The Jubilant Journey

This Alphabet Game is great because it prompts me to explore words. Words link to other words and—as I follow the trail—ideas literally spell themselves out. I thought it would be fun to share my journey through the letter “J” today.

While exploring Joy—the first “J” word that came to mind—I found that one of its synonyms is rejoicing. Rejoicing is defined as: Great joy; jubilation.

There’s a word you don’t see every day—Jubilation: a feeling of great happiness and triumph. Aha! That really caught my eye. I love the word triumph. Triumph: a complete victory or success achieved especially after great difficulties, making the result particularly satisfying.

Maybe I’m filled with so much happiness and joy because of jubilation; I’m forever celebrating the victory that I’m living in. After great difficulties, the result is particularly satisfying—to say the least.

But… it’s not just the joy of past victories; it’s also the hope of those to come. New trials bring opportunities to experience new triumphs, and failures pave the way to success. It all circles back to our state of mind; our thinking—and we have the power to choose how we will think.

What a jubilant journey indeed!


Our life is what our thoughts make it.

Marcus Aurelius

The featured photo is being recycled from an old series. Homework is starting to trickle in, and it takes precedence over the creation of new images. That’s okay… I think this one works perfect! Joy is there, it’s just chilling in the shade until I’m finished with my work.

Thank you for reading. I hope you’re having a joyous weekend, full of jubilation!


Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. —Isaiah 43:18-19

Dreamers of Dreams

D is for Dreams

Everyone knows what dreams are, but I wanted to find a more personal way to describe them. Not the dreams we have when we’re asleep; the dreams we dream when we’re awake. I poked around google and found exactly what I was searching for:

A synonym for dream is HOPE.

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Birds of a Feather

—Feathers of Hope

Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul— and sings the tune without the words— and never stops— at all.

Emily Dickinson

This image is something I’ve been itching to do for days now. Every bird photograph I’ve taken has some sort of detail in it that I love. Eyes, beaks, legs, wings… even some claws. I see so many different angles to approach.

So… tonight I worked on feathers. It’s an extreme zoom, so I hope it doesn’t get stretched and pixelated, but—other than that—it’s exactly what I was hoping for; lots and lots of feathers. Maybe this is a test. I’m trying to decide if this is something I want to perfect; to make a print. Would love to hear your feedback, as always.

That is all for now. Goodnight!

I’ve had some issues with images shrinking down to nothing in the mobile reader. I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this, but if it ends up being a microscopic thumbnail… HERE is a link to the full size. I don’t know, maybe it’s just my phone. 🙂

Come Together

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. —Henry Ford

This is a bit of a mishmosh of thoughts, but it all ties together.

First of all the image is just something I was toying around with. I combined three different photos I took of kids playing at the beach. Then I did some tinkering in Photoshop and Illustrator to create the look of a drawing. I added outlines to give it a poster kind of look and to (hopefully) tie in with the “come together” theme.

I had my first writing class last night and I have to say that it already has me thinking about how writing may (or may not) fit into my future. I’ll repeat what I shared in the class, as we each had to talk briefly about why we took the class. Since starting this blog, a recurring thought I’ve had is “Can I really WRITE? OR do I just know how to write about myself?”

I WILL say that the reason I started the blog WAS to share my story, and that whole part of it seemed to come with ease- but the idea of actually sitting down to write a novel or a screenplay still kind of freaks me out. Hopefully I will learn the answer to my question over these next five weeks. Anyway, the instructor stressed (and I’ve read this elsewhere, as well) that any good author should know thyself. What are you interested in? What do you like or dislike? Who are your favorite authors, and what are your favorite books, movies, etc.?

I wasn’t able to come up with exacts, but I know that I LOVE to hear about people coming together, and the heartwarming stories of personal victories. And those are stories you hear all over- in recovery and in church. So… that’s the direction I’m looking toward in this new season. Stories and images about people coming together and overcoming obstacles.

I’ll be hunting around awhile for my first story….

so please stay tuned.

In This Moment (Trust)

Separating topics is not easy. Not on the blog, anyway. I did some tinkering and there is no logical way to do it. I think that going to regular A.A. meetings (and looking to be of service) was the real STEP that I needed to take, and I’m doing that. At least I’m gaining clarity!

Anyway, it’s been four whole days since I started studying the word TRUST, and I want to share my first day. I chose Psalm 40, verse 4.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!

What REALLY struck (and amazed) me were verses 1-3.

I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

Can I relate to that?!? He pulled me from the PIT of alcoholism, made my steps secure, and put a new song in my mouth? Yes! Yes indeed. As I said… this word study started off with a beautiful bang. A great reminder of what He’s already done for me. I have a renewed sense of gratitude these days!

I SEE now- how easy it is to get distracted. Thinking TOO much about what’s next, and losing sight of what’s GREAT… TODAY, right NOW!!

Love always, laugh often, and enjoy every moment.

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!

Signs of Change

Now that I’m back in the realm of randomness, I’m messing with alterations. This is a street sign by my old High School. Actually, it’s the street that I used to hang out on when I would cut classes, and do other experimental things. I’ve always said that I hated school. I really DID back then—but I thought of something today.

When I was hanging out there recently and taking pictures, I watched the kids for awhile. Some were practicing their sports, joking and laughing, and others were talking and hanging out while waiting for their parents to pick them up. They all looked so happy.

For a moment, I was a bit sad (or disappointed) that I hadn’t experienced that kind of enthusiasm in my school days. It appeared to be a fun place now!

Looking around, I thought why did I hate it here so much?!?

Today I knew the answer to that while I was modifying this sign. There was only one reason why I was miserable back then, and it had nothing to do with the school- or the people that I went to school with. It was me. What was erroneous back then was my state of mind. Fear and negativity.

Now I see everything differently.

And now the sign is a bit different too! Besides changing the sign… I added the moon and the bird.

My signature I guess.

The real voyage of discovery exists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust

 

Art: A Great Read

I’m sharing someone else’s words today.

“An old silent pond.
Into the pond a frog jumps.
Splash! Silence again.”

It is perhaps the best known of all Japanese haiku. No subject could be more humdrum. No language could be more pedestrian. Basho, the poet, makes no comment on what he is describing. He implies no meaning, message, or metaphor. He simply invites our attention to no more and no less than just this: the old pond in its watery stillness, the kerplunk of the frog, the gradual return of the stillness.

In effect he is putting a frame around the moment, and what the frame does is enable us to see not just something about the moment, but the moment itself in all its ineffable ordinariness and particularity. The chances are that if we had been passing by when the frog jumped, we wouldn’t have noticed a thing or, noticing it, wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But the frame sets it off from everything else that distracts us. That is the nature and purpose of frames. The frame does not change the moment, but it changes our way of perceiving the moment. It makes us notice the moment, and that is what Basho wants above all else. It is what literature in general wants above all else too.

From the simplest lyric to the most complex novel and densest drama, literature is asking us to pay attention. Pay attention to the frog. Pay attention to the west wind. Pay attention to the boy on the raft, the lady in the tower, the old man on the train. In sum, pay attention to the world and all that dwells therein and thereby learn at last to pay attention to yourself and all that dwells therein.

The painter does the same thing, of course. Rembrandt puts a frame around an old woman’s face. It is seamed with wrinkles. The upper lip is sunken in, the skin waxy and pale. It is not a remarkable face. You would not look twice at the old woman if you found her sitting across the aisle from you on a bus. But it is a face so remarkably seen that it forces you to see it remarkably, just as Cezanne makes you see a bowl of apples or Andrew Wyeth a muslin curtain blowing in at an open window. It is a face unlike any other face in all the world. All the faces in the world are in this one old face.

Unlike painters, who work with space, musicians work with time, with note following note as second follows second. Listen! say Vivaldi, Brahms, Stravinsky. Listen to this time that I have framed between the first note and the last and to these sounds in time. Listen to the way the silence is broken into uneven lengths between the sounds and to the silences themselves. Listen to the scrape of bow against gut, the rap of stick against drumhead, the rush of breath through reed and wood. The sounds of the earth are like music, the old song goes, and the sounds of music are also like the sounds of the earth, which is of course where music comes from. Listen to the voices outside the window, the rumble of the furnace, the creak of your chair, the water running in the kitchen sink. Learn to listen to the music of your own lengths of time, your own silences.

Literature, painting, music — the most basic lesson that all art teaches us is to stop, look, and listen to life on this planet, including our own lives, as a vastly richer, deeper, more mysterious business than most of the time it ever occurs to us to suspect as we bumble along from day to day on automatic pilot. In a world that for the most part steers clear of the whole idea of holiness, art is one of the few places left where we can speak to each other of holy things.

Is it too much to say that to stop, look, and listen is also the most basic lesson that the Judeo-Christian tradition teaches us? Listen to history, is the cry of the ancient prophets of Israel. Listen to social injustice, says Amos; to head-in-the-sand religiosity, says Jeremiah; to international treacheries and power plays, says Isaiah; because it is precisely through them that God speaks his word of judgment and command.

And when Jesus comes along saying that the greatest command of all is to love God and to love our neighbor, he too is asking us to pay attention. If we are to love God, we must first stop, look, and listen for him in what is happening around us and inside us.

If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces, but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.

In a letter to a friend Emily Dickinson wrote that “Consider the lilies of the field” was the only commandment she never broke. She could have done a lot worse. Consider the lilies.

It is the sine qua non of art and religion both.

—originally published in Whistling in the Dark and later in Beyond Words, Frederick Buechner

Isn’t that beautiful!?

 

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!!

2016 Reflections

What a year! My cousin posted on Facebook that she was tired of hearing people talk about how bad 2016 has been—so she listed all of the good things that happened in her life throughout the year.

It’s been one helluva year, that’s for sure! I have to say it’s been a good helluva year though. First and foremost; I got sober!

2015 was insane. If I had to count, I’d say I had about seven relapses that year. And then 2016 was my major turning point. Everything started to make sense, and life changed.

I have a very LONG way to go to rebuild anything that shows outwardly—but that’s OK. I’ve had a lot and I’ve had a little—and I have the same amount of joy no matter what!

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13

I have two Bible verses that sum up my life this year. That’s one.

So, for starters—the reflection photo is my driveway today, after the rain. The tree by the wash was reflecting in a small puddle. I thought it was cool. Something different. Second of all, I have to end this year by saying something about my friend Gil. I just love him!! For TWO YEARS that man has listened to me, prayed for me, encouraged me, and most important—I believe—has always said that he loves me- no matter what. And that God loves me no matter what. That’s something I found hard to grasp at first.

He is a husband, father… AND a Los Angeles Fireman. All of that, and he still finds time to help people—like me. He even drove out of his way on August 14th to be present at my baptism. That was HUGE.

Anyway… I just wanted to take time and say thank you to him. He’ll read this eventually.

I’m so excited about starting a new year, and I’m so grateful for discovering joy in writing and photography, and to be able to share these things with you all.

…and I love this little blogging community, and I’m so happy to be a part of it!

So, yeah… 2016 was pretty darn cool.

Oh, and the other Bible verse that sums up my life lessons this year…

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 of course!

One paragraph sums up everything I wrote in 15 chapters!

—blessings

Joy in Giving

My cousin is great at knitting and crocheting. She makes batches of scarves that are shipped out to women in shelters and she asked me to write something that could go on a card with each scarf.

The yarn she uses is nicknamed ‘Magic Yarn’ because it’s made up of remnants of old pieces of yarn—leftover scraps in a sense—so that no yarn is ever wasted.

So… I wrote a fairy tale in rhymes:

The Tale of the Magic Yarn

There once was a seamstress, who made garments of white. Everyone wore them, what a beautiful sight! She knitted, crocheted and sewed wonderful things. Hats, scarves and mittens, with tassels and rings!

The town looked so crisp, clean, shiny and bright. They all dressed the same, their garments so light! With pride they stood tall, as they strutted around. Not a blemish was seen, not a stain ever found.

Then one day by surprise, a great storm hit the sand. Thunder, lightning and winds…blew right through the land. When the chaos was over, they all came out to look. To their sadness they found, their white garments it took!

The seamstress looked up as she held back the tears. They lost all she had sewn, for all of those years! But this seamstress you see, could turn bad into good. She just had to bring joy, to this sweet neighborhood.

She collected the pieces that were split, torn and frayed. She found all that was left of the garments she’d made. Looking for answers, she let out a sigh… “I need a MIRACLE” she wept, as she looked to the sky.

In an instant she knew, she’d found help on that day. Her mind fresh with ideas, she had thought of a way! She picked up some yarn, and she washed it in soap. Then all of the sudden, it was colored with HOPE!

She stitched on another, KINDNESS tinted the string. It was awesome to watch, she’d never seen such a thing! With all of this color, the yarn came alive. STRENGTH and COURAGE brought texture, it made the yarn thrive!

She watched JOY and CONTENTMENT create glorious hues. Red, yellow and green, and the most wonderful blues! The yarn ball was growing, be it ever so big… it was vibrant and ready. She would zag and she’d zig!

She wove each piece together, with oodles of LOVE. She created a hat, then a scarf, then a glove! “This yarn is MAGIC!” she screeched with a smile. Then she went out to share, she ran over a mile!

She handed out garments to each person she found. And when word got out, they came from all ’round! Everyone called out “Your wonders don’t cease! We loved your white things but these- WOW! Masterpiece!”

So from that great day, not a soul left uncovered, with uniqueness and color…since that yarn was discovered. “Who knew that such beauty and strength could here grow?”…they sing, as they dance…

…like a giant rainbow!

The end.

The women in the shelters get a scarf and the story behind the Magic Yarn that they are made of. She shipped out her first batch this week, and she sent me a scarf.

That’s where JOY was found today!

Blessings-

(Hope you enjoyed the rhyme. I felt a bit like Dr. Seuss writing it!)

Conversation with God

Father, you feel so far away,
I’m not sure that my words are right.
All I ask is to feel you near…
Did you hear my prayer last night?

Open your eyes my little one,
Remember the veil was torn apart.
Be still, and know that I am God…
for I am speaking to your heart.

I’ve summoned the wind to join us,
My spirit stirs amidst the breeze.
Look! The branches, they dance about…
Rustling leaves whisper melodies.

Forever and ever I am with you child,
I’m everywhere, and in everything.
Your words need not be perfect…
I know your heart, I hear it sing!

Oh thank you Heavenly Father,
for this song that you’ve given me.
I’ll be back again tomorrow…
to dance beneath our sacred tree.

A Child of God

Asking God to help me see my life from His perspective is what truly helped me. I went back forty years, to when I was lost in that awkward limbo between childhood and adulthood, and serious issues consumed my thoughts. I was convinced that no one would EVER understand what was going on in my head. I was the odd man out, the outsider, and a teenage misfit. I just didn’t fit in anywhere, and it was too risky to try.

I let fear win.

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. I introduced her to alcohol to help ease her angst, and we hit the fast-forward button. We raced into the adult world- totally unprepared.

What I came to realize was that, although my outward appearance had changed, that child had lived on. She carried-on in protest like a rebel without a cause—always reminding me that I was not like everyone else, and that I’d never measure up in this world.

I stamped the “reject” label on her myself, years ago, and she carried that stigma for decades. I was my own worst enemy! That’s probably when my recovery process really started to take hold. I visualized this younger me, and thought about what I could say to her…

You are loved, and you are worthy. You’re not different; you just see the world differently. That doesn’t make you less, it makes you unique. Be strong. Be courageous. Trust your Creator. He is with you wherever you go.

I embraced my inner child, and I told her these things. And then… I whispered to her the words that have never failed to see me through the darkest of days…..

You are a child of God.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! 1  John  3:1

 

A Step Forward

There’s a term pink cloud that refers to a state of mind in early sobriety, characterized by extreme happiness and grandiosity, in spite of problematic conditions. The newly sober person feels high on life because they’re experiencing emotions that were previously numbed by alcohol.

Once I read up on the subject, I knew it was time to take a harder look at myself. Not to mention the fact that a couple of my longtime sober friends expressed their frustration with me, uttering cries that I “wasn’t getting it!”

Needless to say, I was booted off of my big cushy cloud. Fortunately I didn’t plummet and hit the ground exploding, but I DID crash land. Rather uncomfortably, I might add. It appears I don’t handle criticism very well.

After I picked myself up, I realized that I’d been holding onto an optimistic delusion about recovery. Every time I managed to “get” sober, I considered the crisis over, and deemed the problem solved. I’d frolic around—reveling in my sobriety—and never REALLY attempt to change. Given my previous track record, it’s obvious that this was NOT accurate thinking.

Getting sober is indisputably something to celebrate and be joyous about, but there’s endless toil involved in staying, and living sober… and I continually refused to deal with it by hiding out in a cloud of denial.

Gil suggested, numerous times, that l focus my efforts on community—rather than romantic interests—to help combat my loneliness and cultivate a healthier lifestyle… but I kept sweeping that whole notion under the rug. Did I mention I’m stubborn?

Not surprising, lack of a sense of camaraderie was the underlying reason I felt so isolated. What I had failed to recognize was that being part of an assemblage was not just something to consider, it was NECESSARY.

My friends did me a HUGE favor by confronting me about my lackadaisical attitude. Their rigorous honesty turned out to be my saving grace. 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.

I started attending meetings and gained a sense of connectedness that I had never felt before. The loneliness that had tormented me was diminishing. I guess you could say that God blessed me with WAY more than a desire to quit drinking. He provided an entire rescue team. Like-minded people who want to stay sober, and help others do the same.

And my foot was in the door.

Next Up: A Child of God

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take a step. Naeem Callaway

 

The Great Escape

It may seem odd that I always look on the bright side of things, but that’s how I roll. I’m an optimist ninety-eight percent of the time.

I don’t enjoy writing the other two percent of the time, when I’m feeling down and out. I don’t even like thinking about the times when I wanted to give up. The nights when I wondered why I was still breathing. It seemed like my life was meaningless, and I had nothing left to offer.

That’s how I felt when I had to move. I had lost my job that paid my rent, and I had no other options. I don’t think I need to explain why I lost my job; it’s pretty self-explanatory.

I hated the idea of moving. I had spent a year and a half decorating my place with second hand treasures, and I was SO proud. I LOVED my things! I never spent enough money on things to merit paying for storage though, so I knew I’d have to let so much of it go.

I cried for days!

But…I was miserable living there! My friend Sherry pointed that out to me, and she was right. 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. I gave away almost all of my furniture to family, friends, neighbors and the Goodwill.

The day that I watched my son’s truck drive off, full of my old belongings, the sun peeked through the clouds and lit up my face. It felt SO beautiful! I realized how long it had been since I had enjoyed the outdoors, and I felt a remotely familiar feeling. That feeling that I get when I’m on a road trip…

Like the morning that I woke up in Colorado, when it was so eerily quiet that I could hear a pin drop… and I realized that tiny snowflakes had silently covered the entire landscape overnight—with a beautiful white canopy. And that moment when I was sitting on the trailer porch in Arizona… and the night suddenly looked like day as thousands of lightning bolts lit up the sky at once. Or while driving through Utah, when my car was swallowed up by deep canyons, sheer cliffs and majestic rock formations.

That feeling that life is just as it should be. No tangible explanations, no concrete answers… just an awe-inspiring, indescribable understanding that everything outside of that moment is insignificant, and that God has everything under control.

So… with palms up, I looked to the sky and offered a silent prayer of gratitude.

I was ready to soar.

Next Up: A Step Forward

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Fighting to Win

Never be afraid to tell your story because there’s somebody who needs to hear it.

I have to keep telling myself that. I get those little twangs inside, telling me to just stop—that I’ve already said enough.

But, I’m not going to let fear 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. I just want to make that clarification in case it wasn’t clear. Anyway, after doing some careful self-examination I started to realize something about my man pursuits. Not to sound cliché, but it wasn’t them—it was me.

After getting some male opinions, the general consensus was that—for them—it was like a hunt. Chase, conquer, pick up your trophy and go home. I’m not quoting them, but that’s what I took away from it. I mulled it over for a bit, and thought about how it compared to my own pursuits.

It was startling to discover that I followed the same pattern, in a sense, but it took MUCH longer to win the love of a man than it did for them to obtain their prize. Obviously, that was my own fault for handing out rewards far too quickly… but that’s another story.

What I discovered was that it was a sport for me as well, in a weird way. I went on long and treacherous fishing expeditions, with no REAL plans to keep what I caught. Once I’d thoroughly weighed and inspected him, I was ready to cast him back out to sea. Unless I just happened to harpoon a whopper someday, that is.

fishing

Either way, neither side was playing fair!

The bottom line was that if, or when, the love was finally reciprocated, the poor guy couldn’t possibly measure up. The thrill was soon over and I ended up having to plan my getaway. I was just chasing another high… looking to fill that void. The same void that I tried to fill with alcohol and anything else that I could get my hands on.

I never really knew WHAT I was looking for. In fact, it wasn’t until that void was finally filled that I understood that it was God that I had been searching for all of those years.

So, I guess you could say that while I was learning to embrace singleness, I discovered that God was embracing ME. The fight for recovery was suddenly easier, because I realized He had never intended for me to fight the battle alone.

Next Up: Through God’s Eyes

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, ‘Destroy them!’ Deuteronomy 33:27

A Sprinkle of Faith

There were a few things that were weighing heavy on my mind when I first reached out to my friend Gil. He’s the one that I wrote about in Hearing God’s Whisper.

I had reached a point in my life—and in my drinking—where I knew that I was not only ready, but I NEEDED to find God. The life I had been living was without faith, without belief, and—looking in the rear view mirror—seemed pointless.

I had no purpose.

One of the most significant things that changed my perspective entirely. Gil inspired me to write my story. It wasn’t so much that he encouraged me to write, it was that he proposed that I “write about how people can change at any age.”

I think that’s when I had my first epiphany. I was ready to accept the challenge! I was going to write the story of how my life was transformed. This actually meant something HUGE. In order to fulfill the mission, I actually had to change!

I HAD A PURPOSE!

I started 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. All I could imagine was that something magnificent was waiting for me out there, and that all I really had to do to find it… was believe. That tiny glimmer of hope was all it took.

A sprinkle of faith.

After talking with Gil about my struggles and doubts, endless pursuits, and my unceasing inability to ever reach a point of complete fulfillment, I was finally beginning to understand what it meant to be born again—and to look toward eternity.

It meant coming to the table with a clean slate every morning and seeing things from new perspectives every day. It meant that there IS something glorious and magnificent out there. AND it meant that the Perfect Love that I had always been looking for really DID exist…

For eternity.

Next Up: The Comeback Kid

The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle. Matthew 17:20

A Lighter Load

Some people won’t look up to God until He puts them on their back. That point really hit home for me. Agony, sickness and feelings of despair definitely put me on my back. I was truly humbled, and it forced me to look up to God.

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. I strove harder, forging ahead faster, stronger, and more diligently than ever. I had something to prove. The failure to see results would eventually discourage me. Exhaustion would eventually set in, and I would inevitably turn to the one thing that gave me comfort. The bottle.

This time I just KNEW that my life was going to change. Once I had that moment of clarity, and realized that getting sober (and staying alive) meant more to me than my business (or anything else, for that matter), my priorities shifted.

My business wasn’t much, but it was MINE. I built it, and I owned it. And when I say built it, I’m talking from the ground up… which was from a laptop, sitting on a blowup bed in a room that I rented. Over time, it grew to pay my bills—and then some.

In all honesty, eventually I gave it up completely. I had a new sense of freedom and was discovering that my worth wasn’t found in that business. I was grasping something of REAL value. I was learning how to live.

I was coming to realize that surrender wasn’t defeat; it was simply passing the reins over to God, and trusting Him for the outcome. There was a LONG road ahead, but I was no longer weary and my load was light.

And I was sober.

Next Up: Girl Talk- Part One


Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

Reality Check

I’m going to get REAL right now and tell you that I started this blog to share my new faith in God, the ups and downs of my journey through recovery, and the wonderful discoveries I’ve made along the way. It really IS a good story.

My first “reality check” took place when I received my first LIKE. I was immediately flattered and excited! What struck me to my core, though, was a sense of humility.

I thought…

Oh dear God… someone is actually reading this?!?!

I know. Don’t say it, I already know what you’re thinking. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that while I hope my blog goes on for years to come, and will eventually be filled with pages and pages of my journey, the short of it is that I finally discovered that the emptiness inside of me, that drove me to a life of pure insanity… was actually a “God shaped vacuum,” as Blaise Pascal so eloquently stated.

And now… praise God, that vacuum is full.

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). How else DO you acknowledge that you’ve found something that can’t be seen or touched?

Sometimes people come into your life, and whether they stay long or just pass through briefly, they leave you with something. They have an impact on you. To me, that’s God.

When I was younger, the handful of times I attended church had discouraged me. I showed up. I tried to understand. Sadly, I was like a fish out of water. I felt nothing. It was like walking into a theater… in the middle of a movie. The entire time you’re watching it you’re trying to catch up, but it’s not making any sense! Everyone there knows something that you don’t. They know the WHOLE story.

I spent months on end corresponding with a dear friend of mine (the one who inspired me to share my story) when I was drinking and in despair. One of the greatest things he proffered me, aside from his graciousness, was an unwavering conviction that, not only was I going to make it out alive, but that GREAT things were in store for me.

He taught me that there’s a significant difference between religion and relationship. He had an undeniable relationship with God, and I wanted what he had!

I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for his friendship, support and guidance. Since our first conversation, several years ago, he has been there. Listening, praying and encouraging me, every step of the way.

If that’s not God whispering to me, I don’t know what is.

Next Up: A Lighter Load


Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 1 John 3:18

Just a Little Tidbit

I wasn’t completely satisfied with my previous post when I hit “Publish” yesterday. It didn’t seem complete. I wasn’t feeling it. That’s another defect of mine that I discovered in my months of reflection; not listening to my gut. Needless to say, much of my life was spent doing damage control.

Anyway, I realized today that I need to fast-forward through so MUCH of my journey. Writing is extremely healing, especially in recovery, and I would recommend it to anyone. But in all honesty, reviewing my life “on paper” has given me a pit in my stomach and a tremendous headache. It’s like I want to stand up, violently shake the woman who wrote it, and shout…

“GET OVER YOURSELF!”

So that’s where I’m being led today. I’m going to go with my gut and tell you that today my life has meaning. Somewhere along the road of recovery I learned that the world does NOT revolve around me, and I am forever grateful for that.

While so much of my progress was made while writing my story, the hope that I have today isn’t found in those pages.

My Hope is in God.

Sweet Surrender

I’m always doing things backwards. Act first, think later. Of course my first thought after doing something is always “Now WHY did I do THAT?” And then there’s the other side of me that refuses to take a micro-step until I know (and understand) everything there is to know about something.

And I mean EVERYTHING.

That might explain my lack of interest in all things spiritual for the better part of my life. If anyone asked me what I believed in, the most accurate answer I could give would be “nothing”. The only thing that I knew to exist was my own little reality, and it wasn’t pretty. Still I prayed at times, mostly when the chips were down—and I mean REALLY down. Even then, I wasn’t sure “to whom” I was actually praying.

Several 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. My mental state was deteriorating, I was sure that I was dying, and in my heart of hearts I knew what I needed.

I NEEDED GOD!

That’s when I started seeking Him. I was searching really, REALLY hard. I prayed day after day, and night after night. I talked to people who knew God, and THEY prayed.

The first answer came unexpectedly. An amazing friend called and offered me a place to stay for a week so that I could detox, and I agreed. I would be in a safe, alcohol-free, and comfortable environment, with her companionship and support.

On the eve of my departure my mind was racing. I was plagued with doubt, and was mentally preparing to call off the trip. It had taken me eight years to build my business and, although it had already started to crumble, I couldn’t bear to see it crash. I knew that if I left, abandoning what remained, I would be sure to lose it all.

That’s when I first felt the hands of God reaching down. I had a moment of clarity. A total thought shift. My business didn’t matter. Nothing but sobriety mattered. I HAD to go. I was never so sure of anything in my life. My worries melted away, I felt a wonderful sense of calm, and I slept peacefully. For the very first time in my life…

I surrendered.

Next Up: Hearing God’s Whisper