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Maternal Wisdom

mother's day

Here’s a fun poll for Mother’s Day weekend:  what’s the best advice your Mom ever gave you?  Here are some of the words of wisdom to which I adhere to this very day:

  • You must have a good knife in your kitchen
  • Baggy clothing does not cover up imperfections, it just makes you look bigger
  • Keeping a schedule keeps you sane
  • And, last but not least, if anyone spills anything, you must say in your weariest, most put-upon voice, “JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH, GET THE PAPER TOWELS” (my kids thank Mom Mom for that as well!)

Alright, what’s everyone gotten from their Mom’s?  Words of wisdom, life lessons, or just hilarious stories, I want to hear them!  And for all my beautiful maternal friends, enjoy the weekend, you deserve it!

Today’s Miracle:

Mothers definitely count as a miracle; I don’t know what I’d do without mine!

Life’s A Beach


Thanks to my husband for capturing these waves!


I would apologize for my absence, but I promised a fellow blogger I was going to stop apologizing for my life, so I will say:  vacation and blogging is like oil and water, in that they don’t mix well.

But, having spent a decent amount of time already on the beach, I’ve had some time to ponder the similarities between the landscape I am presently calling home, and my recovery.  Actually, more than recovery, the similarities extend through life itself.

Sand sculptors abound this time of year, from the amateur (my two-year old nephew makes a mean upside-down bucket sand castle), to the most elaborate (I have seen ornate sand-constructed miniature golf holes that people can actually use).  I have seen the sublime (my daughter’s rendition of a businessman, with tie on, was superb) to the outrageous (my brother-in-law’s mermaid was, let’s just say, generously proportioned).  Here’s the thing about this art:  no matter how perfect, or imperfect, the finished product is, the ocean will have its way with it, and when we come back the next day we will be looking at a blank slate.

Same with recovery, and with life itself:  no matter how perfect or horrific my day is, no matter how accomplished or how unproductive I’ve been, no matter how many accolades I’ve received, or how many nit-picky fights in which I’ve participated, the day will end, and a new one will begin, and I will start all over again.  This can be good news or bad news, depending upon the day I’ve had, but either way, life can only be lived one day at a time, and I start fresh every morning I awaken.

Having many children with us (18 total!) of prime boogie-boarding age, I spend a lot of time standing by the water and doing head counts (and frequently saying to whoever is standing next to me, “I don’t see this one, do you!?!”).  My time in this position has taught me something:  stand still for too long, and I’m going under… the sand.  The longer I stand in the same position, the deeper my feet get buried, which makes me more and more uncomfortable, and becomes more and more difficult to climb out of the hole I’ve created.

And so it is with recovery, and with life:  stand still for too long, and I will stagnate.  The minute I’ve got the idea in my head that “I’ve got this,” recovery-wise, then I am headed for the proverbial fall.  And it’s equally true with life itself.  If I’m not always trying to grow, trying to improve, looking for new experiences, then I am burying myself, and over time it will get more and more difficult to stretch and grow.

Finally, we have had a recurring problem with the cyclical currents in the ocean:  right around the same time every day, we have to pull the kids out of the water, show them how far the ocean has pulled them, and instruct them to keep looking at either the lifeguard chair or us as a gauge of how far they are being pulled.  The lecture is effective for about 3 minutes before we have to pull them out and tell the exact same message.

I am certainly not a scientist, but my experiential understanding is this:  there is no fighting the pull of the ocean’s current.  You can attempt to manage it by periodically swimming against it, measuring yourself against a fixed object on the shoreline and adjusting yourself accordingly, but you are going to be pulled whether you like it or not.

I can, and have, lived in denial of my disease called addiction.  I have attempted to figure ways around it, I believed I could find a solution to it, I have even tried to pretend that my addictive behavior was normal.  All that got me was further and further away from my ultimate goal of peace with myself and my place in this world.   Nowadays, I choose neither to ignore it nor to “solve” it.  Instead, I accept it as part of my life, and I manage it as effectively as I can, one day at a time.  Just as I have instructed my children with the current, I have yardsticks with which to measure myself, and on a daily basis I make sure I am aware of where I am on the recovery yardstick, and I make adjustments on a daily basis.

Next post will center around my philosophical musings on the Fudgy Wudgy man who is always tempting my children with his treats.  Until then, I want to say I miss my blogging friends greatly, and I anticipate with relish the idea of quiet computer time so I can “catch up” with all of you!

Today’s Miracle:

Having some alone time to put fingers to the keyboard!

Betty White is a Trigger

Yesterday is but a memory, tomorrow an uncharted course.  So live today so it will be a memory without remorse. -Unknown

Did you ever eat something that brings up a powerful memory from the past, almost as if you are reliving it?  For example, anytime I see purple grape juice, I have an instant recall of the time when I was about 8 or so, drank too much grape juice, then threw up all over my brand new Donald Duck pajamas (to give you a little insight as to how long ago that was, after I got cleaned up I sat down in front of a floor console television and watched the Donny and Marie variety show).  While this incident happened a long time ago (clearly!), I can still remember the pajamas (stained purple) as if I just saw them yesterday.

So last night I had some downtime, and flipped through recorded programs on the DVR to see what interested me.  I came across Hot in Cleveland, a brain-anesthetizing sit com that I decided was just what I needed.  As I am watching, I am feeling increasingly agitated, with no obvious explanation as to why.  I must have started to doze off, and with that I had the reason for the agitation… the last time I watched this particular program was, to say it plainly, the last time I was not sober.  Suddenly, that entire last evening played out like a movie in my mind, exactly what had happened, exactly what I did, and, most disturbingly, exactly how I felt that night.  While this recall lasted probably less than a minute, the feeling was so intense, it left me off-kilter for quite a bit longer.

In AA people use the following words interchangeably:  thoughts, urges, cravings, obsessions, compulsions.  Yet they are not interchangeable.  The best explanation I can give for the process an addict goes through is… a thought comes to mind, the thought leads to an urge to satisfy the thought, which leads to a craving for a particular substance, which leads to an obsession to drink or use, which finally leads to the compulsion that is the relapse.  The time is takes someone in active addiction to go through those steps is a quarter of the time it took you to read the sentence.

I get on my knees every morning and thank God for removing the obsession to pick up a drink or a drug.  While last night was painful, I am also grateful for the reminder of where I have been, and how far I have come.  Having said that, I think, for now, I will remove Hot in Cleveland from the Series Recording section of the DVR…


Act Today, Shape Tomorrow

The things you do today affect not only today. They build you and prepare you and position you for all the days that will come. -Ralph Marston

I heard something similar to this quote earlier this morning, and it struck a chord.  Small example… I started several mundane projects yesterday, but did not get around to finishing most of them.  Now I am looking at a full schedule for today, and guess what else is waiting for me?  So I can make a choice to defer any activity, but it will have the consequence of creating more work in the days to follow.

Bigger example:  I can choose not to resolve an interpersonal issue, and I can even justify why I won’t make time for it (busy schedule, not good for my recovery, uncertainty over the correct way to solve the issue).  That choice does not make the problem go away, it simply pushes it off until a later date.  And, more often than not, the more I put off dealing with an issue, the larger and more complicated the issue becomes.

So my challenge for today, in both large issues and small, is, as the Nike ads say… Just Do It!

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?

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