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WOTY, A Recap, and Whatever Else Might Be in my Head

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  writing is a muscle, and when you don’t exercise the muscle, you lose it, rapidly!  It’s easier to stay in the rhythm of writing than in trying to resurrect it.

But try I must, since my life is vastly improved when I use this outlet.  There’s been a lot going on, and so the unmotivated side of myself seizes upon these life issues and uses them as a handy excuse, a get out of jail free card, if you will.

And now, lo and behold, it is January 1st.  The last day of the holiday season (for the most part), and a time to look ahead and focus on self-improvement.  For the past few years I have participated in the WOTY theme (Word of The Year, an anchor to remind yourself of the priorities you’ve set for yourself in January); this year, given my pulling away from the blogging world, I was sure I would not participate again.  In fact, I wasn’t 100% sure I remembered 2016’s word of the year.

Then I woke up this morning, and a word popped into my head, and I can’t seem to let go of it.  And I haven’t found a whole lot of those lightbulb-y, aha! experiences of late, so I need to grab hold of them while I do.

So methinks I will be participating in the fun again this year.  But first, because I hate to do things out of order, I want to write a bit on where I’ve been and what’s been keeping me from the blog.

I’ve referenced the most obvious of problems a few times in the past 2 months, and that is an ongoing podiatric issue.  I elected to have a minor corrective surgical procedure in early November, and somehow I wound up with a fractured heel.  That sums up in one sentence something that, had I kept my writing muscles in shape, a subject matter that could have entertained you for hours.  Sadly, I did not, and I believe I am at last at a stage of acceptance about the whole issue.  My heel is fractured, it is a long and slow recovery (made longer and slower by my non-compliance, but give me a break, it was the holiday season), and there are worse things in life.  End of story.  Simple to say and write out now, but the mental process took some time.

A second issue took place since I’ve last written, and if I do what I should be doing, I will sit down in the near future and make a full and proper post about the experience.  I had another job opportunity come and go in the past few weeks.  This is not the first opportunity (or the second for that matter), but it was by far the most painful loss I’ve experienced in a long time.  I believed in my heart and soul that this job was meant for me. Simply put, I was wrong.  Or at the very least someone of importance disagreed with me, because they chose someone else.

I know many will be reading this and thinking “Oh boo hoo, you didn’t get a job?  Sing it to the choir, sister!” Or maybe your thoughts have trendier expressions than mine, who’s to say?  But what I’ve learned about myself through this process is how far I go to protect myself from disappointments such as these.  I assume failure before every new experience, so that if it happens I am not too shocked or upset.  I let my guard down this time, and ooh baby did it hurt.  And the timing of it was either awful or perfect… I had house guests arrive one hour after I received the news.  Not sure if this was a good distraction, or it prolonged the healing process, but as they say, it is what it is.  I believe there is more processing to come.

Finally, and possibly most irritating, was an incident that occurred a few weeks back directly after the weekly meeting I run.  A bit of backdrop:  I started the meeting 4 1/2 years ago, at the request of people who were starting a brand new clubhouse.  The goal of the clubhouse was to be a safe space for 12-step program members of all kinds to recover and support one another in recovery.  At the time I was horrified… I had only 6 months or so sober myself, who am I to start a meeting?  But I was convinced, and the rest is history.  The meeting is going strong, and in fact is one of the more well-attended ones in the club house.

Since that time I’ve backed out of most involvement in the clubhouse; once upon a time I attended their business meetings and social events, now I am almost exclusively using the space to run the Monday meeting.  I imagine it’s an evolution, and there are ebbs and flows, and I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about.

But in the meantime all sorts of political changes have taken place, throughout all of which I’ve minded my own business.  I recently heard they elected a new president, and thought nothing of it until he introduced himself to me.  And something in my gut told me, at that very moment, that something was going to happen.  And I can tell you I don’t often get gut feelings.

And please do not get me wrong, the new president is a wonderful gentleman.  He introduced himself as though he did not recognize me, but I certainly know him, and respect his sobriety greatly.  And I stand in awe of his service… it is a huge undertaking to lead a clubhouse, and I respect his decision to do so.

A few weeks later he arrived oddly late to my meeting… there was at most 10 minutes left to go.  I did not think a thing of it, until he hung around waiting to speak with me.  My radar picked up the signal of distress, and I waited patiently through the “how’s your foot?” questions to see what was up.

And my radar was correct, he was coming to me with a problem that was brought to him.  He understands I write a blog.  He has not read it himself, but somebody in our local community has, and they are concerned that I am breaking the anonymity of a specific person, and that if this person were to find out, he/she would be devastated and leave my meeting.

So let’s back up here:  the person coming to me with the problem has yet to read the blog himself, and the person coming to him isn’t concerned with his or her anonymity, but someone else’s.  And they’re not speaking on behalf of that person, they’re just projecting a potential problem.

My defenses register all of this immediately.  But first, this is on the heels of a recovery meeting, second, the newly elected president is saying all of this in the gentlest of ways, so it’s not liking he’s “coming at me,” per se, and third, I detest all forms of confrontation and thus will always want to consider all options before I respond.  One last factor that I’m ashamed to include but will for the sake of honesty:  at the time of this discussion/suggestion, I truly believed I would be employed on a full-time basis in a matter of weeks.  If I’m working full-time I am no longer chairing this meeting, and this becomes a non-issue.

In the moment, I politely thanked him for the feedback.  He had expressed which individual was the concern, and I assured him that I do not think such an issue exists, but I will make sure to find out, as the individual and I are very close.  I then wished him a good day, and I actually have not seen him since.

Then the stupid job fell through, and I realized that I never actually dealt with the issue.  And I have been mentally blocked ever since.

To be fair, it was a busy holiday season, and all of the things I wrote about above were happening, and I’ve already declared how easy it is to make excuses.

So here is my vow:  I will get to the bottom of this issue, because I do completely respect the person in question.  As it happens circumstances prevent me from doing this for a few weeks, but I will get to the bottom of it.

In my heart I do not believe I have broken anyone’s anonymity.  The vast majority of the readership live nowhere near me.  If there is the smallest handful of local people reading this blog, and they put two and two together, it is because they attend the same meetings I do, and hear the same things I do.  I don’t use names, and only occasionally use gender.  I don’t talk give physical descriptions, or anything else that might directly point the finger to a specific individual.

But if the busybody source is correct, I will take immediate steps to back it down even further.

And now I have written a novel, and never even gotten to my Word of The Year.  I will leave you with the word, but will save the rationale for another post, since nobody has time to read any more out of my brain.  My Word of the Year is:

Service

And I have much to say about it, what that word means to me, and how I came to determine that I need this in the forefront.  I will also look back and see how 2016’s word impacted my year as well.  Until then…

Today’s Miracle:

Writing.  On a Sunday.  Out of schedule.  With a house full of people.  Enough said!

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A Confession of Infidelity

 

I have been hanging on to this blog by my fingernails of late.

It started out as a rationale:  I re-started a new fitness/weight loss/get healthy challenge a few weeks back, and I swore I would not bother the blogosphere with this nonsense again.  I barely want to hear it myself, how could anyone else?

On the other hand, I have come to a point in my blogging where I write twice a week:  one that wraps up the wisdom I glean from the weekly meeting I run, and the other where I release whatever is running around inside of my brain.  If I am involved in a diet and exercise challenge, then guess what is the only thing running around my brain?

And then another thought occurred to me:  many of the recovery bloggers I read credit their sobriety to immersing themselves in the recovery blogging world.  It was not my path, but it has always intrigued me.  Perhaps I can employ that same mindset and immerse myself in the diet and fitness blogs of the world.

So that’s where I’ve been.  Instead staying on top of my WordPress reader, I have been branching out to MyFitnessPal forums, and the top rated diet and fitness blogs of recent years.  It has been an interesting experience, but I’ve got to say it:  not the same, not the same at all.  There is something very unique, and very special, about our community.  I certainly did not find it in the diet and fitness world, that’s for sure!

So that’s where I’ve been.  And here’s why I’m back, and it has to do with a valuable lesson I learned from all the mini-challenges I did this year:  consistency.

I have been working on improving my fitness for about 14 months, working on losing weight for about 7 months, and working on my overall health for 6 months.  For a large majority of that time, I was looking at the glass half empty.  No matter what I did, my focus was one what I hadn’t done, or what I still needed to do, or how much better I could have done it.  It all came to a head for me a few weeks ago.  I had started this challenge on September 12 (2 months before my birthday), and I had just had my first very successful weigh-in.  My husband was congratulating me, and I could not see it.  You see, that weight I lost that week I have been losing and gaining all year, give or take a few pounds.  So while the number sounded good (I honestly can’t remember what it was, something close to 10 pounds I think), all I could see was the number I should be at, since I had already lost those 10 pounds 2 or 3 other times this year.  And the more I tried to explain my thought process to my husband, the more he looked at me like I was speaking another language.  I wound up in hysterical tears by the end of it; not because he wasn’t understanding my point, but that I was not understanding his.

This is a nod to my recovery tools:  I can see now when I’m thinking like “Old School Josie” by watching the reactions of others.  I may not be able to stop Old School Josie Thinking entirely, but I can at least recognize it and correct it.

So my mini-meltdown was the start of a slow new understanding:  this is a process, not an event with a start and end point.  Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?  But when you’re in the thick of it, it’s anything but.

Next lightning bolt:  each failed attempt, and that is probably not even an apt description, but let’s roll with it…  each failed attempt was some kind of lesson learned that helped me the next go-around.  Every subsequent challenge I have undertaken (I would say there have been four in all) has shown me greater and greater results.  The most concrete example I can give:  this most recent one had me going strong for three weeks, and I got to the lowest number on the scale that I have seen in my adult life, when I hit the all too familiar roadblock:  a celebration of some sort.  This time, it was my wedding anniversary, which turned into a 4 day free-for-all in terms of eating.  It has been slow going this week, but I am slowly getting myself back on track.  So here’s the progress:

1.  I am back on track, normally a celebration derails me for weeks

2.  My high number on the scale since resuming is the previous challenge’s low number

Even Old School Josie Thinking can’t argue that this is progress!

Last valuable lesson learned, and now I will finally tie this all back to blogging:  Consistency is key.  It is true in my sobriety, it is true for my diet and fitness, and it is true for blogging.  If I don’t keep myself to a schedule, then I will fade away into the blogging sunset.  I know it.  Just in the few weeks I took off, the monkey mind was getting louder and louder:  enough is enough, you are getting too repetitive, who gives a crap about what’s going on in your life?  On and on.

Here’s my response back:  nothing but great things have happened with respect to the blog.  So I guess I’ll keep writing!

 

Today’s Miracle:

Through the orthodontic process, we discovered an abnormality in my son’s mouth, and we have been anxiously awaiting results of the oral surgery he had as a result of that discovery.  Results are in, and it was the best possible news.  So the miracle is:  the good health of my children is now something for which I am consciously grateful each and every day!

Second miracle:  surgeons who take their job seriously, and go the extra mile to ensure the best possible results.  I’m telling you, there’s no feeling like knowing you can trust your child’s medical professional!

Why Bloggers Are Happier People

An interesting thing happened to me yesterday.  I was reading a beautiful post by my friend Karen over at Mended Musings, and a line she wrote stood out:

 I don’t usually post until I’ve come to some sort of conclusion that I (and hopefully others) can learn from.

It struck me because I often feel the same way:  if something is bothering me, I generally don’t like to write about it until I’ve gotten some kind of answer.  But I considered it more and realized that, in fact, many times I will write so that I can find the answer.  Countless times I will sit down to write about a problem, and by the end of the writing session I realize the answer is there, a resolution to which I would not have come unless I took the time to put pen to paper (or, more accurately, fingers to keyboard).  I can remember at least one post very clearly (Sticks and Stones) that helped me figure out the problem as I was writing about it!

Later the same day I came across some library books I checked out 2 weeks ago, then abandoned to the dining room, never to be open (and a good thing I did come across them, I’m sure they need to be returned).  I decided to give one a cursory glance, the title of which is 59 Seconds:  Think a Little, Change a Lot, by Richard Wiseman.  The premise:  a psychologist gives “a myth-busting response to the self-help movement, with tips and tricks to improve your life that come straight from the scientific community.”

In the section I read, the author disproves the notion that talking about traumatic events (to an untrained person, he is not bashing counseling by any means) yields significant results in the way of increased happiness.  However, an exercise he calls “expressive writing” has been proven to boost both self-esteem and happiness.  As he writes:

From a psychological perspective, thinking and writing are very different.  Thinking can be somewhat unstructured, disorganized, and even chaotic.  In contrast, writing encourages the creation of a story line and structure that help people make sense of what has happened and work toward a solution.  In short, talking can add to a sense of confusion, but writing provides a more systematic, solution-based approach.

Bingo!  This was exactly what I was thinking while pondering Karen’s post!  I couldn’t count the number of times the simple act of re-creating an event in my life for this blog has helped me to make sense of it, to put it into perspective, and to resolve whatever was left rolling around in my brain.  I can say, without fail, that I feel happier every time I hit publish on this blog.  Whether it is happiness at the mere accomplishment of writing a post, or the feeling of resolving an issue, or satisfaction from sharing my experience, strength and hope, or a combination of all, I feel good when I am done writing.

Today’s Miracle:

My husband surprised me with some of my favorite Italian delicacies the other night, and there is enough to eat again tonight.  Not having to plan dinner + a second night of rarely eaten treats = miracle!

Get Out Your Party Hats, It’s Time To Celebrate Another Anniversary!

Welcome.  It is my goal in this blog to document my journey of recovery from addiction.  I have 52 days clean, so I am still very new on this path.  I hope to enlighten both myself and others on the daily trials, and the miracles, that can be found along the way.

Even this early on, I know one thing:  it is only one day at a time, one step at a time, that can bring success in freedom from addiction.  Living in the mistakes of the past brings nothing but heartache, and anxiety about the future brings nothing but stress.  Living in the present is a skill that requires patience through repetition, but will eventually bring rewards unlike any that I have ever known… at least that is my hope.

As I continue to document, I will try to include more personal details so that you may know more about me as a person.  I am completely new to the process of blogging, so I hope to learn as I go, and hopefully my site will improve daily.  I welcome all feedback, especially on ways to bring more depth to my story!

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I look forward to sharing my story…

-written by me, as the first post in this blog, one year ago today

I said to my husband this morning that I feel like I’m writing about one anniversary or another every week.  But it’s an amazing milestone:  one year of blogging!  When I wrote the words above, my honest expectation was that two people would read it: my Mom, and the friend who suggested I started this “experiment.”  I remember the first time I received an email notification that someone “liked” my post, I had to show it to my husband, and he had to explain to me that, in fact, there are others out there in the world that might be reading what I wrote.  What a concept!  And here we are, one year and quite a few more readers later, and my mind is blown how much this blog, and this community, have come to mean to me.  Now, I write, and cannot wait to read feedback from my friends, old and new.  Now, I get so excited when I see a new post from all of my fellow recovery “experts.”  And when I don’t see a post from someone, I worry about them, and pray that they are well.

The day I started this blog, was, coincidentally (or not), the day I moved back in with my husband after a 7-week break.  So the words above don’t fully convey the chaos that was reigning in my life; and yet, they were my mantra:  stay in the moment, stay in the moment, stay in the moment.  And I was right, that skill did take practice and patience, but man, was it worth it.  My life, one year later, is truly beyond my wildest dreams.  And it just keeps getting better.

So, a million thanks to all of you.  The support, the advice, the praise, the encouragement… there are simply no words to tell you how much richer my life has been because of all of you.

Today’s Miracle:

I would say one year of blogging counts as a bona fide miracle!

More Introspection: Step 4 is a Pain!

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. -Aristotle

Funny enough, the last time I wrote on this subject (Introspection), I ended with the admission that step 4 scares me.  Now I am writing about introspection because I am in the middle of step 4.

For those of you just tuning in and not involved in a 12-step program, Step 4 is “create a searching and fearless moral inventory.”  The way I am being taught to complete it involves 4 different worksheets: resentments inventory, fear inventory, sex inventory (that inventory might take all of 10 minutes for me to complete), and persons-I-have-harmed inventory (I will use the time I save on the sex inventory and channel it into this one).

I completed the first worksheet on resentments, I wrote a little bit about it last week.  This week I will complete the other 3, and this weekend I will officially do step 5, “admit to God, myself and another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.”  In other words, I will sit down with the person taking me through the steps and tell her, face-to-face, all the things I have written down on these different worksheets.

Here’s the bottom line for me, in the moment… this step is a big pain in the you-know-what.  It’s an interesting twist… after being told for years that I need to stop making things “all about me,” I now need to spend 2 weeks of my life obsessing about everything I’ve ever done, every feeling I’ve ever had, every time I’ve been afraid, and every person with whom I’ve ever encountered.  It’s tiring.  Maybe the point of this step is I will never want to think of myself again after I complete it?

Alright, enough complaining, I’m off to complete my fear inventory.  I promise I will be less whiny tomorrow!

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!

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