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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!

Privilege Problems

From the day you’re born ’til you ride the hearse, ain’t nothin’ so bad that it couldn’t get worse. -Unknown

Miniconfession:  I wanted to make sure I had not used the title of this post previously, so I was just reading through some of my earlier posts, and I chuckled out loud at some of them.   Am I appreciating myself, or am I being self-indulgent?  You be the judge…

So I titled this post very deliberately, because at no point in time do I want to mislead any reader of this blog:  I live a charmed life.  I mean it, I am incredibly blessed.  And I say that with full knowledge that I have the incurable, progressive, fatal disease called addiction, I am still conscious of how beautiful my life is.

Now, having said that, life can still be challenging, frustrating, disappointing, monotonous.  Just because I have all these blessings does not mean that I don’t still want to whine and complain when my expectations do not come to pass, or when I am frustrated by the actions of others, or just simply because!  I do my best to “practice these principles in all my affairs,” but because I am still human I will often fall short of the mark.  The frequent response I hear when I complain is “think of how much worse it could be.”  That a situation can be worse is a given; if you have a situation, you are alive, so there is always a lower bottom.  That line of reasoning, while intended to soothe, frequently has the opposite effect on me, and riles me up even more.  Most times, for me, a simple validation of my feelings would do the trick.

Now, having used up my quota for whining and complaining, time to let it go!  Because while it is okay for me to feel disappointed, frustrated, disheartened, it is not okay to waste my day wallowing in it.  If I wallow in it, I will make it bigger than it is, and lose sight that anything with which I am dealing is nothing more than a privilege problem!

Makin a New Groove in the Wood

Everyone thinks about changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. –Leo Tolstoy

Early in recovery (earlier, since it is still early), a wise, old friend compared the changes I am making in my life to creating a new groove in a piece of wood.  It would be much simpler to go into an existing groove, since the old groove took time to create, and since the default is to slide into the existing groove.  So, in the beginning, creating a new groove takes effort and time, but eventually will become as easy as the existing groove is now.

Hopefully that makes sense.  Oddly enough, it does to me, since this wise friend rarely makes sense (just a joke, I believe the wise friend will be reading).  At the time we were speaking of recovery from substance abuse, and how day-to-day life can be so difficult.  But, almost 8 months later, those words make sense in many areas of my life.

Interpersonal relationships, for example.  I am just starting to notice that the “groove in the wood” theory applies just as aptly to relationship issues.  Have you ever gotten in a fight, that, upon reflection, is a repeat of 1,000 fights before?  I am trying as best I can to practice the principles of the 12 steps in all areas of my life.  So, when fights erupt between anyone and me, I am trying harder to look at my part.  I am also trying to focus on what I can control, and let go of what I cannot.

Here is what I am figuring out about myself… I have made a habit of believing that I can say and do what I want when I feel like I have been provoked.  Apparently the “two wrongs don’t make a right” rule does not apply to me.  I am also figuring out that nothing changes if nothing changes.  If I am disturbed by how someone speaks to me, if a negative behavior is repeated in a relationship of which I am a part, then what is my responsibility?  Rather than react badly because I am hurt (the whole 2-wrongs-making-a-right thing), then why not behave correctly, the way I myself would like to be treated, and then address the problem in a rational way?

If I could just learn that, my need to apologize would diminish drastically!

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!

Humility and Persistence

No one should be ashamed to admit they are wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that they are wiser today than they were yesterday. ”

Usually I find the topic of my post the same day as I am writing it… either at a meeting, or something that is happening right now in my life.  I was going to write about another topic today, and I was scrolling back through my posts to look for a quote, and I came across a draft.  It had only the title above and the quote above, nothing else.  I had started to write it, but somehow got sidetracked and never went back to it, and for the life of me I can’t remember what had inspired it in the first place.
But as I looked at the title, and thought back to the past 24 hours, I have heard quite a bit about humility, which by this time should stop astounding me, how many “coincidences” I find in my life.  I am taking this to mean I need to look at the topic of humility again.
I have written previously on the subject, and the biggest lesson I have learned about humility is to not think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less.  And thinking of yourself less applies to whether you think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread or the gum on the bottom of a shoe… either way, you are thinking too much about yourself, and your focus should be elsewhere.
I attended a meeting yesterday where a man was blathering on and on, and I found his opinion really offensive.  I was seriously ready to walk out of the room, and I vowed never to attend that particular meeting again.  Looking back, who was at the center of my thoughts in all that rage?  Me… how I felt about what he was saying, how I was offended.  The topic of that discussion, was, of course, humility, and at the time I self-righteously proclaimed that the offensive man was acting the opposite of the subject on which he was speaking, but today I realize that I too could have paid more attention to the topic.
Like everything in life, it is progress, not perfection, and persistence is needed to get closer to true humility.  For me, it is about finding the balance between inflated ego and low self-esteem, and a clearer perspective on who I really am.  Acceptance of my true self, faults and strengths, will hopefully bring the humility for which I am striving.

Believing in the Light at the End of the Tunnel

In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life:  it goes on. –Robert Frost

I touched a little on this subject yesterday, but it’s a common enough theme to warrant talking about it some more.  It is so easy to get completely caught up in whatever drama (real or imagined) is playing out currently in life, and consequently we let life pass us by.  Yesterday I spoke about having anxiety over an upcoming event in my personal life, and when I think back to the events of yesterday, I remember more about feeling bad than I do with what actually happened.  That’s no good.

So I’m reminding myself, and anyone who is reading… no matter what is happening in life, good or bad, it will not last.  If it’s good, consciously immerse yourself in it, so you’ll remember it when it is gone.  If it is bad, it will pass.  The only constant in life is change, so just the idea that bad things will eventually work themselves out, is such a relief, at least it is to me!

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