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Word of the Year: Wrap-Up and Start-Up

words

Without any further ado, my word of 2015 was:

energy

And I wrote a lengthy post as to its possible manifestations about a year or so ago.

I just re-read the post, which was full of all sorts of good intentions, and considered if I got the job done.  Did I successfully commit 2015 as the year of energy?

It’s a tough question to answer.  On the one hand, the Inner Critic wants to yell no, and for one very good reason.  The bottom line for me was, at the time, I wanted energy to mean, first and foremost, some pretty specific things:

  1. lose weight
  2. increase fitness
  3. bonus if the entire basement was purged and organized

 

So if you take that fairly specific list, then no, energy was not very well spent… I did not lose weight, my fitness level has had starts and stops, just as it’s had in the past 3 or so years, and considering the basement as it is right now, after Christmas decorations have been more or less thrown down there, would drain the energy right out of my body.

So I’m not going to consider that.

Here’s the thing, though.  My journey to achieve some of the things on the list above has taken me in directions heretofore unchartered:  real, honest therapy, meditation classes and practice, a variety of fitness routines, books read, podcasts heard, and thousands of words journaled on mind-expanding subjects.

And through it all I’ve learned a heck of a lot about myself.

The best part of all:  I have not given up.  Another first in the life of this 46 year old.  My modus operandi has always been if I can’t do it perfectly in an extremely short period of time, then I’m not doing it at all.  This includes the horrific game Words With Friends, but excludes Candy Crush… I’m still plugging away at that one, and I’m the only one I know who’s sticking with it!

So I’m going to continue on self-development this year and see where it takes me.  So far it has taken me to some interesting places, given me a life-changing new friendship, and the possibility of substantial change in the coming year.

So, considering all of that, I’m giving energy a thumbs up, even if my basement’s still a wreck.  There’s always 2016 for that one.  Plus, I’m currently reading Marie Kondo, so I expect to find the inspiration very soon.


 

Moving on to this year, my word for the year came a day or two before the year began.  As many of the blogging friends have shared, this word chose me rather than me choosing it.  And this word has challenge etched into every letter.  My word for 2016 is:

calm

calm-picture-quotes

The idea came to me while watching the movie The Intern with Robert DeNiro.  The movie itself was so/so, but I adored everything about the character he played in that movie.  I even said to my husband at the end, “That character is everything I want to be when I grow up.”  No matter what life threw his way, no matter how anyone treated him, he responded evenly, thoughtfully, politely.

The story line, in case you have not seen the movie, is the character deciding after a few years of retirement and living the life of a widower, that he had more to offer this world, so he applied for a senior intern position at a start-up internet company.  He was overlooked, condescended to, and largely misunderstood, and yet remained unflappable.  In the end, of course, everyone adored him.

Which is not the part I’m looking to emulate.

I don’t think.

Seriously, I just love the idea of remaining calm in the face of anything.

This, it should go without saying, is an uphill battle.  I have friends that try to provoke me because they so thoroughly enjoy my somewhat excitable reactive nature.  Those friends are going to be disappointed this year.

Now, I will say, I picked this right away, it is currently January 8, and I have done very little in terms of making headway with this goal.  In fact, it almost seems like I’m moving in the opposite direction so far:  big yelling matches with a family member, ongoing frustrations with a moody teenage daughter, impatience with customer service  representatives.

All I can say is:  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  And the fact that I’m noticing is progress.  Maybe.

So there you have it.  Calm for 2016.  Bring it on!

Today’s Miracle:

How about this… TGIF, the miracle of the weekend and sleeping in!

New Year, New… Something

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I hope this writing finds you off to a wonderful start in 2016.

The start of 2016 has me stymied with respect to the direction of this blog.  I am ready for a change, but am really struggling with the nuts and bolts of said change.

I started writing this blog almost 4 years ago to document my journey of recovery from addiction.  Part diary, part accountability tool, part self-guided therapy, I wrote a lot that first year, and in that writing learned a great deal about myself.

Somewhere in the course of that first year the blog morphed into an unexpected treasure trove of fellowship and camaraderie.   Now not only was I getting things out of my head, but I was getting invaluable feedback from like-minded bloggers.  What a gift!

In the next two years, life evened out, recovery stabilized, life drama declined… well, dramatically.  The things on which I needed to vent often had very little to do with the main purpose of this blog:  sobriety.

In 2015 I committed to bringing it back to its focus, which had me more or less exclusively writing about the lessons I gleaned from the 12-step meeting I chair each week.

A great concept, and I’m proud of those blog posts, and the message they impart to readers (at least the message I hope they impart).

But as I reflect on the trajectory of the blog, I’m not enjoying how far from the original purpose I’ve wandered.  I started this blog to journal about my recovery, and for the past year most of what I’ve done is report the wisdom of others.

I have a few thoughts rolling around my head as I consider the possibilities.  The first is to get a bit more real about life in 12-step recovery after a few years.  As anyone who has read my blog knows, I am committed to the principles within the 12 steps of recovery; further, I believe those same 12 steps can help everyone, not just those of us who have chosen sobriety.

That said, there are struggles to be found in staying committed as the years go by.  Up to this point, I abstained from writing of these struggles, lest I discourage even one person from considering 12-step recovery.  But if I am to write as authentically as I did that first year, then those struggles would be exactly what I would write about, in terms of recovery.

So that’s one possibility.  Another is to write about the things that take a more front-burner spot in my life these days:  kids, marriage, diet, fitness, career changes, clutter management, which series I should select next to binge watch.  Certainly not on point in terms of the main focus, but at least it would be more personal than a weekly meeting recap.

Finally, I could decide to keep things as is.  If even one person decides to try a meeting in their area as a result of reading the magic that happens in mine, then I’ve done a great service.  And since I know that has happened, why mess with a good thing?

Or I could do some combination of the above.  Or I could start taking pictures of my dog and posting them.  She is really cute, so that may be as valid an idea as any.

As always, I value your thoughts more than I could possibly say.  If you have any opinion or preference in terms of future posts, I would love to hear it.

In the meantime, since I haven’t decided, here’s a quick and dirty synopsis of today’s meeting:  19 attendees, we read the introduction to the book Alcoholics Anonymous (colloquially referred to as “The Big Book”), and the general theme of the shares was “cunning, baffling, and powerful, is the disease of alcoholism.”

What struck me the most this morning was the person who shared he had all the desire in the world to stop drinking, but it wasn’t until he fully accepted that he had the disease of alcoholism that he was able to actually stop drinking.  As someone who struggled for a long time with this very issue, I related entirely to this share.

Now, the knowledge that I have chosen sobriety as a way of life is a gift rather than a life sentence.

Today’s Miracle:

Writing this post.  It’s been so long since I’ve opened up on this blog, I hesitated more than I would have ever thought possible!

Since I’m Usually Late to a Party Anyway…

… I am going to ignore the fact that we are a week into the new year, but still state my intention for my Word Of The Year.  This practice has been making the rounds in my little corner of the blogging world, and it seems to have started with the delightful Mished-Up, I am so excited to have found her blog!  Thanks for this wonderful new ritual, I am excited to embrace the concept and see what great things it brings to my life!

For my inaugural word, I have selected:

en·er·gy
ˈenərjē/
noun
the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity.

 

 

Here’s the reasons and hopes for and in selecting energy:

  • Just thinking about the word energy brightens my spirits.  I mentioned that I have been under the weather for the past few days.  The silver lining of this being that I’ve had plenty of time to ruminate about my Word Of the Year!  With zero energy right now, the idea of working to bring more of it into my life seems like a rewarding project.
  • Energy is applicable to every component of life, and can be incorporated into any possible resolution I might want to make.  If I choose to improve my diet, well, calories are technically units of energy.  If I choose to revamp (read:  restart) my fitness regimen, increased energy is a natural outcome.  If I choose to organize myself better in the new year, I am ultimately expending more energy than I have in the past.
  • I have an undertaking in the works currently that I will address in more detail in a later post, primarily because I detest talking about goals before I’ve really begun, but the undertaking involves the practice of meditation.  From my limited understanding, one of the many benefits of meditation is increased energy, as well as the development of a new set of skills for dealing with the negative energy in one’s life.
  • And speaking of negative energy, and by negative energy I am referring to any form of energy that is detrimental, learning how to best handle it would make this list as well.  Managing/eliminating/limiting toxic relationships, growing/encouraging/fostering positive relationships, eradicating that which drains me mentally, and working to end negative patterns all could fall under the umbrella of possibilities.
  • Harnessing the energy I possess and using it for good, rather than continuing to weigh the pro’s and con’s without ever taking action.  Giving myself permission to fail would be key to this process, as well as working against my natural tendency for all or nothing thinking.
  • Somewhat along the lines of the bullet point above, taking action to resolve long-standing issues that drain me of energy.  Continuing to bitch and moan about a problem without making any attempt to solve it enervates me, so, clearly, the opposite approach should energize.
  • Cultivate a greater awareness of and gratitude for the energy I have right here, right now.  It is default thinking for me to consider what I should be doing, how I could be better spending my time, and how much more could have been achieved.  Again, this type of thinking is exhausting.  Taking time each day to consider what has been done well always brings positive energy, so why not increase that energy as much as possible?
  • Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t include some component of recovery into this list.  I know from experience the energy I receive from helping another.  Continuing to reach my hand out to those in need boomerangs right back to me in a way that would be impossible to describe.  There is a virtually limitless supply of energy in being of service to others.

So, there you have it, time to get energized!  I really hope my throat and head are getting the message.  Let’s see how energized 2015 turns out to be!

Today’s Miracle:

Writing this, sitting upright in the home office, rather than slumped over the laptop on the recliner, seems to be miracle enough for today.

Staying Motivated: 5 Tips to Keep On Keepin’ On!

In Monday’s post I wrote about an injury I sustained this past weekend.  Today is day 6 in dealing with a bum knee.  Here is a thumbnail sketch of the past 6 days:

  • Days 1 and 2:  debilitating pain keeps me a model patient:  I adhere to every directive designed to expedite healing
  • Day 3:  Despite every natural inclination, I make and keep Doctor’s appointment, at which I find that I am doing all that is necessary, but that I need to keep doing it
  • Day 4:  Feels quite a bit better than the first 3 days, which I take as a positive sign, begin to function more normally
  • Day 5:  Feeling same as yesterday, so increase my activity, which I then proceed to overdo.  Now the pain level is back to day 3, and I am dejected.  I try to recover in the evening
  • Day 6:  Wake up feeling as bad as yesterday, and now, besides being in pain, I am also outraged… how can this be happening?

Now, you might read this breakdown and scratch your head in bewilderment… is there something wrong with this woman?  Of course the pain has returned, she did not give it enough time!

But really, this is just an example of so many things in life:  we have a goal, we start out with gusto, and then, either fizzle out due to fading motivation, or to some wrench in the plans of life.  And what a perfect time of year to discuss this topic.  It is January 9th.  Had I not injured my knee, I would have been embarking on resuming my running regimen.  And I guarantee you I would have been facing feelings similar to the ones I am facing with this knee injury… either impatience that I am not progressing fast enough, disgust that I am not seeing any results, or simple boredom with the new routine.  Same with sobriety, the first several weeks of my recovery I remained sober, but life continued to plummet downward.  It’s hard enough making the decision to give up drinking/drugs, but to do so in the face of chaos, even more challenging.

Now, with this injury, I can cry and gnash my teeth all I want, but it’s not going to change anything.  But with other goals… new eating plans, staying sober, physical fitness… the mental engagement is critical to success.  So how to maintain the passion that drives someone to embark on a lifestyle change?

There are probably a million and one great articles out there on staying motivated, but here are the top 5 tips I have come across, have used myself, or will attempt to use in the upcoming weeks:

1.  Have a specific goal:  In terms of my injury, I want to completely recover from my injury so that I may resume my fitness routine.  This goal is specific, it is measurable (return to zero pain), it is attainable (doctor’s opinion), and it is time-bound (doctor-given guidelines).  For many reading this post, the goal could be sobriety:  I want to live my life chemically unaltered.  The simpler and more specific the goal, the better.

2.  Know why you wish to achieve this goal:  I want to recover from my injury so that I may have the full use of my leg… so that I may walk, run, climb stairs as any healthy person can.  The why behind this goal are more obvious that some other goals.  In terms of sobriety, it is important to know clearly why you want to be drug and alcohol free.  The reasons can be to attain benefits, such as “increased health,” or it can be to avoid negative consequences, such as “so that I don’t lose my self-respect, or the respect of others.”

3.  Visualize the end result:  For me, I really want to get back to my goal of running, so I picture myself as I was last summer and fall, when I was at my peak.  I can also visualize what it would be like to do even better than my best, as in run (not walk) in a 5K.  For sobriety, there are so many ways to visualize the end result:  how you will look and feel knowing that you have overcome an unhealthy relationship with drugs/alcohol, the joy of attending functions and not behaving irrationally, the peace that would come from living life with a clear mind, and without the worry of what you may have said or done under the influence.

4.  Learn from failures:  So I overdid things this week, and I recognize that only sets me back further from my goal.  I can bemoan this fact, or I can chalk it up as a learning experience… now I know what I can do, and what I cannot.  This is a critical piece for people in early sobriety.  Many times someone will accrue a number of sober days or weeks, and then slip.  Okay, it happened, so now there is the choice:  decide that all the progress was for nought, or figure out what led to the relapse so that you do not repeat the mistake.  As Buddha says, “There are only two mistakes along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”

5.  Reward yourself:  The more long-range the goal, the more mini-rewards should be given.  Celebrate every milestone along the way.  The more positive reinforcement you give yourself, the more likely you are to keep going!

I would love to hear from my friends in recovery:  what methods have you used to keep motivated in staying sober?

Today’s Miracle:

Giving advice on motivation is a reciprocal gift… I feel better as I type!

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