Presence and Peace

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

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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!

Photo courtesy of jemolesky

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

Snoopy and Charlie Brown

 

My friend Lisa Frederiksen over at breakingthecycles.com 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?

Photo courtesy of www.snoopy.com

Is Love Really ALL You Need?

heartttSing it with me like we’re the Beatles: “All you need is love, love, love is all you need.”

Are you buying it? Is love really ALL you need?

If you’re Marianne Williamson, the answer is yes.  Marianne, who wrote A Return to Love and several other books that heavily influenced my early recovery, is often quoted for her words on love and forgiveness.

When I’m spiritually fit and seeing the world through a clear lens, love IS all I need.  I find myself agreeing with Marianne, Eckhart, Wayne, Deepak, even the Dalai Lama about be-ing love. I mentally send buckets of love out into the Universe to pour over the heads of those not as far along the spiritual spectrum as me . . . ah, those poor, unenlightened souls.

And when I’m not spiritually fit?

Oh, you would have to ask. During the myriad of times when I’m hitting sour notes and damning the grasshoppers that hop-and-touch me as I walk across summer grass, I’m certainly not singing love’s praises.

You’d think it would be the opposite, wouldn’t you?

Nope, I’ve got no use for the seekers’ quotes when I’m restless, irritable and discontent. I would rather–forgive the imagery here, please–sit in my own shit because it’s warm (That’s a quote from one John W. Admire, another great influence to my recovery.).

I can get spiritually unfit quickly when I’m in that warm, poopy place. Fortunately, I don’t go there often.

Now is not one of those times, in case you’re wondering. But I am thinking a lot about a friend who is super-special to me. I spoke with her yesterday and it seems her life is in the pits on every front–work, primary relationship, self-worth.

She sounded tired and alone. My heart breaks for her. But if I said to her, love is all you need, she would have probably hung up the phone.

I didn’t, of course. But I’ve been thinking it.

What happens when the wheels come off the bus?

My friend lamented that she wasn’t doing good things for herself, that she was too angry and frustrated and over the whole idea of taking care of herself. How could I say to her that this is the exact time to feed her soul lots of love?

I’ve been in that emotionally drained morass of pain before so I know a little about what my friend is feeling. Why do we hurt ourselves more by denying self-love when we need it most?

Human nature, I suppose. I recall the kind words people in recovery say to newcomers, “Let us love you until you can love yourself.”

Wise words. Even as I asked my friend to give herself some grace for the things she’s doing right, I know that I can help her too. I can send her love.

Ice cream scoops, minnow buckets, Texas in-ground pools all filled with love for a woman who is always unconditionally, no-questions-asked there for me. I hold a vision of brighter times for her, a vision of her finding her laughter again, a vision that sees her heart overflowing with love of life.

Blondie, this one’s for you. I’m sending you love.

Love is all around us all the time. Love is the ethers that we swim in. Love is the amniotic fluid of the soul. ~ Marianne Williamson

Photo courtesy of greyerbaby

Have You Found Freedom in Recovery?

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I found the rooms of recovery and a new way of living in 1991. While I recall the facts that surrounded the final days of active addiction, sometimes it’s hard to bring the feelings and emotions from that time to mind.

Hanging out with people new to recovery helps bring those early days closer to the surface for me. I so love watching new folks blossom during the early months of their recovery. That too takes me back to my first few months.

Once the fog cleared from the initial withdrawal of substances, I remember a sensational feeling of freedom. Suddenly, every experience was brand new again, as if I had been released from a bubble where all my senses had been cut off from my surroundings.

Recovery set me free.

I wonder, have you asked yourself what you’d like made new in your life so that you can be free?

Recovery’s beauty shines for you upon realizing that you get to decide–every day–what passes for meaning.

You.  Beautiful you.

Your eyes suddenly see clearly what was previously cloudy. Now your gaze falls upon the recognizable without wondering how it got there.

You’re released from the tightly wound death grip that formerly restrained you in a satanic clutch.

You can breathe again, deep, cleansing breaths, previously impossible with the weight of a thousand hammers holding you down.

You think and each thought takes you closer to the pureness of delight.

You wonder how you could have waited half your lifetime for this born-again experience. But you know you had to wait, had to know you were beyond the aid of anyone or anything before you could raise the white flag of surrender.

You had to be through with lounging in the devil’s den.

Your spirit, once given a glimpse of freedom, couldn’t wait to leap and drag the rest of you through the open window filled with sunlight.

So here you are at the precipice of your new life.

Freedom papers are yours to have and hold. You clutch them and leap like a child throwing himself into a cannonball pool jump.

Leap and the net will appear.  You’re told–promised–a recovery net will hold you. Can you hear the truth that yearns for your belief?

Freedom nudges you forward until your toes hover over the edge.

What if I’m wrong, the old you cries.

What the hell, your new self shouts. What if I’m right?

You jump.

Freedom is yours. Tell us about it, will you?

Photo courtesy of where_ever_I_am

How to Create a Peaceful, Relaxing Day

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There comes a time when you need a break. You’ve been moving at a dizzy pace for weeks, whirling through your days like a desert dervish.

Your spirit screams for R&R while your conscience feeds thoughts to your brain that go something like, there’s too much to do, just one more task and my personal favorite, time is money, so stop wasting time!

Living out of three houses –each about 25 miles apart–for the last week brought my sweetie and me to our knees over the weekend. We cried Uncle! and laid around the Manor pool most of yesterday, ignoring calls from laptops to come inside and work.

Begin the day with sunshine

Today was the first day we’ve seen morning sun since we’ve been house- and dog-sitting at the Manor.  We’ve experienced some unseasonably cool temps for north-central Texas and quite a lot of rain recently.

The weather was perfect for packing to move from our townhouse to our new home and community but not so great for our dangling carrot, a three-week stint at the oasis we call the Manor.

We’ve worked so hard for the last month, packing, cleaning, buying new appliances, selling old stuff, and yes, working.  We knew the break would come, when we could relax and chill for three weeks before settling into our new place and getting things unpacked at our leisure.

Circumstances didn’t quite work out that way.  Turns out our plan was a tad too simplistic.  Oh well.

And the blasted weather–windy and too cool for the pool–didn’t help our states of mind at all.

But yesterday, one week after our arrival at the Manor, was sunny and hot from the start.  Upon awakening, I made a beeline to the chaise lounge for my morning journal time.

B still and notice the gifts of nature

As I wrote, my attention was drawn to the swaying branches of the massive oak tree just outside the fence. I recalled a piece I read years ago about focusing on the space between tree leaves when meditating.  I believe the author called the practice right now meditation.

The more I focused on the tree, the more I let go.  That’s when I decided to surrender my intention of working.  I was called to do something way more important.

I was called to relax into the moment and to let the moment last as long as I liked. @bheretoday (Click to Tweet!)

Those moments are my lifelines, although I don’t let go often enough. I mostly hurry and scurry through life (Can you relate?)

But there’s something about the Manor that invites quietness and a loosening of the ties that bind me to my work.  The air here seems to whisper, Take a step away from your busyness, let yourself meld with the sacred spaces here.

Yesterday, I heeded the call and had a peaceful, relaxing day.  The work is still there, but I’m grateful for the respite, for allowing the wind to overtake me as I focused on the space between the leaves.