Presence and Peace

The Year of Yes!

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January 2016 is nearly old news–wait, WHAT? I haven’t yet written about my word for the year and now you’re telling me the year is 1/12th finished?

My word for the year, by the way, is joy. Seems a little anti-climatic to announce it now, though.

Sigh. I can’t keep up.

Hold on–there will be no sighing or whining. This is 2016, my friends, my year, your year (if you’d like to make it so!)!

This is the year of the double-nickel anniversary of my birth. This is the year of my 25th recovery anniversary. Oh man, and I just heard today that the National Recovery Month BIG rally will be in Dallas this year! My metro!

So what should I do to celebrate? Joy as my word is big, but clearly, I need to go bigger. I know just the ticket–let’s make 2016 the Year of Yes!

The year of what?

Let me explain. A few weeks back, while strolling through Barnes & Noble doing one of my favorite activities, I happened upon a book called Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes.

Rhimes, writer and producer of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and other dynamite television shows, was an introverted, workaholic, homebody, single mother of three who really just wanted to write her shows and be with her daughters.

During Thanksgiving, 2014, Rhimes’ oldest sister accused, in a concerned, big-sister way, “you never say yes to anything.”

It was Game On for Rhimes.  What follows is a memoir that relates her encounters with saying yes to party invitations, delivering speeches, more play and less work, speaking her whole truth, her body (She lost more than 100 pounds.), letting go of toxic people and the list goes on. Rhimes writes:

Say yes to everything for a year.

This is it. It’s happening. And now that it is here, saying yes stops being just a vague idea. Now the reality of what I am embarking upon sends my brain thundering around inside of my skull.

Say yes?

There’s no way to plan. There’s no way to hide. There’s no way to control this. Not if I am saying yes to everything.

Yes to everything scary.

So it’s game on

2016 is my Year of Yes. Want to join me? Yes to everything scary?

I am the introverted writer who shies away from social commitments and just wants to homebody with the dogs and my sweetie.

Time to stretch. You only turn 55 once.

I’m keeping a weekly list–here’s the simple criteria for making the list (although I’ll say yes to much more): Does the object of the yes create an opportunity for me to mindfully connect with others or will it further my spiritual walk?

It’s going to be fun to look back on this list a year from now in January, 2017. Where will my yeses take me? Who will I meet? Will old relationships become new again? What new relationships will gel? Where will I go and what new opportunities will arise?

I’ve already said yes to more fun, to recovery, to my health and to lowering my defenses and realizing that I need a tribe. More to come on that piece.

Rhimes writes, “This Yes is about giving yourself the permission to shift the focus of what is a priority from what’s good for you over to what makes you feel good.”

Oh that feels good. Are you saying yes? What are you saying yes to? 

16 Beach Quotes for Your 2016

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Greetings from the white powder beaches along Highway 30A in Northwest Florida.

My sweetie and I discovered there’s a lot to be said for a beach vacation when it’s cold in these parts. Our adventure-led spirits bundled themselves up in several layers of clothes (we didn’t pack bulky coats), added scarves and headgear and took to the beach.

Our first few days were very private. We spent much more time inside looking at the beach since it was cold and raining.

Fine by me. Naps, hours of reading, some writing for me and eating junk food were just right to begin the new year.

Our last three full days were abundant with sun, although it was still pretty chilly. That just meant we had more of Seagrove, Mexico, WindMark, Seaside and Grayton beaches to ourselves.

In honor of the new year and because folks are returning to work this week and possibly already counting the days until their vacation, here are some beach quotes to help with both work and waiting.

My life is like a stroll on the beach . . .  As near to the edge as I can go. –– Henry David Thoreau

Live in the sunshine, swing the sea, drink the wild air. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The care for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. — Isak Dinesen

The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul. — Robert Wyland

In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans. — Kahlil Gibran

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. — Mother Teresa

The sea is as near we come to another world. — Anne Stevenson

He that will learn to pray, let him go to the sea. — George Herbert

The ocean is a central image. It is the synbolism of a great journey. — Enya

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. — Jacques Costeau

The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy or too impatient. One should be empty, open, choice less as a beach – waiting for the sea. — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), it’s always ourselves we find in the sea. — William Stafford

To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude. — Jeanne Moreau

See Ya, 2015; Look Out, 2016!

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Are you ready to take the annual leap, the deep-dive plunge into 2016? Not that you have much choice, since the clock ticks the same for everyone, but are you ready?

It’s easy to shrug your shoulders and reply, “as ready as I’ll ever be,” and that’s fair. Maybe you’re the sort of person who likes to roll with the flow and see what happens next.

You’ll get no judgment from me. I say go with what feels best for you, but please, let that be a mindful decision.

Be mindful about your beginnings

The final days of 2015 give you a chance to frame how you want 2016 to begin.  You decide what you want to leave behind and what you take into the new year.

It’s kind of like moving from one place to the next. When you’re packing, you pile up things to toss, things to donate and things to move with you into your new space.

Again, let these be mindful decisions.

So, where’s your head these days? Are you rushing to complete an impossible task list? Are you trying to do everything just right so your boss, kids, best friend and significant other are happy with you? Does the word stressed describe you pretty well?

Please do yourself a favor and use today and tomorrow as Stop It days. What are Stop It days? These are times when you raise your right hand to whatever is stressing you, like you would raise your hand to stop traffic.

You are stopping traffic, the traffic thoughts in your head that not only drive you crazy, they eventually crash and burn, taking you down too.

Stop It time is a real solution to hammer home the notion that you have to quit doing some of the things you’re doing. Stop It time gives you a chance to surrender the thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that no longer serve you.

[bctt tweet=”Surrender your mental debris by 11:59 pm on Dec. 31 so that Jan. 1 is a sparkling slate ready for the 2016 YOU! “]

Go to your happy place

I’ve had a phenomenal 2015 filled with lots of adventures. Nothing impacted me more than UNITE to Face Addiction on October 4.

The memory of standing beneath the Washington Monument on the National Mall with 25,000 people passionate about addiction and recovery is seared into my soul. Knowing we made history with the formation of Facing Addiction, the nation’s first organization to comprehensively address America’s number one public health issue, still chokes me up.

As 2015 draws to a close and I ponder next year’s possibilities, I’m going to my happy place–the beach!

Yes, my sweetie and I will ring in the new year on the Emerald Coast of Florida. The forecast calls for daytime highs in the mid-50s to low-60s and rain. I’m packing sweats, a rain jacket and a stocking cap.

I don’t care because I’ll be in my happy place, the place where I find release and renewal. It’s a perfect combination to begin a new year.

My prayer for you is a happy place where you feel your own personal release and renewal. New beginnings are the best and I wish only the best for you, my valued readers. I appreciate you and can’t wait to see what 2016 holds for all of us!

Stay Sane This Week With Christmas Quotes

BHT Christmas photoReprinted from December 1, 2014. Merry Christmas 2015–may your hearts and minds be filled with love, laughter and light!

Happy December! For those of you who love Christmas like I do, welcome to the 2014 season. It is this time of year, more than any other, that helps me know that hope does spring eternal and love is the greatest reason to live.

However, for all the sparkling lights, boughs of pine scents and piped in mall music, many of you struggle through the holidays. You may even wake up every day in December grateful that you’re one day closer to January 2 because you’re worn out by family drama and/or exhibitions of addiction.

Regardless of your circumstances, know that you’ll survive. You’re tough and resilient. But when things get tough, turn to these 31 Christmas quotes–one for each day of December–and allow yourself to take a breath and mindfully remember the season is about love. And in the words of Dr. Seuss, “Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”

2. Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.  ~ Calvin Coolidge

3. Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~ Norman Vincent Peale

4. It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. ~ W. T. Ellis

6087e53d8a293c77740cda01943252f35. If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. ~ Bob Hope

6. A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together. ~ Garrison Keillor

7. I love the excitement, the childlike spirit of innocence and just about everything that goes along with Christmas. ~ Hillary Scott

8. Christmas makes me happy no matter what time of year it comes around. ~ Bryan White

9. There are a lot of Grinches out there that would like nothing better than to take any references to religion out of the holiday season. ~ Ernest Istook

10. To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year. ~ E. B. White

11. Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeer, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas. ~ Ronald Reagan

12. Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone. ~ Charles M. Schulz

13. This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone. ~ Taylor Caldwell

14. Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves. ~ Eric Sevareid

15. Christmas, my child, is love in action. ~ Dale Evans

16. Peace on earth will come to stay, When we live Christmas every day. ~ Helen Steiner Rice

17. I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world. ~ Norman Vincent Peale

christmas-is-a-precious-reminder-christmas-quotes18. Remember, if Christmas isn’t found in your heart, you won’t find it under a tree. ~ Charlotte Carpenter

19. Christmas is the keeping-place for memories of our innocence. ~ Joan Mills

20. With this in mind, Ava tells herself to be present and celebrate the holiday instead of wishing it was over. After all, one is given only a certain number of Christmases in one’s life. ~ Elin Hilderbrand in Winter Street.

21. The month of December isn’t magical because it sparkles. It’s magical because it changes people’s hearts … at least momentarily. ~ Toni Sorenson

22. Christmas is best pondered, not with logic, but with imagination. ~ Max Lucado

23. Christmas is a whisper of peace and a sigh of hope on the lips of love.” ~ Richelle E. Goodrich

24. If my Valentine you won’t be, I’ll hang myself on your Christmas tree. ~ Ernest Hemingway, 88 Poems

25. Why not share with the world the way it is and tell them my feelings about my cat, and how I played with my kids, and how addicted to Christmas time I am, and the smell of pine needles and hearing my kids laugh. ~ Steven Tyler

26. You have to remind kids to stay connected to the meaning of Christmas. Sometimes it takes a little bit of effort, but it’s so worth it. ~ Caroline Kennedy

27. I think it’s important not to grow up too fast. I’m 26 now, and I still can’t wait for Christmas Day. The inner seven-year-old isn’t buried too deeply in me. ~ Laura Haddock

28. It is the personal thoughtfulness, the warm human awareness, the reaching out of the self to one’s fellow man that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit. ~ Isabel Currier

29. Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you. ~ Steve Maraboli, Unimagesapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

30. One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly. ~ Andy Rooney

31. For the spirit of Christmas fulfils the greatest hunger of mankind.  ~ Loring A. Schuler

 

 

Yoga is Not a Trend, It’s a Necessity

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Okay people, I’ve jumped on the yoga mat. While it’s not a pretty sight–my short limbs contorting over and around the extra pooches rounding my middle–I am, once again, right where I need to be.

God help me.

Some clarifying points, so my friends aren’t too startled: I’m enrolled in a beginner’s yoga class. The schedulers graciously avoided adding seniors to the class title although I am one of the youngest people in the class. Last week, I huffed and puffed next to an 85-year-old wispy woman with Parkinsons who was more limber than me.

Good for her, I silently moaned, as I realized I need the class as much as she does.

The ugly, unfortunate truth

My yoga teacher says the body remembers every single injury it’s received. This is not good news for a lifelong tomboy like me. I played hard as a kid–I could run circles around the neighborhood boys–and I played even harder as a young adult addicted to cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana.

My body took a ton of abuse; during college, I was in the ER at least once a semester for an “accident” (like falling down stairs) or symptoms brought on by the physical stress of the ism’s of addiction, like heart palpitations and shortness of breath.

Now, I’m 54 years old, 24 years into remission from addiction, and feeling physically old.

I have degenerative disc disease in my neck and lower back. Most days, I have a band of pain around my upper right thigh. I’m overweight from my love affair with sugar and carbs. I’m on medication for blood pressure and high cholesterol and my family has a history of heart disease.

Again, God help me.

The easier, softer way

Let’s face it. My body took a lot of abuse when my alcoholism was active. I’ve often wondered how that abuse would manifest as I age.

Turns out aging is not my friend, not in my current condition at least. Finally, I’ve cried uncle. I’ve surrendered. I’ve said, “I’m sick and tired and being sick and tired.”

This time, I mean it.

The second yoga class was a tiny bit easier than the first. I went in the evening, worked hard for an hour, got home about 8:30 and collapsed into bed. I slept like people are supposed to sleep.

Wherever did I get the idea that anything good has to be hard or requires great sacrifice? Puh-lease . . .

When you think about it, a gentle yoga practice–mine is called Kripalu Yoga–really is the easier, softer approach not only to good physical body care, but also a mindful approach to overall living. The Kripalu tradition calls this approach taking yoga “off the mat.”

A good practice for living

My spiritual sister, Annie Scholl, writes that getting in better shape is not about the number on the scale. It’s about health and feeling good in our 50s so that we’re setting a good benchmark for our 60s and beyond. I hope to practice yoga into my 80s and 90s (How’s that for optimism?)

Aging is inevitable. I’m good with that.

But I’m not good with repeating the embarrassing incidence in California that happened a few weeks ago. My sweetie and I slid down an incline to the beach on our butts because we didn’t have the stability (or faith in our joints) to hike down.

Two young men jumped up from their beach perch and ran over to collect our grandmotherly selves. Ugh.

Next time? I’ll manuever that path on my own. Aging may be inevitable, but misery, pain and old-lady rescues are not acceptable.

I am a yogi after all. God help me (third time for emphasis)!