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Using the Recovery Toolbox to Build a Fitness Routine

Since I am in “follow-up” mode this week, I figure I’d follow-up last Wednesday’s post.

I committed, to myself and to a fellow blogger, to start (re-start?  for the gazillionth time?) my fitness routine.  I have languished, and that is putting it mildly, for the past year, and it’s time to get back on the horse again (in this case, the horse is an elliptical machine).

Committing to somebody other than myself, so far, has been a brilliant maneuver:  I have exercised, in some form or another, for 10 days straight.  May not seem like much, but for me it feels like 10 days sober did… a miracle.  I genuinely cannot remember a time that I have exercised 10 days in a row.

And I have seen progress, too, in this short time.  First day:  14 minutes, and I thought I might pass out.  Today:  28 minutes, and I could have gone longer, but I am trying to do the “slow and steady” approach, so no more than one-minute increases each day until I hit 30 minutes, and I will re-assess this weekend.

So here’s my story for today:  I have been fortunate to grab the same machine each day since I started back to the gym.  This helps me because I can use the final numbers as a relatively accurate chart of my progress.  This morning, I was not so lucky.  An older woman was puttering around “my machine” for so long that I decided that I would just use another.

Which meant that, by the end of my time, my miles travelled, and calories burned, were way less than any of the other days.

Now, my logical mind certainly knows that each machine is different, and that the numbers are relative anyway.  But my competitive, instant-gratification senses were fairly disappointed:  how could I go for the longest time yet, and come up with such poor results?

Pre-recovery me would have sulked about this all day, would have held a deep resentment to the puttering old lady, and would have berated myself for such a poor performance, which in all probability would have led to giving up.

Post-recovery me knows that I committed to exercising every day, no matter what, and I went above and beyond my commitment to myself (20 minutes is the minimum).  Further, post-recovery me knows that using a different machine uses different muscles, which in all likelihood was better for me all around.

So, take that, old way of thinking!

Today’s Miracle:

Refraining from shooting the old lady dirty looks definitely constitutes a miracle.  Oh, second miracle… had a conversation at the bus stop about Garanimals, which I had to explain.  We compared ages, and are within a year of each other (which makes me all the more confused as to how Garanimals does not come instantly to mind). There was surprise at my year of birth, the thought was that I was of a younger generation.  Tell me that is not an excellent way to start the day!

T.M.I. (Too Much Information)!

Another danger zone could be added to this diagram:  the bus stop itself, after the children have driven away!


This morning I was at the stay at home/work at home parent’s version of the water cooler:  the bus stop.  The lengthy discussion that resulted was an eye-opener, at least it was for this home-owning ignoramus:  stucco.  Here are a few snippets that I learned at this morning’s rendezvous:

  • Stucco should really only be used in homes in the Southwestern region of the United States (we live in a suburb of Philadelphia, too bad someone did not give this news to our builder)
  • Stucco costs three times as much as siding to remediate or replace.
  • The chance for mold and other moisture problems increases dramatically when your house is constructed with stucco (as opposed to siding).
  • There is no chance of recouping any losses from the builder, the company will simply drag it out in court and you will wind up losing even more money, and still have the same problem as you did to start.

Really, by the end of this conversation, my thought process was this:  it would be less stressful, and more time-saving, to simply drive my son to school!

Thank you God, for the 12-step program, because I could listen to this diatribe, and my first thought… alright, full disclosure:  my real first thought is that 25 minutes in the early morning chill is entirely too long to be talking about stucco… so my second thought is gratitude that we are not experiencing any of the problems that are being described, followed by genuine sympathy at the plight of those around me.  Suffice it to say that is not how I would have handled that conversation, pre-Fellowship!

Today’s Miracle:

In coming home and inspecting my house, I do not have any of the tell-tale “tea stains” (another fun term I learned this morning) around my windows!


Get Up, Stand Up: Stand Up For Your Rights!

A man without decision can never be said to belong to himself. -John Watson Foster


Yesterday was the Philadelphia’s Fighting for Air Climb, an event where individuals and teams race up 1,088 steps as quickly as they can.  Since 2010, my husband has participated with a team in this “vertical race” in an effort to raise money for the American Lung Association.  For the past 2 years, my children have joined his team, and climbed fast enough to received trophies.    Very cool experience, and very rewarding for all involved, including spectators such as myself.  The picture above is this year’s team, which is the largest ever in the climb’s history, nation-wide.  Great job, Team Stab!

This year’s event  has taught me a valuable lesson in decision-making, and, more importantly, in standing up for my decisions.  I can’t remember what, if any, pressure was placed upon me to participate in this event prior to this year, and since I can’t remember, I’m guessing, not a lot.  This year, however, I had received entreaties from several different participants:  2013 is the year I should join this worthy cause.

Here’s how the decision-making process went for me:

  2. Alright, you should at least consider it… then, repeat #1
  3. As various people would attempt to talk me into it… well, maybe…
  4. But I really, really don’t want to do this, so no way
  5. But, maybe this is one of those things I should be pushing myself to do, and think of all the benefits…

… and so on.  I went back and forth with this process for days on end.  I shared about it at meetings, and with people close to me, but at the end of the day I realized only one person could make this decision, and that was me.  So I took some time, sat down, and did my best to quiet my mind, and see what God thought about this quandary.  I kid you not, within minutes I was able to focus, not on what other people thought was good for me, or how I would be making this one or that one proud of me, but how I would feel about actually doing it.  Long story short, I felt calm and confident that this was not an event in which I would enjoy participating, and any other choice I would be making for someone else.

So that is that, right?  I waited a few days (this was over a month ago, I had to make the decision early because I would have needed to train for it), then shared the decision with my husband.  His immediate reply:  please reconsider.  I gave my reasons why I did not wish to participate, and he argued against most of them, but finally conceded that it was my decision to make.  Good enough.

Same conversation, different person, several more times before the event.  And each time, I am fighting getting annoyed.  Finally, the event day comes, and everyone does really well, and it was awesome (as always) to be a spectator, they have cameras set up as everyone passes the “finish line,” or reaches the 50th floor, so I got to see everyone as they completed.  As people are leaving the event, no short of 4 different people say as they are leaving, “so you are in for next year, riiight???”

So, as I mentioned, two lessons.  The first was the decision-making process, which taught me to weed out the expectations, demands, and even wishes of others, and get to the heart of the issue, which is what is good for me, and what works for me.  The second is having the conviction and confidence to stand up for my decision, and this was the much harder lesson.  I really struggled yesterday with not making a sharp comment, not getting defensive, and not going overboard explaining myself to every person present.   For the most part, I succeeded (although my husband had to hear about it, God bless him for listening!), and I think that the whole experience will get easier each subsequent time.  At least, I really, really hope so!

Today’s Miracle:

The perfect Sunday:  sleep in a bit, wonderful conversation over coffee, just a little bit of shopping, and back home to putter around on the computer.  It just doesn’t get any better!

Recovery as it Relates to Un-Decorating

This one step- choosing a goal and sticking to it- changes everything. -Scott Reed

Here’s how the mind of an addict works:  Time to un-decorate the house.  Check.  Start un-decorating, make some headway, then decide to start hauling the decorations down to the basement.  Look around the basement and realize that all the cardboard boxes from online Christmas shopping are still sitting in a gigantic pile blocking the path to where Christmas storage containers sit.  Alright, slight diversion, but deal with it, and move on.  Trash day was yesterday, so move the pile, but mentally bemoan the fact that trash day has come and gone.   Continue to organize decorations upstairs, all the while thinking about the projects that await in the basement.  Look over and observe that there is still a pile of Christmas presents, in boxes, in a corner.  Another diversion as they need to be unboxed, put in their place (What place do they go?  Oh, man, just put them in the dining room for now.)  Back to Christmas decorations.  Wait, while in the dining room did I just observe yet more decorations?  Okay, back to that room to un-decorate, and now the pile of decorations has grown, still not stored, still not down in the basement yet.  Tree still upright, with all decorations on.  Oh, and what about those high shelves with the decorations still on them?  Where is the big ladder?  Back down to the basement, no ladder anywhere in sight.  Need to text husband to find out where the hell the ladder is.  Back upstairs… okay, let’s just get the larger decorations into the basement and put them on the shelves, that’s a simple enough project.  Back down the basement, only to discover there is no room on the shelves, because they are filled with non-Christmas decorations that go back up once the Christmas decorations come down.  But which ones, and where do they go?  And shouldn’t I completely dust and vacuum before I put non-Christmas decorations back in place?  And don’t I need to completely un-assemble the tree before I dust and vacuum?

And now it’s two hours later, and I’m looking around the chaos I’ve created, and I have no idea what to do next…

Except stop what I’m doing, take a deep breath, and do something else on my to-do list so I can clear my head (which, if you have not figured out yet, is write this post).  And realize that projects are done one step at a time, and obsessing about all the other projects that need to be done will not help complete the project at hand.  One goal:  can the Christmas decorations come down?  Yes, if I stop adding things on, and worrying about other things.

One day at a time, or, in this case, one minute at a time, one project at a time.

Today’s Miracle:

I have an entire day with absolutely no distracting appointments in which to complete this project, and no matter how un-fun these chores are, I am still so happy to be at home to do them!

Looking at the Past to Appreciate the Present

Things are going great, and they’re only getting better
I’m doing all right, getting good grades
The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades -Timbuk 3

Today I am hustling and bustling getting ready for my son’s 10th birthday tomorrow (special requests include potato salad, chicken cutlets, and a pac man cake, thank God for the internet on that last one!).  First thing this morning, I came into some knowledge that had my character defect of self-righteousness on high alert… I believe I am a victim of some injustice, and nothing gets me more irate than when this happens.  To complicate this issue, I have no ability to find a resolution for about a week, which only heightens my angst.

As I began my food prep, I tried to focus on how I can maximize my son’s enjoyment of his special day.  And that’s when it hit me… what was happening exactly one year ago.  I wish I could say what I am about to describe was my final bottom; sadly, it was not…

One year ago today I was preparing to enter an inpatient rehab.  I convinced the family member instrumental in enforcing this decision that it would be best to wait until the day after my son’s birthday, so as to minimize the disruption to his life.  I had been “caught,” for what felt like the millionth time, violating my promise to stay clean and sober 5 days prior to his birthday, and the ultimatum had come in… get some help, or get out.  I chose the former, and we spent the next few days figuring out rehabs, insurance acceptance, and attempting normalcy around the children.  We had the extended family over for cake and ice cream, and no one was the wiser, which simply added to the stress of the situation.  You know what 4-5 days of waiting to go into rehab is like?  It is like a form of hell on Earth.  And trying to pretend to the world that all is well makes it that much harder.

Okay, that’s enough of the sad stuff.  Fast forward a year (thank the Good Lord I am able to do that!), and here I sit, typing a blog to family, old friends, and new ones I haven’t even met but who inspire me daily.  I am able to plan all sorts of neat ideas for my son to enjoy, and I am appreciating the opportunity I have to do so.  I am a week away from celebrating 9 months of continuous sobriety, something I had only accomplished in the past when I was pregnant.  I am actively involved in a 12-step program, getting ready to finish the steps, and looking forward to passing on the message to others.  I have begun the process of starting my own meeting, and am actively recruiting attendees.  I am involved in a legal program that will ultimately allow me to wipe my slate officially clean.

What in the hell do I have to complain about?

Being of Service… Another Milestone!

Very often you will hear recovering alcoholics say that a big part of their program involves saying yes whenever they are asked to be in service, whether they want to or not.  I had that experience today, and it led to another personal milestone.

I walked into my regular daily meeting with about two minutes to spare, because I had finally hauled my lazy a$$ to the gym.  It is important to note that I was at the gym, because that means I walked into the meeting looking quite a bit more “casual” (a kind understatement) than I would normally prefer to look, but I was so pleased with myself for exercising, I figured it would be worth it.  I was happy as a clam, and my normal gang was already seated.  I was just getting ready to have a quick conversation with the group, when the chair called me to the front of the room.  As I walked up, I realized it was Monday, which means the format of the meeting is a speaker meeting, and the speaker seat was empty.  It was all I could do not to go running right out the door, but, remembering all I have learned, I took a deep breath, and approached the chair of the meeting.

And I, with exactly zero time to prepare, became the speaker at this morning’s meeting.  While I do not have a terrible hardship with public speaking, I do have a problem with being unprepared for public speaking.  Again, I called to mind what I have been taught, which is that there is no need to prepare, simply ask God to put the right words in your mouth, so I shot up a quick prayer (and I mean quick, there was NO TIME!), and off I went.

Here is what I learned:  sometimes taking a deep breath and saying a prayer is all the preparation you need.  Fortunately, I had told my story once before, when I did have time to prepare, at a different meeting, so I could draw upon that experience to help me lay out my personal timeline as it related to addiction.  Another big benefit to this blessing in disguise… I felt like I had really gotten to know many of the “regulars” at this meeting, but, now that I have shared my story with the group, I feel like they really know me.  One person raised their hand and said they appreciated my “brutal honesty,” which was a great compliment, because, as I have mentioned in earlier posts, I truly struggled with honesty for a long time, and so being told that felt like true progress.  I also worry that my story is unusual compared to what I often hear in the rooms, and yet I had 2 different women and 1 man walk up to me afterwards and tell me that I told their exact story.  Knowing that my speaking touches another… it is hard to put into words how rewarding it feels.

Even though I wanted to kill him at the time, I will remember the chairperson of this meeting for a long time, because he gave me a great gift!

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