Enchanted Oak blessed me a few days ago with a "Happiness 101" blog award. Yesterday I was double-blessed by receiving this same "Happiness 101" award from Little M at Came to Believe.
I am to name ten things that make me happy. I think I'll start with #1 being that reading these two blogs makes me happy.
So here I go. Ten things that make me happy:
#1 - Reading the Enchanted Oak and Came to Believe blogs as well as all the blogs I follow makes me happy.
#2 - Picking up a new book, getting "hooked" within the first chapter, and then being able to anticipate and enjoy with pleasure each and every page from beginning to end is happiness personified for me.
#3 - When I am in church attending mass I am happy. I feel at one with God in the sanctuary. I hear Him speak to me through the words read and spoken. There are certain parts of the mass that fill me with peace such as when the priest says "protect us from all anxiety" and again when he says, "I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." I experience a renewal of faith, trust, and hope.
#4 - I am happy when I try out a new recipe and I and others like it. I made a baked brie and a peanut butter pie around Christmas that were both big hits.
#5 - Anytime nature blesses me with a personal gift I am happy. Last spring the cycle of birth played out for me when a duck laid her eggs in a rocky area outside my front door. I watched that mama duck faithfully sit on those eggs and guard them for many months. Then they hatched and off trotted the little ducklings into the wide world. Two days ago I discovered an egg laid in the same spot and last night another one. Another gift in the making?
#6 - My daughter's dog makes me laugh, makes me happy. We play chase the bone and take walks. He is affectionate and follows me wherever I go. He is always there to greet me when I enter the house. I'm never alone.
#7 - When a poem "comes to me" and it feels whole and complete when I finish it, I am happy in the deepest part of me.
#8 - I am happy going out to eat with my girlfriends on a "girls' night out". There is always lots of camaraderie, conversation, laughing, silliness, and love.
#9 - I am happy when I am in the silence, in the quiet with God.
#10 - Number 10 is a little different. This is a wish that if fulfilled would make me very happy. I would love to have a day that was devoted 100% to my husband and me - from the moment our eyes open to the moment they close. We would enjoy every minute of that day doing whatever we decided would please us. I would carry the happiness of such an experience in my heart for a very long time.
"I know I am powerless to deal with my problem by myself. The more I struggle to work it out, the more difficult it becomes. I know that Divine Power can deal with matters which are beyond me. I will try to empty my mind of all fear."
"God does not deprive us of His love; we deprive Him of our cooperation. God would never reject me if I had not first rejected his love." (St. Francis de Sales)
(From: "One Day at a Time in Al-Anon" January 28, p. 28)
Why do I keep forgetting that I am powerless not only over alcohol, but over all of my problems as well? Is it because I'm human? Is it because my mind is like a sieve - it leaks and I forget? Or is it because my default position programmed into me as a child is one of fear and depression?
It's all of the above. I will not master these facts in this lifetime. Therefore, I need to continue to grow in my spiritual connection to God. I need to continue to work my Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon programs. I must live the steps of those programs, go to meetings, work with others, and stay connected with the messages of these programs.If I fail to do my part, I will slip back into old thinking and old behaviors. This produces fear, worry, and depression.
What did I do yesterday to do my part? I went to the dentist which was taking care of myself. I met with an Al-Anon sponsee and we completed her 12th step. How spiritual it is for me to watch someone else's spiritual awakening happen.
What am I doing today to do my part? I have spoken with an AA friend and will see her at an AA meeting at noon. She called to invite me to a 'game night' at her home this Saturday night. I will go and be around other recovering friends having fun. That will be good for my spirit. Before I started this blog, I spent an hour on the phone with an AA/Al-Anon sponsee. Her life in the past few years has been filled with devastation - the loss of a son, very ill elderly parents, and more. She is now rounding the bend, coming to terms with her difficulties and even experiencing some joy and hope in her life. I am thanking God for her progress.
Today daughter has a second interview (a panel interview) for a job. She has been unemployed and unable to find a job for a year and a half. I am turning it over - and over and over. I know that she has done all that she can do to do her best. I told her if she gets the job, it was meant to be and if she doesn't, it wasn't meant to be. I need to repeat this to myself over and over.
Pray for her. Her interview is today at 3 p.m.
God bless your day. Prayer Girl
(Photo credit: Peculiar Storm by GeeeO@deviantart.com)
Before I begin my blog, I want to thank McCaffery for this "Honest Scrap" award.
Thank you so much for thinking of me when you were handing out this award.
OPEN LETTER OF AMENDS TO A SPONSEE
Dear sponsee, This is a letter of amends. It seems we have hit a rough patch that has disrupted the beautiful spiritual connection we have enjoyed. I hope you will understand.
I will forever be grateful that God brought us together. Since we met in an Al-Anon meeting over a year ago, the weeks have grown into months and the months have become more than a year. We have come to know intimate things about each other. We have shared so much of ourselves. I have done the best I knew how to share my own experience, strength and hope with you. You, in return, have been so very honest with me.
We have spent the past year methodically moving through the twelve steps using the Al-Anon book "Paths to Recovery". There have been times when you were anxious to move ahead quickly and there have been those times when your feet have dragged and much time has lapsed. But, the wonderful news is that you are now at the twelfth step and we are ready to sit down to do that last step that begins, "Having had a spiritual awakening as THE result of the steps..."
You have had that spiritual awakening and I see a miracle in front of me. You have changed in so many fundamental ways since we first began. In the process, I have changed too. I thank you for all I have learned about myself, life, and relationships during this process.
We have now come to a place where my clay feet are sticking out. I am making amends to you for having judged you. I have sought God's help to be less judgmental, critical and censoring of myself and in the process I have become less so with others. But it is a work in progress so I believe I may have reacted to your recent choice with unspoken, but surely felt by you - judgment of your actions. Who am I to say what choices you should make? I have always made my own choices, some have turned out well and some not so well. I am sorry.
I am your sponsor. God put us together. God has used me to pass the Al-Anon program on to you. I am also human. I pray we will be able to move beyond our human frailties and maintain the beautiful relationship we have shared so far.
I have kept this letter general so I could share it with others. I have written no specifics that could be linked back to you. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of our program. Thank God for that.
You will forever remain in a very special place in my heart and in my life. I love you.
This morning I found myself behind on some of my readings. As I caught up, I came across this beautiful gem.
"Learn to shut yourself away in My Presence...............
All power is given unto Me. It is Mine to give, Mine to withhold, but even I have to acknowledge that I cannot withhold it from the soul that dwells near Me, because it is then not a gift, but passes insensibly from Me to My disciples.
It is breathed in by the soul who lives in My Presence.
Learn to shut yourself away in My Presence - and then, without speaking, you have those things you desire of Me, Strength - Power - Joy - Riches." (From "God Calling", January 23, )
What wonderful words for a meditation. They lead me to the idea that I will not have to think hard or speak long in order to hear God. I tucked this reading into a deep corner of my heart for the day and God began sharing his presence in the following ways.
At church the priest quoted St. Francis de Sales, who said, "Heart speaks to heart. Lips speak only to ears." I wonder how often I say something to someone or listen to someone, but do not really "hear" what they are trying to say. When hearts speak, I believe I can hear more clearly. When lips move and only ears hear, I am listening without real understanding.
When I am visiting patients in the hospital I often ask God to help make sense out of what is being said, what is needed, and how I can be of help. Patients are sometimes disoriented and confused. They often have difficulty putting their thoughts and feelings into words. When I enter the room, we are usually total strangers to each other. I often just think the word 'God' and believe that I will say the next right reassuring, comforting thing.
Often when speaking with a sponsee they are confused, full of emotion, and searching for answers. I will think 'God' and have faith that I will say the next right thing to lead this person in recovery. I feel the presence of the spirit that has led us all into recovery as I work the twelve steps with sponsees. What happens as we move through the steps is a miracle of revelation and change.
The priest also prayed, "Lord, help me listen from my heart as well as by my ears.", making reference to the de Sales quote. When I visit people in the hospital and sit with sponsees, I hope I am understanding with my heart and my intellect.
The winds are blowing this afternoon at 23 miles per hour as I sit on my back porch. It blows across me. I feel the spirit in the air. I hear God's wordless language - not with my ears, but with my heart. I feel shut away in God's presence. There are many times when thoughts arrive in my mind as if on a breeze.
These are some of my thoughts today, my meditation.
I am at peace today. Peace to you my blogger friends.
Prayer Girl (Photo credit: Clouds by email@example.com)
A blog just would not come. My mind was open, moving, but nothing came. I wanted to blog yesterday about that spark of hope that had no business being in me, but was there when I awoke from my last drunk. I couldn't find the words. Now I have found the words in the following form:
SPARK OF HOPE Only three years - brought three deaths: mental, emotional, spiritual The body disappearing too - like a woman in a vanishing act So quickly like the seven point zero earthquake Leaving behind ruin, destruction and devastation
Liquor robbed her of all inside save her life Left her zombie-like, dancing on her liquid legs Then she would drop and pray No thought, no wish, no expectation of a better day
Left her job, loving wife and mother - all stolen away Could not be saved by doctor, religious, friend or self Filled with despair, self-destruction all around In this gloom a last drunk began, a final plunge into oblivion
Another day - it dawned just like the ones before The morning sun, a knife, cutting into her sodden brain But something new! A sense! A thought! What's there? This could not be. There was no way. But there it was.
A smallest spark of hope as if from nowhere now appearing. How? Unknown! But know she did - somehow - all would be well.
And it was! Prayer Girl (Photo credit: Flowing by firstname.lastname@example.org)
I had one of those brief lapses when I felt myself slipping into that 'victim' mentality, the 'oh poor me' place. What was amazing is that instead of allowing myself to continue down that path into feeling really miserable, I suddenly thought, "Write a gratitude list". I grabbed a scrap of paper and began writing. The following flowed onto the paper.
grateful for the positive changes I have experienced through working the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon.
grateful for friendships formed in and out of the AA and Al-Anon rooms.
grateful that it was warm and dry enough to ride my scooter to the Al-Anon meeting this morning - the first time I have ridden in many weeks.
grateful for the time of meditation and feeling the presence of God in the wind that my bike ride allowed me.
grateful that I can continue to have sparks of hope in many areas of my life including my creative aspirations and hopes for those I love.
grateful that I can "let go" of hurt feelings if I choose. I can Q-TIP (quit taking it personally). I can stop playing the victim and martyr.
grateful for the gift of a healing touch that came after 21 years in recovery.
grateful that I can be aware of myself, the healthy and the unhealthy aspects of my personality, can accept myself as I am and ask to be shown what actions to take to change.
grateful I have learned how to take care of myself.
grateful that I have other members in recovery and my sponsor to remind me to take care of myself and to model for me how to do that.
grateful that God is in charge of my life and thankful that God is in charge of the lives of those I love.
grateful for the cool breezes, not too hot and not too cold, wafting through the open windows and doors of my home, filling the rooms here with God's presence.
grateful for the Book Club meeting I will be attending this afternoon and grateful that even though my isolating self is trying to get my attention and wants me to skip going, I am choosing to go and be blessed by the camaraderie.
grateful that even though my 4th peanut butter pie came out less perfect than the others, I am still taking it to the Book Club meeting. I'm sure it will taste fine. I'm happy my perfectionism is "in check" today.
Prayer Girl (Photo credit: Snail by Moshe Geizler, PPSA)
This was one of those days when everywhere I went I heard things said (or sung) that rang beautiful bells deep inside me. They resonated. I heard many of them from a couple of women at my women's Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. One I actually heard the other day in an Al-Anon meeting, but the scrap of paper I wrote it on fell out of my purse at the AA meeting. The song was sung at mass this afternoon. I'm sharing with you what were gems for me.
"Our experiences with others aren't chance. Fellow travelers are carefully selected by the inner self, the spiritual guide who understands our needs in this life."(From "Each Day a New Beginning", January 16 - the topic of today's AA meeting.)
I don't need to suffer anymore.
I have suffered enough.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
It is amazing what I have come to tolerate AND it is amazing what I have come to not tolerate.
I got sick of 'just' surviving.
I thought I wasn't as bad as you when I first arrived in Alcoholics Anonymous because I still had car insurance.
I knew I was getting better when my driver's license, my car insurance card, and my automobile registration all had the same address on them.
Let go or get dragged.
Pain is the touchstone to all spiritual growth. (From our AA literature)
My behavior is no longer contingent on your behavior.
Move a muscle - change a thought. Change a thought - change a feeling and an attitude.
My feelings and needs are as important as your feelings and needs.
Let the 5 Ds guide your path: Detachment, Discretion, Discipline, Discernment, and Decorum
A grateful heart is a happy heart.
No! - is a complete sentence.
Song refrain: "Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life."(Words that speak to the deepest part of me.)
My heart is full of gratitude tonight. I am happy in this moment.
Prayer Girl (Photo credit: Incense Of My Soul by Khan71 @ deviantart.com)
When anger, sadness, inappropriate behaviors, pretense, and denial are swept aside, I believe most people are motivated deep inside by many of the same things. Isn't what people really want in their lives fairly simple? I believe most people want:
to love and be loved to feel wanted to live their lives free of excessive fear and anxiety a way to deal with their fears and anxieties access to a power greater than themselves that lessens those fears and anxieties to feel their lives make a difference to love life to feel joy and happiness meaningful activities independence of mind, body and spirit to feel useful to know they are important to those they love to feel special some framework in which they can understand the world and their lives peace and serenity to be a part of something bigger than themselves mental, physical and spiritual health something they can give to others to be able to communicate their thoughts and feelings to others to be understood This is where my thoughts happened to take me on this Wednesday night.
Prayer Girl (Photo credit: happiness by ~kokoszkaa at deviantart.com)
"Where there is great love there are always miracles." - Willa Cather
"Love is the strongest force the world possesses, and yet it is the humblest imaginable." - Mohandas K. Gandhi
The moment I saw this photo I fell in love with it. How I wish I could paint in oils. I see this picture in oils. Why am I blogging this? I guess just because I feel like it. :)
I love the lines, colors, shades, everything about it. The sunlight weaves its magic all around, kissing the head, the back, the surface on which the subject rests. It feels peaceful, calm, serene, one with nature.
The photographer named it "Basking". This picture and the title evoke strong emotions in me. There is a feeling of basking in the love of God, a feeling that all is well, as it should be in the natural order of nature.
I typically write about recovery. What does this have to do with recovery? STEP 11!
I can use this picture as a meditation. I find objects of meditation everywhere - a phrase of music, a combination of words, a reading from one of my daily readers, a flower, a grouping of bushes, wind blowing, a painting, a photograph - all these things are possible subjects for a meditation.
I'm going to print out this photo and use it for a meditation. If I go into the silence, sit quietly in that place, and reflect on what I experience with this picture, I will be lifted up. I will experience STEP 11, "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out."
I found myself asking some questions today for which I didn't automatically have answers. I had to allow time for consideration and reflection before I could decide what I thought. Some of my answers have altered my perception of things. Here are the questions:
Is everything going to pot? OR is everything in a pot being fertilized for future, flourishing, abundant growth?
Is my life falling apart? OR is my life falling together?
Am I being a doormat? OR am I holding my responses in check so that when I do respond, I will mean what I say, say what I mean and not say it mean?
Am I in denial? OR am I choosing to focus elsewhere - recognizing the negative, but placing my attention on the positive?
Am I being cold, rigid and unfeeling? OR am I protecting and taking care of myself?
Am I neglecting my responsibilities? OR am I "Letting go and letting God"?
Are people really trying to hurt me? OR am I taking things too seriously and too personally?
Am I disinterested in you? OR am I allowing you your privacy?
Am I insensitive to your needs and wants? OR am I allowing you to grow by exploring your own feelings and thoughts, and making your own decisions?
Am I distant and uninvolved? OR am I allowing you the respect and dignity you deserve?
Careful thought led me to realize that in some cases my thinking was not as clear as I thought it was or my motives weren't as pure as I hoped they were. I can use these questions to take inventory of current relationships and situations.
I'm sure there are plenty of other questions I might think of later, but for now, these are enough.
"A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues." - Cicero
"This year is a book of clean blank pages on which I will write a record of my experiences and my growth through the daily use of the Al-Anon idea. I turned to Al-Anon as a last resort because I was living with a problem that was too much for me. I know I can deal with this problem through applying Al-Anon to myself, to my thoughts and my actions, every day." (From "One Day at a Time in Al-Anon", January 1, p. l)
I am so grateful that I can choose to begin this year with fresh, clean, blank pages. My life is a series of choices. I choose what thoughts will dominate my thinking. How I react to what others say and do is my choice as well. I choose how I wish to use the time I am given in a day. My attitudes are often formed by the thoughts I have chosen to focus on, be they negative or positive.
There was a time when I was unaware that the freedom to choose was mine. I felt a martyr and victim to life. I was often helpless and ineffectual. I had few coping skills. The result? I felt victimized and wondered why everything seemed to be stacked against me. I felt powerless, hopeless, and depressed.
Alcohol provided the solution to all this negativity. It made reality disappear. It provided a false feeling that nothing could hurt me and it made the pain go away. I was able to stop caring. This solution worked for only a short period of time. Within three years I was hopelessly controlled by alcohol. I was unable to choose whether I would drink or not. I drank daily. My ability to function deteriorated. I was approaching complete disaster.
Then I found sobriety through the grace of God. I was led to Alcoholics Anonymous where I found people who understood me. I asked a woman to be my sponsor. I worked the 12 steps of AA. I was released from the obsession and compulsion to drink. I learned how to not drink one day at a time.
When I was 19 years sober, God graced my life again by leading me to the Al-Anon program. What a wonderful gift. I wish I had found Al-Anon when I was 20 years old. But I am forever grateful I found it at all.
Today, with the AA and Al-Anon programs I know that I am powerless over alcohol and over people, places, and things. However, I also know that I am not powerless over my reactions. I have the choice to use the tools, slogans, steps of both programs.
Anytime I find myself in fear, worry, depression or anxiety, I can pick up a tool like the telephone to call another program member or go to a meeting. I can pray and have faith and trust that the Higher Power I am calling on will help me. These are choices that lead to positive outcomes. I have many personal experiences that show me God does hear and answers prayer.
Thank God I am able to turn to a blank page in my mind and start over anytime I need or want to. I can start over each day or even each moment if necessary. I am starting fresh right this moment. I am filling my mind with hope for a wonderful tomorrow for myself, those I love, and my blogging friends.
"Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." - Plato
They fill his mind in every moment, either side the veil of sleep. Concentric, hypnotic, exotic, eccentric, eclectic, romantic, mystic. What secrets hide behind those captivating emerald eyes? What wisdom sparkles in their shining depths? He is enthralled, enchanted, obsessed, possessed. He sees himself mirrored there in those infinities of green. He is in love!
Prayer Girl (Photo credit: Green Eyes by M. Pomorina)
Flash Fiction Friday 55 is a story written in exactly 55 words. Let the G-Man know if you write one and read the ones of your fellow writers.
Today was a day for girlfriends. There were five of us. Four from my generation and my daughter. We had a twelfth night potluck party. We five women have been getting together over dinners for 25 years. The three other women my age were the first women I met and came to know when I moved here 25 years ago. My daughter grew up with their children.
Today, daughter and I spent the better part of the day preparing our part of the meal. Daughter had made an incredible butternut squash soup for Thanksgiving two years ago. She made it again. The recipe said it was of "intermediate" difficulty and would take about an hour and a half. Maybe "intermediate" was the correct designation, but it sure took longer than that. She did most of the work and I was cook's assistant. It turned out absolutely delicious and was a total hit.
My contribution was a peanut butter pie. I have never made one and never order it, but it also turned out delicious. At the last minute I bought some Reese's peanut butter cups that I cut up into smaller pieces to decorate the top. It was a huge hit too.
One of the women brought lasagna, another brought salad and garlic bread, and the third made roasted vegetables with beets, sweet potatoes, and onion. Everything was fabulous.
But the most wonderful part of the entire evening was the conversation, caring, love, and friendship that filled the house. My Christmas decorations stayed up till the end of this party. The bayberry and pine/balsam candles were lit for hours before they arrived and the house was full of these smells as well as the aroma of butternut squash soup.
Now it is time to pack things up for another year. The holiday is truly over.
I hope everybody had as blessed a day as I had. Prayer Girl
P.S. I am meeting my sponsor for breakfast tomorrow morning. I can't wait.
"It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about." -Dale Carnegie
I read the following quote this morning and it has played in my mind all day.
"The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be." - Marcel Pagnol
My mind translates this idea into "the grass is always greener....."
If I am dissatisfied with my present, it is often because I am comparing it to a past that looks better in my aging perceptions than it actually was. I can forget that my past contains the inability to cope with life, the total inability to live life on life's terms. I can also forget that the glorious past I sometimes pine for nearly killed me by reason of alcoholism.
As for the future, who the heck knows what it will hold? I have had so many experiences of the totally unexpected happening that I know I have no idea what lies in the future. However, once the future becomes the present, it is then clearly and precisely known and describable.
And the present? The more I remember the truth about the past, that it contained the good and the bad and the more I stay out of the unknown future, the happier I am today. My Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-anon programs teach me to live in the now, to keep my focus on where my feet are. When I stop comparing today to a faulty memory of the past and to a yet to be determined future, I can be satisfied.
Practicing being satisfied holds the greater possibility of experiencing happiness.I want to be happy. Desiring to be happy is a choice I make for myself and it is up to me to stay in the present, choose thoughts and actions that are conducive to happiness, and pray for the steadfastness of character to practice these things daily.
The last page was read. She gently closed the book. It had taken a year to finish. Some chapters had crawled by while others had sped. She remembered wondering when she was younger if she would live to the turn of the century. Now another decade was beginning as she lifted up her new book.
Prayer Girl (Photo credit: Fairytale by Gossamer Innocence)
Flash Fiction Friday 55 is a story written in exactly 55 words. Let the G-Man know if you write one and read the ones of your fellow writers.
I'm sober in AA since July 5th 1985, and a grateful member of Alanon since November 2004.
I joined the "blogosphere" in September, 2008.
In December 2011 I became a grandmother for the first time and now understand why it's such a big deal. I'm wildly in love again with that little guy.