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Back to the WOTY

service-to-others

Off by a day or two, but still, three posts in a week… a-MAH-zing!

I wanted to get back to my choice for WOTY (Word of the Year).  I’ve been participating in this challenge for a few years now, with mixed results.  Two years ago I picked the word energy, and felt… well, energized by it!  Last year, I selected the word calm as my word for the year, and I would call that one a giant bust.  2016 was just about anything but calm!

This year I want to go in a different direction, and select an action word rather than a feeling.  I selected the word service:


serv·ice
ˈsərvəs/
noun
  1.  
    the action of helping or doing work for someone.
    “millions are involved in voluntary service”
    synonyms: favor, kindness, good turn, helping hand; More


    Why do I want to go with such a lofty word?  Because to me, service sounds somewhat sanctimonious.  But I don’t mean it that way at all.

    One of the greatest lessons I learned through my participation in a 12-step program is the value of getting out of my own head.  In fact, the final step in the 12-step process is just that… to pass along what you’ve learned to another person in need of recovery.

    And of course that specific type of service is a wonderful thing, but my word choice is a whole lot broader than that.  Here’s what I mean by service…


    Josie’s Definition of Service:

    Considering the perspective of another before my own.  Understanding rather than being understood.   Leaving people better than I found them.


     

    It’s really that simple, although as I consider the past few months, that would be quite a shift.  In sitting around and moping about my foot and unfulfilled career aspirations, I wasn’t sparing a whole lot of energy for the wants and needs of others.

    And either path, self-centeredness or service, is the kind which builds upon itself.  When I’m wallowing in self-pity, I can sink deeper and deeper.  Likewise, when I have the mindset of consideration and thoughtfulness, that tends to be contagious as well.   The question is:  which mindset provides the most benefit?

    Because that’s the truly amazing thing about service… that while the intention is to help another, you wind up helping yourself in the process.  So even if I sound all saintly by choosing the word service, really I’m just cultivating positive self-growth!

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    So there you have it… let’s try to make 2017 the year to give back.  Hopefully I’ll be better about checking in on the progress throughout the year!

    Today’s Miracle:

    The positive boost that comes from embarking on a new goal!

     

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WOTY, A Recap, and Whatever Else Might Be in my Head

oogg1

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  writing is a muscle, and when you don’t exercise the muscle, you lose it, rapidly!  It’s easier to stay in the rhythm of writing than in trying to resurrect it.

But try I must, since my life is vastly improved when I use this outlet.  There’s been a lot going on, and so the unmotivated side of myself seizes upon these life issues and uses them as a handy excuse, a get out of jail free card, if you will.

And now, lo and behold, it is January 1st.  The last day of the holiday season (for the most part), and a time to look ahead and focus on self-improvement.  For the past few years I have participated in the WOTY theme (Word of The Year, an anchor to remind yourself of the priorities you’ve set for yourself in January); this year, given my pulling away from the blogging world, I was sure I would not participate again.  In fact, I wasn’t 100% sure I remembered 2016’s word of the year.

Then I woke up this morning, and a word popped into my head, and I can’t seem to let go of it.  And I haven’t found a whole lot of those lightbulb-y, aha! experiences of late, so I need to grab hold of them while I do.

So methinks I will be participating in the fun again this year.  But first, because I hate to do things out of order, I want to write a bit on where I’ve been and what’s been keeping me from the blog.

I’ve referenced the most obvious of problems a few times in the past 2 months, and that is an ongoing podiatric issue.  I elected to have a minor corrective surgical procedure in early November, and somehow I wound up with a fractured heel.  That sums up in one sentence something that, had I kept my writing muscles in shape, a subject matter that could have entertained you for hours.  Sadly, I did not, and I believe I am at last at a stage of acceptance about the whole issue.  My heel is fractured, it is a long and slow recovery (made longer and slower by my non-compliance, but give me a break, it was the holiday season), and there are worse things in life.  End of story.  Simple to say and write out now, but the mental process took some time.

A second issue took place since I’ve last written, and if I do what I should be doing, I will sit down in the near future and make a full and proper post about the experience.  I had another job opportunity come and go in the past few weeks.  This is not the first opportunity (or the second for that matter), but it was by far the most painful loss I’ve experienced in a long time.  I believed in my heart and soul that this job was meant for me. Simply put, I was wrong.  Or at the very least someone of importance disagreed with me, because they chose someone else.

I know many will be reading this and thinking “Oh boo hoo, you didn’t get a job?  Sing it to the choir, sister!” Or maybe your thoughts have trendier expressions than mine, who’s to say?  But what I’ve learned about myself through this process is how far I go to protect myself from disappointments such as these.  I assume failure before every new experience, so that if it happens I am not too shocked or upset.  I let my guard down this time, and ooh baby did it hurt.  And the timing of it was either awful or perfect… I had house guests arrive one hour after I received the news.  Not sure if this was a good distraction, or it prolonged the healing process, but as they say, it is what it is.  I believe there is more processing to come.

Finally, and possibly most irritating, was an incident that occurred a few weeks back directly after the weekly meeting I run.  A bit of backdrop:  I started the meeting 4 1/2 years ago, at the request of people who were starting a brand new clubhouse.  The goal of the clubhouse was to be a safe space for 12-step program members of all kinds to recover and support one another in recovery.  At the time I was horrified… I had only 6 months or so sober myself, who am I to start a meeting?  But I was convinced, and the rest is history.  The meeting is going strong, and in fact is one of the more well-attended ones in the club house.

Since that time I’ve backed out of most involvement in the clubhouse; once upon a time I attended their business meetings and social events, now I am almost exclusively using the space to run the Monday meeting.  I imagine it’s an evolution, and there are ebbs and flows, and I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about.

But in the meantime all sorts of political changes have taken place, throughout all of which I’ve minded my own business.  I recently heard they elected a new president, and thought nothing of it until he introduced himself to me.  And something in my gut told me, at that very moment, that something was going to happen.  And I can tell you I don’t often get gut feelings.

And please do not get me wrong, the new president is a wonderful gentleman.  He introduced himself as though he did not recognize me, but I certainly know him, and respect his sobriety greatly.  And I stand in awe of his service… it is a huge undertaking to lead a clubhouse, and I respect his decision to do so.

A few weeks later he arrived oddly late to my meeting… there was at most 10 minutes left to go.  I did not think a thing of it, until he hung around waiting to speak with me.  My radar picked up the signal of distress, and I waited patiently through the “how’s your foot?” questions to see what was up.

And my radar was correct, he was coming to me with a problem that was brought to him.  He understands I write a blog.  He has not read it himself, but somebody in our local community has, and they are concerned that I am breaking the anonymity of a specific person, and that if this person were to find out, he/she would be devastated and leave my meeting.

So let’s back up here:  the person coming to me with the problem has yet to read the blog himself, and the person coming to him isn’t concerned with his or her anonymity, but someone else’s.  And they’re not speaking on behalf of that person, they’re just projecting a potential problem.

My defenses register all of this immediately.  But first, this is on the heels of a recovery meeting, second, the newly elected president is saying all of this in the gentlest of ways, so it’s not liking he’s “coming at me,” per se, and third, I detest all forms of confrontation and thus will always want to consider all options before I respond.  One last factor that I’m ashamed to include but will for the sake of honesty:  at the time of this discussion/suggestion, I truly believed I would be employed on a full-time basis in a matter of weeks.  If I’m working full-time I am no longer chairing this meeting, and this becomes a non-issue.

In the moment, I politely thanked him for the feedback.  He had expressed which individual was the concern, and I assured him that I do not think such an issue exists, but I will make sure to find out, as the individual and I are very close.  I then wished him a good day, and I actually have not seen him since.

Then the stupid job fell through, and I realized that I never actually dealt with the issue.  And I have been mentally blocked ever since.

To be fair, it was a busy holiday season, and all of the things I wrote about above were happening, and I’ve already declared how easy it is to make excuses.

So here is my vow:  I will get to the bottom of this issue, because I do completely respect the person in question.  As it happens circumstances prevent me from doing this for a few weeks, but I will get to the bottom of it.

In my heart I do not believe I have broken anyone’s anonymity.  The vast majority of the readership live nowhere near me.  If there is the smallest handful of local people reading this blog, and they put two and two together, it is because they attend the same meetings I do, and hear the same things I do.  I don’t use names, and only occasionally use gender.  I don’t talk give physical descriptions, or anything else that might directly point the finger to a specific individual.

But if the busybody source is correct, I will take immediate steps to back it down even further.

And now I have written a novel, and never even gotten to my Word of The Year.  I will leave you with the word, but will save the rationale for another post, since nobody has time to read any more out of my brain.  My Word of the Year is:

Service

And I have much to say about it, what that word means to me, and how I came to determine that I need this in the forefront.  I will also look back and see how 2016’s word impacted my year as well.  Until then…

Today’s Miracle:

Writing.  On a Sunday.  Out of schedule.  With a house full of people.  Enough said!

A Confession of Infidelity

 

I have been hanging on to this blog by my fingernails of late.

It started out as a rationale:  I re-started a new fitness/weight loss/get healthy challenge a few weeks back, and I swore I would not bother the blogosphere with this nonsense again.  I barely want to hear it myself, how could anyone else?

On the other hand, I have come to a point in my blogging where I write twice a week:  one that wraps up the wisdom I glean from the weekly meeting I run, and the other where I release whatever is running around inside of my brain.  If I am involved in a diet and exercise challenge, then guess what is the only thing running around my brain?

And then another thought occurred to me:  many of the recovery bloggers I read credit their sobriety to immersing themselves in the recovery blogging world.  It was not my path, but it has always intrigued me.  Perhaps I can employ that same mindset and immerse myself in the diet and fitness blogs of the world.

So that’s where I’ve been.  Instead staying on top of my WordPress reader, I have been branching out to MyFitnessPal forums, and the top rated diet and fitness blogs of recent years.  It has been an interesting experience, but I’ve got to say it:  not the same, not the same at all.  There is something very unique, and very special, about our community.  I certainly did not find it in the diet and fitness world, that’s for sure!

So that’s where I’ve been.  And here’s why I’m back, and it has to do with a valuable lesson I learned from all the mini-challenges I did this year:  consistency.

I have been working on improving my fitness for about 14 months, working on losing weight for about 7 months, and working on my overall health for 6 months.  For a large majority of that time, I was looking at the glass half empty.  No matter what I did, my focus was one what I hadn’t done, or what I still needed to do, or how much better I could have done it.  It all came to a head for me a few weeks ago.  I had started this challenge on September 12 (2 months before my birthday), and I had just had my first very successful weigh-in.  My husband was congratulating me, and I could not see it.  You see, that weight I lost that week I have been losing and gaining all year, give or take a few pounds.  So while the number sounded good (I honestly can’t remember what it was, something close to 10 pounds I think), all I could see was the number I should be at, since I had already lost those 10 pounds 2 or 3 other times this year.  And the more I tried to explain my thought process to my husband, the more he looked at me like I was speaking another language.  I wound up in hysterical tears by the end of it; not because he wasn’t understanding my point, but that I was not understanding his.

This is a nod to my recovery tools:  I can see now when I’m thinking like “Old School Josie” by watching the reactions of others.  I may not be able to stop Old School Josie Thinking entirely, but I can at least recognize it and correct it.

So my mini-meltdown was the start of a slow new understanding:  this is a process, not an event with a start and end point.  Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?  But when you’re in the thick of it, it’s anything but.

Next lightning bolt:  each failed attempt, and that is probably not even an apt description, but let’s roll with it…  each failed attempt was some kind of lesson learned that helped me the next go-around.  Every subsequent challenge I have undertaken (I would say there have been four in all) has shown me greater and greater results.  The most concrete example I can give:  this most recent one had me going strong for three weeks, and I got to the lowest number on the scale that I have seen in my adult life, when I hit the all too familiar roadblock:  a celebration of some sort.  This time, it was my wedding anniversary, which turned into a 4 day free-for-all in terms of eating.  It has been slow going this week, but I am slowly getting myself back on track.  So here’s the progress:

1.  I am back on track, normally a celebration derails me for weeks

2.  My high number on the scale since resuming is the previous challenge’s low number

Even Old School Josie Thinking can’t argue that this is progress!

Last valuable lesson learned, and now I will finally tie this all back to blogging:  Consistency is key.  It is true in my sobriety, it is true for my diet and fitness, and it is true for blogging.  If I don’t keep myself to a schedule, then I will fade away into the blogging sunset.  I know it.  Just in the few weeks I took off, the monkey mind was getting louder and louder:  enough is enough, you are getting too repetitive, who gives a crap about what’s going on in your life?  On and on.

Here’s my response back:  nothing but great things have happened with respect to the blog.  So I guess I’ll keep writing!

 

Today’s Miracle:

Through the orthodontic process, we discovered an abnormality in my son’s mouth, and we have been anxiously awaiting results of the oral surgery he had as a result of that discovery.  Results are in, and it was the best possible news.  So the miracle is:  the good health of my children is now something for which I am consciously grateful each and every day!

Second miracle:  surgeons who take their job seriously, and go the extra mile to ensure the best possible results.  I’m telling you, there’s no feeling like knowing you can trust your child’s medical professional!

Blog Tour 2014: Oh The Places We’ll Go!

I am just back from what amounts to a two-week vacation from this blog, and what an amazing welcome back present I’ve received… the opportunity to participate in what is being described as a “blog tour.”  So first, a heartfelt thanks to Kristen, the incredibly talented, Freshly Pressed author of the blog ByeByeBeer.  Kristen is the closest thing I have to a celebrity friend.  She is a celebrity because she is Freshly Pressed, and has been a guest on The Bubble Hour.  She is my friend because she is a wise, compassionate, interesting human being, as well as a supreme motivator for me to keep in shape between our 5K’s (and speaking of which, Kristen, time to start scaring up a fall event!).  It would be impossible for me to pick a favorite post from her blog, because I get excited every time a notification that she has written appears in my inbox, but I would say this post is one of her many greats, and spoke to me in a personal way.

Onwards and upwards… I am guessing I should be answering the same questions that Kristen did in her post, so here goes nothing:

What am I working on?

Being the literal person that I am, I am currently working on answering these questions!  Taking a miniscule step back, I am working on making my way through 10 tons of laundry from last week’s trip down the shore (more to follow on that in future blog posts).  I am guessing this question assumes that a blogger has some bigger project happening in the background, which for me is not strictly true.  About a year into my blogging, I did latch on to one idea for a book, and I have some work done on it, but to say I am working on it currently would be a gross misrepresentation of the truth.  During this season of the year the greatest work in process is creating a summer of fun, lasting memories for my kids.  Failing that, surviving the summer with everyone’s sanity intact would also be acceptable.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I will say, straight out, that my blog does not seem overly different to me from others in its genre:  recovery bloggers write as a means of figuring out this whole business of sober living.   One thing that does stand out to me as a bit unusual is my starting point.  Most of the bloggers I follow spent time reading blogs before creating their own.  On the other hand, and crazy as it may seem, I had not read a single blog post before starting my own.  In fact, when it was suggested I undertake the project, I had never before heard of WordPress, and it was several months in before I understood that people outside of my family were even reading what I was writing!  So my naiveté would surely count as something different.

Perhaps another unique perspective would be my Monday posts.  Almost two years ago, I started and have since been running a weekly 12-step meeting.  From that decision a weekly blog post evolved where I take what I consider to be the highlights of each meeting, and share them with all of my blogging friends.   Readers get to hear all of the wisdom, and anonymity is maintained.  It’s like getting the Cliffs Notes of the 12-step world!

Why do I write/create what I do?

Of the four questions, this is the easiest to answer.  I first started this blog to chronicle my journey of recovery, to write about the trials and tribulations of early sobriety.  Once I understood and appreciated the blogging world, and the countless benefits that come with being part of it, I wrote (and still write, to this day) to “hold my seat,” as it were, in this incredible community.  My posts still chronicle my recovery, as I will be on that journey for the rest of my life.  Anything I do is part of that journey.  But now, the focus is so much broader:  I will write as a springboard from the post of a fellow blogger, or I will write because I know that sharing my experience will benefit my blogging friends, sometimes I will write to share a laugh.  The relationships formed here are almost as interactive as my friends in person, and so I write/create to maintain those relationships.

How does my writing/creative process work?

It makes me smile to call what I do a creative process, from my perspective it feels like I am simply emptying out my brain onto the blank sheet of a word processing document.  Answering this question has the song “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea playing like a backdrop in my head (a song I detest, by the way, so I need to shut it down, immediately!).

So I suppose, if there is a process at all, it would go something like this:  there is an issue in my life that I feel the need to explore.  In the earliest days of this blog, the issues would appear every time I turned around, as I’m sure is typical with everyone in early sobriety.  That issue then becomes the subject matter for a post.  From there I search for a “hook:” something about the issue that is relatable, preferably to those both in and out of recovery.  The more time passes, the easier this becomes.  Once I have that hook, there is no stopping the process, and truly for me the post writes itself.  Not a fancy process at all!

So next I get the fun of tagging some of my inspirations for logging on to WordPress.  I am publishing this before I have even gone through my reader, so if I have tagged someone already tagged, my apologies.

First I will pick Lisa Neumann, the brilliant author of the blog Sober Identity.  Lisa’s positive feedback on my blog was my first realization that blogging is an interactive business; not only do I get to write about the issues I am facing, but there are actual bloggers who have been there and done that, and they will help me along the way.  I have never read a post of hers that has not resounded deeply with me, her commitment to helping others in recovery is truly her life’s work.  If you are new to Lisa, I would start with this post.

Second I will pick a blog a bit newer (to me, anyway), called There’s more to me than this.  I read this blog, and often have the feeling that thoughts were taken directly out of my head and transferred via someone else’s keyboard.  And it is that exact connection that makes the blogging world so amazing… people from all over the planet, and all walks of life, sharing experiences and giving each other wisdom.  As a matter of fact, her most recent post describes beautifully all I am trying to convey about why I love the blogging world.  Start right here and work your way backwards, I promise you it will be well worth it!

I will make the same disclaimer to my “tagees” as was made to me:  feel no pressure to carry this forward; no bad mojo will fall on your life if you wish to end the blog tour right here.  But do consider it; thinking about why I do what I do has been enlightening, and filled me with gratitude!

Today’s Miracle:

The reminder of how miraculous our blogging community is!

Happy 2nd Birthday: An Open Letter to My Blog

Blog

Artistic Concept and Photography courtesy of my brilliant daughter (hand modelling courtesy of my son)!

Dear Blog,

You are two years old today, and so I wanted to let you know how much you have meant to my life since you have entered it.

I did not think out nor did I prepare much for your birth.  It was suggested to me that you would be a valuable addition to my life, and to the lives of those around me, and so I more or less thought, “Why not give this a shot?”

And that about sums up my preparation for you in my life.

Like any addition to a family, you quickly and firmly took root.  At first, you flailed and cried and didn’t know much of what you were doing, but time and patience helped to calm and soothe you.  I had very little expectations of you; consequently, when even the smallest of things happened, I felt like we achieved a huge milestone.  I remember your first LIKE as if it was yesterday.  I did not even understand what the foreign Gravatar at the bottom of the post was, I had to call my husband over to help me understand.  But when I did, I was overwhelmed with happiness.

Soon after I realized that with this knowledge comes more responsibility.  Wait, other people might actually be reading you!  And that small shift in perspective… write something that helps you, but also may help another, brought about an enormous growth spurt for you.  The realization that the events in life that affect me might actually be affecting someone else out there gave me a feeling of connectedness like I have never experienced before.

Soon after that first LIKE was the first COMMENT.  Oh my, now we are entering a brave new world, indeed… people in the world are not only reading, not only appreciating, but taking their precious time to give back to us!  It is hard to describe the joy that is found in reading comments.  The gratitude of acknowledgement, the wisdom received, and again the feeling that I am not alone in my joy or my struggles.

Some posts, like Betty White is a Trigger or Roar, helped me to work through issues.  Some posts, like A Series of Bottoms, Chapter 1-Epilogue, and Lather, Rinse, Repeat:  The Shame Cycle, helped me to purge my mind and my heart of negative feelings to which I was holding on.  Some posts, like The Dreaded Topic or I’ve Talked the Talk, Now I’ve Walked the Walk, helped me set goals and kept me accountable to them.  Some of the seemingly sillier posts, like The End of the People Magazine Era… Or is It, helped me realize that no matter how crazy my thoughts or actions are, there is someone who will relate.

And then, the most unexpected miracle of all, blog:  the readers become FRIENDS.  We connect with each other, not just within the blogosphere, but outside of it as well.  Emails, phone calls, in-person visits.  In a thousand years, I would have never guessed the blessings of true friendships that have evolved out of the simple, almost thoughtless decision to bring you into this world.

You have given me the opportunity to take chances, to challenge myself, to hold myself accountable to goals, to admit shortcomings, to publicize victories.  You have given me a confidence in myself that I have heretofore not experienced.  You have given me the flashlight to shine on my deepest darkest thoughts, and, in shining that light, have dispelled them.

The happiest of birthdays, blog, and endless gratitude for all the joy you have brought to my life.  I hope we have many years of happiness to come.

Today’s Miracle:

Celebrating the anniversary of joining a world that has brought me countless blessings.  Thanks to all of you!

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

This post needs to fall into the “better late than never” category.  It appears that, despite the complete lack of sunshine in my neck of the woods, I have been nominated for the Sunshine Blogging Award by a few bloggers near and dear to my heart.  I apologize for taking so long to acknowledge this honor, I am just behind the times, technologically speaking, and I was unsure how to proceed.  If I forget a step in this, please forgive me!

So here are the rules as I understand them:

Display the award on your blog.
Announce your win with a post and thank the blogger who nominated you.
Present 10 deserving bloggers “who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.”
Link to the awardees and let them know of the nomination.
List 10 interesting things about yourself.

I can check one and half of two off the list already, yippee!  Okay, a sincere thank you to the following marvelous bloggers who have deemed my blog to be full of sunshine:

  1. Tracy over at Wanderlust:  Tracy, still having fun with this winter?  Not sure if the most recent ice storm we received made it all the way up your way or not!
  2. Jami over at Sober Grace:  Jami, I am anxiously awaiting the meditation update!
  3. Fern over at Emotional Drinking:  Fern, I look forward to each and every post you put out!
  4. Chenoa over at Lifecorked:  Every time I read, I feel like I have another sister out there!

Here is the presentation of the 10 deserving bloggers, all of whom deserve this award way more than me!  Plus I will also ditto all the other nominees made by Tracy, Jami, Fern and Chenoa:

  1. Not This Song
  2. The Sober Journalist
  3. Trudging Through The Fire
  4. Nowine4me
  5. Time With Thea
  6. Changing Course Now
  7. The Soberist Blog
  8. FitFatFood
  9. Oh for the Love of… me
  10. Mental Rollercoaster

And, last but certainly not least, here are ten things that will have to pass as interesting about myself:

1.  I print and write cursive with the paper upside down.  Blame it on left-handedly never getting the slant correct, and catholic school perfectionism, but I had to keep turning the page until it couldn’t go any further.  Then I just got used to it, and now it’s a nice conversation starter with loads of people that I don’t wish to have conversations (“Did you know you are writing upside down?”  “Yes, yes I believe I do.”)

2.  Despite French being one of my majors in college, I missed my flight while in Paris because I could not communicate to the cab driver that I needed to go to the airport (eventually, by making airplane arm motions, he understood)

3.  I have driven back and forth across the United States three different times, on three totally different routes, with three different men.  I did wind up marrying the last one (man, that is).

4.  I have absolutely, positively, no sense of direction.

5.  When I was 18 months old I could recite the Pledge of Allegiance

6.  It drives me crazy when someone claims to “love” an artist/band but only knows their recent music

7.  I have an irrational dislike of turkeys (live ones, not the main course at Thanksgiving)

8.  There is a lackadaisical turkey farmer in the vicinity of my home that allows his animals to roam freely, and thus I frequently encounter said animals prancing around my yard.  See #7 regarding my feelings on this subject

9.  In a former life, I attended the same party as Ron Jeremy (and no, to answer the unspoken question, it was not an office party)

10.  I was a member of a bridal party nine different times (one of them as a bride)

Alright, that just about does it, Josie OUT!

Today’s Miracle:

As they say this time of year… it’s an honor just being nominated!

Why Bloggers Are Happier People

An interesting thing happened to me yesterday.  I was reading a beautiful post by my friend Karen over at Mended Musings, and a line she wrote stood out:

 I don’t usually post until I’ve come to some sort of conclusion that I (and hopefully others) can learn from.

It struck me because I often feel the same way:  if something is bothering me, I generally don’t like to write about it until I’ve gotten some kind of answer.  But I considered it more and realized that, in fact, many times I will write so that I can find the answer.  Countless times I will sit down to write about a problem, and by the end of the writing session I realize the answer is there, a resolution to which I would not have come unless I took the time to put pen to paper (or, more accurately, fingers to keyboard).  I can remember at least one post very clearly (Sticks and Stones) that helped me figure out the problem as I was writing about it!

Later the same day I came across some library books I checked out 2 weeks ago, then abandoned to the dining room, never to be open (and a good thing I did come across them, I’m sure they need to be returned).  I decided to give one a cursory glance, the title of which is 59 Seconds:  Think a Little, Change a Lot, by Richard Wiseman.  The premise:  a psychologist gives “a myth-busting response to the self-help movement, with tips and tricks to improve your life that come straight from the scientific community.”

In the section I read, the author disproves the notion that talking about traumatic events (to an untrained person, he is not bashing counseling by any means) yields significant results in the way of increased happiness.  However, an exercise he calls “expressive writing” has been proven to boost both self-esteem and happiness.  As he writes:

From a psychological perspective, thinking and writing are very different.  Thinking can be somewhat unstructured, disorganized, and even chaotic.  In contrast, writing encourages the creation of a story line and structure that help people make sense of what has happened and work toward a solution.  In short, talking can add to a sense of confusion, but writing provides a more systematic, solution-based approach.

Bingo!  This was exactly what I was thinking while pondering Karen’s post!  I couldn’t count the number of times the simple act of re-creating an event in my life for this blog has helped me to make sense of it, to put it into perspective, and to resolve whatever was left rolling around in my brain.  I can say, without fail, that I feel happier every time I hit publish on this blog.  Whether it is happiness at the mere accomplishment of writing a post, or the feeling of resolving an issue, or satisfaction from sharing my experience, strength and hope, or a combination of all, I feel good when I am done writing.

Today’s Miracle:

My husband surprised me with some of my favorite Italian delicacies the other night, and there is enough to eat again tonight.  Not having to plan dinner + a second night of rarely eaten treats = miracle!

Blogging 101

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. -Lao Tzo

Alright, this title may be a little misleading (okay, a lot misleading), but when I clicked “publish” on my last post I realized I had completed 100 entries, which got me to thinking about the evolution of my blog.

Like many aspects of recovery, this project has turned out to be such an unforeseen miracle!  I was greatly encouraged to chronicle my journey through early sobriety, and informed that a blog was the best way to go about it.  Hard as it is to believe, I had not read a single blog until this idea was suggested to me!  So I started, more or less thinking it would be like an online diary.

What has happened since then, to me, is nothing short of amazing.  Not only do I have many family and friends reading my entries, but, unbelievably, I have people I have never met tuning in to read my thoughts.  It may seem silly, but I really was naive enough to be very surprised by this.  I will never forget my first “like”… I had to ask my husband about it, because I really did not understand or realize that other people would be interested.

The most rewarding part of this process, for me, has been to hear the words “you really made me think.”  Likewise, getting to know all the other bloggers out there has been another unexpected privilege.  It is like having a fellowship in cyber space… we are truly not alone in our problems, nor are we alone in the solution.  I have learned so many valuable lessons from my fellow writers that I truly put to use in my day-to-day life.

Since I have been on vacation this week, I have not been able to maintain my 4 posts a week for which I typically strive.  Yet another surprise, I find that I miss writing.  Two different days this week I tried and failed to carve out time for writing, and I found myself going to bed thinking about it and being disappointed I couldn’t reach out.

I really hope that this blog evolves along with my recovery.  Like the rest of my life, I believe this best is yet to come!

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