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Friday, December 30, 2016
Affirmations - I keep wanting to formalize my use of affirmations.  Here are some ideas from the blog of Niki Turner.....

Each moment of my day is filled with openness and vulnerablility to the world around me.
I am connected to my planet. I experience the sky, the wind, the rain and all the elements of my environment. I am aware of the cycle of life. Each day brings greater awareness of my place in this universe.
With an empty mind, I take in each moment as a new experience. Each moment in recovery brings transformation.
I have an inner, true voice that is in harmony with the universe. Each day I develop greater acuity and discernment in interpreting my voice’s clear messages to me.
My body is my primary vehicle for embracing the awe of my world. Each day I nurture and tend to it. Stretching my body brings energy, strength, and confidence to face my struggles.
I am connected to the past, present, and future. What has gone before me is part of me and I will be a part of what goes on after me. I am part of the circle of my community. As we are all connected to the past, present, and future, we are all connected to each other.
I am open to the spiritual guidance of others. My spiritual guides are those I love and trust, those I respect, those who have a message for me and those who offer symbols to help me on my journey.
My wounds are my teachers. I am open to their lessons.
I practice my spirituality daily. My spirituality is a daily extension of my internal life.
I know a new freedom and happiness.
I embrace my past.
I comprehend the word serenity and know peace.
I can see how my experience can benefit others.
That feeling of uselessness and self-pity has disappeared.
As I lose interest in selfish things, I gain interest in my fellows.
Self-seeking has slipped away.
My whole attitude and outlook upon life is changing.
Fear of people and economic insecurity has left.
I intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle me.
I realize that God is doing for me what I could not do for myself.

**I especially love this last part, but received peace from reading all of these (even if put in language that I do not often use)
As I work through my exploration of self, I'm slowly reading through Clarissa Pinkola Estes book called, "Women Who Run With the Wolves."  

I made a little bookmark for it and on that bookmark, I wrote, "The retrieval of intuition."  

Intuition.... trusting my self.

This is part of the journey that is an imperative.

p. 30-31  Estes shares with us a story of Four Rabbinim who are taken to see the "Seventh vault of the Seventh heaven."  This in itself means very little to me.  What I do know is that these men experience a deeply spiritual experience that goes beyond rational and literal understanding..... very similar to experiences when tapped into our instinctual self and higher power.  Estes continues to tell us, that one of the rabbinim loses his sanity, one is skeptical of what he saw and pretends it was only a dream, one becomes obsessed with this experience and spends the rest of his life focuses on what it was and what it meant, and the last is bettered from the experience, appreciating life more for it.  

She follows up this story with analysis (as she follows all her stories).....  And here is the quote I wanted to grab for this blog.

p.31 Jung cautions in his magnificent essay, "The Transcendent Function" that some persons, in their pursuit of the Self, will overaestheticize the God or Self experience, some will undervalue it, some will overvalue it, and some who are not ready for it, will be injured by it. 

I think I could have a tendency to be the over analyzer.  I also find the description of the person who was injured because he/she is not yet ready.  This reminds me, once again, why pushing is inappropriate.  We are ready to take our own steps at our own time and being pushed into it can actually be injurious.  

There was so much more in this wonderful chapter that I read, but I will tap into that in a bit.  In the mean time, I'm enjoying the empowerment of folklore and thorough, yet romantic analysis.  
PASSAGE 1 - decision making
There is an old German folk tale in which the Good Fairy brings a child one gift: the ability to foresee the outcome of everything she does.
It is a gift we all could use, especially when we give way to despair and decide, at all costs, to free ourselves from a situation that seems unendurable.
If we could visualize the outcome of a move such as breaking up a marriage, for example, we might not be so ready to deprive our children of a parent; we might shrink from the heavy 
responsibilities we'd have to meet. Above all, we would still have to contend with our own shortcomings, the very ones that may have helped to bring us to the point of desperation.
Today's Reminder
If I want to make a major change which affects other lives as well, let me first consider the possible outcome.
Have I really tried to examine and correct my own faults?
Is there a way for me to improve my attitude? I will let the great decision wait until I have tried that! 
 "The truly wise solution may lie in improving myself"

**Woo!  Heavy reading!  It can be easy to get frozen when you don't know the many possibilities.  I think that's why al anon recommends a year before any big changes.  So much can happen in a year of working on ourselves.  Most important is the transition in our mindset.  The person making the decision at day 1 looks sooooo much different at day 364.  

I like how Step Three begins. It states, "Made a decision…" This means I have an active choice to turn my will and my life over to a Higher Power. No one is going to force me. No one is going to make me do anything. My recovery is my choice. What I choose to do with my will and my life is my decision, and today I choose to turn it over to the God of my understanding.
What a relief it is to finally make that decision and to realize that I don't have to do or fix everything. I have begun to learn what is and isn't my responsibility. I feel lighter knowing that my Higher Power is with me 24 hours a day to help me with my life and its challenges. From the smallest decision to the largest, I pray, "God, what would you have me say and do today?"
This process of turning my will and life over to God sounds so simple, yet it certainly didn't happen at my first meeting! Actually, it didn't happen for a long time. I had to build a foundation for my Step Three decision, first by diligently working Steps One and Two. Taking Step Three was a natural outgrowth of that groundwork.
Along the lines of "Progress, not Perfection," my relationship with my Higher Power evolves day-to-day, one day at a time. What a gift I have been given! Turning my will and my life over to a Power greater than myself provides me with a bottomless well of love, peace, and serenity, if I choose to drink from it.
Thought for the Day
Choices are important parts of AI-Anon recovery. What do I plan to do with mine today?
"The first phrase of Step Three. 'Made a decision: shows us that we have choices." Paths to Recovery. p. 28

The unpleasant things other people say or do have no power to destroy my peace of mind or ruin my day unless I permit it. Do I allow myself to respond to the words of a sick person as if they were the ultimate truth? Could I possibly be getting some benefit from accepting humiliation?
Sometimes I wonder. I played the martyr role for a long time. My suffering brought me a lot of attention and pity. I grew accustomed to blaming others for my problems, and I avoided taking responsibility for my own life. In other words, I suspect I may have benefited from my pain. But those benefits are no longer worth the price.
Today I am finding out who I really am with the help of my Higher Power and the Al-Anon program. There is a beautiful person within me who has no need to build an identity around suffering. I am learning to let that person blossom instead of hiding behind a cloak of suffering. I don't want to miss any more of the wonderful opportunities available to me to live, grow, and enjoy.
Today's Reminder
There is so much to appreciate in this life. I won't waste another moment feeling sorry for myself.
". . .
the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. " Martha Washington

**Parts of this passage really resonated with me.  Yesterday, my mom said something to me that was very hurtful.  I let it pass though and today it doesn't mean much to me.  I'm so glad I was able to let it hurt and then pass.  I don't like to think of myself as a victim ever (part of my pride issues), but I do seem to blame my significant other, instead of take the responsibility myself.  
Thursday, December 29, 2016
ODAT - denial, pride
"There are some things I absolutely refuse to accept," says a member at a meeting.
This is too often true of someone who suffers from inordinate pride or is unable to admit she is ever wrong.
Before I decide I cannot accept this or that, I had better examine my part in the deadlock. Were my expectations unreasonable? Did I demand too much? Am I being confronted with a natural reprisal for my rigid, uncompromising attitude?
If we have hurt someone or demanded too much of them, swift retribution may dismay or infuriate us. Shouldn't we search out the causes and do something to correct them?
Today's Reminder
I they feel ever so justified in "taking a stand" but let me consider whether it was something I did that led to the crisis. To remain unyielding may result in disaster I am still less prepared to accept!
"We are quick enough at perceiving and weighing what we suffer from others, but we mind not what others suffer from us." (Thomas A'Kempis)

**"inordinate pride"  - Yup!  That's me!  I think, for me, it has less (these days) about admitting that I am wrong and more about asking for help.  A lot of people have been offering help and I am very uncomfortable with it.  I'm also uncomfortable with relating to a lot of people at a vulnerable level.  My pride makes me feel ashamed that this has happened (gasp!) to me.  When, of course, I am not too good for bad decisions (or good ones that are ostracizing)

HFT - control
I've always had poor balance--unsteady, happy hiking downhill, unable to put my socks on while standing. Some time ago I watched a karate black-belt competition. Much of the fighter's attention was focused on how his foot was planted on the ground. Only partial attention went to the other, airborne foot. I decided to undertake developing some of the same partnership with gravity, to learn to center myself over my planted foot. In time I became much better at putting on my socks.
Recently while picking my way across wet rocks beside a favorite stream, I felt a strong connection with the earth, my balance was sure, my choice of foothold certain and carefree. I could turn my attention to the scampering squirrels and grazing deer. I realized that in the same way I am learning to walk within the inexorable pull of gravity, I am also learning to center myself in God's will by using the many tools of Al-Anon, I am releasing my need to control, and I am learning to find my balance despite the strong, often unexpected winds of change and desire.
Thought for the Day
Little by little, one day at a time, by accepting the things I cannot change and
changing the things I can, I will become more centered in God's gift of serenity.
"Al-Anon helps me to find some balance." Courage to Change, p. 54\

**I like how this person "changed the things she could" by just focusing on one simple thing (the ground planted down).  she also saw something she disliked about her abilities and took a little consistent action and was able to change it.  Wonderful!  It also got me excited thinking about karate (haha) and, for some reason yoga, too.

THEMES FOR TODAY: Act, don't React!  and "Let it begin with me"  

I'm starting off the day super strong, but yesterday I did this too and didn't last all day.  Halfway through, I was exhausted.  Reflecting (without judgement), I can see that a play date with family members rejuvenated me.  

Today, I have a walk planned for late morning and a play date with the same family member.  Then, my sister is visiting a little later (which sometimes gets me on track, sometimes not).  But, I do have planned a mystery shop by myself for afternoon, which should hopefully give me some "me" time.  It'll be my first kid free time since moving down here.  And I can listen to an al anon speaker on the trek.  And then, I'll try to do my check list, as well.  Wish me luck!   One day at a time.  I can do anything for 12 hours. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016
PASSAGE 1 - Sponsors
One effect of alcoholism is that many of us are reluctant to get close to people. We have learned that it is not safe to trust, to reveal too much, to care deeply. Yet we often wish we could experience closer, more loving relationships. Al-Anon suggests a gentle way of approaching this goal: sponsorship.
By asking someone to sponsor me, I express a willingness to experience more intimate relationships. When he or she is there for me, returning my calls, offering support, caring, I develop a basis for trust. I realize that my Sponsor also has a life and that sometimes he or she will not be available. Because our relationship shows me that people can be reliable, I am better able to reach out to others in the fellowship.
My sponsor helps me to learn to receive love, but I also learn about giving. Someone who demonstrates unconditional love and still takes care of his or her own needs and to offers support without telling me what to do can be a wonderful role model. I can best put what I learn into practice by passing it on.
Today's Reminder
Intimacy can be one of life's great gifts. I will avail myself of its benefits by reaching out to an Al-Anon friend today.
"The interchange between Sponsor and sponsored is a form of communication that will nourish both of you." Sponsorship--What It's All About

**Love this!!! 

Today let's think about our intentions. The word will suggest to many of us the vast gap between what we intend to do, and what we actually do. We intend to be kind and tolerant, but some uncontrollable impulse changes our attitude into something we later find ourselves regretting. We intend to accomplish so much, but unless we start out with a realistic estimate of what we are capable of doing, we fall far short of our expectations. We intend to make a good life for ourselves and our families, but we seem constantly to be deflected from it by others. Or we permit the actions of others to prevent us from fulfilling what we hope to do.
Today's Reminder
My intentions are good. When I do not fulfill them, I am disappointed; I may even be weighed down by a sense of guilt. How can I avoid this? I will try to clarify my intentions, decide what I really mean to do, say and accomplish. This will help me keep my life on a satisfactory, productive course.
"Let me first be sure what I intend and the reasons for my choice; this will guide my thoughts into constructive channels, and keep me from attempting the impractical or impossible." (Celebra Tueli)

**This is right on for me.  Someone had posted a comment on this, "a minute of practice is greater than years of good intentions."  I loved that!  

One of the most beneficial things I have learned from my Al-Anon experience is to be consistent in my thoughts, words, and actions. In my alcoholic home, I learned to mask uncomfortable situations with words and actions I thought would promote harmony. I have since learned that agreeing with others simply to keep peace causes me to be resentful. As difficult as it may be, today I won't automatically concur with the thoughts and opinions of others. If I have a different point of view, I express it, then let go of the other's reaction. I practice "Live and Let Live" and "Let Go and Let God."
To be consistent, I need to know what I believe the Al-Anon program, especially through the Steps, helps me to gain clarity for myself. Such clear understanding helps me to be consistent in what I think, say, and do and sustains my serenity. Consistency helps me to practice "Keep It Simple" and saves me from the need to second-guess myself. It helps you to identify boundaries. Consistency helps me remain true to myself.
Thought for the Day
Al-Anon offers me the skills I need to define and express my beliefs without diminishing the integrity of others.
". . . Unity really starts within me. I think of it as a feeling of 'getting things together' inside my own head." Alateen--a day at a time, p. 217

**communication - so tricky!  Having my thoughts words and actions consistent and expressing my beliefs without diminishing the integrity of others.....  All things I'm really working on right now!
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
I am taking some time for myself this morning.  It will be much easier to do once my mom returns to work, but I have an opportunity now and I'm taking it.

I am so excited for 2017!  At the beginning of 2016, I remember talking with Hubby and saying 2017 is going to be our year.  I don't think 2016 was that horrible of a year and I want to take some time reminiscing about good times, during the next few days.

I'll list a few big ticket ones right now.

1) Swimming in the hotel pool at Zion National Park, while looking up at the view.  Also, J microwaving the underwater camera on the same trip (haha).  And the hike on the red rocks with the kids.  (exhilaration!)
2) Singing "Let it Go" while jumping on C........ bed in Las Vegas
3) The whole visit with C...... in Vegas (including the park with the family  before hand)
4) Being a part of J......... wedding.
5) My 30th birthday outing with my mommy friends
6) My 30th birthday outing with my hometown friends and family
7) Getting my fantastic and perfectly located office, across from the library.

When I previously said 2017 was our year, I wasn't discounting the joy and good times we would have in 2016, but I was recognizing that recovery is a process.  It certainly is.  And we have seen a lot in 2016.  And I've gotten a lot of clarity.  Phew.  Ok, moving forward.

Life Goal for Me (not a resolution, but a life goal)
"It's not my story to tell"

When I was in High School, I prided myself as a good "secret keeper."  Whenever anyone asked me who someone liked or what their secret was, I would simply repeat "It's not my secret to tell."

Similarly, a lot of my students know each other.  I have a policy where I share absolutely no information about students with each other.  I don't even admit to knowing them.  It's a joke.  The kids like it... but, it's also vitally important.  They know that they are in a safe place.  They can share whatever they'd like to about their academic program, they know I won't do it for them.  So, if they ask what level their friend is on, or if he plays a certain game, or how many tokens he's earned.  My response is always, "I don't know" in a sing songy voice.  They know the rule.  It gives them security.  They will say,

"I saw so and so leaving when I was coming in."
"I don't know...."  with a smile.
"I know you work with him, I actually gave him a high five!"
"All I can say is.... I don't know."

My policy is that they can share whatever they'd like about their program, but I won't share it for them.

So, I've done well with that in some aspects of my life.

Living with my mom, though, has reminded me of the security I want to create for my sweet girls.  Throughout my life, my mom has complained about my sister and I to all her friends.  They know all of our worst moments.  And, in fact, she would talk about it as a "talking point" in front of us.  It didn't feel good.  Moving back in, and having to see family who know my story.... a story that I don't share with many of my closest friends = uncomfortable.  And, sure enough, as soon as we sit down around the cheese/cracker plate, my mom starts complaining (in an energetic/excited/gossipy way) about how poorly the girls are sleeping and all the inconveniences of having them  here.  She is thriving on it.  She loves having them here and this is her way of expressing it.  Meanwhile, J is behind me.  She starts repeating, with tears in her eyes, "I'm a good girl.  I'm a good girl!"  I told my mom what J was saying and she said, "Oh, of course, you're a good girl.  I love having you here."  And I take J outside to play.  I should have taken her away from the conversation immediately.  Now, I know.

My mom and I have had this conversation.  We had it before family came over.  I told her it made me uncomfortable and asked her not to do it.  She said that it is her right, as I am an extension of her.  We agreed to disagree.  She simply does not agree with me, that it's "not her story to tell."  Even when I told her that I haven't told most of my closest friends and may never tell them many of the details.  She tells coworkers, everyone.  Anyways.......

I do this too.  :::::::::;CRINGE::::::::::::  It's true.

There are certain confidences that I clearly don't share.  You know, I'm still a great secret keeper.  But, when everyone wants to know why I'm not with my husband or why he's not coming to Christmas, I have to work HARD on not telling his part of the story.  And I've not always done a great job at this.

I've outed Hubby as bipolar (with his permission, but still......).  And I've routinely told parts of Hubby's story to friends and family when they ask how he is.  I tell if he's doing well, I tell if he's not doing well.  And when dramatic events happen, I tell everyone.  It used to be so bad that people would ask how I was and I'd start talking about hubby.  This is actually VERY common in Al Anon circles.

"How are you doing?"
"I'm doing well.  Hubby has been sober for about 2 months."

Experienced members will then ask again.

"I'm glad he's doing so well.  But, how are YOU doing?"

Or they'll just wait it out.  The longer we are in program, the more we learn to shift the focus on ourselves.  Experienced members may also simply respond, "Keep coming back."

So, with all that, I want to adapt a strict, "It's not my story to tell" policy.  Even when it's awkward.  Even when people expect an update.  I don't need to tell Hubby's story and I don't need to tell my kids.  And if I want to share my part of it, I can give that person respect by asking first.  They can say yes or no.  \

Awareness, Acceptance. Action.

I think I'm at action.  But, I make mistakes.  Even when I'm aware.  Being with  my mom, though, has reminded me of how that feels.  Hubby may not be telling a lot of this stuff to his closest friends.  He may not want to tell ANYONE.  If he is not telling people, what right do I have to tell people.  Absolutely none.  Unless it's my therapist or a safe person.  And having a safe person who also knows Hubby may not be a good idea.  In fact, Hubby may have wanted to come to Christmas with both of our families if I hadn't shared parts of his story that he was uncomfortable sharing.  Same story as me and my mom.

It's bad.  It's something that amends definitely need to be made for.  And I am grateful that living with my mom has hilighted this thing that I do.

Simple Answer: It's not my story to tell.

Passage 1
Maybe we need many points of view in order to understand life more fully; after all, no one person's view is totally complete. So when my partner, my child, my employer, or an Al-Anon friend takes a position unlike my own, I have a choice. I can assume that one of us is wrong and defend myself, or I can be grateful for the chance to see that there are countless ways of looking at life. An abundance of wisdom is available if I keep an open mind.
I try to practice this attitude when my loved one and I discussed anything, even TV. We often perceive a TV show so differently that it's hard to believe we've been watching the same station! I used to take these disagreements personally. One of us had to be wrong, and my position had to be accepted! Today I don't think there's anything personal about a difference of opinion. If you think this sea is blue and I think it's green, I don't have to spend all day trying to convince you. Al-Anon helps me believe in myself and respect that other people are entitled to do the same.
Today's Reminder
I don't have to invalidate anyone else's views in order to validate my own. It's all right to disagree. Today I will respect someone's right to think differently.
"Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too." Voltaire

*This is one of the parts of al anon that I value the most.  Mutual respect.

Passage 2
Here’s one of the most useful lessons I’ve learned in Al-Anon: If I don’t want to be a doormat, I have to get up off the floor. In other words, although I can’t control what other people say, do, or thing, I am responsible for my own choices.
Looking back, I can accept that plenty of unacceptable behavior was directed at me, but I was the one who sat back and took it and often came back for more. I was a willing participant in a dance that required two partners. I felt like a victim, but in many ways I was a volunteer.
Today, as a result of my recovery in Al-Anon, I know that I am not helpless. I have choices. When I get that old feeling that tells me I am a victim, I can regard it as a red flag, a warning that I may be participating (with my thoughts or my actions) in something that is not in my best interest. I can resist the temptation to blame others and look to my own involvement instead. That’s where I can make changes.
Today’s Reminder
It can be very empowering to take responsibility for my own choices. I will act in my own best interest today.
“I would do well to accept the challenge to look to my own recovery before I spent any more of my precious life wishing the alcoholic would change. . .” -Living With Sobriety\

Passage 3
In Al-Anon we learn to "Think" before we react to angry outbursts and drunken acquisitions. We learn to hold our tongues when tempted to interfere in something that is clearly none of our business we learn the value of silence.
But silence can be more cutting than cruel words when it's used to punish. Deliberately ignoring someone's attempts to communicate is no better than engaging in a battle of words. Rage that is expressed non-verbally through cold looks and slammed doors is still rage. When I seek to hurt someone else with silence or any other weapon at my disposal, I always hurt myself.
If I have something I need to say and am as yet unable to say it in a constructive manner, perhaps I can go to an Al-Anon meeting or call my Sponsor and release some of the explosive feelings. I will remember that my aim is to heal myself and my relationships. I will try to make choices that support this goal.
Today's Reminder
What message does my silence communicate? Today I will try to align the stillness of my tongue with a stillness of spirit.
". . . If the silence has in it even a trace of anger or hostility, it loses all its power . . . True quiet has the quality of serenity, acceptance, peace." One Day at a Time in Al-Anon


**I would like to memorize this acronym and use it more frequently.  

Monday, December 19, 2016
Ok, fine.  I'll write.

I've been avoiding this.  You know.........  getting healthy.....   staying healthy.........   choosing to be healthy.,,,,,

So, update time:  Slowly easing into my new life.  I have notified all of my students that I'm leaving and told the person I'm subletting the office from.  My car might be gone forever.  We took it into my mom's mechanic because it needed a new spark plug and they couldn't get it to start.  They found the problem, but it's possibly worth more than the car itself to fix.  And................ Hubby told me today that he doesn't want to talk to me until next month or see the kids.  So goodbye to a family together at Christmas or at New Years.

And............. the kids are sick.  But, barely.  Small fever, coughs, throw up, all normal at this time of the year.

Those are the bad things.  Good - I talked to a couple people in my line of business today.  One is super connected and invited me to a group to network.  I listened to a seminar for my business today and got inspired again.

And honestly, the car may be good or bad.  I feel like the timing of all this is so interesting.  So odd that I'm losing my car at the same time as so much else in my life right now.  But, we have our health and a lot of gratitude for that.  Also a lot of time together.

I miss the hubby, but I completely understand him wanting space.

I'm going to try out tutoring remotely tomorrow for the first time in awhile.  I'm nervous!  If it goes well, the student may continue with me.  If not, they probably will not.

And the girls haven't been asking about Hubby at all.  Well, to be fair, L can't ask.  But J could and it disconcerts me.

If Hubby bowed out now and decided not to be a part of their lives, many of our memories would be in my memory alone.  The significance would remain to few others.  And the girls wouldn't remember all of his tender acts as Papa.  Ideally, these memories that hold such value would be shared for a lifetime.

oK..... One day at at time.....  I think I'm falling into the trap of "stinking thinking."  So, I'm going to stop.

I'm going to read today's passages and then do some work.  Be constructive....

I'm not going to check my phone again to see if Hubby changed his mind and actually does want to talk to me after all (sigh).  Still codependent from afar.  :)

PASSAGE 1 - Self care
Alcoholism is a three-fold--physical, emotional, and spiritual--disease. Because I’ve been affected by another's alcoholism, I check on my own physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being by asking myself:
Is my physical well-being of priority? Do I eat well and get enough sleep? When was the last time I had a checkup or went to a dentist? Do I keep myself clean? Take breaks? Exercise?
Do I ask for or give a hug when I need to? Am I growing more aware of my feelings? Do I have a sponsor and Al-Anon friends to help me through the rough times? Can I celebrate when things go well? Am I taking time to enjoy myself? Is any of the attention I once gave to negative thinking now focused on gratitude?
Do I have a relationship with a Power greater than myself? If not, am I willing to give it a try? Do I make time for prayer and meditation? Am I more willing to ask for help? Do I regularly attend Al-Anon meetings, read Al-Anon literature, and apply the Steps and other tools to my everyday life? Do I recognize and acknowledge my growth?
Today's Reminder
By simply taking inventory of my self-care habits, I am beginning to improve them.
"Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world." George Bernard Shaw

***Why are these always so spot on?  Really wonderful.  And I appreciated the quote at the ed by George Bernard Shaw, as well.  

There are 168 hours in each week. Those who come to Al-Anon for help have many of those hours filled with disturbing and even painful experience: uncertainty, unfilled needs and even violence. There are ways to overcome much of this distress, and Al-Anon offers us one way.
Isn't it worth one little hour out of 168 to come to an Al-Anon meeting? Isn't it worth 10 minutes a day for reading the Al-Anon books that tell us what we can do to help ourselves and perhaps half an hour to give a lift to another person in trouble?
Today's Reminder
It takes so little time out of the week to learn how Al-Anon applies to me and my chaotic life that the changes I can bring about seem like miracles. Living the Al-Anon way is an every day program, and the more thought I give to it, the greater my rewards will be--in contentment, fulfillment and constant spiritual growth.
"Every minute I use in thinking and using the Al-Anon program makes all the hours of my week more livable."

I was given few choices as a child growing up in an alcoholic family. I was told what to believe and how to believe. If I deviated even slightly from the chosen path, I was reproached and corrected. What I ate, what music I listened to, who my friends were, what clothes I wore, what I watched on television, and what church I attended depended on my parents' control. They wanted to show the world a "perfect family." Needless to say, I didn't develop any individuality. I was too busy caretaking and obsessing about the rules to find out who I was inside.
When Al-Anon asked me to focus on myself, I didn't understand what that meant. I had no idea what were my likes, dislikes, needs, or desires. When I listen to others share, I thought they were a little strange. How could it fix the alcoholic for them to talk about themselves?
Slowly I became aware that Al-Anon was for me, not the alcoholic. I learned that I already had inside myself all the answers I would ever need to all the questions I would ever have. The key to finding them, however, was to go inside and become acquainted with myself. Through my Fourth Step I got to know my own thoughts, feelings, and talents. What I found wasn't too pretty, but I stayed with the program and trusted the Steps. As I cleaned away the debris of shame and guilt in Steps Five through Nine, my inner knowledge and wisdom--the voice of my Higher Power--became clearer. I found a peace I never knew was possible.
Thought for the Day
I like the me I am discovering.
"With the program to guide me, I can be myself and become something better than I ever thought possible." Alateen--a day at a time, p. 114
Friday, December 16, 2016
At 3am

"Mom, Moooooom, Mom!"
"Yes, J?"
"I think we should have some quiet time." (she wakes me up and brings me into her room for this, haha)
"I think that's a great idea, J.  Good night."
"We can have quiet time in the morning, we can have quiet time at night."
"Ok honey, go to sleep sweetheart.  I think quiet time is a great idea."
"We can have quiet time with Mama.  We can have quiet time with L....."

**My sweet girl has so much to say.  How cute and funny that she can't stop talking about having quiet time.  Even though, of course, it's preventing the quiet time from occurring.  I wonder how many things in my life are like that. 

There are the super-optimists who imagine that Al-Anon has a magic formula for curing all life's ills. A weekly hour for a meeting, they think, and all will be well.
A situation in which the lives and sanity of an entire family are at stake is not so easily solved, but the super-optimist resolutely clings illusion that Al-Anon can fix everything. It "fixes" nothing; that is up to us. Not in the once-a-week meeting alone, but with plenty of in-between reading, constant recall of the principles and constant use. Al-Anon does have the formula, but it is we who must use.
Today's Reminder
Changing our whole way of thinking is a monumental task, not to be taken lightly. But many thousands of members can testify that it's the most rewarding and self-serving activity ever devised for curing sick family relationships!
" 'Listen, read, think, use' says Al-Anon to those who really want a better way of living."

**A monumental, yet achievable task.  

PASSAGE 2 - One Day at a Time
I was convinced that I had to take care of everything and everybody--I had no choice. But with the help of Al-Anon I have learned that, while I do have responsibilities, there are also many things I do not have to do:
I don't have to understand everything. Some things are not my business, and others will simply never make sense to me.
I don't have to be reluctant to show my feelings. When I'm happy, I can give into it! When I'm not, I can turn to my Al-Anon friends who help me to grow through the tough times.
I don't have to feel threatened by the future. I can take life one day at a time.
I don't have to feel guilty about the past. With the help of the Steps, especially Eight and Nine, I can make amends and learn from the mistakes I have made.
I don't have to feel alone. I can go to a meeting, or pick up the phone--there is always somebody to reach out to in Al-Anon.
I don't have to take responsibility for other people's choices. They have their own Higher Power to help them make their decisions.
I don't have \to give up on my hopes and dreams--my Higher Power is not limited by my lack of imagination.
**What a great post for "one day at at time."A lot of truths and a good summation of program beliefs which are truly life changing.

I had a job in my alcoholic family, and I learned it very well. The job was to keep silent about what was happening in my home and how I felt about it. I became an adolescent with no coping skills. Gradually so much pain and anger built up inside me and I had to find some way to relieve it. My alcoholic parents' reservoir of coping skills was virtually nonexistent, so they had no way to recognize what I was going through, let alone help me through it. Left to my own devices, I escaped through food. Only later, when I started coming to Al-Anon, did I realize that my use of food was very similar in motive and pattern to my parents' use of alcohol.
First Al-Anon taught me through the Step Four process that it was all right for me to identify my buried emotions and to allow myself to feel them. Step Five encouraged me to share the results of this emotional inventory with another trusted person, and I chose my sponsor. These Steps helped me clear pain from my heart and fill that space with something healthy. Today instead of eating when I feel anxiety or some other uncomfortable emotion, I choose to use an Al-Anon tool. I call my sponsor or another Al-Anon friend. Sometimes I read from Al-Anon literature to calm my soul. Occasionally I sign up to volunteer as a monthly chairperson, or pick a few names and numbers from my phone list to offer words of hope to a hurting newcomer. I can't always control my pain, but I can choose what I do to heal it.
Thought for the Day
What coping behaviors do I use to soothe my pain? Are they really helping me?
"I've learned a lot . . . about coping with my feelings and making my life better.” Living Today in Alateen, p. 133
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
When I feel my serenity being crowded out by fear and anxiety, I break down the Serenity Prayer in a clear and precise away that cuts through the deluge of my shortcomings. First, I broaden my acceptance to include everything exactly as it is, not only the things I cannot change. I look at my entire life through the lens of gratitude, trusting that everything is unfolding exactly as it should. As my sponsor reminds me, God's planning and timing are perfect. I ask my Higher Power to help me accept things exactly as they are and to see the opportunities in my circumstances.
Asking God for "courage to change the things I can" is dangerous for me at times. If I'm not careful, I overwhelm myself with all the various things I could change and I become paralyzed by inaction. It helps to pray for knowledge of exactly what God wants me to change at any given moment. I think of the "things I can change" as the things God wants me to change.
Asking for "wisdom to know the difference" can provoke my perfectionism. I yearn to know exactly what God wants me to change. I don't want to make any mistakes. To regain perspective, I remind myself that everything is already in God's hands and that decision-making is a self-correcting process. Wisdom is something I sense in my gut. If I change something and still don't feel right, I go through the process again until God's will becomes clear to me.
Thought for the Day
How deeply and broadly do I apply the Serenity Prayer to my life?
". . . I ask God for direction and wait, placing the problem in His hands. I ask for clarity in what I must do. He gives me clear direction." Having Had a Spiritual Awakening . . ., p. 40**

**Love this!!  Just what I needed tonight.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Many of us come to Al-Anon confused. We are so focused on our alcoholic loved ones that we may not be able to see where they leave off and we begin. We've lost our sense of what is appropriate. How can we distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behavior when we don't even know what we want or need?

My Fourth Step inventory help me discover who I am, what my values are, the behavior I'd like to keep, and the things I'd like to change. With this in mind, I am working to establish new behavior that reflects my integrity and expresses my true values. Where in the past I have allowed unacceptable behavior, I now can choose a different response. I must consistently do what I say I'm going to do. Today I have the courage and faith to be true to myself, whether or not others like or agree with me. I must remember that announcing my new ways to others is not nearly as important as knowing what my own limits are and acting accordingly.

Today's Reminder
I will remember that knowing my boundaries does not mean forcing others to change; it means that I know my own limits and take care of myself by respecting them. The focus, today, is on me.
"He that respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that none can pierce."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 **This is so good!  I love that knowing my boundaries does not mean trying to force others to change.  I think we often get that confused.

My life is a series of unfoldings--incidents and occasions, agreeable or distressing. Each day is full of them, hour by hour, and this makes it difficult for me to take a detached view of all that is happening. I'm too close.
If these occurrences were like so many pieces of merchandise--groceries or dry goods--I would see them clearly, good and bad. Looking at the incidences of my life in this way, I might be astonished to discover that the good far outweigh the bad. And yet I concentrate so heavily on my trials and burdens that I hardly give a thought to relishing the pleasant and satisfying things that happen each day.
This noticing is an acute awareness of our surroundings and what takes place in them. It can be cultivated, like watching a play or film.

 Today's Reminder
If I learn to see everything with a fresh eye, I will find I have many reasons for contentment and gratitude. When I find myself being bogged down with negative thoughts, I will deliberately turned away from them.
"Let me observe, with new interest, even the commonplace things that happen in each new day."

"Thanks for mentioning the ' F- word'" someone said to me after a meeting. "You know, F-U-N. I don't hear about that as often as I'd like."

I had been mentioning fun at great length, because I was the speaker that night. I shared about my recent attendance at a family wedding, which I enjoyed very much. The fun was in the details, of course. The fact that I could recognize and delight in those details came from practicing my program. I made many choices before the wedding. Most concerned the development of alternate plans and options should family tensions erupt. For example, my wife and I chose to drive separately so either one of us could leave the reception temporarily should the need arise. I also considered how I might respond if someone tried to draw me into a conflict. In addition, I put a few copies of The Forum in my car and slipped the "Just for Today" wallet card inside the pocket of my suit just in case I needed a quick sanity break.

As my Higher Power would have it, I didn't have to employ any of those tools. However, because I had anticipated my needs and prepared for them, I was able to travel lightly and with a sense of playfulness. I clearly set my sights on celebrating a joyous occasion. As a result of thinking ahead and making plans to take care of myself, I truly enjoyed a day I wanted to enjoy.

Thought for the Day
One of the many miracles of recovery is that I can take my fun with me wherever I go! All I need to do is make a plan without anticipating the outcome.
"Today I know that part of my recovery is respecting my need and my right to let go and relax." . . . In All Our Affairs, p. 149

GRATEFUL GRATEFUL GRATEFUL for too many thing to count.  Health, food, babysitters, holiday parties, my sweet kids, ability to access so much information online, etc. etc. 
Friday, December 9, 2016
Passage 1
It is heartening to know that Al-Anon members can be a world-wide inspiration to each other; thoughts and prayers fly across space to sustain and strengthen us all. These wise words come from the AI-Anon groups of France: "We have all had the feeling of being chained to a heavy weight that we were trying to drag this way and that, while all the time it was dragging us until we completely lost our bearings.

"Now there is another chain for us; the one that unites us in AI-Anon. Each of us is a link, neither more nor less important than all the rest. It is a chain to which we can attach ourselves whenever we need it."

Today's Reminder
What a relief to be able to detach ourselves from the chain that bound us to the weight of alcoholism-to know we need not be helplessly controlled by it. We are freed by knowing we cannot exert the slightest influence on it. How light and pleasant it is to be a link in that other chain that binds us together in AI-Anon, and to discover how to correct the attitudes that kept us chained to our anxieties.
"He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good." (Proverbs)

I fell into a depression while grieving my father's death. I knew it was natural to mourn. However, I had not resolved certain emotions I felt toward my father's alcoholic behavior, and this complicated my grieving. I decided to consult a professional who, after several sessions about my alcoholic upbringing, suggested it might be helpful to attend AI-Anon. I had become very comfortable with this professional, and the idea of sharing my thoughts and feelings with strangers felt scary. However, I knew I needed something beyond therapy, so I gave Al-Anon a chance.

In Al-Anon I grew to understand many things about this disease called alcoholism. I started to regard my father in a different light, and my memories of our interactions took on a different perspective. During his years of active drinking, fear clouded my perception of him. I never regarded him as other than a scary authoritative figure who was even scarier when he drank. Now I don't see him as just an alcoholic. I regard him as a whole person who had needs, feelings, desires, and faults.

Al-Anon has given me many tools, including the Steps and slogans, to work through old feelings and to make amends to my father, even though he is no longer alive. Through this program, I have been able to forgive Now I understand, just like my dad, I did the best I could under the circumstances. him as well as myself. For a long time I was hard on myself, thinking I was a coward for not facing up to him.

Thought for the Day
Al-Anon has helped me understand alcoholism's true nature as a disease, thus transforming my relationship with myself and the alcoholics in my life.
"I see now that alcoholics have a disease: They are ill, not bad." Courage to Change, p. I I 0

A friend received a rejection letter from a program she worked hard for this morning.  This was part of my response to her and thought process .....

"I've also had many rejections and they really hurt. I won 8 scholarships and a lot of money for college, but I applied to over 50. I know you already know this, but you can't succeed if you don't try. And rejection is part of the process. I hope you feel proud of yourself for putting the application out there and for already knowing you will do it again. I have a good.friend who was rejected from med school twice and he gave up. Compare that to my friend who got rejected twice, but got in year 3 and is now almost a practicing physician. The fact that you already know you are applying again is telling of your character and some thing to be proud of. Anyways, hope you get out some vino and, chocolate tonight. Spoil yourself."

Isn't it nice when you tell someone else what you really needed to hear yourself?  I failed at my business, but I gave it a chance and did some really great things.  Kudos to me!  I also started up a new business with very little effort, also commendable.  I have a fantastic idea for an online business that could help a lot of people and provide for my family, yet I am scared.  The scholarship experience is one I reminded myself of again and again as a young adult.  I was really proud of myself for doing all those scholarships.  And it was really neat to know that had I received 10 rejections or 20 rejections and stopped.  Another experience I had, also resulted in a windfall for me.  But, when it started, it resulted in pennies.  Pennies!!  If I had stopped then, I never ever would have experienced the results.  

I was wounded so deeply in my last business mistakes, that I have not thought of this much lately.  I have to remember that things start small.  You don't always see the results right away.  And I have to get in touch with those feelings and experiences that are real and happened to me.  It feels so long ago that that happened.  I remember the raw hurt of my last mistakes, but not so much those older successes.  I need to change my mindset!  

Another thing which touched me today.......  A woman at my church posted a blog entry she wrote....

I'll post a long excerpt

Have you ever been caravaning to a restaurant or something and the person driving the other car knows where you are going, but you don’t? And they are trying to explain how to get there, “You turn left out of this parking lot, go down the street until you get to the McDonald’s and then take the road past the second tree on your right and then make a u-turn…” and all I get is confused. My natural response is just to say, “How about I’ll just follow you?”

Following is supposed to be easy because I don’t have to figure anything out besides keeping my eyes on the person leading the way.

What about when it comes to following Jesus? We know we are supposed to follow Him, but sometimes we think following Him means trying to run after him, looking for footprints in the sand or trying to guess the “right” way - that’s not it at all!

In fact, the most basic truth of Jesus’ “Follow me” message is that JESUS GOES FIRST! We are simply told to follow him, and that means taking a step when HE takes one.

We don’t have a God who created everything and then left us to fend for ourselves. No, He says the Holy spirit resides within us and will lead and guide us how to follow Him.

We see this over and over again in Scripture. Jesus calls Peter and Andrew away from what they are doing as fishermen and only shows them one step of the journey at a time. God calls Abraham and Sarah away from their home and doesn’t tell them anything else about where they are going except that they have to leave.

And yet, I still find myself so afraid of following Him, of being obedient, because I am so concerned with my own efforts and “finding the right way” that I lose sight of the person I’m supposed to be following.

**This, of course, reminded me of the poem I always quote by Shel Silverstein.

There is a voice inside of you \
that whispers all day long.
I know that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.  

 No teacher, preacher, parent friend
or wise man can decide,
what's right for you, just listen to -
the voice that speaks inside.

I memorized this and sometimes replace the last line with "the voice down deep inside" on accident.  

I believe this voice is the Holy Spirit.  What I loved about my friend's entry is 1) the aspect of following without knowing all the steps or the end destination.  2) the idea that this is the easier thing to do 3) you know the steps by listening to your inner voice.

So, I have a client who has been wanting to come back to me.  She left me a voicemail a few days ago and I haven't returned the call because I have been unsure what to say.  I need the money, but don't feel it is the right thing.  I don't know why I don't feel it's right.  I have a few ideas, but overall it just doesn't feel right.  I have been second guessing myself because how could I say, "no" to more money right now.  It doesn't seem rational.  But, after reading her post, I realized that this is the "voice" inside of me telling me that and I need to respect it.  It's scary!!!  I apparently want to know all the steps.  But saying no feels accurate.  

Another thing that's interesting today.....

I posted a question on the social media group for my city about safe places to work out in the morning.  I ended up getting a lot of people who were interested in walking or running with me.  How exciting and unexpected.  

Now, if I could only muster up the excitement I need to get my business started.  One step at a time.  

A wonderful day, overall.  

And trying not to interact with the Hubby right now because he didn't go to a meeting AGAIN (3rd day he told me he was going and didn't) and is acting all happy.  I'm being polite and cordial, but just working on me.  This reminds me of when he was drinking and every single day he would tell me he was going to stop drinking.  Anyways... focus on me.  

Tomorrow should be a wonderful day!
Thursday, December 8, 2016
It's a sad day for an Al-Anon group when its members settle down into old-timer status and the meetings are merely get-togethers for a bit of chatting and gossip.

Gone is the vitality and hope that inspired the group in the early days--gone the eager exchange of experience, strength and hope, the challenge to apply the program to every department of life. And gone is a hand of friendship that reached out to troubled people and drew them into the fold to learn about the Steps to serenity, confidence, renewed faith--all accomplished through our helping and caring.

Today's Reminder
I will not forget that the possibilities of this vast spiritual program are still limitless for me. I still have much to learn in it. Let me remember, too, that an Al-Anon group is a vital feature of any community; there are so many to whom it could bring hope! I will try to find them, through churches, doctors, courts and counselors--and share Al-Anon with them.
"Each day is a new adventure in Al-Anon, pointing the way to an ever better way to live."

The image of an avalanche helps me to give the drinking alcoholic in my life the dignity to make her own decisions. It is as though her actions are forming a mountain of alcohol-related troubles. A mound of snow cannot indefinitely grow taller without tumbling down; neither can the alcoholic's mountain of problems.

Al-Anon is help me to refrain from throwing myself in front of the alcoholic to protect her, or from working feverishly to add to the mountain in order to speed its downward slide. I am powerless over her drinking and her pain. The most helpful course of action is for me to stay out of the way!
If the avalanche hits alcoholic, it must be the result of her own actions. I'll do my best to allow God to care for her, even when painful consequences of her choices hit full force. That way I won't get in the way of her chance you want a better life.

Today's Reminder
I will take care to avoid building an avalanche of my own. Am I heaping up resentments, excuses, and regrets that have the potential to destroy me? I don't have to be buried under them before I address my own problems. I can't begin today.
"The suffering you are trying to ease . . . may be the very thing needed to bring the alcoholic to a realization of the seriousness of the situations." So You Love an Alcoholic

 ** I think I have a lot of tangible problems, building up an avalanche.  Really do feel at a cross roads.

Tradition Five states Al-Anon's purpose, to help families of alcoholics, and describes how we can best carry that out. On a personal level, this Tradition helps me transform the character defect of resentment into the principle of compassion. Specifically, I become compassionate to reward myself by working the Steps and healing from the devastating effects of alcoholism. In being compassionate to myself, I release the resentments that eat at my heart and soul, and keep me from my spiritual awakening.

As I release my resentments, I can extend compassion to the alcoholics in my life. I can love myself enough to love them, too, even though I hate the disease that hurts us both.
I become so full of love and compassion that I can keep it bottled up inside. I need to share it with others. My compassion becomes a healing light of my Higher Power shining through me to welcome and comfort other friends and family members of alcoholics.

What are some ways in which I can extend compassion to myself, my alcoholic loved ones, or my group? If I am being hard on myself, I can practice "Progress, not Perfection." Reading about the disease aspect of alcoholism can help me to better understand the alcoholics in my life. I welcome newcomers to Al-Anon, offering my phone number, a hug, or the willingness to listen and love unconditionally. By giving them my support and understanding, I complete the circle of compassion that was so freely given to me.

Thought for the Day
How can I show compassion for myself and those around me?
"Today I will practice compassion. First I will be kind and loving to myself, but I will not stop there. I will extend this compassion to others." Courage to Change, p. 355