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M(3), 3/13/2017: How Much Does It Really Matter?

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I’m sitting here debating whether or not to even continue typing.  Yes, I did just return from my Monday morning meeting, and yes, people had great stuff to share, but I’m not sure I’m in a calm enough headspace to transmit the messages I received.

I mentioned last week that a lot of stuff is going on, and that stuff continues.  I’m in the midst of three separate kid issues, which is strange since I only have two children!  I am still recuperating from a fractured heel that I thought would be long over by now, and I’m hoping against hope a car repair is done before we are hit by the Blizzard of 2017.

I should really stop typing now.

No, I really shouldn’t.  Maybe if I repeat all the great stuff I heard this morning, it will seep into my scattered brain.

The reading on which we reflected on this morning is entitled “Easy Does It,” something I picked haphazardly as I was late this morning.  Turns out to be a good pick, since my head is in the opposite space of being easy.  Here is a line I read out loud this morning:

If a strong inner core of peace, patience and contentment looks at all desirable to you, it can be had.  -Living Sober, page 46

I laughed as I read it, then of course had to explain myself in my share.  If I took the time and explained each of my various issues, they’re not anything out of the ordinary:  teenage mishaps, car trouble, slow-healing body parts.  But the theme that’s running through all of them is they require me stepping out of my comfort zone in some way, shape or form and confronting someone.  Any kind of assertive conversation (and in some cases I’ll go ahead and upgrade it to aggressive) makes me uncomfortable in the extreme.

And in virtually all of the issues where I am required to assert myself, I have very little hope of swaying the opposing party to my side.  Which of course leads to feelings of frustration before I even assert myself.

Some of the issues have been dragged out for ridiculous reasons, which leads to impatience.

So, to sum up:

Anxiety + Frustration + Impatience = Scattered and Lacking Peace

Here’s what I can say:  I know, even at the worst of my negative feelings, that sooner or later all will settle down.  Sooner or later each of these issues will resolve, and a whole new set will crop up.  I know this, and at times this knowledge can settle my nerves.

In the meantime, I talk about my feelings, and I get advice from those that have been there and done that.  From this morning’s reading, the greatest take-away I got was the importance of asking the question:

How much does this really matter?

If I ask that question for each of my various issues, often the answer is a fairly simple “not as much as I’m making it matter.”  Some of the kid issues my Devil’s Advocate can argue are important based on principle, or could potentially be stepping stones to bigger issues, but even in those cases, if I take a wide-angle view, these things are blips on the screen of life.

So if I find out I can’t pick up my car today, how much does it really matter?  I will likely pick it up the next drivable day after the snow storm.  In the case of my foot, if I’m in the boot a month longer than I thought I would be, in the span of my life how much does it really matter?  The kid issues… well, I suppose I can simply do my personal best, and leave the results up to God.  As much I wish I could, I have control over one person in this life, and it’s all I can do to control myself!

Here are some other great thoughts from this morning:

  • Everyone with children has issues with children.  It is the nature of the beast of parenting!
  • Sharing with people who understand helps, as does listening to people who have what you want.  If you are lacking peace, go talk to someone you feel has a good sense of peace about them.
  • Slowing down the process of anything helps to do it better, more thoroughly, and with less mistakes.
  • Taking time each morning in quiet reflection helps to make the entire day a calmer experience.
  • Remembering that for which you are grateful helps to alleviate the stressful parts of your life.
  • The theme of humility runs through this morning’s reading.  It is important to remember to keep our egos in check when trying to fix all the world’s problems.

For those of you who are getting hit with bad weather, I wish you safety and warmth.  For those of you in warm, sunny climates, I’m jealous!

Today’s Miracle:

The hope that I’m back next week with fabulous resolutions to all the issues I’m complaining about this week 🙂

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M(3), 1/9/17: Easy Does It

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Today was one of those days where I took advantage of my “power,” as it were, and selected a reading I hoped would help me personally.  We read from the book Living Sober, and I selected the chapter “Easy Does It.”

I actually went in searching for the chapter “One Day At A Time,” only to find it was not in there.  I could use that prioritization as well.  And a blog post may soon follow on this one, as I find it one of the most useful adages in the 12-step lexicon.

But back to the subject at hand:  we read the chapter “Easy Does It.”  In terms of recovery, the chapter talks about the common thread of compulsivity that seems to exist in alcoholics.  We are the type to rarely let a drink go unfinished (alcoholic or not), we read until the book is finished, and, in a newer twist, and speaking for myself, binge watching television series is a great additional example of pursuing something until the bitter end!

And of course, there’s nothing wrong with many of these compulsive tendencies… most of them are, in fact, preferable to drinking.  But the chapter gently asks us to look at this piece of our personalities, and consider slowing down once we realize we are in the grips of this thinking.

Of particular import to me today was this section:

When we do find ourselves uptight and even frantic, we can ask ourselves occasionally, “Am I really that indispensable?” or “Is this hurry really necessary?”  What a relief to find the honest answer is frequently no!  And such devices actually serve, in the long run, no only to help us get over our drinking problem and its old ways; they also enalbe us to become far more productive, because we conserve and channel our energy better.  We arrange priorities more sensibly.  We learn that many actions once considered vital can be eliminated if they are thoughtfully reexamined.  “How much does this really matter?” is a very good question.  -pg. 45, Living Sober

Here’s what’s been the lather-rinse-repeat cycle of my mind for the past solid month… I sit with my boot on, thinking I need to sit in order to get the boot off.  Then as I sit I think of the various things that I’m not doing, and feel badly about not doing them.  I look around and see evidence of my not doing things… dust bunnies, empty refrigerator, laundry piles, etc.  At least this is how things look in my mind.  I finally get so agitated I get up and do something, anything, to relieve the pressure of not doing something.  Then I recognize that my foot hurts from, you know, walking on it.  Then I am depressed anew because all this means is a delay of healing.  And I sit down, and the cycle begins again.

 Preposterous, as I type it out, but it’s the truth.
So I read chapters like this, I talk about what’s going on in my head, and I remember that this too shall pass.  And guess what?  The house isn’t that horrible, I have teenage children and a husband who are more than capable of undecorating and carrying laundry baskets around.  And one way or another, I will survive the boot.
I will survive the boot.  I’ve just decided this is my new mantra.
In other, more recovery-related subjects, the following pearls of wisdom were shared this morning:
  • An almost unanimous decision that employing “easy does it” to one’s life is a work- in-progress situation.  Some days/weeks/months you’ll have it, and some you won’t.
  • Part of the trap of this personality booby trap is the idea that we’ll relax/take time out/start enjoying life once x, y or z happens.  I’ll start taking it easy after I get through the holidays, as soon as I get the promotion, once I clean the house.  But this logic is inherently flawed, as there is always a new item to get through/achieve/do.
  • Making a conscious decision to feed ourselves rather than delete from ourselves is important.  Taking time to actually schedule, in your planner or calendar, time each day to nurture yourself, will have untold benefits.
  • Claiming that you are too important to employ “easy does it” is a form of self-aggrandizing.  It’s especially important to ask the questions listed above (Am I really that important and is this hurry really necessary), as the ego could be at play.
  • Often we find a sense of disappointment when we are too goal-oriented.  We work and work to achieve a goal, be it materialistic or not, then find said goal did not give us the satisfaction we thought it would.  Then life becomes a series of pushing from goal to goal, with little appreciation for the journey that takes us to those goals.
  • Though it may be trite, appreciating the journey is as important, if not more important, than appreciating the destination, as so much of life is about exactly that… the journey.

Hope everyone is having an Easy Does It Monday!

Today’s Miracle:

True story:  one person, in his/her share (remember, trying to make things more anonymous) said the following:  “if there’s laundry to be done…. well then, teach the kids how to do it!”  It was said lightly, but it should be noted I wrote the paragraph above before the meeting.  So I’d say this reminder from someone who did not know I was fretting about this counts as my miracle!

 

M(3), 3/9/15: Easy Does It

 

And  a great Monday it is:  it feels spring-like (well, relative to what we’ve been experiencing of late), it’s SUNNY, snow is melting, and we had a nice turnout at the morning’s meeting.  AND I’m heading up to spend a hooky day with my BFF in NYC… it doesn’t get better than this!

Second Mondays of the month feature selections from the book Living Sober; today’s chapter is entitled “Easy Does It.”  I selected that chapter on the fly based upon a situation one of my friends shared with me before the meeting, I assumed based on the title it would be just what she needed to read.  Turns out, I needed to read it too!

Here are some of the typical examples of how people who identify as alcoholics tend NOT to employ the strategy of easy does it:

  • Feeling the need to finish the last drop of a drink, be it alcoholic one or soft
  • Needing to read a book to its finish in as close to one sitting as humanly possible
  • Taking on too many projects/responsibilities/commitments at once
  • Finding it difficult to relax

Any of these sound familiar?  I was unpleasantly surprised to find out that they are all familiar, both during active addiction, and in sobriety.

For me, several of the strategies listed in the chapter sound like they could be useful for me to practice a bit more “easy does it” in my own life.  The first, and most important, is to keep goals realistic and reasonable.  I can’t tell you how many diet or fitness regimens I started and ended because I wasn’t meeting my pie-in-the-sky goals by the end of week one.  Next, the chapter talks about creating a to-do list for the day, then deliberately discarding half of it.  Fascinating concept, and one I think I will try… I’ll get back to you on how effective I find that one to be.  Finally, and this is one I have been trying, is spending a few quiet moments with myself.  I have been attempting to incorporate meditation into my life for several weeks now.  I am by no means doing it daily, certainly not for very long, and probably not very effectively, but I am trying, and I do feel a sense of calm when I do.  It’s good to know this practice will help with the overall goal of trying to take things a bit easier.

The woman who shared next said the word that came to her mind while reading this chapter is balance.  For her, it’s about taking stock of her overall life, and her feeling about her life, and making sure she is attending to each area.  Particularly in terms of sobriety, she finds that when she does not keep that part of her life in balance, which for her means attending enough meetings, sharing what’s going on with her sober support network, praying, and reading literature, she feels it in all areas of her life.  Making sure she is in balance with her program of recovery usually means the rest of her life stays in balance as well.

A gentleman who just celebrated his 8-month anniversary said he could benefit from the application of this slogan to his personal program of recovery, specifically, working the 12 steps.  He originally felt frantic about getting through all the steps in as short a time frame as possible; in his mind, everyone around him had less sober time but were on the latter steps.  He rushed through steps 1 through 3, then completely stalled out on step 4.  Finally, he realized that there is no race to finish the steps, there is no graduation from the program of recovery, and the only person with whom he should compete is himself.  When he reframed his perspective this way, he became proud of his accomplishments, and realized he needed to start over and thoroughly go through those first 3 steps.  Once he did that, step 4 became a breeze to sit down and complete!

A long-timer in recovery had spent all of his morning prior to the meeting playing catch-up with some of his work responsibilities, so when he saw the selection I had chosen, his reaction was one of annoyance.  He said that a paragraph in particular stood out to his as we were reading:

When we do find ourselves up-tight and even frantic, we can ask ourselves occasionally, “Am I really that indispensable?” or “Is this hurry really necessary?” What a relief to find the honest answer is frequently no! And such devices actually serve, in the long run, not only to help us get over our drinking problem and its old ways; they also enable us to become far more productive, because we conserve and channel our energy better. We arrange priorities more sensibly. We learn that many actions once considered vital can be eliminated if they are thoughtfully reexamined. “How much does it really matter?” is a very good question. -Ch. 18, Living Sober

Ouch!  Message received.  He realized this is precisely what he needed to read today!

This is one of those readings that would benefit all of humanity, not just those of us who choose to remain sober.  I shall try to employ these strategies immediately as I head up to the Big Apple later today!

Today’s Miracle:

Choosing a reading selection that speaks personally to every person in a meeting, myself included, is an awesome thing!

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