Wrapping up 2014

rearview mirror

It’s hard to believe that in just two short days we’ll be viewing 2014 and all of its cherished memories and experiences through the rear view mirror. While there are numerous quotes about the dangers of, and time wasted from, looking in the rear view mirror, I’m of the belief that it has its time and place. As long as we don’t keep our focus there for a prolonged period of time, lest we crash into our future rather than enter gracefully, looking back to review our successes and highlights of the year can serve us well. For that matter, remembering the not-so-happy moments aren’t a bad thing either. It reminds us that things can–and do–get better and the most important thing is to learn the lesson and find the golden nugget in the heap of mud. I used to tell my kids when they were growing up, “Always know where it is you want to go and have a plan to get there, but never, ever, forget where you came from.”

Here are my top take-aways from 2014–and I still have two more full days to fully live  in 2014… 🙂

  • I crossed off a major item from my Bucket List–one that has been on it for 30+ years…I published a book, The Inheritance.

 

The Inheritance

  • My son got married and bought his first house. So many memories I’ll cherish forever, especially the mother-son dance to the song Watercolor Ponies. For any of you with sons, it’s guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your lips.

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  • Hours upon hours of running, biking, and spending time in the great outdoors, the wind on my back, the sun on my face, my spirit lifted high.

MN 2013 061

  • Priceless time spent with family–my husband, my sons, my granddaughter–how blessed am I!
  • Completing two first drafts of a cozy mystery series.
  • The first time hearing my granddaughter say “Grammy!” with so much enthusiasm. Oh, the sweetness!
  • Connecting with so many other writers in this blogging community who I am proud to call my friends.
  • The loss of Maya Angelou that reminds me to always be grateful and to truly live life to the fullest. Her spirit will live on forever.
  • The tragic loss of Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, both a heart-breaking, yet critical reminder of the importance of taking whatever steps necessary to cultivate my sober life.
  • Adopting the phrase “Carpe diem” as my mantra, because it sums up so much in so few words.

Seize the day, my friends, and I’ll see you in 2015.

Have a happy and blessed journey into the New Year.

Carpe Diem

 

 

T.G.I.F. – Gratitude Friday

Gratitude-2

The Week’s Top Three:

3.)  A brilliant pink cloud hanging in the evening sky. God’s hand print.

2.)  Learning limits on what I can take on and how to say “no” so as not to take away from my family, writing time, or recovery maintenance.

1.)  Watching both of my boys working in my older son’s garage, interacting with each other, talking and laughing. My heart swells with so much love I think it will explode. 🙂

What’s on your list?

“As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world.” ~Terri Guillemets

Carpe Diem

Seize the Day

Seize the Day

When I was on my morning run today, it occurred to me how much of life is spent waiting for something to get here. Whether that something is:

  • Vacation.
  • A loved one coming for a visit.
  • Payday.
  • A movie you’ve been waiting to come out on the big screen.
  • The good part of a book you’re reading.
  • Summer (Winter, Fall, Spring).
  • Cleaning to be done.
  • The rain to be over (or the thunderstorm to come, for those who enjoy cozying up with a good book and a cup of tea while the thunder cracks, the rain pounds on the roof, and lightning bolts illuminate the sky).
  • The wedding day (conference, reunion, anniversary, holiday, etc) to arrive.
  • The weekend alone to do whatever your heart desires.

And so on and so on…

While waiting, however, one’s focus is on the event waited for, and so much living is missed during that waiting. All that time up to the moment is lived mindlessly, tasks performed without a second thought, or if thought be given, it’s often rife with anticipation of getting it done so we can get to it.

Days and years go by so quickly, that if we aren’t truly living every moment we’re given, it only results in speeding by even faster. The view outside of the window we’re looking through blurs as we’re focused on what’s not even here. And truly, do we even know it will get here? Tomorrow is not guaranteed, but only the here and now is. What we hold in our hands at this very moment, what we are experiencing right here, right now, is all we really have. Do we want to waste that precious time and experience for what may not come?

We are always getting ready to live but never living.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

These thought have crossed my mind before, and I have had good intentions of changing. I tell myself, “from now on I’m going to…”

But then life happens, I fall into the old habitual rut of mindless living, I forget to appreciate the here and now, and I forget to truly live in this moment. Exactly where I am with what I have right now.

I’ve heard it said that it takes two weeks of consistently doing something to make it a habit. What if…

Each morning upon rising, I tell myself that this day, just this one day, I’m going to pay attention to each moment I’m living. I’m going to truly live, just this one day. And what if I do that consistently for two weeks? After all, “One Day at a Time” are not only words of wisdom for maintaining sobriety, but a guide for life in general.

Afterall, in the scheme of things, each event we wait for is only a miniscule of time in our lives, provided we live a full life.  If that event in time actually arrives at all. And when I do come to pass, I want to know, and I want others to know, I’ve lived each God-given day to the fullest, experiencing everything possible there is to experience, whether it’s:

  • My hands in warm soapy bubbles, washing away any stress as I wash the dishes.
  • The feel of a snowflake melting on my eyelashes, or on the tip of my tongue.
  • The scent of a fragrant oil, carrying me back to a favorite memory, as scents have a way of doing –  it’s free transportation that allows me to live favorite moments more than once through memories.
  • The exhilaration of running in the rain or feeling the warmth of the sun caressing my shoulders.
  • Appreciating the stillness and beautiful silence of early morning before the rush of traffic and chatter become the majority of the day.
  • The satisfaction that being of service can bring, whether that service is keeping a clean house for my family, preparing good, healthy nourishment for them, or making a difference in the life of another, no matter what that looks like.
  • Truly feeling the presence of God, hearing His still, small voice, that can only be heard in silence, and in the here and now.

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future; concentrate the mind on the present moment.” -Buddha

I will begin day one in the morning when my eyes open to see the first light of daybreak. But why wait until then? Right now, right here, I have a book to read, words to write, prayers to say…life to really fully live.

 Seize the Day. (Click for an awesome music video.)

Carpe diem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heaven Gets Yet Another

I’m not much of a Facebook person, I must admit. I also admit I’m a bit of a skeptic of what many people post. And, yes, the shock factor some set out to achieve does, indeed, shock me into another state of mind at times. And the amount of information many share, information that the world could certainly do without, never ceases to amaze me.

And yet, like a moth to a flame, I find myself drawn into the web of entertainment.

Tonight was one of those times I felt compelled to check and see what was happening in the Cyberspace zone of Facebook. And I’m still riding the wave of shock as I learned a very dear soul has journeyed to heaven. I had just sent him a message a week ago and since I hadn’t heard back from him, I thought I would call and check in this week. I never got that chance.

Shock, anger, and grief completely consume me tonight as I think of such a wonderful soul losing a senseless battle.

Friends, if someone you love is struggling, I beg you to reach out to them today. Don’t wait. Tomorrow may not come. If you love someone, tell them today, tomorrow, and the day after that. Frequently. Make the last words they hear from you be, “I love you.” If you know someone is hurting or lonely, be sure they know without a doubt that they matter and that they are important to you. Take that extra moment to let them know they aren’t alone.

The heavens gained another good man; another star shines bright in the night sky. And Mike, my friend, you have taught me more than I’ve ever taken the time to let you know.

That’s a heavy cross to bear.

Mike Posey

Here’s to living a life of love and service rather than one filled with regrets.

May peace be yours.

 

The Late, GREAT Robin Williams

Robin Williams

My heart is absolutely shattered at the loss of this talented man. In fact, when I heard the news my breath caught and my heart stopped for just a moment. Today I’d like to honor him by sharing some powerful words he shared with us.

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”  -Robin Williams

Today, let’s be sure the words we use, verbally or written, make a positive difference in the world.

Write on.

 

 

 

Through Eyes of Surrender

Surrender

I frequently pray that God use me as a vessel to draw others to Him, that He fill me with the fruits of His Spirit, that others may be drawn to Him through His light within me.

While running one morning this past week, counting my blessings and adoring the breathtaking pink and white clouds as the sun began to rise above them, I felt a small, yet persistent tug on my heart. God gently nudging me that it’s time to perhaps get a bit uncomfortable to bring hope to others. If even just one.

He let me know it’s time to share my experience, strength, and hope.

I briefly mentioned in a past post my battle with alcohol. A battle that began so many years ago when I was in junior high school. I had always struggled with feeling adequate–or rather inadequate–and having a birth defect, what the optometrist called a lazy eye, didn’t help matters. I rarely, if ever, looked anyone in the eye when talking for fear they would see the “ugliness” I knew was there.

In seventh grade I went to a slumber party, thrilled I had been invited, but filled with fear that the other girls would discover my secret–the secret that I didn’t actually belong there with them.

The slumber party was equipped with giggling girls and lime and cherry vodka, and as nervous as I was to drink, knowing it was wrong, it was the effects from that smooth, syrupy sweet liquid flowing down my throat and into my blood stream that made me find the self-confidence I’d always longed for. I felt relief like I’d never known. It was the answer to every problem I’d ever had in my young life.

And the beginning of so many mounting problems as my young life gained momentum.

Junior high journeyed into senior high, and my drinking accompanied me as my best friend. Only under the influence did I feel worthy and relaxed. And only under the influence did I feel comfortable conversing with others, especially those of the opposite sex. And I was so good at blending in!

Or so I thought.

My extended family was rife with alcoholism so it certainly wasn’t foreign territory to me. But surely I would never get like that. I was, afterall, different and special. And whenever I forgot that, all I had to do was drink some of the magic liquid and I would remember.

My senior year was pretty much an eternal grounding.  The day I would get ungrounded I would stay out all night only to get grounded again. This only resulted in resentments stacking up like bricks, sure my parents were out to make my life miserable. I mean, seriously, I wasn’t doing anything everyone else wasn’t doing.

Or so I thought.

College ended before completing a full year because it got in the way of my drinking and having fun. After all, wasn’t that what life was for? Fun? I ended up enrolling in beauty college, worked in a hair salon for a number of years, and ended up a few decades later working in the law enforcement arena, by which time drinking had become a daily occurrence. We were told that one DUI would terminate employment immediately. That caused bitter panic to rise in my throat. What if…? And the disturbing thought that it wasn’t that I was afraid of losing my job, but losing my secret. I had an amazing double life going on that was working just fine for me, thank you very much.

My mind played tricks on me numerous times through the years, causing me to wonder that what if alcohol was a problem for me? But then all I had to do was stop for a few days ( I even made it a month one time) and realized if I had a problem with alcohol, I surely wouldn’t have been able to do that.

I mean seriously…right? So I celebrated–by drinking.

Alcoholics lose jobs, I had always maintained one. (Well except for that one time… but that wasn’t my fault.)

Alcoholics made a mess of their marriages and home life. I had two beautiful kids and the picture perfect family. (Never mind the fact that I was divorced twice–from the same man. But that wasn’t my fault either.)

Alcoholics got DUI’s and ended up incarcerated. I’d never had a DUI, and, in fact, worked in the law enforcement arena now. (We’ll conveniently forget the fact that I had driven under the influence more times than I could possibly count, and on more than one occassion-okay, numerous occasions–couldn’t remember how I got home until I saw my car in the drive and realized I drove home.)

Alcoholics aren’t church-going people. I was. (Never mind the fact that I rarely attended anymore, but I was still a member of a church. That oughta count for something, right?)

Alcoholics don’t work out, they hang out in bars, and have zero motivation. (Hmmm…I often found it interesting that when I ran, my sweat would reek of alcohol. And my bar was my home–sneaking drinks between drinks so my secret was safe and I could still get my “fix.” And my passions of writing and reading had fallen by the wayside. But, hey! Life was busy! I couldn’t have time for everything!)

After too long at trying to rationalize, and sensing my life spinning out of control, I realized I was the queen of excuses and finally conceded that maybe–just maybe–I had a problem.

I did some reading, and while reading about “high-functioning alcoholics” saw my own life plastered on the pages as if I was the one interviewed for every single article. It was then I knew that if I didn’t make some serious changes, it wouldn’t be long before I went from high-functioning to non-functioning.

But how could I be a writer if I didn’t drink? That’s what writers do, don’t they? And I realized that in my case, when I drank, I didn’t write.

When I stopped anestesizing with alcohol, I felt like a baby fresh from the womb, my skin and senses raw, every life event feeling like a physical assault. The harsh reality of living life on life’s terms, without my senses numbed, was at times intolerable. It was like having dental work done without Novocaine. And it wasn’t the not drinking that became hard, but the living without drinking. Living without my necessary medication.

I had heard about the whole Higher Power requirement if I was to be successful, but my faith had always been an important part of my life and it hadn’t helped thus far. These people obviously didn’t know what they were talking about.

Or so I thought.

I came to realize that as much as my faith had always meant to me, I had always tried to control God, and I began to realize how small my faith actually was. I claimed to have faith but neglected to act in faith. I allowed God into my life and heart, but let Him know in no uncertain terms that while He could be part of my life, I could handle my life by myself. Afterall, I had done a stellar job of it up to that point.

And that’s when I learned what the word surrender means. And what it does.  Luke 22:42 says, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  That, to me, is true surrender, and has saved my bacon more times than I can count. Surrendering my will to God on a daily basis, usually numerous times a day, is what keeps me on the playing board in this game of Life.

Since I’ve been sober, I see life and truly experience it. I get to truly live every day, one day at a time, and thoroughly enjoy and experience every joy and even every sorrow. I feel pain, yes, but I’m the better for it. I experience peace as I’ve never known. And for the first time, I can look in the mirror and see someone who has overcome an insurmountable obstacle.

I wouldn’t trade those years for anything in the world, though. It’s those years, those agonizing moments of self-doubt, self-loathing, and pain that have given me this amazing life I have today. Once I began to accept responsibility for my actions and stopped blaming others, allowing their behaviors to be excuses for my poor choices, my relationships began to grow beyond anything I could have ever hoped for. That isn’t to say there are no more struggles. Sometimes life just genuinely sucks. But now God is my best friend, carrying me through, rather than alcohol sucking me under. And when I do or say something that hurts another, I know to make amends (my sobriety depends on it) helping the relationship with that person  and with my God grow stronger, losing the guilt and inevitable resentment that brings nothing but loss of hope. Surrendering all brings full-on hope and brilliant peace showers down on me like a meteor shower.

When I was in the beginning of my journey, I mentioned to my husband the fear and shame I had of others finding out my secret. What if they thought less of me? What if I wasn’t fun anymore?

His response was straight from God. He said if someone thought less of me for wanting to be a better person, than it’s their loss. Pray for them and give it to God. He also said, “Honey, you’re so much more fun. Trust me!” Huh…go figure.  🙂

And about the writing thing–when I quit drinking I accomplished a passionate goal I’d had since as far back as I can remember. I published a book, The Inheritance. To quote a line from the movie God’s Not Dead: “God is good all the time; All the time, God is good.”

Wishing you peace.