Surrender

Growing Up in Recovery

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I always think this is the most exciting part. The tearing down what’s outlived its time so you can begin to build up again. ~ J.D. Robb in Concealed in Death

There is an adage in recovery that emotional and social maturation stops when the disease of addiction takes over our lives. (If anyone has a source for scientific proof of this nugget, please send it to me!).

If that’s the case, when I entered recovery at 30, I had the emotional spark plugs of a 15-year-old since that’s when I experienced my first alcoholic blackout.

Trust me when I tell you that my plugs were definitely not firing on all cylinders.

That was then . . .

So now it’s 23 years later and I’m realizing that even the 15-year-old emotional mess that arrived at the doorstep of recovery needed tearing down.  The living practices I used before recovery had outlived their time.

I needed to grow up.

The thought was kind of depressing because it meant discarding several practices that served me well (or so I thought).

For instance, no more finger-pointing.

What?  Me?  I most certainly did not point fingers at others.

Oh really?  So your record is clean when it comes to blaming?  You’ve never uttered the words, “well, if she hadn’t done blah-blah, then I could have blah-blah” or something close?

You’ve never started an explanation with “you don’t understand” or “yeah, but” or even “but, wait a minute . . . “?

Those are all dead giveaways of finger-pointing and a sign of emotional immaturity.

God, I hate it when the voices in my head gang up on me.

But wait, there’s more!

What about the so-called justified anger, sulking, hurt pride, and the occasional temper tantrums?

Alright already!  I get it.  So I can be a big baby sometimes.

Wow.  Okay.  That’s quite an admission.  Congratulations.

This is now . . .

One of the gifts of long-term recovery is levity.  I’ve learned to laugh at the ways I show up for recovery some days.  Oh, I can’t see my itty-bitty babyness when I’m whining or complaining, but give me a few minutes to talk it out (in my head), or write it out, and I’m usually chuckling.

But one of the most major gifts is truly understanding that I am 100% responsible for my life.  That’s how I know I’m growing up.  That’s how I know I’m making progress.

I saw a Facebook post the other day (thanks to Tess Marshall of The Bold Life) that originated with Hope in 10271559_287211548120236_7608568247673275694_nRecovery Through Love, Light and Laughter.  It was this photo that reads:  “More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them.”

Isn’t that the truth?  As Tess reminded me, it is critical that my responsibility level for my life is 100%.  Not 72% or even 99%, but 100-all-in-percent.

Who’s with me on this?

Are you up for the challenge?

In the comments section, share with me how you know you’re growing up in recovery.  What old, childish behaviors have you torn down to make way for your new awesome self?

Post photo courtesy of stweedlie 

Who Creates the Wind Beneath Your Wings?

photo copyWho helps you rise above challenges?  Who pushes you to move past the crappy situations in life–without inflicting bodily harm?

Who is always there for you, no questions asked?

Who tends to irritate you, usually when you’re a stubborn nincompoop?

Who are your teammates, your tribe, your go-to peeps?

Who are your people who say, “What do you need?” when you call (and mean it) instead of “What do you want?” (and hope you don’t tell them.)?

The circles of Team Beth (please replace my name with yours)

There is a ring of people close to me–I can count on one hand the people who are unconditionally, unequivocally, even unconventionally there for me no matter what and no questions asked. Oh my God, these are my lifesaving heroes because I know they’ll go to the mat for me.

There is a secondary ring of people I can call and they’ll listen, express concern and offer to pray.  I need these people too; they play an invaluable role.

The third ring is my cadre of social connections–the people I respect more than really know, but their reputation for spreading love, generosity and kindness is real.  Sometimes I turn to these folks when I can’t yet reach out to the first or second ring because I’m caught up in fear.  These people help me find the courage to move closer to my heart, tighter to my inner rings.

Getting through the sucky times

I’ve shared here that I’m walking through several growth situations right now.  None of them is life-threatening (or sobriety-threatening, for that matter), but lump them all together and these are some crazy-making times.

A couple of weeks ago, as I headed out-of-town, my sweetie handed me a bundle of greeting cards sealed in envelopes.  She’s an old-fashioned paper card giver–love it!–so giving me a couple of cards to read while I’m gone is not unusual.

This was a thick bundle, though.  Nine cards.  Yes, nine.  Even a couple from our dog.

They were covered in stickers and funny notes.  The cards were heartfelt and hugely comforting.  Several of the cards even held those little 2×2 cards with tear off tabs revealing an inspirational quote.

I teared up more than once as I read those cards over the course of the few days I was gone.  Here are the quotes:

We are most alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~ Thornton Wilder

There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart.  Pursue those. ~ Michael Nolan.

I am so glad you are here.  It helps me to realize how beautiful my world is. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other. ~ Audrey Hepburn

Caring is everything. ~ Friedrich von Hügel

The most precious things of life are near at hand. ~ John Burroughs

My sweetie did it right, didn’t she?  That’s why she’s my #1 fan, superstar of my inner circle and wind beneath my wings.  Everyone should have a sweetie like mine.

Maybe you do.  That will be my prayer for you.

How to Bring the Peace of the Beach Back Home

IMG_1924 My sweetie and I returned a week ago from a relaxing spring vacation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and celebrating my birthday.

People talk about needing their vacations, but I’m telling you, we really needed ours.  We’ve experienced our share of fears and worries in the last 18 months after we each received an undignified job loss (also known as a layoff).  Even our little Jack Russell pooch seemed skeptical at times about whether there would be a meal cut-back but happily none of us has missed one yet.

On the day before we left, I wrote in my journal, “I’m going to leave all the trauma/drama of the last 18 months on the beach as an intended sand sculpture. Let the waves wash my emotional angst out to sea.

“I surrender–there is no need to pack it around anymore.  All that crap really over-stayed its welcome anyway.  I’m ready to move on without it.  There is a new me coming; this time next week my arms will fling IMG_0002_2open wide to welcome the next phase of this life adventure.  But first there must be an emptying to make room for the new.”

The timing of our trip coincided with Easter Week–I’m a huge fan of symbolism.  I wrote, “This week is the perfect confluence of my birthday, Easter Week and a beachside surrender.”

My Caribbean birthday

First, a shout-out of thanks to the Valentin Imperial Maya Resort–wow, did those folks make me feel special! Throughout our stay, they sent me two beautiful cakes, a bowl of incredible fruit and an exotic flower arrangement.  Plus, my sweetie decorated our suite top-to-bottom with confetti, streamers and birthday signs.

As I sat writing on the veranda on the morning of my birthday, gazing at the mangrove forest and the sea beyond and listening to the massive bird brigade, I felt blissfully content.  I wanted nothing more than what my senses absorbed in those moments.

Later, as we walked the beach, knowing that love had no limit, I started to let go, and that process continued for the next five days.  Our time at the beach was restful simplicity followed by big decisions like whether to nap at the pool or read in the cabana.

Each day was filled with bright, sun-drenched beach walks, ocean swims and dining al fresco.  We recharged our minds and refreshed our spirits.

The reality of reality

As our vacation wound down and new adventures back in Dallas beckoned, I found myself trying to bridge the divide between beach and everyday living.  Sure enough, our first days back were a sensory overload of city sounds.  Where oh where was Beach Cabana #19?

And, how could we bring the peace of the beach into our day-to-day?

It’s simple, but as with the 12-step program I follow, definitely not easy.  The answer, as I see it, is to figure out a way to find a solid rightness about simply sitting and being, which of course means scheduling in breaks during workaday activities.

Tweet: The serenity of the beach can always be a part of us IF we deliberately and intentionally work at it. @bheretoday

Here’s what I’m doing:

1.  Starting my days as I did while at the beach.  This means reflective contemplation and journaling.

2.  Getting outside and moving.  We walked four times as much at the beach than when at home.  My body is more fluid than it’s been in a long time.

3.  Connecting with nature.  Although we’re landlocked here in north central Texas, with the exception of a few sizable lakes, there are plenty of trees and plants blooming and birds flitting.

4.  Breathe deeply.  Observe intently.  Spend time staring into space.  And above all, continue to let stuff go.

(One more:  Start adding to the next vacation jar!)

Meet Recovery Carrier Cathy Taughinbaugh

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Today’s post is the third in a series of interviews with folks across the nation (and maybe the world!) who live and breathe a life of recovery.  Please enjoy this chat with Recovery Coach Cathy Taughinbaugh.

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.” (www.williamwhitepapers.com, 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?

For me the idea of being a recovery carrier means spreading the word about the benefits of recovery. I approach recovery as a family process and have experienced recovery from the standpoint of being a parent who has struggled with the substance use of my children. I see and hear about people everyday who are thriving and flourishing because they have made significant changes in their lives which affects everyone they love.CathyTree400

I carry the message of family recovery and my hope is that through my message and messages of others, more people can grow and thrive as they were meant to in a way that works for their particular situation.

How does being a recovery carrier affect your work as a coach for parents and vice versa?

My hope is to inspire the parents that I work with to find tools and strategies that will help them find recovery for themselves and in the process encourage their loved one who is struggling to find recovery as well. We all have our own path and while there are many solid strategies that family members can use, in the end we all make our own decisions about what path we chose to follow in life. The first step for many parents is to look at themselves and find ways that they can make their life better.

By being more at peace, parents are then more able to be of help to their children. Every parent I work with brings new ideas and energy to the conversation and that gives us both an opportunity to grow together.

From where you sit, what is the number one issue or challenge recovery carriers must address?

I talk to many parents who are overwhelmed with their child’s life choices to use substances and they are constantly torn between not letting their child take responsibility for their lives (enabling), or making the attempt to let go of their child’s situation. They hope that one of those two strategies will make a difference. There are many other things that parents can do, but many feel stuck in a situation that may have been going on for years.

(To read more of Cathy’s interview, click Cathy Taughinbaugh 4-14)

Photo courtesy of Natureworks

4 Mindful Women Share Secrets to Living Well

Success Starts Here Freeway Style Desert LandscapeOne of the benefits of living a life on purpose is that you get to meet other people doing the same.  And when like-minded, heart-connected seekers find each other, whoa, look out!  Great creative things are bound to happen.

I’ve seen so much good writing lately about presence, simplicity and deliberate thinking.  Today, I’d like to share blog posts from four friends of mine who walk their talk.  These gals are super-charged when it comes to mindfulness and they’re living with passion and integrity.

Positive Provocations

First up is Zeenat Merchant-Syal who writes a blog called Positive Provocations, a guide for healing with positivity, love and happiness.  Zeenat lives in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.  She is a practicing counseling psychologist, spiritual counselor and motivational speaker (plus a whole bunch of other things!).Zeenat Merchant Syal cropped 1-1

Zeenat wrote a sweet post earlier this month about realizing the sacredness of everyday moments, reveling in the moments when you love what you’re doing and letting yourself become absorbed by the simplicity of those moments.  Can you feel how alive you are in those moments?

Zeenat writes, “The true magic of being alive comes alive in these small but precious moments, which happen to us every single day and many times a day too.”  Read her post,”The Magic of Being Truly ALIVE.”

Jody Lamb

Jody is an author of a children’s book called Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool and a constant writer, especially through her work at a PR firm in Detroit.  She is also an advocate for kids and families that struggle with alcoholism.

Her writing is sometimes raw with emotion, sometimes funny and always passionate because Jody, like Zeenat, lives a full-on, all-in life.  She says we can’t feel fully alive without proper self-care. When jody lamb author photo headshot LOW RES-1we don’t mindfully take good care of ourselves, we’re vulnerable to attack, usually by our own thoughts.

Her recent post, “8 Ways to Deal With Anxiety” is a personal account of her very real experiences with anxiety attacks.  She happily reports that she is doing great today, but “anxiety is still around like a jerky former boyfriend who waits for an opp to show up on my doorstep at a vulnerable moment, knowing exactly what to say to make me instantly feel like crap about myself and the world.”

Be sure to check out her 8 tips and the rest of her work at jodylamb.com.

Always Well Within

Despite our best efforts to stay positive, practice mindfulness and be consciously in the moment, life has a way of reaching up and biting us on the butt.  Sandra Pawula, who writes the blog Always Well Within blog from her home in Hawaii, has done her share of fighting back against the well-armed butt-biters.

A self-proclaimed fix-it person, when Sandra was diagnosed with a debilitating, chronic disease 10 years ago, she became obsessed with finding a solution.

And she did find a solution, after years of struggle:  Accept the unacceptable. Sandra realized Sandra_PawulaOutside-300x225-1that though her illness defined her at that time, it didn’t have to forever.  And that meant letting go of why-me’s and other negative dominating thoughts, instead focusing on the things she could do.

Sandra let some thoughts die away so new, healthy thoughts could grow.  Mindful focus is really no different from nature’s changing seasons or relationships dying so others can birth.

“Proactively coming to peace with impermanence can help you accept the unwanted with greater equanimity,” she writes in this wonderful post “How to Accept the Unacceptable.”

The Bold Life

“Too many of us have accepted fear, doubt, routine and mediocrity as common ways of being,” writes Courage Coach and all-around cool gal Tess Marshall.

Tess reiterates the attitudes that Zeenat, Jody and Sandra embrace–keep your focus on what you can do, celebrate all victories and remain steadfast on positivity.  All these things require taking Tess Marshallbaby steps toward exchanging limiting thoughts for positive right now thoughts.

Nothing stays the same; we are in constant motion.  Impermanence is beautifully permanent and to keep up with perpetual change in our lives, we can’t simply think about change.  We have to do something different.

Read more in Tess’ post “What You Need to Know to Become Fully Alive.”

Sit for a moment with this wrap-up mindful question from Tess:

“What would your world look and feel like if you courageously committed to choosing the thoughts and taking the actions that manifested in more energy, vitality and aliveness?”

The world awaits you, my friends.  Go in peace, go in love, go in mindfulness.

Many thanks to Zeenat, Jody, Sandra and Tess for inspiring this post!

Photo courtesy of FlashBuddy