Faith is Pointless Unless It’s Tested


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There are times in life when you come face-to-face with the naked truth and it scares the crap out of you.

I don’t care how much life you’ve lived, how much recovery time you have or what kind of experiences you’ve faced. Those are the factual details of the history of you but are not the heart of you.

And that’s what I care about–the heart of you, because when your heart hurts, you can feel like your faith is being tested.

At least that’s my experience. The trick is learning how to stand still and let your faith be tested.

Fixing a hurting heart

Here’s my naked truth: Wednesday, May 20th, is my 24th anniversary of entering recovery. Here’s what my ego has to say about the occasion:

“You would think that after 8,760 days of sobriety and somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 meetings, you would stop misplacing your faith. You’re no more than a non-drinking, 12-step fraud.”

Yikes. The words sound harsh even to me as I type them but they do speak to how I’ve felt lately.

I can’t say I’ve been restless, irritable and discontent. Floundering, distracted and lack of focus more accurately describes my state of mind.

Oddly enough, there are plenty of things that are right with my life. We had a vacation in paradise recently, my work is going well, the bills are getting paid and our dogs are healthy. But this one little-bitty area of my life–my recovery–feels off.

12-steppers are quick to point to the Big Book for answers. Lack of sponsorship, they say. Go to more meetings.

Yes, I hear you, and I need more.

I read a reference to the story of Moses leading his people out of the desert while being chased by Pharaoh’s army. When Moses and his tribe hit the Red Sea, he looks back and sees all those chariots fixin’ to run up his tail pipe. He cries out to God for help.

God tells Moses to stand still. Wait. Have faith.

Moses may well have had the faith of the ages but until that day, his faith was pointless.

We create our own difficulties

Does your ego ever tell you you’re a fraud like mine does? After the latest round of the Who Do You Think You Are Game, I discovered that 24 years of recovery means I’m much better at recognizing my ego’s BS.

I’ve also decided that my ego doesn’t know jack about recovery. If it did, it would know that creating strange mental blank holes for me to fall into are traps that faith sees from miles away.

What are some of those strange mental black holes? They’re things like blaming sources outside of me for my pain, shaming myself for allowing something to happen and assuming something is always going to be the way it is right now.

Those things are my pharaoh’s armies. The inclination is to run harder and faster when in reality I need to heed the advice given to Moses–to stand still.

Standing still allows me to see that every single thing in my life is a result of a choice I made and if I don’t like my circumstances, I can choose differently.

Nothing is absolute and everything is changing. Just because something disturbs me today doesn’t mean it’s a forever thing, unlike the fallacies that my ego tries to pass off as truths.

The difference between happy and sad is a decision. Until my faith in the process of recovery is tested, it isn’t really faith at all.

Come to think of it, that’s quite a lot to learn in 24 years.

Photo courtesy of pippalou

9 Ways to Bring Your Vacation Back to Work


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My sweetie and I just returned from a long-overdue vacation week in the Virgin Islands. We unplugged from electronics and the web and found ourselves grateful that Verizon is the only stateside wireless carrier that doesn’t serve the islands.

Our one exception to online avoidance was to borrow wifi and log into our dogs’ playtime at Top Paw Pet Resort.  The ODoggy app let us watch our babies play!

Sucked into a spiritual vortex

Looking back over the week, two things were apparent: 1) We willingly surrendered the stress choking us, and 2) God fills the spaces where stress exits.

The first morning on the beach, I stared at the azure water encircling the mountains and thought, “what stress?”

There is something mesmerizing about sea lapping against sand that helps stress melt away. I could almost feel it oozing from my pores. I believe there is something holy about beach bumming.

Our home base on Sapphire Beach, Hill Bay with its dried out mangrove roots, Magens Bay and our Sunday morning 12-step meeting, Honeymoon Bay, Trunk Bay and the British Virgin Islands all served as the means for God and I to get tight again.

I learned a critical lesson: Whenever peace eludes me, it’s never where I search or where I think it should be. Peace is the byproduct of reconnecting with who I am and then giving myself deep and abiding love.

The re-entry after vacation

As the week drew to a close, a pit of dread started to grow in my gut. The transition back into the real world is never easy; this trip created such an imprint on my soul that I knew the reentry would be extra-tough.

During the fight home I made the decision not to bitch and moan about sliding back into real life. Instead, I decided to bring my vacation back to work with me.

How? Here are nine tips that are working for me:

1) Admire what’s at a distance without giving it your complete attention. Before this trip, I had never been face-to-face with mountains and the ocean/sea. I couldn’t stop my awestruck staring at the sheer magnificence of rock rising from water but I was aware too of the beauty right in front of me. In life, we too often focus on a future event or outcome and deny ourselves the wow-factor of the moment.

2) Look closely at what’s beneath your feet. One of our favorite past-times is searching for sea glass and shells. Sometimes the coolest pieces are found with your next footstep! IMG_4778You never know what treasure lies with each step, so keep looking!

3) Dive deep to see hidden beauty. Snorkeling is another favorite thing. This trip was the best snorkeling ever as we ventured into the caves of Norman Island, made famous by Robert Louis Stevens’ Treasure Island. We saw the most beautiful coral, rainbow fish and even a barracuda. Don’t be afraid to plunge beneath the surface of your life to catch a glimpse of hidden treasures!

4) Spend time quietly listening to the voices of nature. There is little that is more soothing to me than listening to waves splashing against the shore or seagulls in boisterous conversation. Relax, listen, and renew every single day.

5) Acknowledge fear for what it is and keep on walking. A major crime occurred at our resort shortly after our arrival that sent shockwaves throughout the island. A reporter wandering the beach (and obviously trying to sensationalize the event) stopped my sweetie and asked if she feared for her safety. Her response was classic: “No. The crime was family-related so there’s no danger of anything happening to anyone else.” Still though, we took the time to talk about our fears and then moved on. The same advice can be used in life situations.

6) Share your story and be of service. Within 24 hours of our arrival, I was asked to share my recovery story at a 12-step meeting. I also had the privilege of sharing some of my experiences with a new recovery friend dealing with family issues similar to mine. Whatever your story, sharing can pay off in amounts far greater than you expect.

7) Stretch and push to do things you don’t think you can do. My new friend suggested a terrific beach that we needed to check out. She said it was a 20-minute walk through a trail in the woods but neglected to tell us about the inclines and declines. I refused to let anything stop me–even when I saw that first steep and rocky climb! You shouldn’t let anything stop you either!

8) Be spontaneous–right now. We signed up for a tour of a new beach-front timeshare on St. John because we would get a free all-day boat trip to the British VIs. And guess what? We bought the timeshare! It felt good and right and sometimes you just have to go with your gut and trust the process.

9) Embrace new friends and friendships. We found an immediate kinship with two women in recovery. Now that we’re going back next year (and for years to come!), I am so stoked to watch these friendships blossom. I really don’t think we can ever have too many people in our friendship corner, so when the chemistry is there, fan the flames!

If you’re headed back to reality this week, I feel your pain. I hope these tips help ease your transition! If you liked this post, please share on Facebook and Twitter. You’ll have my unwavering appreciation!

9 Timely Thoughts About Time


Time-passages--Buy-meHave you ever wondered how to tell the difference between wasting time vs. practicing a relaxing activity?

When is watching TV not a waste of time? Or scrolling through your favorite social media platform?

For me, knowing the difference between the two means understanding mindful intent and awareness. If you’re present to scrolling around on social media or watching TV, you’re not wasting time because you are present. You have deliberately chosen a passive activity–for however long you choose.

Passing time in rooms filled with disconnected people

Whenever I’m waiting with a group of people I don’t know–say in a doctor’s office or car dealership–I’m usually the only person whose nose is parallel to the floor instead of perpendicular. My iPhone is tucked in my pocket or purse so I’m not looking down.

Instead, I’m watching and waiting for someone to look up from their hand-held devices.

I’m dying to smile at them and start a little conversation.

I refuse to exist in a room of people for any amount of time without connecting!

Time is a precious commodity. Since there are times when we can’t choose who we spend time with, we can at least bring value to the time spent together. Would it kill you to ask someone how their day is going?

Be the connector! Fill the void! Shake up humanity!

Touch someone’s heart. I guarantee that your gesture, no matter how small, will serve you well.

In the essence of time . . .

. . . I bring you nine thoughts about time. I hope you’ll sit with each of them, do a little pondering, and then pass them on. Take the time.

May all your moments add up to peaceful time this week.

sunflowers-james

sunrise-peck

sunset-angelou

cloud trail-Mandela

Turks and Caicos-Schulz

Turks and Caicos-Seuss

bluebonnets-Bush

lake-deLaFontaine

rose-Penn

Attentional Living With the Four Agreements


I went dark last week: no blog post and very little social media. It felt more than a little weird for B Here Today to be radio silent. Here’s why:

I’m part of a team working on this little project called UNITE To Face Addiction and our web site launched April 20. We are mighty busy assembling the pieces of a national rally the likes of which the recovery movement has never seen, let alone the general public.

To see more about our event on Oct. 4 on The National Mall in Washington click UNITE To Face Addiction.

I’m having an immense amount of fun but I’m a little frazzled too. On one of my flying passes through Facebook early last week, a friend posted a little ditty about The Four Agreements, a book I purchased and read right after its publication in the late 1990s.

Do you remember The Four Agreements?

I didn’t. Not all four. The first one, yes, but not all four. Huh, I thought. That’s interesting.

And I went on about my work.

A day later I realized the book was still on my mind. So I searched my bookshelves and, finding it, sat down to read a bit.

Don Miguel Ruiz’s words may not be genius, but when the mind and body are stressed, they are nuggets of gold.

Attention is the ability we have to discriminate and to focus only on that which we want to perceive. We can perceive millions of things simultaneously, but using our attention, we can hold whatever we want to perceive in the foreground of our mind.

That’s good stuff for overachieving multi-taskers like me.

It strikes me that abiding by the Four Agreements might just make my life a little easier if I put my attention to really owning them.

The Four Agreements

Be Impeccable With Your Word

I frequently forget how powerful words are. While I’m not responsible for the way others receive my words, being impeccable to me represents never using my words to manipulate or extort or even twist another’s response for the sake of being right.

Don’t Take Anything Personally

This one is probably the most challenging for me of the four because I tend to take everything personally. I am much better than I once was but not at all where I’d like to be.

When I’m taking things personally, I think others are acting with me in mind. Talk about the need for an ego check! I think I’ve done something to elicit behavior that may have nothing to do with me in the first place. Can you relate?

When I take things personally, I question motives and nose around in other people’s business when I should be “tending to my own knitting” as my mama used to say.

Don’t Make Assumptions

This one follows closely on the heels of taking things personally. My ego tries to tell me I see all there is to see–the picture really isn’t any bigger than my scope of vision. How can I see the big picture?

The truth is I can’t; only GUS–God, Universe, Spirit–holds that perspective. So until such time that I reach a god-like state, I need to stop assuming and questioning everyone’s motives.

Always Do Your Best

Don’t you think this agreement is a tiny bit vague? Could you be more specific, Mr. Ruiz? I guess he couldn’t–this one needs to stay open-ended because everyone’s best is different. If I’m paying attention, I instinctively know when I’ve living right and doing my best.

My best means I’m centered in love and focused on being love. I’m a giver. I honor all forms of life.

When I live in the first three agreements, the fourth comes naturally. I realize I’m happy with who I am, where I am and what I’m doing.

Photo courtesy of pixshark.com

Feeling Like a Cracked Pot? Repurpose Yourself!


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Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels like a cracked pot from time to time.

What are the symptoms, you ask? The major ones for me are discontentment, overwhelm, fragility, sensitivity and generalized disconnection.

When I’m not seeing things as they are, I take things personally and indeed, everything is about me. My bubbly personality turns brooding; my entire being kind of turns in on itself.

And I miss my mom horribly. She’s been gone nearly five years now and I still struggle with learning to mother myself, to give myself the safety and security that a mother’s love gives.

Wanting vs. willing

Saturday night was date night and we went to a huge citywide 12-step meeting. The speaker was funny and entertaining; he had definitely transformed from a cracked pot into a stable and transparent person in long-term recovery.

He reiterated something that has stayed with me. He said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Wanting to and willingness are not the same things.”

How often do you really, really want something–to exercise, eat less sugar, get more sleep, buy fewer shoes, pens or purses–but the wanting doesn’t seem to get the job done? Why? Because you’re not willing to repurpose yourself.

To repurpose is to think differently. When you think differently, your actions shift. And when your actions shift, the thing you want tends to happen.

Bottom line: You have to be willing to go all-in to get what you truly want.

Repurposing your cracked pot

Has it occurred to you that your pot is cracked for a reason? That’s a tough one for this perfectionist. When my pot gets cracked, I want to throw it out or just get a new one. But what if the cracks are meant to serve a purpose?

Paulo Coelho tells the story of the man who used to tote two large pitchers of water fastened to a piece of wood and carried across his shoulders to his village every day.

One pitcher was new and perfect and never ceased to do its job of serving as a vessel full of water. It was proud to provide water for the village and took its duties very seriously, so much so that it was certain it was made for just that purpose.

The other pitcher was older and had several cracks so that water dribbled out as the man made his return trip to the village. By the time he arrived, the cracked pitcher released only a small amount of water to the village and did so with great shame, despite the fact that it had served the village well for many, many years.

One day, the old pitcher felt so inferior that as the man was scooping up water, the pitcher decided to speak.

It apologized for its age and its inability to serve as it once had.

The man smiled and asked the pitcher to look closely at its side of the path as they made the trip home. Sure enough, the water that seeped through the cracked pitcher provided nourishment for the vegetables and flowers the man had planted.

“Do you see how much more beautiful nature is on your side of the road?” the man asked the pitcher.

“If you were not the way you are, I could never have done this. We all, at some point, grow old and acquire other qualities, and these can always be turned to good advantage.”

The moral of this story–read on the take-out brown bag from Chipotle–is our cracked selves are still useful. We just need the willingness–the all-in quality–to repurpose ourselves and determine what soil we want to sink into next.

Photo courtesy of timetocraft.co.uk and bobvilla.com