July 29, 2009 (this day)

It’s a work day Wednesday. It’s a short week for me because I took last Friday and then this Monday off. I really have a problem with time off, vacation and travel. I’m trying to get over it.

Last Saturday night, Carole and I were awakened by voices outside at 2 am. We live across the street from two churches, and there are businesses on the street below us, near enough to throw a rock and hit one. But mostly our area is residential.

We live in a place that does get hot in the summer, but not terribly so. I hate the heat and love air conditioning, and it was actually a non-negotiable when we were looking for a house. But we ended up without it, and to put it in would mean losing my beloved attic, so that’s not happening. We have window units but so far this year, it just hasn’t been hot enough to put them in. I don’t like the window units, because they block the view and the breeze of the window, and because we have to close ourselves in the bedroom when they’re on. Our living room isn’t suitable for a window unit in the current configuration.

So no air. So all windows wide open and us sleeping peacefully.

So we heard voices. A young male say something like, “Ready, go!” A noise and a car and looking out the window, they had thrown garbage on to Carole’s car and thrown a bucket with plants in it into the street.

Carole called the police and washed her car. The normal thing to wonder, I guess, is “is it random or are we a target?”

I have Hillary and Obama bumper stickers on my car. Carole has just Obama (not that I’d judge) and a gay strip rainbow. Most of our block is for Obama and Hillary, though leading up to the election people did steal signs. I’d like to think they wanted them for their own yard. Probably not.

For me it immediately brings to mind the scarier things I’ve heard of. The Letting Go blog is certainly inspiring in this way – and in other ways. My area, my house, my town, my country is so safe compared to others. I know that being attacked in this way hits the primitive areas of the brain that say flee!! or fight!! I really want to over ride these messages especially as they relate to my fear of flying.

Carole’s leaving Saturday for a week away. I’ll be alone, since the kids aren’t living with us, and in my whole life that’s been a rare occurrence. My mother left me alone from the time I was about 16 for the odd week here or there, but since I had a baby at 23, it’s been rare for me to be totally alone. Honestly I feel mostly safe, but I can at times scare myself when I’m there alone in the dark.

Xandra the big black dog did not stir when the hooligans trashed the car. She did however pounce on the UPS guy a few days ago. That happened in the blink of any eye and Carole and I can’t be positive that the UPS guy didn’t open the glass door. It’s alarming to think that Xandra could have opened it by jumping on it, and comforting to know she scared the guy. I take dog aggression very seriously, and it’s very important to me to think that the dog would not harm a person no matter what. To me, the protective value of the dog is in the scaring of the person, never in actual violence. I try hard to prevent Xandra from jumping on anyone and I never want her to think it’s acceptable to do so. She’s too big, and she could knock someone down. She’s not a jumper, she only does it when people are arriving at our house. We try to prevent and deter her barking, also, and she is quite a barker. Still I do think that in actual danger and a confrontation, she would scare or jump on someone and hopefully they would leave. But she can’t react to voices on the street, or we’d never sleep, at least not on summer Saturdays.

So that’s on my mind. Most of what else is on my mind is (shocking, shocking, shocking) uncertainty at work! Still! Again! Always! Rumors fly and nothing is resolved. Day to day the work is very wonderful. Day to day I know that something must change soon, eventually, today, tomorrow.

I so need to appreciate here, now. If I can do that, I can appreciate all the minutes of my flight during which I’m not crashing, which is all of them. No one will fault me some terror if the plane goes down. All my rehearsal won’t get me ready to be calm during that. All my rehearsal won’t cause it or prevent it. I need to rehearse calm and practice calm and learn to be calm. Just how often I write about this shows me it’s way too huge in my mind.

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It’s a Poor Day Indeed (Step Ten continued)

It’s a poor day indeed when we haven’t done something right.  As a matter of fact, the waking hours are usually well filled with things that are constructive.  Good intentions, good thoughts, and good acts are there for us to see.

I nostalgically look back to when people tell the newcomer that getting out of bed and going to a meeting were good things and they were good enough for that day.

I’ll try to list in an unprideful manner the things I do every day that are good things.  I get out of bed and almost always make the bed.  I tend to my body by at least brushing my teeth twice a day.  Usually I do more for my body than that.  I show up at work when I’m supposed to and usually, often, most of time I try to do the right thing there.  I’ve tended my children every day that I’ve needed to.  That isn’t frequent now but of course at one time it was a 24/7 thing.  I take care of my pets and my surroundings (to a large extent).  I pay my bills and I pay my way.  I got to my home group AA meeting almost every week and I take on responsibility there.  I usually go to one other AA meeting each week.

I answer the phone when my mother calls.  I go to church (often).  I recycle some.  I give a little bit to charity (Carole will say huh?  But we sponsor a child, give to the church, and I often supply things for my workplace, which is a nonprofit receiver of charity).

This is all truly unremarkable unless I consider where I came from, which was basically under the table, passed out on the floor.

Worry and a New Category

I have a little photo holder thingy that I’ve had since junior high school.  Long ago I began collecting sayings I like and putting them there, flipping the page weekly.  I’ve written these in a widget on the side and I rotate them.  I seldom add anything new but I read a sentence the other night that lit up my psyche, it seemed so true and made things clear in a way they hadn’t been before.

Scaring yourself through what-if scenarios is what has traditionally been called worry.  – Edmund Bourne

I love it!  It’s in a book I’m reading to try and eradicate my fear of flying.  It rings so true for me.  That’s what a fear of flying is in a nutshell.  The other day at work, a coworker asked me why a certain someone had left her voice mail asking her to call.  I had no idea why.  The coworker proceeded through many scary what-if scenarios, even as she and I knew that was a waste of precious time.

I rehearse my fear of flying.  I know I do.  I’m trying to stop living in the problem and live in the solution instead.  It makes it clear how ridiculous it  is when I think of it as scaring myself.  Why do I continue to scare myself?  It’s not pleasant, aside from the obvious fact that it feeds the fear and helps it grow.

On a different topic, I’ve sharpened the point that I don’t do a daily inventory in the way Step Ten suggests.  I’ve made a few false starts and tried to get some kind of something going, but so far nothing sticks.  I started rotating character defects in the side bar and trying to pay special attention to one at a time, the way I do with people I pray for and about.

Currently up is “closed-mindedness.”  I thought I probably won’t have much to say about this one, since I try to be open minded.    I’ve long known I have a problem with people who I consider to be “intolerant.”  I can’t tolerate them!  So there’s that.  This very day, someone I consider to be “intolerant” commented about how distasteful the word “retarded” is when it’s used as an epithet.  He’s on my side about at least one thing, probably many more.

But then I went to church.  Here much of my closed-mindedness abides and worships and grows and grows.  A child was making her first communion, at the age of 6.  My mind is completely closed to this.  I knew it when I felt that yes and absolutely – I’m closed-minded and proud of it!  I’m right, they are wrong!

This is a tricky subject to think about.  They may indeed be “wrong” for me, which leads me to consider why I attend a church I don’t agree with.  But that’s a whole other can of worms.

While I’m attending this church, can I open my mind to their practices?  And if I can’t, can I admit my closed-mindedness and admit that it is a defect of my character?

My Current Prayer Life

july09 041The categories and archives of this blog are so cool to me.  I was able to choose “prayer” and see what I had written.  It’s been a while now.  Having the blog has organized my thoughts on this and many topics in a way I had not done before.  It really has become a personal tool for me in that way, in addition to being a record of my experience.

This picture is from yesterday when all (two) of my offspring were high, high, up in the sky, waiting to be dropped.  I wasn’t really afraid they’d be hurt or worse (although the ride did need to stop, just before their turn, due to a wrongly pushed button).  But it crossed my mind that they could be.  Then, and of course at other times and when I left them there to go home.

How much of my (and all human) prayer has to do with death, fear of death, fear of what happens after death?  A lot.  Their very human bodies made of bones and organs and fragile, fragile, fragile, up against that sky brings it home for me.  Luck and I have brought them this far but I just don’t get to know, moment to moment.  And how can a mother of adult children let go of the thrust of her being that had the sole aim of protecting these people?  My very body used to have this sole mission.  It can’t be undone.

Although the teenage years do help one let go.  (kidding)

I’ve continued rotating prayers in the widget on the sidebar, and each time I change it I type it out again.  That has helped me learn them over the months and I know many parts by heart, and can call on them in my mind when I need them.  I’ve done less with the Prayers and Meditations page and I may want to revamp that somehow, sometime.  I still carry my book of prayers to work and I do still bring it to difficult meetings to write from.  I’m happy to say that difficult meetings are not happening every single day anymore.  Though they are often.  When something is particularly hard I write out a prayer and what it means to me and how it can help me and I email it to myself and paste it here.

I still like the rotating prayer list and when I change the prayer in the widget, I change the person in the widget.  I continue to add difficult people to that list and it amazes me still how I could have overlooked some people who I stress over every single day.  I keep adding.

And just because my prayers for this day will center on Xandra, I will post another picture of her.

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July 24, 2009 (this day)

This day was pretty near perfect.  Carole and I took the kids to an amusement park.  Everyone was healthy and in a good mood.  The park wasn’t badly crowded and the weather was very good.

I stopped to appreciate it many times through the day that it was about as good as it gets.  Very, very good.

As Carole and I were leaving (the kids stayed on), she got a call from a dear friend who had taken too many prescription meds and had overdosed.  We called 911 from the parking lot of the amusement park, and we stayed on the phone with her until the police arrived.  We haven’t heard anything about it, but I think she’ll be OK this time.

In many ways she reminds me of me, because I relapsed over and over and over again, and so does she.  But in other ways we are light years apart, and I keep hoping that she’ll eventually “get it,” and I remember that it’s luck and a blessing that I “got it” at least this much, so far.

This Is A Good Place (Step Ten continued)

(When evening comes, perhaps just before going to sleep, many of us draw up a balance sheet for the day. ) This is a good place to remember that inventory taking is not always done in red ink.

I have a conflict within myself, which all by itself shows a character defect or two. First, I don’t always do my best. Not even as a mother, which I mostly believe is the most important role I play. I have big bad guilt from several happenings while my kids were growing up. Plus the over riding knowledge that, like I wrote, I didn’t always and don’t always do my best. Not in any situation or role.

———-So ug, this day creeps in. It just does. My relationship (mostly one) is just so frigging difficult it makes the day not nice. What is wrong with me? A Walk in Dry Places said about rejection today. Rejection, criticism, conflict. With someone (at work) I’ve been very close to for a long long time.

We share almost everything at work. The way this conflict just went down looks to me like this:

Me: I’m trying to teach James to say his name. I need as many people to help as possible, so I’ll be asking everyone to help and do this as much as possible. (made up name, made up situation)

S: Yes, that’s good. But don’t you think

OK so right there – yes but don’t you think? “Yes but” agrees, then negates the agreement.

This is a muddled mess.  I’m going to go with it, and try to move on.

Practicing These Principles in All My Affairs

june09 032Carole took this picture to ease my mind about flying.  Not sure how that’s supposed to work!  But next year we are planning a vacation that requires long long air travel.  I will work on this fear over this year.  Even if that vacation doesn’t come to be, I need to be able to fly without fear.  There are places I want to go, and lord knows my kids are not planning on staying near by for the long term.

I don’t know if that completely fits with the theme of “practicing these principles.”  I’ve thought about what to write about this for a few days, and my mind keeps going to what I “should” be doing or the ideal I “should” be striving for.  To help myself, though, I want to think more about how I actually do practice these principles in all my affairs.

One of the principles says, to me, that when I have an excess of negative emotion, I am to work on eliminating it.  My fear of flying and of many other things certainly fits that.  And maybe the key to my serenity is right in one of the first parts of the first principle:  powerless.  If I could understand and accept my powerless over flight (say what?) I might be much more serene about it.  If I could accept that I might crash and die, however unlikely that is, I could be more serene.  If I could understand that the choices are not – fly and die, or don’t fly and live forever – I could be more serene.  If I could better understand that all my time spent in fear of flying could be better spent in just about any other way, I could be more serene.

I don’t know if I’m on the right track with fitting this to my situation.

I know that I always have an underlying layer of gratitude that improves the quality of my life greatly.  AA taught me that.  I know that when I feel like my fear is too big, and I won’t be able to change it, AA has taught me that I can change in very drastic ways.  It is possible.

I don’t blame my excesses of negative emotions on others.  At work, at home, I’m surrounded by wonderful people and my problems with them are of my own thinking.  Not making, but thinking.  “They” are also sick and often wrong.  Welcome to the world.  Humility is something I have to continue to reach for.  “They” will always let me down.

What can I bring to this situation?

Thursday, July 16 (this day)

Send Thy peace O Lord, which is perfect and everlasting, that our souls may radiate peace.
Send Thy peace O Lord, that we may think, act and speak harmoniously.
Send Thy peace O Lord, that we may be contented and thankful for Thy bountiful gifts.
Send Thy peace O Lord, that amidst our worldly strife, we may enjoy Thy bliss.  Send Thy peace O Lord, that we may endure all, tolerate all, in the thought of Thy grace and mercy.
Send Thy peace O Lord, that our lives may become a Divine vision and in Thy light, all darkness may vanish.
Send Thy peace O lord, our Father and Mother, that we Thy children on Earth may all unite in one family.
Prayer for Peace – pir-o-murshid inaya khan – 1921

Today I’m trying to think about practicing these principles in all my affairs.  “These principles” being I guess what came before the 12th step.  There are the absolutes of honesty, love, and I forget what else.  Openness?  Willingness?  I am a poor specimen.

But the principles of the prayer will stand in very well.  I’m having a tough time and I need to stop it.  Uncertainty threatens my sense of well being but I know I have always been well, regardless.

I know I’m not radiating peace.  What I’m radiating is toxic primarily to me and secondarily to others, most of whom are innocent and do not deserve my poison.  All of whom are innocent and don’t deserve my poison.

My thinking is muddled, confused and scattered.    I have a few small resentments that I feel getting pricked and stirred up frequently.  I get the over riding feeling that someone I’m dealing with views me as incompetent or worse.  This may be all my own stuff.  I know I cannot know someone else’s motivation and it’s a waste of time to go down that road.  Because of this impression of mine, my actions are not what they could be.  AND I’m spending precious time trying to get a grip on myself rather than working, here at work.  I need a thought or slogan beyond “let go and let God.”  Although letting go and letting God would be a good start.
What I speak is not spoken harmoniously.  Maybe half harmonious, half self preservation.  Which is not helpful.  My preservation is not threatened.

Contented would be good.  Content with the constant state of flux.  So what?  Again, I’m not threatened.  I can ride it out, whatever it is.

……………… Back from a “party.”  My feelings, my emotions, certainly play in here and they should not.  I am truly am truly am thankful for this place, these people, these situations.  Someone’s mother in law passed away this morning.  She’s my age and I get another day and she doesn’t.  Really, I have hope for more years, and she doesn’t.

Bliss in the worldly strife.    I’m not feeling the bliss right now.

Endure all and tolerate all in the thought of God’s grace and mercy.  Not feeling it.

My life as a divine vision.  Not going to shoot for that, but I think it would be useful to envision the person I wish I could be.  To borrow some characteristics from people I have known who did this well.  There’s a small part of me that wants to push to make it right here.

But mostly it feels impossible and it’s a constant struggle.  Because of me, not because of the situation.

I’m united in this family but it’s dysfunctional.

July 14, 2009 (this day)

I’m having a resentful and sad day.  One definition of resentment says that I feel displeasure from a sense of injury or insult.  I also feel hopeless because a scheme, a plan, that I began to pin my hopes on may not come to be.

I hate to envision what the future might be here, but someone needs a vision to work toward.

Or not.  There’s plenty for me to do each day without working for more than getting through the day.

Physical problems are getting me down.  Really down.  Even though they are temporary and not that bad.

God please free me from the bondage of myself – my body, my hope, my feelings.  Please show me how to be most useful in this and all situations.  Please help me appreciate the good things that are every single place I go.  Please show me what I can add to this situation and make me brave enough not to consider what I can get from it.

Live loyally today — grow — and tomorrow will attend to itself.  The quickest way for a tadpole to become a frog is to live loyally each moment as a tadpole.  Urantia Book – 1094:06

July 11, 2009

Today at my meeting we’ll celebrate a member’s anniversary but also have a goodbye party.  He’s moving far away and that’s sad.  He’ll be missed in the group.

Today I picked Nicholas up  from school, drove him to the phone store, paid $50 to have his damaged phone replaced, change my name on the account, and drove him back to school, then went home.

I’m “facebook” friends with four people I went to school with.  One of them is actually my friend – we’ve never lost touch over the (29) years since school.  The others reconnected with me on facebook only.  One of them, let’s call her Adriana, is facebook friends with two other people from school, let’s call them Roza and Cassie.  So Adriana is my facebook friend, and Roza and Cassie are her facebook friends, but not mine.  We all went to school together from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Adriana, Roza and I all live several hundred miles from our home town, though all in different directions.  Cassie moved back to our town years ago.  I remember when she was looking for a house there, because another friend of mine was selling her house, and Cassie came to look at it.  My friend was having to move because the area was too expensive.  That had happened to me also.  We both started off with our children at our same schools, same beaches and playgrounds and doctors and such, and we both had to leave.  We were jealous of Cassie, just moving there, affording it how we do not know.

Now Cassie commented on facebook that she was walking through out hometown, and Adriana told her she spends too much time there.  Cassie said she knows she does, but with kids spread between (hometown) pool, high school tennis courts, and (hometown) school camp, she couldn’t go anywhere else.  She’s always driving them around.

Now Cassie is my age and my kids are 23 and 21.  I had them younger than she did so of course hers are younger.  I don’t know how many she has or what they are like or where she lives or who she’s married to.  But when I read her comment I felt that jealousy that she has the life I wanted.  Hometown, lots of kids, staying home with them.

I feel the jealousy again, even as I write this.

Let me count the ways I know this to be false.  I’m sure if I knew the details of Cassie’s life, I would not want to to trade it for mine – kids, money and town included.  I do not want to be with a man who could help me do that.  Had I been successful in staying there, I would not be driving Nicholas to get a new phone and back to school.  He’s very bright, and there wasn’t a university of his caliber in driving distance.  Nothing much was in driving distance, mainly because we lived near a very big city.  Getting anywhere was a trip, and not a short trip.  I don’t know if Erika would have stayed nearby, but she has for now, here.  I doubt she could have afforded to live on her own where we were from.

Of course I can easily count the ways my life is good and probably better than it would have been had I gotten what I’d wanted.  More than that, I can see that I really didn’t try very hard for the life I wanted, it wasn’t really as important to me as other things.

I know that negative emotions like jealousy are poison.  I do try to change that feeling quickly when I feel it.  And I don’t feel it often.  I guess my heart will always recognize some things like that dream I had of staying in my hometown, and when I see someone doing just that, I’m bound to feel a pang.  I’m glad though that I’ve learned to move on in my thoughts and emotions.  Really glad.

And I’ll try to remember that people leaving, like tonight, enables others to come.  But I won’t like it, not tonight.