committed against me or my family, how ugly is it of me to wish ill will towards those who so superficially hurt me when people who have had great acts of violence committed against them, their families, their loved one, their race and nationality can show love and forgiveness. Others who fit this category are, Gandhi, Mandela, Dr. King, people who were on death row for crimes they didn't commit and finally released, civil rights activist, Native Americans, you can add your own to the list, which could get very long.

The other side to this for me is the recovery from a disease of selfishness and ego inflation gone wild. The Big Book says, "But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found it fatal." Just down from this Bill writes " If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for the alcoholic these things are poison."

When I relapsed, the fuel which kept me drinking in part was anger and resentment; I was resentful towards my ex for making me a single parent, towards her for killing herself and leaving my daughter motherless in her formative years, I was resentful against the war and those who took us to war, against religion, against a society who mocked and belittle anyone who didn't follow the status quo or refused to pledge blind allegiance, just to name few.Untreated, (one doesn't have to be active to be sick), alcoholism/addiction gives us thousand of reasons to blame other people, places or things for our misery.

The main person I was resentful towards was me. I hated me, what my life had become, what my daughters life had become, the hurt I cause to my parents, I wanted to die. I did not want to commit suicide in the conventional way, no this would have been too much for my daughter to have 2 parents commit suicide, I just kept hoping I would not wake up or have an alcohol induced heart attack or death. Yet I refused to quit drinking, the disease would tell me I wasn't that bad, or if I felt bad the desire would kick in, I would pick up, temporarily blotting out the pain only to have the depressing return, such is the vicious cycle of alcoholism/addiction.

The process of learning to love myself was a bit slow once I got sober. Through the aid of a great sponsor, one who always ended a conversation by saying "I love you", I started forgiving myself, this was also the result of working the steps with him. I learned to accept the mistakes made in the past and take the actions needed to correct the damage done. The actions were showing love, being responsible, not drinking or drugging and practicing spiritual principles to the best of my ability on a daily bases. He told me to pray for my ex wife and in time I forgave her, accepted the disease she suffered from. I stopped reading blogs which fueled my anti-government/society anger, this was part of practicing Right View, I distanced myself from the news even NPR. I came to accept what Bill said about anger and resentment, I take it to heart and know it can be fatal for me. Alcoholics and addicts have two great masters, one is our Higher Power which keeps us staying clean and sober, the other is the Disease. The disease lets us know if we don't take constructive action it will kill us. I don't want to die today.

Love has shown me how to live a peaceful life. Love has shown me how to find balance. This is not to say I still don't dislike things, I just no longer hate things enough to wish destruction. If this type of anger crops up, I reflect on it and see how the wrong view is damaging to my spiritual being. Love is the easier softer road, for me it seems it takes a lot less energy to love than to hate. The energy of love can be transmitted to others. My parents teaching of, treat others as you would have them treat you, is a gift, yah I know this is the Golden Rule found in all religions or spiritual practices. Some people never received this gift or ignored it, they live their lives in angry hatred which is sad. Somewhere in the Bible it says, "love the sinner, hate the sin", I replace the word "hate" with "dislike" for spiritual reasons.

The events of the last month have created a small resentment in my heart. I see this resentment and the damage it can cause. When the resentment rears its ugly head, I counteract it with thoughts of love and compassion. What happened, happened, I played my part in it. I do my best to apply acceptance to the situation at hand. I also know if I don't take action against the resentment it could in time lead to my death, maybe not physical but for sure spiritual. There is a catchphrase which goes "my disease is in the parking lot, doing push ups just waiting for me", harboring a resentment is a sure way for me to walk out into the parking lot and have the disease say "hey buddy, I am here for you, lets you and I work out this resentment thing, you don't need no Higher Power, you don't need those people, you don't need those steps. I will make you forget everything, I will blackout your mind for the time being, reality is over rated anyway." For an ex-drunk and lover of downers like me, it could happen this easily if I am not vigilant. The beauty is, it isn't hard work saying vigilant if I practice love and compassion on a daily bases, spirituality and living sober become a way of life, as long as I do the footwork.

Lastly, I have no direct power to change others views or actions on hatred, violence or intolerance. If I preach against violence, tried this with kids and their video games, or hateful words said, my preaching falls on deaf ears, no one likes to really be told, their ways are corrupt. I can only be a vehicle for love, tolerance and compassion in the way I live my life. If my life is attractive to someone and they wish to make the change then it is their choice, they are the ones how must seek a Higher Power to aid them, a personal means to find inter peace, to end suffering.

Well campers, that is my 2 cents worth. It is going to be a warm day here in Nebraska, highs in the mid 50's. Time to take down mom's Christmas lights, do a bit of work on the Explorer.

Peace Love and Light to all!

Monday, February 7, 2011

48 Years

Hey all, 48 years ago today I entered this world, "what a long strange trip it's been"!! I won't recount the journey, most of you know bits and pieces of it. Needless to say I am grateful to still be alive and also not locked up somewhere.

I am going to do something different here, I am going to Vent!. My morning started out with a text from my younger sister, wishing me happy birthday. I told her I hoped I would hear something on a job interview today, she replied "did you ask God for intervention". I replied, "faith without works is dead" and I have been doing the footwork and the rest was up to the Law of Karma. This has lead to a whole back and forth text conversation about basically her God versus my understanding of God.

My sister is one of those who went from drunken agnostic to sober born again Christian. Honestly folks I have nothing against Christianity, Jesus was an awesome teacher and if following his path and the path laid out in the Bible makes a persons life better, more peaceful by all means follow the path. I have seen many a sick person follow this path and become well. I know many who follow the path and are truly beautiful humans and dear friends of mine. What I don't like is when someone pushes their beliefs on me because they disagree with my beliefs. When it comes to being a Buddhist, most people to this out of total ignorance of Buddhism. All they know is the pop culture "fat smiling guy" who isn't the image of the real Buddha but was a Chinese monk. If you see an image of a skinny guy sitting in the lotus meditative position with his hair done in a funky do, it is probably closer to what the Buddha looked like but since photography was still 2500 years away no one living person really knows, same goes with what Jesus really looked like. I do find it amusing, Jesus is portrayed more like a European than a Middle Eastern Jew.

Anyhow my younger sister has always been one of those who thinks she is right. She is really like my dad, in that she won't give in to compromise, very opinionated. When she became a born again Christian, she imposed her views on everyone, in other words she got Preachy. She preached to her kids, her husband, co-workers and my family. When it became evident my dad wasn't going to live much longer, she became worried about him going to heaven, she gave him a book about heaven much to my amusement because dad had dementia and had stopped reading, plus dad didn't care about religion in the greater sense, he believed in his own way in a God force but I doubt he gave much thought the logistics of the God, wasn't intellectually inclined either, he lived a simple life without caring about philosophical things. She still preaches to my mom though. Now my mom is a good Christian, she goes to church every Sunday because as she says "it makes her feel better", she treats others with kindness, she admits her faults, she prays because she believes in the power of prayer and prayer aids those she cares about. She doesn't impose her views on others because she believes it isn't any of her business.

One of the things I like about Buddhism is, you are free to follow the path as you see fit. Like 12 step programs, the path is suggested. The choice is yours whether you are willing to go to any lengths to get what is offered by following the path, you can suffer as much or as little as you like. It is also about attraction not promotion. The few Buddhist teachers in the media spot light don't preach/witness. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is beautiful in this respect, a large majority of the time he is all smiles and compassion. If he is on the stage with other religious leaders, they tend to be all stern and somber, while he is smiling, laughing and making jokes. He understands rule 62 "don't take yourself to damn serious". I fall short on some of this; I still smoke, drink too much caffeine, don't do sitting mediation daily, don't have a formal teacher and still have some strong attachments I am working on.

Back to the text conversation. She didn't like my use of Law of Karma, she said it was God not Karma. I debated on responding but thought she needs hear where I am coming from, basically I wasn't going to allow her views to bully me. Like others I have allowed certain people to bully me and she one of those, so I decide I would stick up for my views. I replied back that I don't believe in God the way she does, I follow the Four Noble Truths, Eight Fold Path and believe in the Law of Karma. I told her this was my Higher Power/God of my understanding and the way I applied Spirituality to the practice of the 12 steps in my life, so I was better able to serve others and keep inter peace and serenity. She replied back with a Bible verse. I replied back, I fully comprehend Christianity but don't believe in it as a spiritual path for me, it is great it works for others but it isn't for me, I also said Jesus was a beautiful teacher but I don't agree with the Bible on a lot of things. I suggested she read "Living Buddha, Living Christ" by Thich Hnat Hanh to better understand where I am coming from, I also said "end of conversation. Agree to Disagree." She ended by saying this conversation wasn't Karma, it was ordained and orchestrated by Him, as a gift to me. She also said she loved me. My only reply back was I loved her too. She had the last word but I was know the texting was going nowhere, plus it was mentally exhausting, for one I am not the worlds best texter.

This conversation hasn't disrupted my day. It did temporarily make me angry. My selfish nature thought "how dare you on my birthday make it about you and your beliefs, couldn't you at least have consideration for my path on this one day!" What my heart told me was, I have to accept her for who she is, she hasn't grasped letting go of selfishness. She keeps herself in turmoil because she tends to worry too much about others beliefs and perceptions, how others are living their lives, this is her lot and I honestly feel sorry for her. My ego bit is to say, maybe she needs to sit in a few more meetings, listen to how it is about changing ourselves and not others, about accepting we can't change others, each person is the way they are out of some Divine providence which we as simple mortals have no control over.

I am not an angel when it comes to being non-selfish. I still get a bit angry when people don't act or react the way I feel they should, the reason I shy away from too much politics or the media attention on religion and world affairs. I get pissed when people can't grasp recovery principles, especially when they have been clean and sober for a number of years, when they only read the parts of the Big Book they like and skip over the rest. Yes I am just as guilty of playing God, wanting to change the will of the God concept to fit my needs instead of allowing the concept to takes it's natural course. I want people to read my resume and think "WOW what a great candidate for this position, better get him in here for an interview." Karma hasn't helped my resume, 2 jobs in 18 months, termination and I have a feeling my last employer isn't giving me a good reference because I really hurt her feelings and she is holding a recent towards me, just a guess, could be wrong. I did more footwork on Friday, so now I will just have to be still and see what happens.

I kept Angel again this weekend, we had a great time, mainly because grandpa lets her play with what every she wants as long as it isn't dangerous or breakable. She made a big mess and today I have to vacuum plus clean up a small mess I was too tired to fool with last night.

I am sober at 48, years of drunk driving didn't kill me or anyone else.
I have a family, sister above included, who love me and even if we disagree still want to talk to me.
I have wonderful daughter and 2 beautiful grand babies I am honor to watch all of them grow and be a part of their lives.
I have wonderful friends who give me love, encouragement and tough love when needed.
I have roof over my head, food in the frig, gas in the car and the main bills are paid up.
I can read and write, I can hear music, the voices of nature and other sounds.
I have a little dog who needs and loves me.
I have spiritual path I not only am comfortable with but enjoy walking, a connection to a God of my understand which is special and personal.
I am grateful for AA and the path it has given me.
I have inter peace and acceptance more times than not, I am no longer the confused and angry person I once was.
I love me today, I humbly say this is a biggie, once upon a time I didn't.

Love and Peace to all my blogger friends, you make me smile in more ways than you know, I am grateful for everyone of you. This day is about all who have touched my life!