B Here Today is three years old today. Like a toddler testing her legs, I’ve had fun writing about all kinds of things from goats and crickets to beach vacations and grieving the loss of my mom.
What started as a blog for recording my recovery journey has morphed into a place to tell stories of all kinds.
I’ve discovered that I love to tell stories and many of them are recovery stories because that’s my life. I’m a person in long-term recovery from alcoholism; in fact sobriety for me began 22 years ago today.
On May 20, 1991, I was a month into my 30′s, had just bought my first house and was really living the good life. I had a job that allowed me to travel on an expense account, a loving relationship and all the outer trappings of success.
The problem wasn’t my life. It was me not living my life.
I didn’t know that I didn’t know how to live my life until I was sober. Sometimes it feels like it’s taken every one of these past 8,030 days to figure it out.
Somewhere between the time I had my first sips of my dad’s Budweiser when I was old enough to open the refrigerator and when I quit drinking in 1991, I crossed the line into alcoholism. Was the line when I had my first alcoholic blackout at 15? Maybe.
Was it when I drove drunk on snow-packed roads, ran over an animal and didn’t stop? Perhaps.
Had I crossed the line on the Saturday afternoon when I fought off a potential rapist, found a pay phone to call for help but didn’t know where I was?
It doesn’t matter when I crossed the line, though. Nor does it matter what I still had in my life or what I had lost.
What does matter is that I came to understand that my soul was drowning in alcohol and the only way to save it was to stop.
I am blissfully and blessedly grateful to the Higher Power in my life who guided me then and now.
God knows I couldn’t do it alone!
First B Here posts
From the inaugural post: Boil sobriety down and what’s left in the bottom of the pot is a glop of daily moments that sometimes needs seasoning, sometimes tastes just right and sometimes needs to be tossed in the trash.
From a post quoting my sponsor: Recovery is about living life differently but it’s not expected that you’ll wake up one morning and Shazam!, you have all knowledge.
From Why Did God Create Sponsors?: I believe God knew there would be sober children–and I’m not referring to chronological age–who would be regularly blustery and dumb-founded when it comes to living life without alcohol.
From Bug Lesson: I have jammed myself into many corners without realizing that my escape route is behind me.
From Waiting for a Miracle: I’ve been known to say in 12-step meetings, “If all I am today is sober, somebody please shoot me.”
From Dog Therapy: For me, animals, and dogs in particular, offer a haven against the complications of being human and in recovery. They live simply and serenely and for the most part, get their needs met on an as-needed basis. They show me what it’s like to languish and live and love in spite of what may be happening around them.
For all of you who have contributed to the lessons and the beauty of the last 22 years, I give you my heartfelt thanks. To all B Here Today readers who have given me your time and your responses, for connecting your heart to mine, I wish you peace.
Photo courtesy of kakisky
If you’ve ever spent any time in a 12-step room, you’ve seen the slogans on the wall.
If you’ve ever spent any time with someone who is in recovery from alcoholism or drug abuse, you’ve probably heard a few of the idioms that are “tells” of sobriety, or at least familiarity with sobriety.
You may like the little ditties so much that you’ve started using them in your own conversations. Cool!
Maybe, like me, you frequent the 12-step rooms regularly. If, like me, you’re a person in long-term recovery, the meaning behind those phrases of inspiration can shift with the circumstances in your life.
Easy Does It
This three-word phrase is one of the foundations of recovery and is often repeated to people outside of recovery when they are being encouraged to settle down, to breathe, and to just “be.”
I’ve thought of it often during the last few days as I’ve moved through the third Mother’s Day since my mom died. On Tuesday of this week, my mom would have celebrated her 75th birthday. I decided to celebrate anyway; the anniversary of her birth becomes no less important after her death.
I threw myself into my work on Tuesday because Mom was a huge fan of my writing; in fact, I think she lived a bit vicariously through my creative process. She told me once that she always wanted to write a book but that she was passing that gene on to me.
As I was growing up, I judged my mom for the choices she made. I secretly thought she settled for a life that was far beneath her talents and abilities. A part of me always held out hope that she would start that book and when she died, I mourned a life that I saw was, well, wasted.
I wish I could use a different word to soften my meaning. In the nearly three years since she left the earth, I’ve grown though. I now believe she lived a good and worthy life. She loved widely and deeply and isn’t that the best measure of one’s time here?
On her 75th birthday, I realized I had forgiven my mom and more importantly, I’ve forgiven myself for harboring a lifetime of judgment. There was no longer a need for recrimination.
I breathed and practiced Easy Does It. Gosh, it sure felt good.
More recovery slogans
Here are a few more of my favorites plus my thoughts on their applications.
Live and Let Live: Shrug your shoulders and develop a “whatever” way of living.
Think, Think, Think: Too much or too little? Your sponsor will tell you which is best for you!
Let Go and Let God: I believe this is surrender’s release point.
One Day At A Time: Everything stays in right now. Yesterday, tomorrow, even 10 minutes from now makes no difference and is actually none of your business!
HALT: Do your best to not let yourself become too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.
This too shall pass: Whatever the “it” of the moment that troubles you, just wait.
Keep it simple: This applies to my magnificent, magnifying mind. I know I’m not the only one!
And my personal favorite (NOT!):
You’re right where you’re supposed to be. Ugh! That’s all I have to say about that!
There are many, many other slogans and acronyms. Do you have a favorite? What does it mean for you?
Photo courtesy of Celebrate Recovery
I own a beautiful mahogany Baby Taylor guitar–it’s vintage, I’m told–that I can’t play.
My brain has the capacity for lots of new things, but apparently learning the guitar as an adult isn’t one of them.
I also own a custom-made, single-speed cruising bike that is black and gold, like the colors of my alma mater, the University of Missouri. It even has a special logo-painted seat cover but I can’t ride my beauty very far since we’ve moved to a neighborhood with hills. My knees are getting too old, I think.
Both items are currently for sale on Craigslist. I’ve changed my mind about owning them and I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t like having a lot of stuff around me. I would much rather have experiences than own stuff.
There are two exceptions–books and sea shells.
I have LOTS of both.
Way too many rules.
Several years ago, I left most everything I own in a house in Missouri as I began the new experience of living my life in Texas.
I loaded my car and a U-Haul with my desk, clothes, books, boxes of memories and my aging cat.
I drove away from all the old same-old, same-old rules in my life.
The rules were unspoken, but the just-under-the-surface agreement seemed to be that Monday through Friday were spent working hard so that the paycheck would cover the cost of the accumulating stuff.
Do you ever feel like you’re working your butt off just so you can pay the installments on your stuff?
Weekends in my old life were spent taking care of the coveted stuff–namely the big house and the bigger yard. Then, there’s all the errands . . .
Don’t forget to throw in the regular (and for me, seldom negotiable) commitments, obligations and command performances.
I got so tired of rules.
Now there’s only one rule.
It’s been almost four years since I drove my car south on I-35 with only a few possessions. Yes, I’ve managed to gather a few new ones but I try to only buy what I really need or will use.
For the most part, my stuff no longer rules me.
Instead, my sweetie and I travel a lot. When we’re in town, we love to explore our metropolitan area. In fact, just yesterday, we headed out to a Cajun festival complete with tons of boiled crawfish, or mud bugs, as my sweetie calls them (she’s a Cajun born in New Orleans).
Life is now about having adventures, about experiencing the unique flavors of our days and most of all, about being fully present to whatever is in front of us.
The overriding rule of our life together is there are no rules.
It’s a pretty nifty place to be; life is full of riches much more valuable than mounds of stuff.
As the Outback commercial goes, “No rules, just right.”
I couldn’t agree more.
P.S. I also have a nice Briggs & Riley black briefcase listed on Craigslist, if you’re interested. Just sayin’ . . .
Somewhere along the long and winding road, I fell in love with meerkats. I can’t tell you why; in fact, if anyone were to ask me, “Why meerkats?” I would be tempted to just shrug my shoulders and respond, “I dunno.”
In truth, I seriously doubt that meerkats are wise, although they probably have a fairly high-level of street cred. I’ve seen them in action on National Geographic and not just any ‘ole ‘cat can be the alpha.
So I have a fascination with these desert mammals and I’ve long wanted to feature them here. Because this post is #250 since the launch of B Here Today on May 20, 2010 and it’s a birthday of sorts, I can write whatever I want, right? (There’s no need to state the obvious, that I can always write whatever I want!)
They’re cute, they’re funny when they make their squeaking noises and they always make me smile. During days when I’m slammed with appointments or assignments, I look at the pictures of my meerkat friends and feel myself lighten and brighten.
We could use a little more light and bright, don’t you think?
Yes, it’s frivolous, perhaps even silly, but I’m sharing my pals with you today, along with my favorite quotes from the book, The Wisdom of Meerkats, compiled by Rachael Lanicci and published by Metro Books (the top photo comes from the book).
I hope you enjoy. Thank you for being a member of the B Here Today pack.
The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up. ~ Paul Valéry
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Harold R. McAlindon
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Think of all the beauty around you and be happy. ~ Anne Frank
A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart. ~ Goethe
Love is a friendship set to music. ~ Joseph Campbell
Always do right. This will gratify some and astonish the rest. ~ Mark Twain
For me, the safest place is out on a limb. ~ Shirley MacLaine
Photos courtesy of hotblack.
How do you measure happiness? By the bowl full.
~ Campbell’s commercial
At the start of this month, I drew one of Jodi Chapman’s Soul Clarity Cards. Embrace this moment, it read. This is where life lives. Feel it. Honor it. Love it.
I sat with the card for a bit, pondering its meaning. Two things have been on my mind lately, and this card’s idea of embracing the moment encouraged me to give my mind reign over them.
One is the idea of happiness. The other is what I call a living circle of giving and receiving. Each is best enjoyed in an awakened moment, or as the Campbell’s commercial tells us, by the bowl full.
Put on a happy face.
Is happiness an emotion or a state of mind? Can you strive for happiness? Is happiness the result of an event or a circumstance in your life?
Happiness is kind of nebulous, isn’t it? We say we’re happy, but can we really say more about the experience of happiness?
I have this idea that happiness is a byproduct of a circle perfectly balanced with giving and receiving.
Stick with me on this and tell me what you think.
What do you say to the idea that happiness arrives when you believe and understand that giving and receiving are one, that they emanate from the same heart space?
Do I get a hearty YES? Or are you thinking I’m full of malarkey?
Try this on for size.
Most of us give faithfully, and often unconditionally. There are people in your life who can always count on you, right? They need you and you’re there, no questions asked.
You give to overflowing to work, to your kids’ school, to your church, to your best friend from high school who needs support at 2 a.m.
You are a rock-solid giver.
But how are you at receiving?
Does the phrase, “Oh no, I can’t accept ___________ (fill in the blank)” sound familiar? What about, “Please, you shouldn’t have”?
Do you realize that when you utter those phrases, you are cutting off the giver’s gift? That you are silencing her joy in giving it to you?
When we refuse to accept a gift, we’re saying to the Universe, “I am not worthy.” When in such a state, our ability to give unconditionally lessens and the benefactors of our giving receive less of us. The entire circle of life is impacted when we say, “No, thank you.”
Here’s the truth: I’m really good at giving but I’m struggling with receiving right now. Too often I listen to my ego which says I can’t reciprocate because I was laid off from my job and my income has diminished substantially.
About a year ago, I contributed a bunch of money to a situation that benefitted my sweetie and me. She wasn’t in a position to do the same.
I repeatedly said, “Please, let me do this for us.”
Now she’s saying, “Let me do this for you.”
There’s a sphere of grace here that I’ve not been circling very easily. I’m learning, though, because receiving is an equal part of the circle. Giving, by itself, will not make the circle go round.
Give, receive, give and receive.
The mystical journey to happiness and lightness of heart.
Join me in the circle, will you? You each have so much to give (and receive). And I know you love happiness!
Photo courtesy of doctor_bob