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.

Finding Rest

I found the words this morning! So, I am going to go with it, with very little editing… so I hope this all makes sense. I guess the coolest thing I’ve found about studying the word trust is that it keeps leading me to new words.

This morning the word was REST.

First of all… here is what I’ve learned about what it means to trust God…

He is a place of refuge, and (in) Him we are surrounded by His protection and embraced by His compassion. Trusting Him means: to lean on Him, to rely on Him, to hold onto Him, to flee to Him for protection, to stay, to hope, to expect, to be patient, and to linger in expectation… and wait.

It also has a lot to do with being on the inside. Examples are:

to be firm (in), to confide (in), to have confidence (in), to be secure (in), to seek refuge (in), to feel safe (in), to have assurance (in), to abide (in) and to find rest (in).

This morning finding rest in Him was what I decided to focus on because it relates to surrender…

My struggles with surrender have very LITTLE to do with “lack of trust” in God, but have everything to do with what I am accustomed to; which is ME being in charge.

That’s my former way of life.

I spent DECADES as an unbeliever, so the fact of the matter is… I spent decades trying to play God. I was seated on the throne, and I remained there until my imaginary kingdom was in ruins, and I was as close as I ever want to be to… death from alcohol.

Anyway, I feel really good right now because I know it just takes time.

When I call myself an alcoholic it feels really weird. I don’t drink anymore, nor do I have any desire to. But… as they say… alcoholism is but a symptom. In truth, alcohol is just ONE of things that I’ve been addicted to, chased, followed or even worshiped. False gods.

My life was FULL of them; Alcohol, drugs, money, success, shopping, and the love of a man… to name a few.

I won’t say that I sat on this imaginary throne feeling all-powerful, because I had very LITTLE power. I just didn’t know any better. I lived a life run by self-will, and I sought anything and everything that I thought would fill that huge void, make me happy, and fix my life.

Page 62 of the A.A. big book states “…the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot” and that is truer and true. I ran rampant!

Not until I had no other options… and was completely and utterly hopeless, did I look to God. But, He did exactly what He promises to do. He was there for me, and He led me out of that dark pit. Even after decades of rebellion.

So… what does this have to do with today? Well… what I discovered recently was that although I have great passion for writing and photography, those are “extras”. They are His blessings, and I cannot REST in those things, nor can I look to them to be the source of my happiness and security.

This is something that I was feeling inside, so it might not be so obvious to anyone else. But the fact of the matter is, what is happening inside of us is THE most important thing.

I began pursuing something and… without really realizing it… I was leaving God behind. I put something else FIRST. I ended up feeling irritable, confused, a little lost… and depressed. I knew something was wrong. Everything was bugging me. My camera was not good enough. I couldn’t find the right things to take pictures of, I was tired of trees and birds, yada yada yada. That’s one reason I was so happy to go to my sister’s house for a week. I needed to regroup.

Anyway… I realized what was wrong, admitted my problem, took a U-turn, and there He was. Waiting for me to return so that He could shower me with His love and surround me with His grace. How sweet is that?!

Everything is just as it should be today. And I came across a great quote that I want to keep close to me from here on out:

Everywhere the King is King, there is the Kingdom.

That’s so easy to remember, and a great reminder for me to stay OFF of that throne.

I need to surrender daily, and simply allow the King to be King. In HIS kingdom is where I am content, loved and full of joy…

…and it is where I find my REST.

Today is a good day, and God is GREAT!!!

Success is not what I’ve done compared with what others have done. Success is what I’ve done compared with what God has called me to do. Lecrae Moore, Unashamed

This doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my art. No way!! I’ve just put it back into it’s proper place in my priorities.

Shades of Spring

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Francis of Assisi

I’m not a huge fan of pastels, but I thought this was a good fit for the season. And I’m pretty sure that this is a dove. Pigeons and doves confuse me sometimes.

I don’t know if I shared that quote before, but it’s been my mantra for the past week and will continue to be for awhile. I realized recently that I was getting WAY ahead of myself for a little while. Or way ahead of God I should say. Sometimes I get some grandiose ideas and then I realize that there are still very small things that I’ve yet to tackle!

That’s a bit humbling. And alcoholic thinking.

Anyway, I guess a good thing to remember when walking with God is to walk WITH Him, not a mile or so ahead! What’s funny is I’ve been thinking about that a lot and wanted to do a post called No Shortcuts! Then today, I’m reading In the Grip of Grace, by Max Lucado and I came across this:

“What we consider shortcuts God sees as disasters.”

Amen to that. I’ve taken shortcuts for so many years that it’s still a struggle to pause and be still sometimes, but I am definitely making progress! And I’m going to be working on the little things that need to be done. For now. 🙂

I may still write that post. Later. For now it’s time for lights out.

Have a beautiful day!

Are You in There?

Sometimes I look in the mirror and say… “where did my personality go?!?” 

Well… maybe I don’t look in the mirror and say it, but I DO wonder what’s up with me lately. And I don’t mean it in a horrible, sad, woe is me way either. It’s just that I get to the point (now and then) when I realize it’s been WAY too long since I’ve had a good laugh. I still chuckle, but I don’t LOL like I used to.

I had a dream last night that I was drinking. How bizarre is that?!?! It was weird!

I don’t even think about drinking, at ALL, so I have NO idea where it came from. I hope it’s not because I’m back in the A.A. circuit and listening to all that talk about alcohol… absorbing some kind of subliminal messages or something?

The meetings really ARE going well though.

Also, I’m emailing my sponsor my resume and we’re going to work on finding me a part time job. Finally. I haven’t given up on the photography and writing- but for now I’m cool with just having them as fun-time hobbies. I haven’t even been out much with the camera lately- which is why I am pulling out archives these days.

Life is good and God is great!!

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

The Confession Series

The Confession Series

Confession: When I titled this series I was not really aware of what a Chameleon was. And I’m not talking about the lizard. I know the lizard, which in reality is all that came to mind when I was deciding on the name.

After publishing the first segment, I was surprised to find out that the Chameleon also refers to a borderline personality disorder. And in reading about the disorder, I have to be honest and say that I had a few of those Uh-Oh moments. Kind of like an Aha moment, but not quite as exhilarating. Ha!

Anyway, it took finding and looking to God for me to finally realize the errors of my ways, and to start becoming the ME that He created me to be.

Is my story over? Never.


Part One: I didn’t believe in God, so I never really feared going to hell… but then again, I didn’t need to. Hell had made its way to earth and was coming for ME.

Part Two: I was a shy and quiet girl, from a perfectly normal family, who JUST wanted to fit in and be liked.

Part Three: I want to say that the job taught me to be shrewd, but that sounds harsh. Simply put, it was the first thing in my life that gave me a sense of my own identity.

Part Four: Left to my own devices- I will overdue things to the point of self-destruction, sickness, or far worse- Death.

Part Five: Hands sweating, heart racing, vision slightly blurred and my mind in a fog (but sober!), I put my foot on the gas, and held on tight to the wheel.

Part Six: If the hole was round, this square peg would become ROUND, dammit, because I was going to fit!

Part Seven: I needed to replace my unhealthy addiction of chasing love (the wrong kind), for the sake of my sanity and my recovery, and now I’ve finally found perfect and healthy substitutes!

Part Eight: …it was like the weight of the world, that had somehow taken up residency on my shoulders, was magically dissolving… and drifting away… like little musical notes… floating up to the heavens.

Glass Half Full

Yes, my glass is always half full (non-alcoholic beverages, of course). And, as my sponsor says… it is also refillable. 🙂

I’m experimenting with glass over images and this is my first test run. The trees were shot at the old zoo today, and in reading a tutorial last night I was led to Image*After, which is where I found the glass. Continue reading Glass Half Full

The Valiant Blogger Award

HALL OF VALOR

Liz of Daily Warriors  created, and nominated me for the Valiant Blogger Award.

Thank you so much Liz!

The Valiant Blogger Award is for the blogger who is brave and courageous. It is dedicated to someone who, despite being faced with the most difficult obstacles in life, chooses to fight on and never give up. It is for the lionhearted, one who faces fears and challenges, who has become an inspiration to others along the way.

RULES:
1. Post the award on your blog (Done).
2. Provide a link to the Hall of Valor (See above).
3. In 200 words or less, share about the greatest challenge in your life and HOW you got through it (See below).
4. Give one piece of advice to people who are struggling with something in their life (Look to God).
5. Thank the person who nominated you, nominate a new blogger for the award, and make sure to let the blogger you chose for the award know that you nominated them (See below).

The greatest challenge in my life, and HOW I got through it.

I’m honored to accept this award, and grateful that I have this opportunity to write about my biggest struggle: Alcoholism Belief, and HOW I got through it.

My blog is filled with my story- in several long versions, and to narrow it down to 200 words (or at least ONE post) is something I’ve been wanting to do. A challenge, mind you, but challenge accepted.

I’ll never forget what someone said to me at the beginning of my journey:

“There is only ONE thing that you need to change about yourself, and that is EVERYTHING.”

Alcoholism is a symptom, and recovery takes work. The bottom line is that I had a spiritual malady. I had no belief.

Having reached the point where I knew that I needed a power greater than myself, and after forty years of living life with no belief, I finally sought God. It feels strange to say that I had to seek Him, because He doesn’t hide. WE hide.

Coming to believe, for ME, was work. Besides prayer, I spent a lot of time learning about God- by reading Scripture, and countless books by Christian writers. Philip Yancey, for one, because he is straight forward, honest, and unafraid to talk about his struggles and doubts- and he works through those in his writing. I totally relate, because I too have found that writing is my best tool for working through all of my struggles.

What I’ve learned is that things of the world, can mold, bend, warp and shape you. The more you listen to, believe in, or act certain ways, the bigger these ways GROW. I’ve learned that I need to call out, and put a halt to MY ways (Surrender) – and turn to His ways. And this makes complete sense to me because MY ways almost killed me.

The advice that I’ll share came from another friend in recovery:

“ALL things and people will inevitably let you down, or leave you at some point. What you must find, believe in, trust, and surrender to, is the ONE thing that is constant; never changes, never lets you down, and never leaves you… and that is God- your Higher Power.”

And… as they say in the program: May you find Him now.

Thanks again Liz. I’m sorry it took awhile to write the post, but I needed to have a clear head. I tend to think that what I’ve learned since I came to believe is what I need to share, but I’ve discovered that just coming to believe is a struggle in itself…for so many.

I nominate Rick Christensen, for one- because his presence here has been a real blessing. He’s like a roaming display of God’s amazing grace. Always encouraging. In addition, each and every blogger who reads or stumbles on this post- who bravely shares the tales of their struggles and victories.

You are all valiant in my book.

 

A Tale of Redemption

faith2

A few things happened today that really moved me, but I’m only going to talk about one for now. Tonight was the meeting that I co-secretary for, and it turned out to be a pretty emotional meeting.

There’s something that I’ve been wanting to talk about, but I was never sure if the time was right, or if bringing it up was even the right thing to do. Tonight I got the answer (and permission).

I’ve mentioned before that I have three grandsons. A photo of my oldest grandson (who is eight) is here in the blog, buried back in an old post. I have far fewer photos of him than I do of the other two, because I don’t see him that often. He lives with his mother and grandparents, and his father (my son) is now married and has the two younger boys.

His mother is a recovering heroin/meth addict.

I was in my four years sober without a program phase when I met her over eight years ago, and she had just gotten clean at the time. I liked her instantly, and saw a lot of myself in her. Then… she relapsed, and nothing but chaos followed.

As God would have it, she and I ended up at the same church, same Monday night recovery class, and Thursday/Saturday night meetings. Actually, we were both baptized on the same day too! August 14th, 2016.

Anyway, it’s been a LONG journey for her. She has exactly 3 months more time than me, so when I received my nine month chip- she took her one year cake. Tonight I asked her to lead the meeting, and she shared her story for the very first time.

Fifteen years of addiction. From age twenty to age thirty five the longest she was ever able to stay clean was six months. She has moved around- between her parents home, rehab, sober living homes, and the streets.

She has overdosed multiple times, been hospitalized, and finally…

…in December 2015 she gave it to God. She let Him know that He could either help her overcome her disease of addiction, or she was jumping off the freeway bridge.

She never took that leap.

THAT is a tale of redemption.

God bless her.

The photo is the first in my series Finding the Divine in the Mundane. The bird and design is actually painted on the back of a trash bin—at a nearby park.

After hearing her heartbreaking story, I thought it went along well.

God does not make junk.

I’m so proud of you T! I love you!

A Note on Gratitude

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

I should make it a habit to write in the morning. My outlook is so good when I first wake up. At night my thoughts get lost in a fog of the day’s events, and I’m not always thinking clearly.

First of all I’m going to change my image challenge. The things I’m grateful for isn’t working for me at all! I’m finding it hard to use my imagination when it comes to choosing and/or creating photographs that coincide with the many things I’m grateful for, and the frustration in that process is trying to steal my joy! Go figure. 😉

Anyway, I really can’t narrow down my gratitude like that either. When it comes down to it… I’m grateful to God, and I’m grateful for life. My sober life. My new freedom in Christ. Everything beyond that is an added bonus.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.­ –Matthew 6:33

A fellow blogger (Jeff) mentioned something in a comment that I TRULY understand and appreciate- about being grateful for EVERYTHING– even the times of anguish and despair, as they are indicators of and preliminaries to growth.

Everything that’s ever happened in my life is what led me here today. There is no looking back and wanting to change a thing. Not a single iota. That thought, in itself, is an eye-opening and amazing thing to grasp.

I can’t even imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t gone through the struggles, the anguish, and the despair. Most likely, I wouldn’t have sought God, and would lack this awesome sense of gratitude that I have today!

So, YES… I am grateful for EVERYTHING.

Wow, I’m glad I decided to write this morning. What a great way to start the day!

Blessings, Peace and Love Everyone!

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!

Confinement

So, don’t freak out… but tonight my mood is confined.

I guess that’s a mood, no? Today was absolutely weird. This evening I felt kind of burned out on the photography. Second, I haven’t felt like writing because there is either too MUCH on my mind, or nothing at all! I did say I was going to relax, but my mind was like mush!

And then tonight I got a call from a man friend. One that I wrote about in my first story… a man that I pursued. He was a part of the whole big mix of my loneliness- unhealthy relationships- drinking pattern. I felt trapped. Maybe I’m just afraid of what might happen when I step out of this safety net of singleness and get back out there.

It’s funny because I was just thinking earlier that since the photography and writing are good replacements for my old BAD habits… if I lost the passion for those things then what would I do next? And then he called. A little bad timing I guess. So now that I’ve said all that, maybe I don’t feel trapped after all. Maybe I feel that it IS a trap.

A trap that I don’t want to fall into.

What IS the Hurry?

Hurry always empties a soul. Ann Voskamp

Today my mood was: HURRIED.

What’s funny about the word hurry is that it could lead you to believe that I was hurrying around—doing lots of activities. The truth of the matter is that I hardly moved, and I accomplished very little! All of the rushing around was in my head. I’ve got too many thoughts—on too many subjects—and I can’t seem to nail a single one down and address it.

An interesting phrase I heard in my recovery meeting tonight is that we THINK about our thoughts.

It’s true!

Confessions: Part Seven

We had an interesting topic come up during our meeting last night. The enemy. Cunning, baffling and powerful. I decided that this subject would be a great opener for the final chapter.

Why DO we believe negative things about ourselves, and where DO those thoughts come from in the first place? Why do we self-sabotage and attempt to destroy ourselves, either in an instant… or through painfully slow methods… like our addictions?

A revelation came to me after writing the following in Part Two:

“You know… perception is funny. As I’m writing this, it makes me wonder. Where on earth did I get the idea that being cool meant doing those things, anyway? Is that a preconceived notion I had, or did someone tell me that?”

Seriously! Where DID I get the idea that alcohol, drugs and failing school were cool?

Which brings me to the final chapter…

Life Goes Full Circle

Exactly one year ago today, on January 6th of 2016, my eyes were finally opened to God’s existence, and His divine intervention in my life. That’s a story in itself, and I think I’ll cover more of that sometime in another series! Maybe I’ll call it Beautiful God Shots.

After I came to believe, I spent a lot of time writing and learning about God. I made it through 6 months of sobriety before I broke both of my ankles, and the relapses were set in motion. All of that is in my other story: Unteach Me.

It wasn’t the broken ankles that did it, though. Loneliness and bad romance(s) were my triggers, and the two took turns knocking me down. Loneliness, romance (heartache) and the bottle… and repeat. Like a broken record!

Gil suggested that I step away from the men for a while, not to mention the fact that you’re supposed to abstain from any new relationships during the first year of sobriety. What I found difficult about THAT was that love was ALL that I knew, or cared about.

Whenever I talk about being grateful for my PASSION for writing and photography… THAT is one reason. I needed to replace my unhealthy addiction of chasing love for the sake of my sanity and my recovery, and now I’ve finally found perfect and healthy substitutes! See, alcohol wasn’t exactly the problem– it’s was a symptom.

After the BAD relapse (and hospitalization) in March 2016, I started writing again. It seems crazy that my story takes me all the way back to adolescence, but there’s good reason for that. That’s when I became aware of (and obsessed about) death, that’s when I started dabbling in the drinking, AND… that’s when I felt like such a misfit; a terribly awkward outsider among the majority of my peers. What I’ve now learned is that I didn’t just FEEL like that…

I believed it!

And even more eye-opening is the fact that not ONE living soul on earth ever told me I didn’t fit. It came from somewhere else. From someone unseen. That damn enemy!

When I wrote the FIRST draft of the last chapter of Unteach Me, I kicked my inner child to the curb. SHE was the reason that my life went south. SHE was the crazy weirdo. THAT is what I believed—with every fiber of my being. At the innocent age of thirteen, the evil and calculated deception had started and I believed the lies that were being whispered in my ear. I had the awful chapter completed… demanding that my inner child take a hike so that I could get on with my life.

A woman in my recovery group talked about her inner child. She said that she nurtured her. She had a childhood picture of herself—taken before she drank—and she talked to her as a mother would talk to her daughter. It was a healing process for her.

That’s when I sent the draft of my final chapter to the cutting room floor, decided to rewrite it; and titled it A Child of God.

I had been praying, and digging into my past, and I know for a fact that God was orchestrating things that day. I was searching for a term to describe my emotions during adolescence, and I was led to the word angst. That is also when I stumbled on numerous articles on teenage angst. And that was when I made my first discovery. I wasn’t WEIRD, I had simple experienced teenage angst. And it’s quite common. So… that’s how embracing my inner child came about. I realized that believing I was a weirdo was the root of my problems, and I’d never addressed the issue in all my years!

I finally figured out where things had gone wrong, and I was now ready to allow that inner child to heal, grow, and be free! In me!

That’s when everything started to go up, up, UP.

Read Part Eight

Angst, often confused with anxiety, is a transcendent emotion in that it combines the unbearable anguish of life with the hopes of overcoming this seemingly impossible situation. Without the important element of hope, then the emotion is anxiety, not angst. Angst denotes the constant struggle one has with the burdens of life that weighs on the dispossessed and not knowing when the salvation will appear. —Urban Dictionary

 

Peace and Love!!

Just a Note

I started working on the final post for the Confessions series, and it’s taking longer than I had hoped. Especially now that I’m at the end, and there’s a lot to pack into a page.

And to top if off, my excitement about photography has my adrenaline pumping these days, so it’s hard to think about writing. Isn’t that weird?! Sometimes I feel like a kid in a candy store!

It feels like I never say much anymore- so I wanted to make a post just to say hello!

My friends took this photo, and I liked that I was carrying my camera at the old zoo. It speaks to me, about how I intend to make 2017 a great year.

I was also thinking about a post I made when I turned 55; my to do 55 things that I’ve NEVER done before throughout my 55th year. I guess I have my work cut out for me.

I wanted to list what I HAVE done, and then take it from there… because I hope to share some of the new things I do along the way, in my blog. It gives me something to shoot for this year!

  1. I greeted at church for the first time ever
  2. As of Thursday, I’ll be co-secretary at meetings- that’s a first
  3. I took a photo of a stranger (I guess that counts)
  4. I hiked at the Old Zoo
  5. I served at the Lord’s Kitchen at church (I’ll need to do that more)
  6. I took a photo of leaves blowing in the wind!
  7. I passed out candy at Trunk or Treat on Halloween
  8. I took a photo of raindrops!

I think I’ll be cheating if I keep using new photos to fill my list, but HEY… why not?! This list might not seem like much to some people, but considering my recent sobriety (almost 10 months now) and new walk with God… yeah…

this is all pretty BIG to me.

God is great and life is good!

Unteach Me

I titled my story Unteach Me because I’ve learned throughout the last two years, after finding God, that I’d always been looking at life wrong. Not only did I have a lot to learn, but I had a lot to unlearn.

The following was written before I started my blog, so I shared a piece a day after I decided to share my story. Just in case anyone would ever like to read the story in it’s entirety, I thought I would add this table of contents to make it easier to navigate.


  1. IN THE BEGINNING: Looking back, I can clearly see that this would have been the perfect time for me to find God. Instead, I found alcohol.
  2. REWRITING YOUR STORY: The very first drink I took fixed everything. I was no longer tongue-tied. I felt comfortable in my own skin. I was courageous!
  3. THE AUTHOR OF MY LIFE: I was always STRIVING. I strove to be ultra-independent, to make money, and to be totally self-reliant. Then I strove to be stress-free so that I could somehow be happy and content!
  4. SWEET SURRENDER: Nearly two years ago, in the throes of a downward spiral, I fought to hold myself and my business together- by a thread. The harder I held onto that thread the more everything seemed to unravel.
  5. HEARING GOD’S WHISPER: Whenever I talk about finding God, I always wonder how people perceive that. You know… like… I wonder if they think I saw a vision (or thought that I did).
  6. A LIGHTER LOAD: Whenever I quit drinking before, it was merely that. I quit picking up the glass. I would continue on…just as I had (but with a clear head).
  7. GIRL TALK-PART ONE: I hit my first DETOUR in June of last year. I was living in a studio, and had just started a part-time job that would keep me there.
  8. GIRL TALK-PART TWO: The world around me had groomed me in such a calculated way that I was fooled, and I was just beginning to see things in a new light.
  9. A SPRINKLE OF FAITH: I began with a blank piece of paper, and had absolutely no idea how it would all turn out, but I set my sights on a glorious future. The possibilities were boundless.
  10. THE COMEBACK KID: After getting back on my feet, both in sobriety and with the broken ankles finally healing, my journey got real. Stupid real.
  11. FIGHTING TO WIN: When I mentioned “taking down the enemy” in my last post, I was talking about sobriety…and my own spiritual battle. I wasn’t declaring war on men.
  12. THROUGH GOD’S EYES: Perhaps imagining how people look through God’s eyes was helping me grasp that things aren’t always black and white. I was learning to appreciate the bigger picture, where the two extremes merge together to create countless shades of gray.
  13. THE GREAT ESCAPE: I realized that my things were holding me hostage. I had created my own prison, trying to hold on to all of that stuff, and now the shackles were coming off.
  14. A STEP FORWARD: If they hadn’t challenged me, I might still be up on my diva-like pink throne… daydreaming about another fish to fry and buying time until my next fall.
  15. A CHILD OF GOD: How I saw things now was that a curious young girl stood before me… full of intriguing thoughts and questions about life… and I silenced her.

Roots

Root is an extremely important word for me today. Throughout the past two years I have been reflecting on my life and writing about it, in an attempt to get to the ROOT of my problems.

Noun: The basic cause, source, or origin of something
Verb: Establish deeply and firmly (be rooted)

As of January 7, 2015, the day that I first attained sobriety (though relapses occurred), and the day that my wholehearted search for God began bearing fruit, I’ve spent a lot of time becoming deeply rooted in Him and His Word. And as of March 7, 2016; the day that is now my sobriety date, I’ve worked at being well rooted in my recovery program.

Gil always reminds me that we have seasons in our lives. I do see that, and I believe that after many, MANY months of reading not only God’s Word, but some great books by C.S. Lewis, Max Lucado, Philip Yancey, and even A.W. Tozer; my roots—although baby roots—have taken hold. I also believe that in starting this blog, a new season came upon me, which I guess was the outpouring of my story. Prior to that, you’d most likely find me in the recliner chair with a book in hand, at a recovery meeting, or at church functions (a far cry from my barhopping days!).

The thing that I need to be careful of is that I remember that blogging is a part of the mix, not a replacement for those crucial and lifesaving activities. That’s what my focus in 2017 is going to be; maintaining a healthy balance.

I saw a post on Facebook last night, and it was a GREAT reminder:

Joining AA is like joining the Mafia. Anywhere you go in the world, you have family. But… if you leave… you die.

The same can be said about following Jesus. I have family everywhere! But I need to stay rooted. I need to remain in the Vine, or I will wither and die. I guess that’s my way of saying I’m going to work a little harder on surrender, and maybe a tad less on blogging—or somehow incorporate the activities.

I do have more of the story to share—about discovering the ROOT of my problems—and I’ll be doing that soon. I just wanted to pause today and just BE. I’ll be making some sort of table of contents, too. My story seems to be lost amidst the many posts and photographs—and for anyone who can learn from it—I’d like them to be able to find the darn thing!

Until later- Peace and Love.
—Janet

Confessions: Part Six

It still amazes me that the therapist at the church could say so little, yet so MUCH. In a short amount of time, with very few words, she was able to open my eyes to the fact that I’d been living my life entirely wrong.

I just got butterflies when I wrote that! That trip to the church was no accident. I KNEW that Dead End sign was for me, and I just HAD to visit that church. That woman may not have been expecting me that day… but God was!

It’s taken me this long to really see that. It’s not like I did a complete turnaround after that, but it did help me get unstuck. And you know what else? That woman has NO idea how her words affected me that day. I hear that’s how God works. Sometimes He uses you for good, and you don’t even know it. Anyway, her opinion was that…

I wasn’t running my life; my life was running ME.

She couldn’t have been more right. I was always adapting to my surroundings. If the hole was round, this square peg would become ROUND, dammit, because I was going to fit! If life gave me lemons, I would make lemonade. Whether I liked lemonade or NOT!

There was never anything that I was after. Well, except happiness. I realized that today, while writing. Finally, ten (or more) years after she asked me that question, I was able to think of the answer to her question. I JUST wanted to be happy. The problem was that I always looked for happiness outside of myself, and it just didn’t work.

It’s like my life had been like a dodge ball game, and I was always in defense mode. All of my time and energy was wasted; dodging here, dodging there… running in circles and flailing my hands about… constantly attempting to deflect the balls that were being hurled at me. I was always reactive… never proactive. I guess all I really needed to do was exit the field. Walk away, and try a different sport.

When I quit my job and left California, I actually DID have a plan. I was going to start a real estate assistant business. And I did. It was a struggle at first, and was slow to start, but after that meeting I took the bull by the horns and I MADE that thing work.

The business took off. I stayed sober for four years, and somewhere along the way that semi-dysfunctional romance blossomed into a happy, healthy and solid relationship. There was never a question in our minds that we’d spend the rest of our lives together. We were in love, and life seemed so good.

But I still lacked belief, faith, and any kind of a recovery program.

Relapse No. 2

In 2011 I met relapse number two. It was on that road trip with my son. The trip was wonderful (I know some of you have seen pictures) and I won’t let that backslide ruin the memory of the trip. It was a great trip! I’d like to say that being in the middle of Beale Street (party town USA) caused me to drink, but in reality I was sipping a glass of wine by the time I hit Albuquerque! Sometimes I think that the relapse was subconsciously premeditated.

Not long after I returned home my significant other announced that he had accepted a job in Colorado, and with my adventurous spirit, I was all in. Well, partially in. I said I’d give it a year… and I made it through two.

Once I left Colorado… I was on a mission to do things MY way; full speed ahead. It’s like I wanted to make up for lost time or something. Anyway, that’s about the time the MAJOR downward spiral started, and my life started falling apart. I had bought a jeep, which broke down, and I couldn’t afford to fix it. My dad passed away. My business started falling apart because my brain was turning to mush. My boyfriend came to California to join me… and I just wanted OUT.

The progressiveness of the disease had finally caught up with me, and I was unable to stop on my own. That’s when I started reaching out to people, and THAT is when I started corresponding with my dear friend Gil. I was finally ready for a REAL change. I wanted to get sober, turn my life around and make a difference in the world.

MORE importantly… I contacted Gil because I knew that I HAD to find God. I knew that He was my only hope—and I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy for this hard headed, closed-minded girl. But I did it! The funny part about that—especially now as I write this and see it even more—is WHERE I found Him. He was RIGHT THERE.  Right there beside me where He’d been the whole time.

It’s so hard to put a lifetime into a short story. You can’t go from A to Z without at least mentioning a few other letters of the alphabet. But through prayer—and through my writing—I’ve learned (and continue to learn) where I went wrong, the ways I was misled, what my weaknesses and triggers are, and a lot more.

Oh, one more thing I wanted to say. My story helps me understand why writing and photography are so dear to me. Because they are things that I have a passion for. It’s not to be perfect at them, or make a living off of them, or anything like that at all. It’s how I’m able to express myself. It’s a natural fit, without force and with no struggle.

And it’s nice to be a square peg for a change.

Read Part Seven

Confessions: Part Five

I’ve been thinking about the gift of belief that I wrote about in part four. I’ve wanted to say, in as few words as possible, how it all came to be. But it’s a lifelong and never ending story.

Basically, for me… belief was one of my biggest struggles.

I’ve always said that I searched for and found God, but today the thought that came to me was that those words aren’t 100% accurate. I mean they are, but they aren’t. In reality, He was right there—all the time—but my mind was completely closed. I had locked it shut, and thrown out the key… for decades.

So, my original attempts at seeking God are perhaps better described as: Prying my head open. Which is really odd, because when it came to people-pleasing (or following the crowd) my mind was WIDE open. Kind of like that joke you see…

Don’t be too open-minded or your brains will fall out.

Which brings me back to my story….

The Chaos Continues

In my years working in the real estate office, nine of those were spent sober. It was in those nine years that I was able to focus on my kids—and buy our first home at the age of forty. My habit of over-spending almost ruined that. I refinanced numerous times and used the money to buy toys for myself and the kids. Cars, dirt bikes, trucks, golf clubs… and so on.

Thankfully, my overspending sprees took place when the market was skyrocketing. By the time I could no longer afford the payments and had to sell, the value was HIGH and I walked away with a profit (which I threw away in six short months).

Somewhere in the midst of all of that… I drank again. Relapse one. I met the man that I spent eleven years of my life with… gave away, sold, or left behind almost everything I owned… and followed him to Phoenix.

Me, my truck, and whatever would fit in the back, headed out on my very FIRST solo road trip. My oldest was still in the Army, and the younger two stayed behind, taking over the lease of the house that we’d moved to after selling our place.

Looking back, I now recognize some of the ways that God kept trying to get my attention, but there’s one that really shifted my thinking at the time. Not to believe in Him (I wasn’t ready), but to open my mind and help me see that there was something seriously WRONG. With ME.

The relationship that I was in was VERY chaotic, mainly due to our drinking. I had found the gumption to quit again, but life was really weird. It seemed like a bad dream. I think I was feeling the aftereffects of the marriage (perhaps a mild dose of P.T.S.D), and the new tumultuous relationship was rekindling feelings of uneasiness.

Anyway, I was in the middle of a panic attack one day, and I HAD to get out. With no clue where I was going, and Phoenix being fairly new to me, I just drove. Hands sweating, heart racing, vision slightly blurred and my mind in a fog (but sober), I put my foot on the gas, and held on tight to the wheel.

That’s when I made the turn. The turn that put me smack dab in front of the sign. The sign that I KNEW in my heart was for me. With just two little words…

DEAD END

There, right in front of me, was the sign that summed up what my entire life had been thus far. One big dead end.

Heading Towards a Breakthrough

I managed to make a U-turn and there—before my eyes—stood a church. Of course, with my fully closed mind I never saw God in the picture. BUT… I did see HELP.

I parked, went inside, and asked if I could talk to someone. I wasn’t dressed well, and I’m sure my make-up was smeared down my face from crying. One of the women asked me if I needed some money. I had money! At least I got a chuckle out of it, and I was grateful that lack of money was NOT the reason that I was there.

The woman that sat down with me was a therapist. I proceeded to tell her some of my story; about the ex-husband, and things that he had said and done… and then about my current partner, and things that he had said and done… and then about some of the other THEY’S that were guilty of creating all of that chaos and craziness in my life. My words were all questions: WHY, WHY, WHY? Why do they do these things? She listened intently, conversed with me for a while, and then she asked me HER question:

What do YOU want?

Her question startled me! It’s like she woke me up from a coma or something, and for the first time that I could ever remember… my mind was BLANK.

I had absolutely NO answer to that question. Nothing. Nil. Nada.

Read: Part Six

If you’ve made it this far down, thanks for reading. It’s only the beginning, but I’m fond of the memory because it was the moment that sparked my thought shift—however slight it was—and brought me to the realization that my problems were internal.
—It was time for CHANGE!

Confessions: Light Breaks Forth

light-bulb-faith


I heard a great analogy last night. A light bulb went on, and I knew that I needed to use it in this series.

A hound dog will eat itself to death.

I did my research when I got home and was relieved to learn that this dog will do no such thing! But… when I talk about that void, my insatiable appetite that drove me to my never ending pursuits of More, MORE, MORE—that statement is a FACT.

Janet will (insert action word here) until it kills her.

Left to my own devices, I will overdue things to the point of self-destruction, sickness, or far worse… Death.


I’m skipping through twelve years of my life today. It’s the Christmas season, and I want to focus on the GOOD. I want to cut to the chase and tell you what saved me, and set my recovery in motion. Step Two!

STEP TWO: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

I came to BELIEVE!

There are so many things that I want to share. Breakthroughs, God Winks (AKA coincidences), trials, triumphs… and so on, but today I want to share a special one.

On March 6, 2016, two women from church recovery picked me up at a supermarket (where I sat in a stupor) and drove me to the hospital. My blood alcohol content was around .34 when they tested me, and I stayed there to detox for three days.

My spirit had been crushed, but I came out with a new determination. My first day of sobriety was March 7th, and I made my decision. 

March 7th was my day. I claimed it.

In October, just before starting this blog, the Book of Esther kept coming up. All over the place. Like five different times, within a two week period! FINALLY, one night I sat down and said:

Father… I’m going to read this book because I think you’re trying to tell me something.

When I told a group at church that… they kind of laughed at me. Not AT me, but with me. See… I’m kind of new at believing, and understanding how God talks to us, so sometimes it takes me a while. I think Gil would say that I’m a toddler, just learning to walk.

Anyway, as I read the story… the date March 7th kept appearing. MANY times! The version that I chose that particular night literally spelled out the date, in black and white, as the date that Esther’s people defeated their enemies.

I was completely AMAZED and thought what does this mean??

I proceeded to read a study guide which explained that the Jewish people represent GOOD or FAITH; and the enemy—or the Haman’s of the world—represent EVIL or DOUBT.

As I put the book down, I realized that God really WAS trying to tell me something.

I had just read my story!

March 7th was the date of my VICTORY—The victory of FAITH over DOUBT.

I don’t know about you, but that fills me with excitement and joy! It’s a perfect day today! A beautiful Sunday…to praise God and to say thank you Father…

…Thank you for the gift of BELIEF!

Read: Part Five

Confessions: Part Three

In spite of all the madness in those days (the crazy 80’s), I held down a job for eight years until—eventually—I was laid off. It wasn’t a surprise. Life had gotten really ugly, and I was showing up late on a regular basis, or calling in sick altogether.

If I had to identify my first turning point, it was when I set foot in my career. Our landlord was a casual friend and a real estate broker. He literally walked through our door, and offered me a job. In all honesty, the method behind his madness was that he wanted us to pay our rent!

With all that’s ever happened—and looking back now—I’d have to call his job offer one of my first God Winks. I want to say that the job taught me to be shrewd, but that sounds kind of harsh. Simply put, it was the first thing in my life that gave me a sense of my own identity.

I learned my writing skills in that job. I was an innocent, untrained sheep, thrown to the wolves in the real estate world (that’s supposed to be humorous). I survived my plight by teaching myself how to distinguish fires, ease the minds of stressed out clients, and win negotiations by writing well thought out, cleverly worded, and clearly stated letters and emails.

My verbal skills? Not so much.

I took the job seriously, and eventually crept out of my shell. I learned how to interact with people face to face, and started gaining the confidence that I so desperately needed. The downside was that—for many years—it was like having multiple identities, or personalities. One for the office, one for socializing, and one for home (and so on).

Sometimes I wonder if that’s why alcoholics (or maybe just ME) tend to prefer isolation. It’s exhausting to have to put on a personality that suits the circumstance that you’re in. Like I said, it was never done intentionally—and it’s taken me a LONG time to see it for what it really was.

During my fourteen years at that office, I gained the strength and courage that I needed to escape my hellish marriage and find sobriety. I blossomed into a productive member of society. But I was STILL empty. I became a bit of a workaholic, did some MAJOR overspending, and began that never ending search for the man who never really existed (Mister Perfect).

The bottom line is that I was constantly trying to fill that void. I had an insatiable appetite and it was killing me:

More, More, MORE! You need MORE!!

Skip to Part Four

Confessions: Part Two

If I had to sum up how or why I took the wrong road, I’d say it was because I had no faith or belief in God. To make matters worse, I had no direction, no plans, and no goals. I was a walking, breathing, empty vessel… easily tossed around and swayed by whatever (or whomever) was in my vicinity.

I just existed.

That’s how the chameleon came to be. It was never intentional. I was a shy and quiet girl, from a perfectly normal family, who JUST wanted to fit in and be liked.

I started becoming someone that I was NOT in junior high, when I entered the world of cliques. I never fit perfectly into any one of the groups. To survive that excruciating experience, all I could do was pretend that I wasn’t petrified. I started acting cool.

Coolness came with a price. It meant parties with drinking and recreational drugs. It also meant failing my classes, in spite of the fact that I was perfectly capable of passing with excellent grades. I hid the fact that I was fairly intelligent because I was afraid I would be ousted from the cool club. How weird is that?!

Perception is funny. As I’m writing this, I have to wonder. Where on earth did I get the idea that being cool meant doing those things, anyway? Was it a preconceived notion that I had, or did someone tell me that?

See… that’s what I mean about my people pleasing and the imaginary THEY’S that I was trying to please.  As I think back on my life, it seems that much of my trying to fit in was based on my own assumptions of what people wanted from me. That’s just ludicrous!

Anyway, once the partying started it was life at full-throttle, in a sense, and the next thing you know I’m in that stinking marriage surrounded by booze—and drugs that will keep me alert so that I can keep drinking the booze—and I’m completely and utterly lost.

Skip to Part Three

I’ll tell you something. I’m literally experiencing what I wrote about before—about writing being powerful. I’m STILL discovering things from my past that are helping me see the errors of my old ways, or how and where I made the wrong turns.

It makes me think about the enemy. He really DOES whisper to us. He’s been wanting me sick—or dead—for a LONG time, and filling my head with all sorts of  lies.

Confessions of a Chameleon

I had a great childhood. My parents never insisted that I be anyone other than myself. They never forced me to attend certain schools, or pursue a career of their choosing. They were a bit too overprotective—probably for a good reason—but other than that I was as free as a bird. The sky was the limit! In a sense.

Our family lived a quiet and simple life, and that’s all that I knew life to be. Nowadays I refer to it as having grown up in a bubble, but it was a very SAFE bubble. Their primary concern was that I finish high school, enjoy my youth, stay out of trouble, and one day be a happy, honest and responsible woman of integrity, just as they taught me to be.

So what was the problem? What stopped me from reaching for the moon?

I never learned self-confidence, and I was afraid.

The drinking started as fun. You know… teenage parties at night. Things like that. But I LOVED the way it gave me courage and that false sense of confidence.

With my tendency to always be in a HURRY, I left school before my senior year and began working full time at sixteen. I was pregnant at age twenty, married at twenty-three, and by age twenty-six I gave birth to my third son.

I drank and used drugs for years, almost daily, with my husband right there with me. I’d like to say that his addictions were far worse than mine, but maybe that’s not fair. I WILL say that he had an aggressive personality; lied compulsively; and was controlling and manipulative.

I didn’t believe in God, so I never really feared going to hell… but then again, I didn’t need to.

Hell had made its way to earth and was coming for ME.

Skip to Part Two

The Vertical Line

A worry that plagued me when I was already knee deep in writing was that my story was revealing a self-centered narcissist. Gazing at the pages, I’d see nothing but rows and ROWS of vertical lines. I, I, I — it’s all about ME!

That’s the enemy talking. He’s forever whispering in my ear; telling me to stop doing the very things that are helping me recover. Call him what you will; the devil, the flesh, or maybe a twisted merging of the two… the mind. Writing is therapeutic. Writing opens up your mind, and brings hidden things to the surface. The best advice I could ever offer anyone—aside from seek God—is…

Just write.

Writing (or journaling) is like a treasure hunt. Thoughts surface, questions come to mind, and incredible hints and clues appear on the page—right in front of your eyes. Yesterday, something in my post The Big Picture did exactly that. I found a clue!

“… by becoming someone that I was not. You know…a people-pleaser. Give them what they want. Tell them what they want to hear. Be who THEY want you to be. The problem here is that now I’m not even sure who THEY were.

As I typed that last sentence, I wasn’t sure where it even came from, and it didn’t make much sense, but I knew I didn’t want to delete it. I had to go back to it. It was telling me something. Of course, everyone’s story is unique. But, in my story… the truth that I’m learning—the thing that continually surfaces and catapults me over hurdles—is that there was no THEY. It was all in my mind.

My enemy is ME.

For forty some years, that vertical line that now fills the pages of the story was my victim. I’ve beaten her up and knocked her down again and again. And towards the end… I’m quite certain that I was trying to kill her!

THAT is why I write about her. Because I owe her that much, and I’m sorry for what I’ve put her through.

And it’s time that I allow her to heal.

Blessings-

(The picture is from Turquoise Lake in Colorado)

New Beginnings

Well, here I am… a bit weepy again. It’s a good cry though.

It’s been two months since I started this blog, and in four days I’ll be taking a nine month chip. During these past two months—not only have I been sharing my story, my thoughts, my dreams, and my many pictures—but I’ve been semi-quietly trying to figure out just where it is I’m headed next. Attempting to lay out plans and chart my own course, as they say.

I really AM a strong person. Sometimes I think it’s a good quality, and other times I think it may be a hindrance. Mainly because that outwardly resilient woman tends to boss around the fragile young girl that hides inside (who’s trying very hard to grow up, mind you); telling her to GET ON with things! Stay busy. Make a plan! It’s very nerve racking.

Gil… my dear friend, brother, daddy figure, mentor (and so much more) said something to me when I first started putting my story together in a book-like format, and then again when I decided to morph it into a blog. He said…

Just write.

He is such a wise soul. He told me that if I used my love of writing to share my story, God would orchestrate the rest. God would see to it that the person(s) that needed to read it, or could actually learn from it—WOULD.

And there you have it. Today I got the nudge that I so desperately needed. Two actually.

There ARE people out there that can learn from my stories, my mistakes, and from the things that I’ve learned… and continue to learn. Gil was right, as usual, and I (as usual) was getting discouraged and impatient. I was ready to throw in the towel and go in an entirely different direction.

So to Rob, I say thank you again for that little push this morning, and for encouraging me to stay on course and continue to share the deeper things. And to Rebecca, I say thank you for putting those words out there: Is it His plan, or is it MINE? I put a lot of thought into that, after reading your comment, and almost saw things unfolding before my eyes.

First and foremost, my agenda here ALWAYS, was to help others by sharing my story.

So… write I will.

Blessings.