Thoughts on Hemingway, Yoga, and Downtime

KeyWestHemingwayHouse Thoughts on Hemingway, Yoga, and Downtime

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

My dream car is sitting in the garage, a 2014 MINI Cooper Countryman S.

I mentioned the car  in a recent post but I’ve been reluctant to talk about the enormous stress that came with the car. I am a bit embarrassed.

The MINI people told me I have to name the car. Apparently it’s a cultural requirement.

I fretted and stewed and kept coming up empty. Nothing fit. I nearly settled on Loretta, from the Beatles lyrics, “get back, Loretta,” because I wanted something kind of badass.

Those Beatles lyrics are too confusing, though. Loretta may have been a man in high-heeled shoes and a low-neck sweater; not a bad thing but not the image I’m looking for.

Then, someone on social media posted the above Hemingway quote, one I didn’t know. Creating memories and staying present to milestones–perfect for a MINI!  And since I’m about to put her on the road to go see my new great-nephew Cooper (Can you believe the synchronicity?), the quote is perfect.

Plus, one of the items I checked off my bucket list a few years back was touring Hemingway’s Key West home and writing studio.

Just like that, my new MINI is named:  Hemingway. But she’s a she Hemingway.

Now, about yoga

Nearly all my blogging colleagues and mentors practice yoga. I know a few poses but have convinced myself that my chronic back condition won’t allow me to join them in practice. Nonsense, I know.

My chiropractor gave me a DVD of sri sri yoga, which I guess is basically hatha yoga. I’m committed now to watch it and learn. Here’s why:

I read an Associated Press story in today’s Dallas Morning News about a Chicago woman who teaches yoga classes to residents of Edgewood, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the metro. Check it out here. Tameka Lawson is the executive director of a nonprofit group called I Grow Chicago.

Lawson’s aim is to help residents “act rather than react” to the violence around them by teaching them yoga’s meditative focus on breathing and slow movements.

How’s that for focusing on a solution instead of the problem? If yoga can work in Chicago’s Edgewood, I’m thinking it can work for just about anybody.

Finally, taking some downtime

I wonder if you struggle with slowing down as much as I do. Last Friday, my sweetie had surgery to repair a detached retina. A routine surgery, but scary as hell, I can assure you. She’s doing just fine, by the way, and the retina is reattached, although her vision won’t clear for about a month.

As her caregiver, I was taken aback by the exhaustion I felt for most of the weekend. At first, I tried to push through it on Friday afternoon, but my body screamed for rest. Ditto on Saturday.

So, I gave in, let go of my self-prescribed obligations and spent the weekend resting. I even checked out of social media which is a hard thing for me. Instead, I napped, snacked (back to healthy eating today!) and read a book. A real book, mind you.

I have a half-dozen books in my office study waiting for me; they’ve been there for months. One has even gathered dust for a little more than four years. That’s the one I picked.

The title? To Have and Have Not, by–wait for it–Ernest Hemingway. Thanks, Papa, for a great weekend read, oh, and for the inspiration to name my car.

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Meet Recovery Carrier Dean Dauphinais

sculpture and dandelion e1406056812826 Meet Recovery Carrier Dean Dauphinais

Today’s post is the seventh in a series of interviews with folks who live and breathe a life of recovery from addiction. While the disease of addiction reaches its tentacles to touch families, communities and society, there are people like Dean Dauphinais who push back against the disease with recovery. I hope you enjoy the conversation with this month’s Recovery Carrier.

William White defines recovery carriers as “people, usually in recovery, who make recovery infectious to those around them by their openness about their recovery experiences, their quality of life and character, and the compassion they exhibit for those still suffering.” (, 2012)

When you hear the term “recovery carrier,” as it relates to addiction, what does that mean to you?  Do you think you’re a recovery carrier?

When I hear the term “recovery carrier,” I think of a person who’s holding the stem of a dandelion with its round, white, puffy seed head on the end. All of those little seeds represent little bits of information about recovery; the truth behind Dean5 20 14Headshot2 300x225 Meet Recovery Carrier Dean Dauphinaismisconceptions about addiction, and hope for individuals and families dealing with this insidious disease. I envision a recovery carrier taking a deep breath and blowing on that dandelion like we did when we were kids. And all the windborne seeds, filled with useful information and knowledge, go on their merry way to find new places and minds to take root, grow, and spread the word about recovery. In that sense, I guess I am a recovery carrier. Lord knows I am pretty much constantly blowing on those “dandelion seeds,” trying to spread them around as much as possible. Not all of the seeds will take, but if only a few of them do I consider that to be a success. “Recovery carrier” is a pretty special term, but I don’t think of myself as a special person. I don’t have an academic background in addiction and recovery. I don’t have any special certification or anything. I’m just the father of a person in long-term recovery who’s trying to help other families that are going through addiction.

What brought you to advocating for recovery issues?  I know a bit of your background but would you share with the readers, starting wherever you’d like?

My 24-year-old son—who just recently celebrated two years of sobriety—suffered from depression and anxiety as a teenager. When he was around 15, he started experimenting with drugs—mainly pot and prescription meds. He was self-medicating in an attempt to feel “normal.” Unfortunately, my son’s experimentation led to addiction, and his drug of choice eventually became heroin.

As a parent, finding out that your child is addicted to heroin is pretty devastating. I was one of those parents who thought heroin was a drug used by “junkies” in the inner city, not by teenagers in the middle-class suburbs. And certainly not by my teenager. It was truly a wake-up call. I remember the day my son came to me in tears and told me he needed help because he was addicted to heroin. It was like I was living a nightmare.

To read more of Dean’s interview, click Dean Dauphinais 7-14.

Photo courtesy of Fantasywire

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9 Quotes on Grief and Healing

tennessee 070lthe long and winding road 1024x768 9 Quotes on Grief and HealingThere are probably as many forms of grief as there are people who grieve.  That’s the thing–each feeling is different, making the grief itself as tough to pin down as old mercury out of a broken thermometer.

My mom died four years ago today and it’s my opinion that losing your mom is like having a chunk of your heart ripped out.  There were times when thundering waves of grief simply threw me to the ground with nothing to cover me but a hot blanket of tears.  I just knew that I would never breathe normally again.

But of course I did.  We all make it to the healing wall sooner or later.

Other episodes of grief occasionally swim by–losing a job, walking a beloved pet to the Rainbow Bridge or leaving one home for a new one.  I’ve experienced all those things in the last four years.  Heck, my back helps me mourn the passing of youth every single day!

So what do we do?

Here’s what I know for sure:  Giving myself permission to feel grief is essential.  There is no time frame for grief, so if anyone says or implies, “Gee, aren’t you done with that yet,” please feel free to kick him or her in the shin.  Feel what you need to feel whenever grief rises.

I’ve been melancholy for the last few days.  I knew of course that the anniversary of Mom’s death was coming, so I purposely chose to sit with the grief.  In that process, I found that parts of me have healed, or are healing.

That’s what I want to share with you.  Thoughts on healing.  I’ve chosen these quotes because they come from books and books are where I so often draw my comfort. I hope they touch your heart as they touch mine.

Remember, your grief is your own. Don’t let anyone else judge it–or you.

I’d like to send special healing thoughts to my friend Lois who lost her mom this month.  Be good to yourself, my dear!

Thoughts on grief and healing

“And I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again, that at best there might eventually be a little contentment. Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore.” 
― Anne LamottOperating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

“I suppose that since most of our hurts come through relationships so will our healing, and I know that grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside.” 
― Wm. Paul YoungThe Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity

“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.” 
― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

“The human heart has a way of making itself large again even after it’s been broken into a million pieces.” 
― Robert James WallerThe Bridges of Madison County

“And so I wait. I wait for time to heal the pain and raise me to me feet once again – so that I can start a new path, my own path, the one that will make me whole again.” 
― Jack CanfieldChicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II

“Simply touching a difficult memory with some slight willingness to heal begins to soften the holding and tension around it. (74)” 
― Stephen LevineA Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last

“It is important for people to know that no matter what lies in their past, they can overcome the dark side and press on the a brighter world.” 
― Dave PelzerA Child Called “It”

“In a world plagued with commonplace tragedies, only one thing exists that truly has the power to save lives, and that is love.” 
― Richelle E. GoodrichDandelions: The Disappearance of Annabelle Fancher

“Love opens your heart, trumps fear, and paves the way for healing in all aspects of your life.” 
― Lissa RankinMind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself

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Easy Prayer of Surrender: “Ok, God, Whatever”

DSC0397 1024x682 Easy Prayer of Surrender: Ok, God, Whatever

I’m experiencing the Big Book’s promise that fear of economic insecurity will disappear.

For those unfamiliar with the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (the book carries the same name as the organization), millions worldwide rely on its teaching. It’s also known as a textbook for recovery.

I don’t claim to know the book backwards and forwards, in spite of its persistent connection with my life for more than two decades. I know people who quote the book constantly, often flinging the words about with the fervor of a street preacher.

For me, the Big Book is not a sacred text so much as it is the spiritually inspired wisdom of the co-founder of AA. For that reason, I hold it in respectful esteem.

The Promises

The familiar phrasing of the most quoted promises sandwiched between AA’s eighth and ninth steps begins, “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through.”

The promise that comes a bit later in the section reads, “Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.” That’s the one that is filling my mind and heart right now.

Here’s why:  Somewhere during the last six weeks as my sweetie and I maneuvered through our move, I crossed an imaginary line from spastic, worrying and fearful Beth to calm, peaceful, come-what-may Beth.

After we found out that we qualified for our beautiful new home, I heaved a huge sigh of relief. I dodged a bullet because I’m still a fledgling self-employed entrepreneur with a credit score that’s lower than I would like.

But that was a turning point for me.  Suddenly, I viscerally believed the words that my sweetie continued to say to me: “Everything is going to work out just fine.  God’s got this.”  Looking backwards at that line in the sand, I knew then that she was 100% correct.

My new MINI

I felt so good about my new-found surrender and belief in the Promise  that I decided to get a new car this week too.  Five days after we moved in. I know–crazy, right?  Uh huh.

On Tuesday, I spent nearly seven hours in the company of the fabulous folks at the MINI of Plano, TX dealership and I had a great time!  If you’re in the area, be sure to check it out.  There’s no other car dealership like it, I’m convinced!

Throughout the back-and-forth negotiation process (which I actually enjoyed), I was cool and confident.  I set my intention of what I wanted and if it didn’t work, I was okay with walking away without malice or judgment.  The thought of adding a car payment to my already tight monthly cash-flow was just that:  a thought.

Zero fear of economic insecurity.

Can I share a secret?  Since this new understanding and acceptance of the Promise settling around me, I’ve had an unexpected check arrive, picked up a new client and just yesterday, learned of a major project that I’ll soon undertake.

My lesson?  Let go and the return is immense! My secret weapon is the shortest, easiest prayer of surrender I’ve heard.  Three words:  “Okay, God, whatever.”

Try it. Set your sites on the Promise, test the prayer of surrender and let me know what you experience.  Hold on for a great adventure!

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It’s OK When Your Life Doesn’t Go as Planned

Snoopy and Charlie Brown Its OK When Your Life Doesnt Go as Planned


My friend Lisa Frederiksen over at posted the above picture on Facebook yesterday.  I think she grabbed it from Buddhism’s Facebook feed.

The photo’s caption resonates with me because the last six weeks have not gone as I planned and that’s okay.

The best-laid plans

The line from the Scottish poem by Robert Burns, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” is so true, isn’t it?

There’s also a ditty from recovery rooms that goes like this, “I plan and God laughs.” Lest you think I’m over-reacting or even being silly, try making a decision on June 1 to move from one house and then taking up residence in another house six weeks later which was three days ago.

Oh, and for three weeks in the middle, my sweetie and I house- and dog-sat at our home away from home.  If you picture a triangle, place each house at the three points–each one about 25 miles from the other.

Looking at houses, buying furniture, selling furniture, packing, AND one vehicle (mine) going on the fritz.  Oh, and working too, when we weren’t dozing in the pool (hey, this is a full disclosure post).

There were few days in the past six weeks that went according to MY plan.  I’ll let you in on a secret, though.  The days that were good days were the ones when I said first-thing, “Okay GUS (God-Universe-Spirit), I’m pretty sure I’m gonna mess things up today so I need you to lead me where you need me.”

3 things we did right

Moving when you’re part of a couple is a tricky thing.  I won’t tell you the entire time was without sharp words and a few tears shed, but we came through not only intact, but pretty damn good, thank you very much.  We did three things right.

1.  We respected our individual packing and unpacking processes. One of us is methodical and completes a small area (or box, in this case) while the other is more, shall we say, “creative.”  One of us has more pronounced control issues–yes, it’s me!

2.  We took care of our bodies.  Let’s face it, moving is much easier for a 30-year-old body than for a 50+ body.  As little as a few years ago I might have muscled my way through by carrying too-heavy boxes.  This time, I gave myself grace and let my rational self remind me that I have degenerative disc disease and that I’m under ongoing chiropractic care.  I heeded my limits and paid others to do the work for me.

3.  We knew when to say when we needed to stop.  As I’ve aged, both in recovery and in biology, I’ve learned to give myself grace around letting myself stop.  Take a break, take a nap (usually on a heating pad) or plop in front of the television for a mindless hour or so.

Stick a fork in me. I’m done! Gone is the frenetic pace to finish; instead I surrender. @bheretoday (Click to Tweet!)

There’s a fourth thing that’s been on my mind throughout the last six weeks.  It’s grace; giving ourselves permission to be good to ourselves.

Why in the world would there be any other way?

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