Life: From A to Z


Fill the page with the breathings of your heart.

A quote by William Wadsworth with a minor tweak by yours truly.


Happy 2021 Everyone! February is right around the corner and I am finally getting back in the groove with a new series.

But first…

An Update: We suffered a little setback here at the abode in December. My mom and I both ended up sick on Christmas eve (I’ll talk about that another day with another letter of the alphabet). Although we are doing much… MUCH… better at the moment, we’ve been moving mighty slow for the past month.

I was forced to recalibrate my compass and focus on what matters—which was taking care of my mom for several weeks—and (thank God) it’s turned out to be a positive experience with some awesome perspective shifts. That being said, I’ve had a LONG time to think about this series and I’m excited to get things rolling!

When I did my series The Alphabet Game, I wrote about the things that I love from A to Z. In this new series, I’m going to talk about life and the thoughts that come to my mind as I scroll through the 26 letters. I’m also going to have some fun with illustrations—and there will be no judging here because I’m doing some of these for laughs as a little “play therapy.”


A DAY WITH A & B


AMBITION

The first word I thought about was ambition. I like to think of myself as one who has a lot of ambition (after I’ve had my coffee, of course), and ambition is a word that we hear from our parents, teachers, employers, and a truck load of self-help books. Then we grow up and talk about it with our kids, and we pray (and sometimes shout) that they’ll have some ambition when they grow up.

Ambition is at the top left of my image. She is up on the seesaw doing jumping jacks (of course!). Ambition is kind of like the engine of a car. Automobiles might look nice, or have fancy accessories, or even be stocked full of everything a person needs to do a long road or camping trip… BUT, it has to have a running engine (ambition) to move. Otherwise, that vehicle will be parked in the driveway looking all shiny and pretty—with no real desire to go anywhere. That’s what ambition is to me.

Another thing that came to mind is that ambition is one of those double edged words. A person can become obsessed about their dreams and desires if ambition gets out of control. As they race their way to the top (or what they think is the top), they trample all over anyone who gets in their way (people who have ambitions of their own) and they leave a big mess behind them. One ugly pile of greed. It’s kind of like a carbon footprint, but it consists of human beings that have been damaged in the process rather than greenhouse gas emissions.

ADDICTION

These thoughts about ambition led me to addiction because being over-ambitious is a lot like being an addict or an alcoholic. As a matter of fact, there’s a pretty BIG list of things that people can obsess about, overdo, or overindulge in that can reduce or destroy their quality of life and their relationships.

Off the top of my head—and aside from drugs and alcohol—people can overdo and become addicted to adrenaline (extreme sports), eating, exercise, gambling, gaming, money, pornography, sex, shopping, and even work.

Over-ambition looks a lot like addiction (to me) because when you’re over-ambitious it’s like you’re wearing blinders (denial maybe?). You can only see and focus on what’s in front of you, which is usually the things that YOU want. You lose that peripheral vision that allows you to recognize the needs of others. It takes some thoughtful self-reflection and willingness to look at yourself openly and honestly to see that you’ve gone bonkers outside of the boundary lines of normalcy and/or human decency.

Addiction is down on the ground there in my image. She’s holding her drink in one hand, and she’s holding herself up with the other. Let’s just hope she doesn’t knock over the seesaw and send the rest of the letters flying! What I’m trying to say here is that I think that there are many things in life that are fun and good, or even positive and useful—but only in moderation. When we wander into the land of “excess,” we’re headed towards instability.

BALANCE

I was so happy with where these thoughts took me, because I realized that life is ALL about balance. This is something that another blogger has said to me before, but sometimes I just have to see things for myself before they sink in.

I’ve included two balancers in my image—I suppose they could be twins—but one has lost her balance (I guess we need to call her imbalanced now) and she is tumbling toward the ground. Maybe she was over-ambitious with her jumping jacks, or maybe she drank too much? Who knows!? But look at her twin go! She is postured in the middle of the seesaw and is as stable as could be. Not too far to the right, and not too far to the left. She is perfectly balanced.

So, ambition is good and all, but what’s really important in life is balance. You don’t want too little of the things that make you tick, but you don’t want too much either. That’s my two cents anyway.

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed my thoughts about “A” and “B,” and my artwork as well.


Balance is the key to everything. What we do, think, say, eat, feel, they all require awareness and through this awareness we can grow.

Koi Fresco


I’ll be back in a few days to talk about the letter “C.”

Stay balanced!

No News is Good News

The Journey Continues…

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated my journal. On the one hand, it means that nothing exciting (or newsworthy) has been going on. On the other hand—and more importantly—the old idiom rings true: No news is good news.

Today marks 1,229 days of sobriety… so that’s good news!

Continue reading “No News is Good News”

The Next Chapter

Just hours after I said that I don’t have much to share these days, all kinds of thoughts started churning around. I haven’t even slept well the past two nights because my mind’s been racing! It reminded me of all the times I proclaimed that I was going to do a new image series, and then the whole idea would just fizzle out. I can never seem to stick with a plan! This time it worked for my benefit though… sort of reverse psychology, I guess.

I was going through my files yesterday, doing a little housecleaning, and I came across one of my old posts; back when I first started the blog. It was such a great reminder to me, and the timing was perfect!

When my friend Gil first encouraged me to write, and to share my story with others, it was the first time in SO long that I felt my life had purpose. I not only had my sobriety, I had this HOPE that I could share with others. I think my exact words were that “I was going to write the story of how my life was transformed.”

I’m going to cut to the chase now: I’m ready for the next chapter!

I’ve had this idea—kind of a vision about my future—for over a year now. If you hadn’t noticed, my image here represents a page of my book. I know, I know, it’s not exactly spectacular and it kind of looks like a paper bag, but HEY, it’s slowly being turned to reveal the first page of the new chapter; Chapter Two.

But, there’s nothing there!

That’s exactly where my vision came from. One of the biggest hurdles that I had to get over in sobriety was to stay that way. 60 days, 90 days, the countdown went on. And on. Coming from a place where I’d done so much damage to my life that I was left standing in a pile of rubble, and then reaching all of those milestones and realizing that life was good, God was great, and that I was sober; I found myself at another hurdle. A more complicated hurdle. What next??

That’s how going back to school came about, and with every passing day my vision is morphing and growing, and becoming more and more possible. So… what next? I’d like to set up a program to work with others who are in recovery. People who have reached or are nearing that hurdle; that what next phase of their recovery. Getting sober is hard, but “living sober” is a journey. And for people like me who hit rock bottom, it means there’s a life to rebuild. A second chance. A new beginning!

I’m still making notes, doing my research, getting questions answered, and so on, but I thought that now was a good time to share the idea. I was hesitant because… well, sometimes I have a hard time sticking to a plan! But, a year’s gone by and the dream hasn’t gone away. It’s been blossoming, really. I pray about it a lot, and lately everything keeps pointing to the fact that this may actually come to fruition.

I’ll start small—baby steps—with just one person, but I gotta be honest here…

I’m dreaming BIG.

Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.

A Bit of Humility?

Awhile back I received a private message from someone about my blog. In the message, they mentioned something about my attachment to religion. Believe it or not, the very first thought I had was:

“RELIGION!?! I’m not attached to religion! I have a relationship with God!”

I didn’t reply to the message with that thought, but it’s exactly what came to mind. Where on earth does my blog say that I am attached to religion? If you were to review my posts all the way back to day one, I would bet a dollar that you would rarely- if ever– find the word religion. Not that I intentionally omit it, mind you, it’s just a word that I don’t use very often. Or even think of really.

So… today is actually the perfect day for this post. It is the seven month anniversary of my baptism. Alright, so maybe THAT sounds religious. Anyway, my point is that today is a good day to share what I’ve been learning this past week- which will also explain more about my desire to separate topics on the blog. Sobriety and MY walk with God…

I’m not afraid to admit my mistakes. Optimism is a real blessing when it comes to recognizing my wrong thinking. I become excited (and grateful) that I’m fortunate enough to be learning lessons, because that is growth! And I learn a little more about humility, and sometimes even humiliation… but that’s OK. I’ve seen far worse things than that!

What I’m being led to these days is that my thoughts on how to approach others who want to recover has been a bit off. It seems as though I was right in feeling that I wasn’t quite ready, because it appears that I was NOT! I’ve done a little more rewording in my big book reading, and how it applies to ME, step 12, and my approach toward others:

“Because of my own drinking experience, I can be uniquely useful to other alcoholics.

I CANNOT start out as an evangelist or reformer.

Tell the other person exactly what happened to ME. Stress the spiritual feature freely. If the person be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that they do not have to agree with MY conception of God. They can choose any conception they like, provided it makes since to THEM.

The main thing is that they be willing to believe in a Power greater than themselves, and that they live by spiritual principles.

Use everyday language to describe spiritual principles. There is no use arousing any prejudice they may have against certain theological terms and conceptions about which they may already be confused.

Don’t raise such issues, no matter what your own convictions are!”

Being stuck in your alcoholism (or any addiction) is sometimes referred to as being in the pit. And I know that this is true, because I’ve been there. A few times!

A friend of mine uses the phrase “going down into the trenches” for working with other alcoholics, and it actually works as the perfect analogy for what came to me the other night; so here it is…

Someone is down in the pit. I am standing up above the pit, on safe ground, and they are calling up to me for help. The way I was headed with my original thoughts was to call down to them: “Seek God!! Pray!! He can help you if you let Him… but first you must believe!”

If you’ve followed my posts awhile, I think you might see that this has been my mindset… and BOY does it sound silly now… as I write this. What would REALLY benefit them is if I was to go down into that trench (pit) with them, listen and get to know them, tell them about MY experiences in the pit… and then show them the steps that led ME out, and will lead THEM out if they are willing to take those steps.

My job is not to preach, it is to help.

God never forces Himself on anyone, nor does He expect me to. We are His body, and I am confident that He would prefer that I forgo any thoughts about preaching, and get my butt down there, in that trench, and help get that person out!

So… that explains my reasons for wanting to separate the topics. When I talk about recovery, I want to teach myself how to speak of it correctly…

…which is without prejudice.

Of course the other lesson I am learning is READ YOUR BOOKS!

Blessings-

Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak. G.K. Chesterton

Forgiving ME

It’s been two weeks since I wrote part seven of the Confessions series, yet it feels like months! Time is really different these days. I used to blink an eye and somehow years had passed. Now, what seems like eons to me is merely a few days or weeks. I love that!

If you’d like to read this series in it’s entirety, the beginning is here.

When I left off,  I had discovered that my wrongful, negative opinion of myself during adolescence had lingered on (subconsciously) and was perhaps a major cause of my self-destructive behavior throughout life.

Looking back on my story truly IS like watching a movie. I see confusion and struggles, hope and triumphs—all spiraling around chaotically—until finally, everything merges together, and the glorious climax is produced. That feel good moment, when it all comes together and makes sense.

That’s how I see it anyway.

Confessions: Part Eight

Shortly after writing A Child of God, I proceeded to do steps four and five of the program, which requires you to write down your resentments, find your own fault in these matters, and then share these thoughts with another human being (my sponsor).

It was extremely difficult to list resentments. I rarely hold a grudge. I’m an optimist, so I always look for the good in every situation, and I’m really good at moving on. Honestly, there is only ONE person that I ever felt real hatred towards. And I had already forgiven him.

I wish I could write about all that went on during my marriage; how one person could torment another human being both while living together, AND in the five to ten years following. Even if I COULD document it all, I wouldn’t share it here. I’m pretty sure that’s not what God would want.

I spent time on my inventory and came up with a pretty good list. Obviously, it takes TWO to tango. So, I listed my part; how I had been so hateful and how I had reacted in anger and behaved badly myself. Like I said , I’ve always been Re-active, not Pro-active. That whole era was nothing but a recipe for disaster.

Sitting down with my sponsor was nerve racking—mainly because I had to do a sex inventory. That was NOT pretty. I mean it wasn’t UGLY… it was just LONG. Sorry, I have to be honest here. Sex & love were intertwined, and I was a LOVE addict– so it’s pretty self-explanatory.

It was a gorgeous day when I met with my sponsor. We sat outside, on the covered patio of her home, and I proceeded to tell her my story. Finally… we got around to my marriage, and it was time to share MY role in the disaster. I had mentally prepared myself to hear her thoughts; about how the role I had played was much bigger or much worse than what I was willing to admit, and how I had behaved so selfishly.

That being said, when I started giving her the rundown—and she interrupted me—I was ready for the one-two punch. Shaking her head gently, and speaking with her usual soft tone, she said… “No Janet. That’s not it.”

Then, with three little words… she changed my whole perspective.

“You picked him.”

What?!? I don’t know. I feel embarrassed even writing that because I’ve always considered myself to be a smart woman. Why had I never thought of that? Blinded by my own thoughts and perceptions perhaps?

I wish I could give you a visual of my feelings that day. It was very similar to stumbling on the word angst that day when I was writing about my inner child. Only this time, it was like the weight of the world, that had somehow taken up residency on my shoulders, was magically dissolving… drifting away… like little musical notes floating up to the heavens.

It’s safe to say that I had been holding on to a TON of guilt. I had made many mistakes during my marriage and there was no way I could ever go back and undo what I had done, and that guilt must have been eating away at my soul for years.

What I realized that day with my sponsor is that I really HAD forgiven him…

…but I had never forgiven MYSELF.

So, God’s timing was perfect. Within a matter of weeks I was embracing and loving my inner child, and now—with the help of my sponsor—I saw that the biggest mistake I had made in regards to that horrible marriage was entering into it in the first place. And it was true! I KNEW something was wrong from the very beginning. My gut had given me so MANY warnings, and I had ignored ALL of the red flags. And no, her words didn’t change things, but it changed how I looked at those things.

My eyes were opening up… and I was beginning to see LIGHT!

Lovin’ the Leaf

Anyone can love a rose, but it takes a lot to love a leaf. It’s ordinary to love the beautiful, but it’s beautiful to love the ordinary

The featured image is my grandson and his leaf. So cute!

Anyway, I’ve had time to think about my rambling thoughts from last night, about my confinement, and I realized how wrong my thinking was. Staying away from the things that aren’t good for me is not confinement at all. It’s like—as they say in the program—knowing that the hot stove will burn you, but wanting to put your hand on it anyway.

Feeling confined is almost like asking; How long do I have to wait before I touch that stove again?!?

That’s silly! I’m glad I was able to look at things from a different perspective today. And as far as that burnout thing, I got my mojo back this morning and it’s all systems go.

Peace & Love!