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Wednesday, November 30, 2016
I have a lot to say tonight, but just haven't felt like typing it out.  Now that I've started though, I'm laughing on the inside.  Instead of taking energy from me, this kind of writing brings more in.

I've got a cold again.  A result of having young kids, poor self care and a lot of stress.  It's not a bad cold.  Not even close..... barely detectable to others.  Moving on.....

I received a card in the mail today from my mom.  She sent me a check.  On the check, it is written, "Each day brings hope!" 

Now, the amount is a big sum for her.  Not enough to pull me out of the mess I'm in financially, but.......... more than she's ever given me for any birthday or anything.  It was generous.  It was thoughtful.  It filled me with warmth and gratitude and hope.  It also filled me with appreciation for my mother.  So often I focus on the negative, when analyzing our relationship.  But, there is so much good!  What she did today (or whenever she sent the check) was uncharacteristic of her.... but, it was so so kind.  And renewed my hope in miracles, just a bit. 

I don't think I had ever stopped believing in miracles, but it made them feel a bit more real.  Very grateful. And also had me wondering what positive characteristics I got from my mom.

Yesterday, I had a thought which I don't often have.  It wasn't an epiphany, per say, but most certainly a "light bulb" moment.  In all my gratitude lists that I do, I don't think I ever have written, "I'm grateful that I get to stay home with the kids most of the time."  If I have written it, I haven't written it every moment of every day.

I think I was regarding this situation as a "choice."  Or, at times, as a "consequence" of certain choices  But, I am so so so privileged.  And I am so grateful that I have gotten to be with them throughout this critical time period.  On my knees grateful.

A passage on detachment/ "letting go"

One day, my son brought a gerbil home to live with us. We put it in a cage. Some time later, the gerbil escaped. For the next six months, the animal ran frightened and wild through the house. So did we - chasing it."There it is. Get it!" we'd scream, each time someone spotted the gerbil. I, or my son, would throw down whatever we were working on, race across the house, and lunge at the animal hoping to catch it.I worried about it, even when we didn't see it. "This isn't right," I'd think. "I can't have a gerbil running loose in the house. We've got to catch it. We've got to do something."A small animal, the size of a mouse had the entire household in a tizzy.

One day, while sitting in the living room, I watched the animal scurry across the hallway. In frenzy, I started to lunge at it, as I usually did, then I stopped myself.  No, I said, I'm all done. If that animal wants to live in the nooks and crannies of this house, I'm going to let it. I'm done worrying about it. I'm done chasing it. It's an irregular circumstance, but that's just the way it's going to have to be.I let the gerbil run past without reacting. I felt slightly uncomfortable with my new reaction - not reacting - but I stuck to it anyway.  I got more comfortable with my new reaction - not reacting. Before long, I became downright peaceful with the situation. I had stopped fighting the gerbil. 

One afternoon, only weeks after I started practicing my new attitude, the gerbil ran by me, as it had so many times, and I barely glanced at it. The animal stopped in its tracks, turned around, and looked at me. I started to lunge at it. It started to run away.   I relaxed."Fine," I said. "Do what you want." And I meant it.  One hour later, the gerbil came and stood by me, and waited. I gently picked it up and placed it in its cage, where it has lived happily ever since. The moral of the story? Don't lunge at the gerbil. He's already frightened, and chasing him just scares him more and makes us crazy.Detachment works. 

Today, I will be comfortable with my new reaction - not reacting. I will feel at peace.

Melody Beattie
Language of Letting Go

PASSAGE 1 - 3 PS, Perfectionism
While listening to others share at Al-Anon meetings, I became aware that I hold myself to unrealistically high standards. I expect myself to be less fallible than everyone else. I acquired this character defect as a child in my attempts to control my alcoholic father by pleasing or appeasing him. It might have served a purpose then, no matter how illusionary it was, but it doesn't work for me now. Such perfectionism perpetuates dissatisfaction and low self-esteem.

What makes me think I'm different from everyone else? It's one thing to strive to do my best, but it's quite another to punish myself if results fall short of my high expectations. I am human, after all. It is in our very nature to have faults and limitations.

In my misguided quest for excellence, I often act as if my personal slogan were "If it's worth doing, it's worth making a major project out of it." As a result I usually don't have enough time to finish many projects. Rather, they languish in various stages of flawless incompletion. I need to remind myself continually to practice "Keep it Simple," and I'm getting better at it. Recently for the first time in my life, I heard myself say, "That's good enough."

The Seventh Step says, "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings." To do so requires me to acknowledge my humanity, including my perfectionism. It's unrealistic to expect perfection from and imperfect being in an imperfect world. The only perfection I can hope to attain is to be perfectly imperfect.

Thought for the Day
A mistake a day keeps my perfectionism at bay. Today I will endeavor to enjoy my humanness.
"My sponsor's general reminder of 'Progress, not perfection' encourages me to give myself credit." How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics, p. 323

**At the first sentence, I knew this passage was for me.  I can relate to a lot of it.  The reason why I am the way that I am is quite disconnected, for me.  I don't remember trying to be a perfectionist to please my mom.  I don't know if that's my truth.  It would make sense...... but, if that's why I am how I am, it either was in my subconscious or I simply don't remember.  When I read these types of passages, I think, "maybe." Regardless, I like the idea of "A mistake a day keeps my perfectionism at bay."  And can definitely relate to the Perfectionism, Procrastination, Paralysis aspect.  Lots of unfinished high quality projects.

One of the ways in which we help ourselves to serenity and an orderly life is through Twelfth Step work, so-called because it is the final one of the Twelve Steps by which we live in Al-Anon.
It means to be always ready to help another person in trouble – someone new who may not yet have heard that Al-Anon can help when there is alcoholism in a family. This “carrying the message” requires constant awareness of a possible need: perhaps a neighbor or someone we meet casually who indicates that he or she is living with such a problem.

I will tactfully offer help to anyone who needs to learn how to live with all the many difficulties which alcoholism can create or aggravate. My first suggestion should be that there is always hope, and that a new way of life can be found in Al-Anon, in the company of others who share the same problem.
“I will be always ready to carry the message to others. The need is all around me if I keep myself alert enough to recognize it. In helping others, I also help myself.”

Everyone who plays a part in our lives offers something we might learn. Other people can be our mirrors, reflecting our better and worse quality. They can help us to work through conflicts from the past that were never resolved. They can act as catalysts, activating parts of ourselves that need to rise to the surface so that we can attend to them.

Others can learn from us as well. We are all connected. That is our great strengths.
So when I grow impatient with someone's sharing in a meeting, or take offense at a loved one's inattention, or feel incapable of coping with another person's choices, I will consider the possibility that my teacher or my mirror stands before me. And I will ask my Higher Power to help me perceive their gifts.

Today's Reminder
One reason I come to Al-Anon is to learn to develop healthy, loving relationships with myself and others. I recognize that I need other people. I will welcome those my Higher Power brings to me today.
"Separate reeds are weak and easily broken; but bound together they are strong and hard to tear apart." The Midrash

 **In regards to that last quote.... "who am I bound with?" This is an area that I need to strengthen.  A lot of the mama connections I made when J was born are no longer present.  Friends have moved away, gone back to school, work, etc.  And my Al Anon friends mainly stay in al anon.  And while I have internet support and it is fantastic.............. I need people close enough that I can call upon or provide real assistance to. 

Anyways......... this morning I had a humbling mom moment in a store.  A woman critiquing my parenting practices (kind of) to the person she was with, but loud enough for me to hear.  To be fair, it wasn't a true critique, just an observation.  Anyways......I was mad and embarrassed.......... but was already thinking, "What can I learn from this situation."  "What is God trying to tell me."  Progress!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Quick Update - I'm doing good!  On the right track.  I need to get out of this sponsorship.  I spent a lot of time praying on it and evaluating it and am positive.  I think I knew from the second meeting we had, but I just wanted it to work out so badly.  Now just trying to figure out how to say no and get out of the relationship (good practice for me), as this is one of my HUGE weaknesses!

In one of the Al-Anon leaflets the following hard-to-believe statement is made: "A drinking problem in the home can often be more easily recognized by the wife's behavior than by that of the drinker."

Isn't this an inevitable consequence of our turbulent emotions, our despair and uncertainty? Isn't it proved by our futile efforts to outwit the alcoholic, to compel him to stop drinking and meet his responsibilities? This self-imposed struggle to control the uncontrollable is certainly not rational!
Once we experience the effects of applying the Al-Anon program, and observe the miraculous changes that take place in the attitudes of our Al-Anon friends, we can look back thankfully that we, too, are improving our relationship.

Today's Reminder
As I see the progress I have made, it becomes clear to me that many of my earlier habitual reactions needed to be transformed into normal mature behavior. The only possible way to improve the conditions of one's life is to improve one's emotional condition.
"Most of the things I did, in anger and frustration, only made matters worse. Now I am learning to let go."

PASSAGE 2 - step 1

Before Al-Anon, I believe that being an adult was to be in control--rigid, cool. Being an adult was looking good on the outside and not feeling what was going on the inside. Being an adult meant doing for others until I dropped.

Al-Anon has opened up a whole new way of living. The first thing that had to go was a control over others--it simply doesn't work. Trying to be in control is an effective method of keeping loved ones at a distance. Instead, I admitted that I am powerless over others. Then I had to begin to put away the "lookin' good" facade in order to share my feelings at meetings. And one fine day I picked up the One Day at a Time in Al-Anon (ODAT) book and read the pages on "martyrdom." I became uncomfortably aware that my "do-gooder" role often masked a martyr.

Becoming more human has been difficult and frightening at times, but being more genuine allows me to have real relationships, real communication, and real happiness.

Today's Reminder
Today I can risk being myself. I don't have to live up to anyone's image. All I have to do is be me.
As I surrendered my imaginary power over others, I gained a more realistic view of my own life.

 *LOVE THIS!!!!!!  Will be a favorite

PASSAGE 3 - parents
I was practically consumed with frustration and anger toward my mother when I first discovered Al-Anon. Although my father was the one who drank, screamed with rage, hit, and eventually abandoned me, I blamed my mother for not protecting me and for refusing to admit how harrowing my life had been.

In Al-Anon and through the love and patience of my sponsor, I found acceptance and understanding of my feelings. I was introduced to the idea of "Live and Let Live." Gradually I put aside my resentments by accepting my powerlessness over both the disease and my mother's reaction to it. As I continued my recovery, I discovered compassion for her and ended my struggle to force her to break her denial.

Today I can put the past where it belongs and focus on taking care of myself. I needn't wait for someone to do it for me. I am no longer a victim of my emotions or of circumstances beyond my control. Instead, I am free to enjoy what I have received through this fellowship--serenity, courage, wisdom, and love.

Thought for the Day
Acceptance is a form of living and letting live that frees all concerned to follow their Higher Power's will.
"Acceptance is a challenging but rewarding spiritual discipline." From Survival to Recovery, p. 95

Monday, November 28, 2016
We hear in Al-Anon that no situation is hopeless. At first we find this hard to believe. Hope and despair are human emotional attitudes; it is we who are hopeless, and not the condition of our lives. In a desperate situation, we give up hope because we are unable, as yet, to believe in the possibility of a change for the better.

Today's Reminder
If I have been relying on my judgment alone, and have tried to correct what is wrong by using the wrong tools, it's I have reason for despair. I will learn, in Al-Anon, to recognize my errors, to see the roadblocks of self-will and self-righteousness I have been putting in my way. Then I will no longer insist that a thing is impossible because I have been unable to accomplish it. Others have, and many of them had far greater problems than mine. Once I use the Al-Anon program's and let myself be guided by God's will instead of my own, my distorted outlook will be replaced by order and peace of mind.
". . . if thou canst believe; all things are possible to him that believeth." (Mark)

**"Hope and despair are human emotional attitudes."  Why?  Maybe to bring us closer to God? 

PASSAGE 2 - step 4
As I worked my way through Step Four, I listed my character traits as honestly and fearlessly as I could. I was struck by a great irony: Many things I had once thought of as virtues--taking care of everyone around me, worrying about other people's lives, sacrificing my own happiness and prosperity--turned out to be the causes of my misery! And those traits I had always ignored--talent, optimism, self-discipline--turned out to be my truly positive qualities. It was as though, through the power of this Step, I have found a way to turn my upside-down personality right-side up.

I still struggle to keep it all from turning over once again. But when I see myself clearly, I have a sense of wholeness and a feeling of pride and peace. I can be happy to be myself now that I know who I am. 

Today's Reminder
My life is in a constant state of change. Awareness allows the keep pace with that change. Today let me listen to my words and watch my actions. Only by knowing the person I am can I create the person I want to become.
"Each man must look to himself to teach him the meaning of life. It is not something he discovered: it is something molded." Antoine de Saint-Exupery

PASSAGE 3 - parents, let it begin with me
My parents didn't know I was angry with them, because I was the "good" kid. I felt angry about the drinking and the constant chaos, but I never said anything. I swallowed my resentment, thinking either my needs would go away or my parents would change. Of course, neither happened.

In Al-Anon I learned about alcoholism as a family disease and the role I played. My destructive childhood experiences were not due solely to my parents' alcoholism. I played a part in it, too, and I lugged my childhood dredges into adulthood. I healed much of my pain through Al-Anon's Fourth and Fifth Steps by pouring out my frustration and rage to my sponsor. All I really needed was to be heard. Then I could let go of some ugly feelings.

To make amends to my parents in Step Nine, I decided to practice being a better daughter. For example, instead of expecting them to phone me, I started to call them regularly. At first the conversations were awkward. Mom would answer the phone, greet me, and quickly pass the phone to Dad. I knew my parents hadn't been able to provide consistency for me because no one had given it to them. I "Let It Begin with Me" by calling them but the same reliability I yearned for as a child. Now when I call home, Mom seems more comfortable talking with me. We enjoyed much longer conversations before she hands the phone to Dad. Sometimes she even asks for the phone back so we can talk more!

Thought for the Day
When I take my parents' inventory, I hold grudges and sink deeper into my disease. When I take my inventory and make amends, I grow, learn, and love more deeply.
"Let me remember that the reason for making amends is to free my own mind of uneasiness . . ."
Al-Anon is for Adult Children of Alcoholics, p. 16

**Let it begin wtih me.  This will be my slogan this week.  And remembering that if I find myself taking someone else's inventory, I really need to be taking my own.  
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Feeling extremely grateful and privileged tonight.   Also, just feeling, like I want to experience some joy!!!!

I can be proud of the fact that I am a survivor. I have been brought through many struggle in order to be exactly where I am today. Today I know that I am more than my troubles. I am a human being with dignity. I have a wealth of experience that I can put to use by sharing it with those who are going through similar difficulties. I need your the challenges of the future, because I know that today, with the guidance of my Higher Power and with the strength and knowledge I have gained from Al-Anon, I am capable of facing anything life brings me.

Though I once viewed my life is a tragedy, I now have a different perspective on those experiences. I know that I am a stronger person as a result of what I've been through.

Today's Reminder
If I so choose, I can regard everything that happens in my life as a gift from which I can learn and grow. Today I will find something positive hidden within a difficult situation and allow myself to be grateful. I may be surprised at how much a little gratitude can help.
"When it gets dark enough, you can see the stars." Charles A. Beard

**I've heard that quote before and I do like it.  "When it gets dark enough, you can see the stars."  I like how being a survivor is associated with strength.  When you hear speakers who have been through tough things, you don't think of them as weak, but as someone who has taken that, learned from that and survived.  They are strong.  They are an inspiration.  I would like to be that way, too.  And the nice thing is........... that I do have control over some of that!  I can choose not to be a victim,  but instead a survivor. 

A man whose wife is an alcoholic often hesitates to seek help in Al-Anon because it seems like the confession of failure on his part. He may be reluctant to let go of the martyrdom of carrying the entire responsibility for the family; perhaps he derives an inner satisfaction from the dependency of the alcoholic, whom he considers weak and helpless.

It's in the Al-Anon program he learns to make himself comfortable this by not accepting his wife responsibilities. He will in time discover his own motivations and change his attitude. And he will do nothing toward controlling his wife's sickness, for the First Step assures him that he cannot.

Today's Reminder
When a man sees the logic and promise in the Al-Anon idea, he will accept the necessity of releasing his wife from his solicitous domination. He will realize that she will seek sobriety only when he allows her to face her problem. His search for help is thus not a confession of failure, but proof of his strength to reach out for a new life for his family.
"If that thou hast the gift of strength, then know thy part is to uplift the trodden low." (George Meredith: The Burden of Strength)

** today, I tried hammering Hubby over the head with his truth about his infidelity.  He is refusing to talk to me about the incident.  I was so excited about our healthy talk.  Yep.  That didn't happen.  I tried to explaining to him pretty much why he, "owes it to me" to talk with me.  It wasn't my proudest moment. 

We truly get much further when treating people with respect.  Anyways, moving on....

I used to think Tradition Seven, "Every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions," was limited to the financial matters of the group, such as paying rent and providing supplies. It was just a sentence that accompanied the passing of the basket at meetings. Lately I've become more aware of the significance and value of being self-supporting.

Practicing the Seventh Tradition in a broader sense means I give more than money to my group. I give my time and talent in the form of service, which rewards me with increased self-esteem and a greater sense of confidence. I also give my informed opinion during group conscience decisions, which reinforces my sense of worthiness. Contributing to my meetings on various levels also helps me make amends to myself for the times I was not self-supporting in other areas of my life, whether they were physical, emotional, or spiritual. I see a difference in my group and in myself as I contribute more and more. I receive a clear demonstration that I am a valuable part of the meeting and that my input really does matter.

Service is a win-win situation. As I contribute to my meetings, I make a direct investment in the groups that encourage, support, and maintain my well-being. The stronger my meetings become, the more my recovery grows.

Thought for the Day
When I contribute my part to keep my meeting self-supporting, I contribute to my own recovery.
"To think of Tradition Seven as a protection for my spiritual growth is humbling and freeing.” Paths to Recovery, p. 198
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Passage 1

People in trouble look for help and often ask for it in the shape of advice from the more seasoned members who are all so willing to help them.
"My husband comes home drunk and turns on the TV and keeps us awake; what shall I do?" "He was arrested for fighting; what shall I do?" "I'm sick of sitting at home all the time; he never takes me anywhere; what shall I do?" The more experienced member realizes that we don't tell anybody what to do. People only accept and use the advice they're ready for. Helping the newcomer apply Al-Anon principles to all problems is a vital part of the learning process through which all of us grow. Then we will know how to make the decisions that are best for us, and have the courage to see them through.

Today's Reminder
When I am asked for advice, I know only what I would do if I were faced with the same problem, and not what would be right for another. Good advice in Al-Anon takes the form of gentle guidance into Al-Anon principles, so people can find the right answers for themselves.
"I cannot solve anyone else's problem. I can, however, show how problem-solving is done by using the Al-Anon program."

**Another comment, sometimes we don't even know what we would do if we were faced with the same problem.  We know what we THINK we'd do.  But, in actuality, it's often much different.  I just had to throw that out there.  I don't think I ever thought this is how I'd respond if someone cheated on me.  And if I didn't already have al anon tools, it may be different. I stopped, told him I wanted to talk about it in a couple days and read 3 or 4 books on being in this situation.  All of them said not to act rashly.  What?  You aren't supposed to storm out of the relationship and have it just be over?  That's kind of what I expected.  Next, they said to be VERY careful to who you speak with about it.  Only safe people, because if you change your mind and stay with him, it may be difficult for others to forgive and understand.  And I called therapists and got help.  If this had happened to a friend before me, I don't think I would have predicted I'd respond like this.

ANYWAYS, I love this part of al anon.  It's also shows someone respect.  To assume you know enough about their situation to know what's right for them, is arrogant.  It also doesn't take into account the person who actually has to live out their life.  And, it's odd, I am being so harsh.  BECAUSE, this, of course, is my issue.  And with hubby, even now I'm dictating what I need from him.  sigh.

Moving forward....

Passage 2 - nothing changes if nothing changes
Feeling that-I don't belong has been a problem all my life. This was especially true when I first came to Al-Anon. My attending seemed wrong because there was no alcohol in my household as a child-it was my grandparents who drank.  At that first meeting, I learned that alcoholism is a family disease. It affects not only the person who drinks, but those who care about him or her.  

Indeed, the effects of this disease are often passed from one generation to another. When I heard a description of some of those effects, I recognized a profile of myself. For the first time in my life I was with people who knew what I was going through. Today I see clearly that I have in fact been affected by the family disease of alcoholism.

Al-Anon offers me a way to do my part in breaking this family pattern. I can get off the merry-go round by choosing recovery.

 Today's Reminder
In Al-Anon I find people who understand as few others can. If I have been affected by the drinking of another, I need not doubt that I belong.
"No matter what the difficulty, no matter how unique we may feel, somewhere nearby are men and women with similar stories who have found help, comfort, and hope through recovery in Al-Anon." . . . In All Our Affairs

Passage 3
One thing is certain about my childhood. I learned first-hand the instability and chaos that rules a drinking home. I learned to trust no one, to stay silent at all costs, to stuff my feelings, never to stand up for myself, to take on more responsibility than I could handle, to love conditionally, and to tell white lies to cover up my home life. No wonder as an adult I perceived that close interpersonal relationships were like constantly moving targets. Usually I was the one who was moving because I lacked the skills to develop and maintain healthy adult relationships.

Thanks to Al-Anon I have learned that it's safe to trust again. First, I began to trust my Higher Power who loves me unconditionally-no matter what I say, do, or feel. I learned to trust the fellowship where many have experienced the same childhood traumas that I did. I'm also learning to trust the people in my life-my husband, friends, siblings, and even my parents. In spite of my unhealthy childhood, I forgive both of my parents.

Although it took me four decades to recognize my disease and find my way to Al-Anon, I have been strengthened and blessed by the miracles that have taken place in my life through this program. I owe this fellowship and God a huge debt of gratitude and love.

Thought for the Day
Trust is one of the first things to go in an alcoholic situation, but I can regain it through Al-Anon.
"If I'm willing to give others a second chance and trust them a little more each day, . . . faith in people may start to come back." Alateen-a day at a time, p. I 10

Friday, November 25, 2016
Sick, cuddly, cute, adorable babies are tough.  We've been up 2-4am, but I'm hopefully she's actually going to stay asleep this time.

Anyways, I just felt like grieving a little bit tonight.  There are so many times that I want a partner like...... I feel like I used to have........ or thought I had.  I've grieved this loss before.  And I don't know if it's a forever loss. And I know a lot of people grieve this loss..... that it's not turning out how they wanted it to, for a variety of reasons. 

But, Hubby isn't drinking right now, but it's still just so tough on him.  I ran a race yesterday with the kids.  I want it to be a Thanksgiving tradition.  This is something hubby and I have talked about since long before the kids were born as a fun thing to do.  The only thing is that I have run every year without him.  And I don't even see myself as a runner. 

I was with Hubby for 9 years before we had kids.  And in those years we went to so many races.  He was always the runner.  I was the amazing hard core fan.  I loved cheering for him and driving from spot to spot along the marathon course to see him as he went.  I love the spirit of races. I love the athleticism and the atmosphere and comradery among fellow runners and fans.  

Hubby hasn't run a race since J was in my tummy.  It just is not how I pictured it.  Our lives changed so dramatically.  I've run a few so that I can introduce this into the kids' lives and I think that's great.  I love that I'm running and we get to still have fun with it.

But, it's so sad.  My sponsor told me that I can't, "pity him into recovery."  But, I'm not trying to pity him into recovery.  It just feels like I lost someone very dear to me. 

We went on so many adventures together.  And we still do have an adventure here or there.  It's just so unpredictable.  Waiting for Hubby to be in a "healthy" mood.

Yesterday, he slept until 4pm and then was anxious.  He came in for Thanksgiving dinner and acted very anxious/OCD ish.  He was talking about laundry.  And this is just mental health.  My husband is sick and it completely stinks.

And this is the same man who supported me through Grad school and, in my eyes, was capable of anything.  Unlimited potential.  I don't really want to go to a place where I'm wondering what could have been.  Especially because there was a lot of denial previously. But, I do think I need to leave space open to grieve my loss. 

I feel like a single mama sometimes.

Anyways............... time for self pity to STOP.  L has been up with me again.  She didn't go back to sleep.  Wake up time is in 15 minutes, so J wi1ll soon be joining us.  Should be interesting sleep wise for tomorrow. 

Ok, it's morning now.  Around 10am.  Hubby actually heard me crying while I was writing the above and asked me what was wrong.  I told him and asked, "isn't it sad?"  And he said, "No!"  And I said, "No?"  And he said, "Do you know why it's not sad?"  And I said, "No."  And he said, "Because my story isn't over yet" and gave me a hug.  Then, he took L and let me get an hour of sleep before J woke up (luckily slept in).

That's the husband I know.  That's the husband I love and the husband who appears sporadically.  He is "himself" today.  I feel the need to cram a lot of Christmas traditions in before he goes away again.  And he is right.  His story isn't over yet and neither is mine.  I'm so glad that he can see clearly! 

Lots of interruptions today.  6:30pm.  Hubby and I are going to try to talk about something using the guidelines for Recovering Couples Anonymous.  We are trying to sandwich our meeting between recovery and self care things.  So, he is doing a meeting first.  I don't have a phone meeting at this time, so decided to do my passages.  I'll do a meeting after.  I was super proud of myself because I wanted to talk to Hubby immediately about this issue, but restrained myself.  I was so mad.  Now, I am calm and ready.  He initially requested a meeting on Sunday, but I felt that was too long and asked if we could do it tonight. 


PASSAGE 1 - sponsorship
If I want what you have, I need to become willing to do what you have done. For me this was the central tenet of Al-Anon’s practice of sponsorship. While growing up in an alcoholic environment, I had become afraid of people and mistrustful of intimacy. Initially I resisted many of the program’s suggestions. It took me a long time to get a sponsor, but eventually, because I wanted what one particular person had, I asked her what she had done to achieve it. She became my sponsor. My recovery accelerated as I became willing to ask for another member’s help.

Today I am blessed to have a sponsor and to be a sponsor for others. I am one link in a great chain of people helping people. Having once felt incredibly alone and isolated, I’m not connected once again with humanity. The roles of sponsor and sponsee have taught me so much about normal, loving human relationships. I have learned how to practice unconditional love and emotional detachment, how to set healthy boundaries, how to care for people without taking care of them, and how to let others get close to me without losing myself.

Thought for the Day
Sponsorship works when people love themselves enough to ask for help and when others love themselves enough to say yes.
“The most important thing is to be willing to reach out and ask for the help we need, human to human.” How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics, p. 37

** I feel like my sponsorship has, after an initial great meeting, had a rocky start.  I think I need to open with my sponsor and give us a chance to have a real relationship by telling her about my hesitations.

When I came to Al-Anon, I knew that a close relative drank too much, and I knew I wasn’t happy, but I didn’t think I needed much help. I went to a meeting every week unless there was something else to do and I didn’t get a sponsor. I grew, but slowly.

A crisis brought my leisurely approach to recover to an end. When I lost someone very special to me, the pain was almost more than I could stand. I was lucky; I had learned enough to pick up the phone and call someone in Al-Anon. That person helped me to make it through the crisis, but that was only the beginning. I saw how badly I needed the strength and skills that Al-Anon had to offer. I began going to quite a few meetings each week, doing service work, calling Al-Anon friends. My recovery really took off! Today, practicing the program gets top priority in my life, because I know where I would have wound up without that crisis.

Today’s Reminder
Sometimes the greatest growth comes through pain, but it’s not the pain that helps me grow, it’s my response to it. Will I suffer through the experience and continue as before or let the pain inspire changes that help me grow? The choice is mine.

“I had learned in Al-Anon to look for opportunities for growth in every situation. This attitude allowed me to gain many spiritual riches from the pain I was experiencing.“ . . . . In All Our Affairs

**Opportunities for growth.  J climbed into a situation that she thought she couldn't handle.  She was crying and yelling, "save me, save me."  I saw her.  I saw her fear.  I saw that she possibly could hurt herself, but the chances were very low and it was unlikely to be serious.  And I saw an opportunity for growth.  I told her, "I'm here.  I believe in you.  You found your way up and I know that you can find your way down."   

I sat there with her while she cried.  I encouraged her to take deep breaths and calm her body.  When she shouted, "I can't!" I challenged her to think, "How can I?"  She actually peed herself because she was so scared. 

But, I"m a stubborn mama.  I told her that it's normal to pee yourself when your scared and even adults do it when very scared.  I then continued to encourage her to calm her body, trust her balance and know that she is in God's hands. 

The whole thing probably only took 5 minutes.  After she got down, I told her, "I knew she could do it" and gave her a big hug! 

Anyways............... opportunities for growth.  To J, she may have thought she got herself in a horrible spot.  It was a total crisis!  She climbed up and now she was stuck!  As her Mama, I saw an opportunity for growth.  An opportunity to practice calming down, trusting her own body, trusting God, believing in herself and maybe only getting in situations, she knows she can get herself out of climbing wise. 

I think so many of us do not learn what we need to learn until crisis hits.  I wonder if God looks at the crisis as an opportunity for growth, thinking of all the lessons we could learn.  Then watching our realizations.

PASSAGE 3 - If in Doubt - Don't, Let Go and Let God
About two years ago, my parents divorced. At that time I made it clear I was not going to do any mediation. I did fairly well staying physically out of their problems, but mentally I was a mess. My mother couldn’t hear me when I said no. It got to the point that having no contact with either of them seemed to be the best choice for maintaining my sanity.

In principle this was a great idea, except that both my parents and I are actively involved in Al-Anon service. My father is a dual member, and my mother recently became a group representative. My husband and I were with my father at a program conference when my mother walked in to the Al-Anon meeting. I panicked. What should I do if a conflict arose between them after the meeting? If it did, how could I keep from being pulled into it?

My husband noticed my reaction and gently reminded me of my tendency to obsess and project. His comment, together with my Al-Anon training, reminded me that the best way to handle the situation was to practice “Let Go and Let God” and do nothing. Later, after writing a little and talking with my sponsor, I was able to let both of them go and enjoy the rest of the conference.
Thought for the Day

Al-Anon teaches me to avoid the “have to” syndrome. When I feel like I just absolutely have to do something about a situation that is not a true crisis, it’s best to sit still, do nothing, and wait for my Higher Power’s guidance.

“When I think of letting go I remind myself that there is a natural order to life – a chain of events that a Higher Power has in mind. When I let go of a situation, I allow life to unfold according to that plan.” Courage to Change, p. 203

**"It's best to sit still, do nothing and wait for my Higher Power's guidance."  I love this!  I believe it!  But, it sure is uncomfortable.

The only thing I may modify is "do nothing."  I do believe you need to be reading, listening, praying, seeking information.  Maybe making yourself open to different ideas.  In some situations, just self care I think will bring you to the decision.  But, I don't think just "doing nothing" will always get you there. Maybe... "sit still, do nothing and listen for higher power's guidance." 
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Well, in the purpose of vulnerability.  I'll keep my rant up from last night.  I'm a mess today.  There are some great things!  J and I are working on CHRISTMAS cards!! 

My sister paid for us to get photos taken a few weeks ago and we got some really sweet ones of the girls.  We got the cards yesterday and started addressing and decorating envelopes this morning.  It was so fun!  Shiny things and crafts and teamwork = joy to me. 

Sweet little L is feeling better and I'm so so grateful.  She was so sad and uncomfortable last night.  Still slight fever this morning when on fever reducers, so I stayed home.  She is enjoying cuddling in my lap and being carried around.  An occasional babble.  Her baby talk right now sounds like a little bird.  It is the best!

Okay, about 6 hours later (how did that go by so quickly!)  The passages were really wonderful today.  L just went down for nap.  Her fever spiked again, but fever reducer is really really helping!


Just for today, I will not be afraid of anything. If my mind is clouded with nameless dreads, I will track them down and expose their unreality. I will remind myself that God is in charge of me and mine, and that I have only to accept His protection and guidance. What happened yesterday need not trouble me today.

This is a brand new shining day and I have it in my power to make it a good one just by the way I think about it and what I do with it.

If I live just this one day at a time, I will not so readily entertain fears of what might happen tomorrow. If I am concentrating on today’s activities, there will be no room in my mind for fretting and worrying. I will fill every minute of this day with something good – seen, heard, accomplished. Then when the day is ended, I can look back on it with satisfaction and serenity.
“I recall the words of an old ditty that said, ‘Never trouble ‘trouble’ ‘til trouble troubles you’.”

**This was just what I needed to read this morning.  JUST what I needed to read.  

PASSAGE 2 - Keep it simple
How often have I had a dream I longed to pursue, but quit before I started because it seemed too enormous a task to attempt? Going back to school, moving, taking a trip, changing jobs, all these and many other goals can seem overwhelming at first.

Al-Anon reminds me to “Keep it simple.” Instead of approaching the task as a whole, I can simplify it by taking only one step at a time. I can gather information – and do nothing more. Then, when I’m ready, I can take the project further. This takes some of the pressure off having to know all the answers and solve every problem that may arise before I’ve even begun.  I am also free to try something and then change my mind. I do not have to make a lifetime commitment before I even know whether or not my goal is desirable.

My plans may involve many actions and many risks, but I don’t have to tackle them all today. I can take my time and move step by step at my own pace. By focusing on one thing at a time, the impossible can become likely if I “Keep it simple.”

Today’s Reminder
With the help of Al-anon and my Higher Power, I am capable of many things I could not even have considered before. I may even be capable of pursuing my heart’s desire.
“All glory comes from daring to begin.“ Eugene F. Ware

** I feel like I need to memorize these last two.  Another that just spoke to me this morning, as I am writing about needing to make more money.

PASSAGE 3 - Parents

My parents argued again the other day. My alcoholic father decided to end his relationship with my brother for not giving him a birthday card. My mother wanted to continue the relationship with her son, and all came to a head when Dad took Mom to the hospital for a simple eye operation. Along the way he announced he was divorcing her for talking to my brother. He saw her communication with her son as a betrayal.

When I went to visit Mom in the hospital, I found her crying. I felt so sorry for her. In Al-Anon I have learned alcoholism is a disease that affects everyone in the family. I had already forgiven my mother for neglecting me during her preoccupation with my father’s drinking. I had been making daily Step Nine amends to my mom by treating her better, but I had never made formal person-to-person amends. Now was my opportunity.

I took her hand in mine. I kissed her tears away, the way I wanted her to do for me when I was a child. I told her all my good character traits that I finally realized had come from her. I shared with her how grateful I was that she was my mother and how much I loved her.
I held her, and we cried together in joy and love. We talked about the disease of alcoholism, my father’s alcoholic thinking, and how we both thought it was easier for him to think of divorcing her than it was to lose her through surgery. As I left she said she felt better. I felt close to my mother for the first time.

Thought for the Day
“…If I have worked the Eighth Step and become truly willing to make amends, I believe the opportunities will arise when I am ready.” Courage to Change, p. 163

**Wow!  What a powerful passage.  To be able to treat your mom in a way you wish she had treated you.  So wonderful! And then also to be able to see the dad's heart message, since he had never learned to communicate for himself.  
Oh, how I am not in control.

I'm not really sure of a great way out of this.  I feel like I have been trusting God on and off and hoping that the answer will just appear to me.  But, I'm thinking I need to do some more work too.  But, I don't even know what to do. 

So, I'm in a bind.

With work....

Monday, I had two babysitters cancel on me.  Yesterday, I had one cancel and couldn't find another.  I did have some babysitters apply that are "new."  So, they have no background check, no reviews.  How can I let them watch my babies?  The answer seems to be I can't.  I don't feel right letting Hubby watch the babies anymore.  And I feel confident in that decision.  At least for awhile.  So, I cancel work.

One of my new "ish" clients emailed me and asked if it was "normal" for me to cancel this much.

shame. shame. shame.

The truth?.................. yes, on occasion!  Do I feel that it is professional?............. nope.  Do I know how to get myself out of it?...................... nope. 

So, I responded telling her that it was unpredictable.  I didn't have great support babysitting wise and I like to be with my girls when they are sick.  I gave her a referral to another tutor. 

She said she wanted to stay with me.  But, she def. wants her son to see progress -- of course........................ I want him to, as well.  He is actually the sweetest boy in the world. Or at least one of them.....  But, I can't seem to figure this out.  And I feel like I should be able to.

And then L wakes up at 8pm (they go to sleep early) with a 102 + fever.  She runs high when sick, but she's sick.  I give her medication, hope she will feel better.  The medication seems to keep the fever down for only a very short period and then it's up again.  Then she throws up.  It's about 2am and she only just went back down to sleep.  And we usually wake up at 5am, if lucky.  And I haven't gotten any sleep. 

Anyways.....o ne of my very first thoughts when Laura wake up with a fever is.................. shoot!  I may have to cancel on this client again.  It's so disrespectful and so not who I want to be.  I don't like making commitments that I can't keep.

But, what in the world?  We have a new sitter today too.  She has a lot of reviews and seems fantastic, but L has never even met her before.  And if she's feeling sick, I'm supposed to just leave her with someone who she's not even met? 

My pride.

But, the thing is, if I don't work.  I can't pay for things and get the stability I want for my family.  It seems like I should be able to figure this out.  But, even though I have a Masters, my specialty is in private practice.  I don't have the credentials needed to get this type of job with a school or big organization and even if I did, it's slim pickings or long hours.   I check the job ads occasionally and it seems the jobs I'm qualified for are not enough to afford childcare. 

And now, I'm just kind of venting.  I need to sleep.  But, I wanted to get this out.

I am so so so so so so so so not in control and my life is totally unmanageable.  And it sucks! 

And my new sponsor, I don't think is a very good sponsor.  And I'm disappointed.  And I could be wrong because I don't trust myself.  But, she spent a lot of time telling me I wasn't in a good situation or that Hubby should be helping with money and that it's "not good" that he doesn't.  Um, yah!!!!  But, I'm trying to tell her, I can't control that.  I'm letting that go because it's not in my control.  And doesn't she get that if we separate, it's not like he's going to help then, anyways.  And I'm def. not jumping into another relationship for a LONG time.  Soooo, I know I need to pray and wait to feel peace on the sponsor thing. 

And I'm starting to get off track.  But, I wanted to get it out.

I know that in order to get a new job and financial situation, I need to get out of my old one.  And I'm trying to be open to see what God has in store for me.  And I love my current job and if I fill  up my time slots can make it work money wise.  Yet..... I feel so conflicted advertising to fill my spots when I'm cancelling on these kiddos.  My life is just so chaotic right now. 

And I think online is the way to go. 


Thank you, Lord, for being present, even when I am confused and don't know how to make it work.  Please, let this be an exercise in trusting you.  I have seen you, again and again provide for me.  I trust that you will humble me as much as I need to be humbled.  Help me set my eyes on you and feel safe in that. 

Thank you for the thousands of things you have blessed me with in every day.  Help me face my fears and face my weaknesses.  And not feel like cancelling one day of work because my daughter is sick makes me a failure. 

I pray for wisdom and awareness and peace.  And I pray for a clear way out of this financial mess.  I also pray for courage to face people when my weaknesses are exposed. 

Your loving daughter.......

Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Good morning, World! 

J inherited some ballet slippers when she was a newborn and they FINALLY fit.  So, now, she wants to find a dance stage.  I will see what I can do.  I'm sure I can be creative. 

Finding sitters has been a mess this week.  Yesterday, I had two cancellations.  I feel bad for my poor clients, but they seem to be extremely extremely patient, nice and flexible. 

I love my job.  But, it is really hard to leave my little girls.  J has been crying when I talk about babysitters coming.  That being said, she seems to enjoy when they come mostof the time. Luckily, L doesn't have the same anxiety problems that J did when she was little.  That was really rough.

It's time for me to work on my online business again.  I had such great momentum and then just burned out. 


Let's do some passages...

Special celebrations were always hard while I was growing up in my alcoholic family. The atmosphere always seemed sad because Dad used to get depressed before holidays. Now that I'm grown, holidays are still hard and Dad still gets depressed. The difference is I don't live at home anymore, and now I'm a member of Al-Anon.

In Al-Anon I learned I have choices. I can let go of the parts of my life that are not under my control and I can take charge of the parts that are. Even in the midst of the sadness I felt while growing up, I knew life had to be more fun than what I experienced. So, with the help of the program and the people in it, I decided to act on that knowledge. I reclaimed the holidays for myself in ways both small and large. I bought pairs of earrings that symbolized each celebration, and I even bought matching socks!

I never liked writing and mailing holiday cards, so I stopped. The most wonderful holiday tradition I have started is spending time with my friends and spiritual family in recovery. We celebrate many holidays together, and we always have a great time. This way, if I do decide to spend some holiday time with my family and accept the challenges of that choice, I also celebrate with people I trust to accept me as I am. I may not have enjoyed many holidays while growing up, but I can start enjoying them now.

Thought for the Day
My friends in the program help me heal my childhood by creating happier memories today.
"I knew deep down inside that God had not created me to feel sad, but I needed to learn how to get out from under that feeling:' The Forum, May 1998, p. 8

It is strange to think that many groups are hardly aware of the Twelve Traditions and their importance in keeping an Al-Anon group strong and united.

The Traditions guard us from the destructive effects of dominance by individual members. They make us all equal, so we can work together in harmony to achieve our spiritual growth and understanding.

When each member of the group is familiar with the Traditions and helps to make them work in the group, we are safe from many of the hazards that beset people who come together for a particular purpose.  In Al-Anon, conflicting views become merely differing views, so our problems can be solved with tolerant understanding and mutual respect.

When problems arise, we refer to Chapter 10 of “Living with an Alcoholic”, where we find explanations and solutions arrived at through the Twelve Traditions.

Today's Reminder
I will make it my business to familiarize myself with the Twelve Traditions of Al-Anon so I can do my part toward promoting growth for the group and each member in it.
"Our common welfare should come first; personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity." (Tradition One)

** My sponsor has hinted that she doesn't think I should stay with Hubby (which really isn't program).  I don't know if she is actually hinting this or if I am just perceiving it that way.  Anyways, I am wondering if I am seeing her differing view as a conflicting view and therefore have more emotion/importance tied to that.  She has told me that she doesn't consider herself judgmental and she has been careful about not specifically saying what she thinks.  Anyways............. moving on.

Al-Anon is a spiritual recovery program. The word, “Recovery” implies that we are regaining something we once possessed but have lost or set aside.

In the confusion of living with active drinkers, I lost track of my spirit. Life was a survival game, a daily grind of fear and hard work. No matter what I tried, nothing seemed to help. Perhaps that’s because I was trying to do it all by myself.

In Al-Anon I have come to know that I have a resource within me and all around me that can guide me through the most overwhelming fears and the most challenging decisions, – a Higher Power. Regardless of how I define that Higher Power, it is real to me and has always been here for me. I am so grateful to have recovered that connection to my spirituality, for in doing so, I have regained an essential part of myself. As a result, today my life has a sense of purpose that makes each moment a precious gift.

Today’s Reminder
I am a spiritual creature, capable of faith, hope and an appreciation of beauty. I have an unlimited source of strength and comfort at my disposal. Today I will take the time to cultivate that spiritual connection.

“Half an hour’s meditation is essential except when you are very busy. Then a full hour is needed.“ Francis de Sales

** I like the idea of recovery as regaining my spiritual self.  This connection is something I feel so sporadically.  Yet, there have been times in my life where it felt much more tangible. 
Monday, November 21, 2016
A cloudy day with beams of light shining through. 

Weather may seem like a standard conversation starter, but I often find so much peace from looking outside of myself at something I so obviously can't control.  It often gets my head on straight.

Another thing the speaker at church yesterday said was that she often finds peace when hearing or seeing song birds.

What is the price of five sparrows? A couple of pennies? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows. (Luke 12:6)

I really liked the idea of being brought back to peace with the sight or song of a bird.

Continuing on....

Someone persuaded Mr. J. to attend an Al-Anon meeting. His wife had finally joined AA and was devoting herself to sobriety – and to developing herself as a person through the spiritual elements in the AA program.

Mr. J. frankly didn’t like it. He and his wife had entertained a great deal, at cocktail parties and such, and her sobriety interfered with these activities. To him, it was perfectly ridiculous that anyone of their social standing should admit to being enslaved by alcohol. Even after four or five Al-Anon meetings, he still couldn’t understand why his wife found it necessary to continue with AA now that she was sober, or that Al-Anon had anything for him.

When I consider how people limit themselves by keeping closed minds, I learn that pride often makes recovery difficult both from alcoholism and from the emotional sickness of living with an alcoholic. I see how necessary it is to accept changes in my patterns of living – if I really hope for a serene and orderly existence.
“Some people don’t know how badly they need a new way of life until disaster overtakes them.”

**Pride is a big one for me!

Sometimes I think that, because I’ve been in Al-Anon for a long time, I shouldn’t have any more problems. When difficulties do arise, I feel something is wrong with me or with the program.  Actually, in some ways I have more problems than ever. When I came to Al-Anon, I had only one problem: I didn’t know how to fix the alcoholic. (My life was in complete shambles, but I swore that I was fine.) Today I know that I can’t fix anyone but myself, and I challenge myself daily to seek a richer, more meaningful life. I’m taking risks, facing fears, making changes, speaking up, making myself available to life.

I’m bound to run into snags here and there. Sometimes life doesn’t follow my blueprint. I get overwhelmed and want to crawl under the covers and hide. At such a time it helps to remember that Al-Anon doesn’t take away problems, but it does give me the courage and insight to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

Today’s Reminder
In handling my difficulties, what’s important isn’t how much time I have in Al-Anon but how willing I am to implement the tools of recovery. While Al-Anon doesn’t grant immunity from problems, it does offer a healthy way to deal with them.
Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.“ H.W. Beecher

Step Five, "Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs," suggest a specific order for actions. It also gives me a guideline for prioritizing the relationships in my life.

First, I need to develop a relationship with the God of my understanding. This will be the source of my happiness and future recovery in Al-Anon. Without such a relationship, I will not have the strength, guidance, or wisdom I need to live and learn the Steps, Traditions, Concepts of Service, and slogans. My Higher Power will give me courage to develop the attitudes and behaviors that bring about solid recovery. Steps One through Three help build this important relationship.

 Next, I learn to become at peace with myself. I wake up with myself every morning and go to sleep with myself every night. I spend 24 hours a day with that one person, so it is important that I'm at least tolerable if not downright enjoyable company. I can't be that person when I'm overly controlled by guilt, fear, and resentment and negligibly aware of my gifts and talents. Steps Four through Seven help me get to know and accept myself.

Lastly, I start acting responsibly towards others. The best way to heal that guilt and resentment I've been lugging around is to take a good, hard look at the people I've harmed and do my best to make amends. I can even go one step further by carrying a message of hope instead of hurt as I may have done in the past. Steps Eight through Twelve help me clean up my past and plant seeds of benevolence in the future.

Thought for the Day!
In what order of importance are my relationships today?
"The Steps are a guide to total good living."
Sunday, November 20, 2016
I am up writing this after 10pm at night and tomorrow morning, I will likely be slow to wake. I think that is ok.  I am not sure what it was that made me delay writing this today, but this evening has been a bit magical.

The kids go to sleep at 6pm.  Hubby went to bed around 8pm.  And I have had all this time.  All this time to read and clean and just be by myself.  It's been lovely.

Here are some things I am grateful for tonight........

- Church.  I didn't feel like going this morning, but it was extremely powerful.  The worship was powerful, as was the message.  The speaker runs a hospice facility in Kenya (the only one which cares for children).  Our church supports her endeavor financially.  She left from our church 12 years ago and is probably 5-10 years older than me.  The pastor, his kids and wife also flew out to give an update.  Her message was, "Do not be afraid.  Nothing is impossible with God." Step 2. (Did I mention, that since I'm in recovery, I translate every message from church into a step.  Yup.) 

I won't tell her whole story, but she adopted a precious little orphan baby whose parents had died and just recently found out he has Sickle Cell Anemia.  In Kenya, that means only a 10% chance of reaching adulthood.  At the very end of her sermon, her brother came up and they sang the song, Sovereign Over Us by Northpark, in duet. 

Lyrics started like this...

There is strength within the sorrow
There is Beauty in our tears

And you meet us in our mourning
with a love that cast out fear.
You are working in our waiting
Sanctifying us
And beyond our understanding
You're teaching us to trust.
Another quote I really loved.  I didn't jot down who she quoted, unfortunately and google isn't bringing it up.  But... "Mourning and dancing don't always take turns."

I loved that. 

Another thing I'm grateful for..............

- Books.  I recently finished a book about the Tarahumara, who Hubby might actually be related to, called Born to Run..... fantastic!  And am now reading a wonderful book that meshes my appreciation for nature/gardening and love of self discovery.  Really enjoying it!

And another.......

- After spending a lot of time fixing up my house, I feel great about it.  A new babysitter came in the other day and said, "I love your house!"  And I actually agreed with her.  We have a room that we painted with chalkboard paint.  Our blue living room walls are decorated with Julianne's artwork and our new gratitude tree.  The rooms are sparse, but well loved.  And we have an outdoor dining room.  It is far from decorated well or fancy, but it feels like us.  And it is clean and orderly enough (we still have clutter).  But, I'm so grateful that after making some improvements, I didn't immediately want more.  I just felt satisfied.  Which is nice. 

There are many more things, but I want to stop here and do the passages....

PASSAGE 1 - honesty
Sometimes an alarm clock can be so welcome. Other times it is nothing but a disturbance. When I have a special visit planned and must catch an early plane, I'm thankful the alarm went off and I heard it. On other days when I'd rather not go to work, that same alarm is an unwelcome intrusion. It disturbs me when I would prefer to stay comfortable in bed.

Truth, like an alarm clock, can be comforting or disturbing. Sometimes I feel grateful to hear someone speak a comforting truth. On the other hand, there have been times when I felt intimidated to be honest. What about those times when I heard the truths about myself that left me feeling angry, embarrassed, or upset?

When given the occasion to hear or speak an uncomfortable reality, I have choices. I can hear it and grow, I can share it and grow or I can ignore it in favor of maintaining my comfort zone. The truth merely provides me with an opportunity for growth. The rest is up to me.

Thought for the Day!
How do I respond when the bell of truth rings? Do I face the discomfort so I may embrace the growth?

"With the Twelve Steps, I've learned to face the truth, the whole truth..."
** Yes, I can relate to this.  Sometimes a conversation where truth is told, doesn't make sense to me until days later.  My being open, honest and willing, makes it an opportunity for growth.  Even if I get mad at the person who saw that truth in me, I am very grateful that many times I have gone back to analyze what I heard and why it upset me so.  There are a couple times I am thinking of, where this was the case. 

Although there are many ways to tame a horse, there is general agreement on one point: The important thing is not to break the horse’s spirit. Colts, puppies, and little children are full of boundless joy in being alive. What had happened to my joy? Alcoholism, which has touched every generation of my family, had broken my spirit.

Al-Anon gives me a fellowship, a Sponsor, and Twelve Steps and Traditions that allow me to heal my broken spirit. My healing started when I quit fighting the God of other people’s understanding and found a God who honored the long-forgotten spirit in me. That’s the God who can restore me to my true self.

Today I make a sincere effort to roll in the clover, kick up my heels, and celebrate being alive. It is one way in which I touch my God.

Today’s Reminder
Let me make this day a celebration of the spirit. There is a part of me that retains a childlike sense of curiosity, wonder, enthusiasm, and delight. I may have lost touch with it, but I know it still exists. I will set my problems to the side for a little while and appreciate what it means to be vitally alive.

“Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.“ George Bernard Shaw

**What an inspiring passage.

“Our group,” explains a member, “concentrates on the Twelve Steps. We rarely discuss the Traditions, because we feel that personal guidance for individuals is more helpful to us than pointers relating to the functioning of the group.” This is warped thinking, for the fact is that the Traditions are essential to the survival and proper functioning of the group through which each individual gets the desired help.

The Traditions tell us, for example, that the officers of a group are its leaders. Guided by the light of Tradition Two, they will not dominate or direct, a sometimes happens when a strong-willed opinionated member insists on holding office term after term, and makes decisions for the group.

“Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.” They serve, but do not control. Al-Anon is a fellowship of equals, and each member should welcome an opportunity to serve. Who, then, provides the authority under which the groups function? Tradition Two says, “For our group purpose there is but one authority – a loving god as He may express Himself in our group conscience.”

“Everyone should realize that our reaching toward peace of mind depends very much on our attitudes within the Al-Anon group.”
Saturday, November 19, 2016
I don't really want to blog this morning.  I just don't feel like it.  But, I will.  I've been doing much better at just trusting that Hubby is working on his program and leaving it to higher power.   He's gone to a 6am meeting for a few days and he had told me he liked it.  I asked if it continued to live up to expectations and he said he was looking for a sponsor, but he thinks he wants this perfect sponsor and it just doesn't exist.

Ummm, I TOTALLY get this!    I was super excited that he divulged this to me.  And even with my imperfect sponsor, I think I'm making progress.  So, that's good news!

Ok, passages

PASSAGE 1 - First Things First
"During my first year in Al-Anon, I concentrated on changing my attitude toward the alcoholic. I learned to sidestep quarrels; I controlled my impulse to complain and scold. I worked hard on getting rid of my resentments. As our relationship improved, and he was in AA, I had less reason to feel sorry for myself. I thought I was working the program."

"But all was not well in the home. There was a constant undercurrent of minor irritations. I had gone overboard trying to distract my mind from concentrating on the alcoholic problem. Golf, bowling, bridge, reading and socializing didn't leave me enough time and thought for my children; my house was never in order; meals were a bother. I wasn't doing my job!"

Today's Reminder
"Suddenly I awoke to the fact that Al-Anon asks a lot more of us than just to cope with the problem of alcoholism. We need to apply it to all departments of living--and in the order of their importance."
"I prayed to remember to attend to first things first."

**I really like this one because it talks of the different steps of program.  And she thought she had it figured out (I could def see myself being there.)  I think if this person was using program tools and TRYING to work her program, she was in fact working her program.  Progress, not perfection, right?  She just got better at it, IMO.  And could look back and see different stages.  When we approach a new way of living, it's so so natural not to even understand what that looks like and to take missteps - of course!  That's how we learn.  Anyways, I like this reminder, a lot.  And also prayer to differentiate what the first things are!!! 

For years I lamented the absence of a label that would identify the soul sickness that brought me to the fellowship. I wanted to say, "I'm a recovering controller, enabler, caretaker, fixer." Although they identify some of my character defects, these labels are missing the mark. I'm not simply seeking recovery from one limitation our problem. The goal I'm striving for an Al-Anon is an overall sense of wellness.

My pursuit of this goal began by seeking recovery from the way of loved one's alcoholism has affected my life. But today Al-Anon offers me even more. As I heal and grow, I find that it is no longer enough simply to survive. The principles and tools that brought me this far can help me to create an increasingly rich and fulfilling life.

Today, when I say I'm a grateful member of Al-Anon, I'm not zeroing in on one particular problem but rather participating in a whole host of solutions that can lead to emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

Today's Reminder
As I continue on the never-ending path of spiritual progress, I will expand my view of recovery.
"In Al-Anon we believe life is for growth, both mental and spiritual." The Twelve Steps and Traditions

PASSAGE 3 - parents
Several years ago I attended a workshop where the topic was the story of Lois W., one of Al-Anon's cofounders. I sat letting my thoughts ramble on about the inappropriate responses I sometimes have to situations. As usual I justified them by reminding myself that I learned these responses while growing up in an alcoholic environment. I was off in my own little world until I heard the words "smug" and "self-righteous." The presenter described how these character defects covered Lois's world in darkness where no light could show through. Just then I became aware that it didn't matter if I had alcoholic parents! I also had a program to improve myself, to recover.

 Finally I realized that I am not unique. I'm not the only person who struggles with the effects of alcoholism. Yes, I may have learned some of my character defects and my negative responses to life from my parents, but they're my defects now. My parents cannot do the recovering for me. It's up to me! No more blaming. It's time to get on with my life.
I reached a turning point when I realized who was hurting when I blamed my past instead of correcting my present.

Thought for the Day
Every defect I learned while growing up with alcoholism, I can unlearn. That's where Al-Anon comes in! 

"Smugness is the very worst sin of all, I believe. No shaft of light can pierce the armor of self-righteousness.” The Al-Anon Family Groups--Classic Edition, p. 58

***Love this!!  Definitely can relate to it.  
Friday, November 18, 2016
Passage 1 - Honest Open Willing
When I was eleven years old, my father was hospitalized. In an effort to protect me, I was told the other person in my father's room was very sick, not my father. Eventually I discovered what really happened. My father had suffered a heart attack. I felt devastated that I had not been told the truth. That event taught me that when disaster struck, I was supposed to deny the truth, stuff my feelings, and act as if nothing unusual had happened.

Al-Anon is an honest, sharing program. Looking at the part honesty and sharing played in my life opened me to certain realizations. When I'm uncommunicative or dishonest in my interactions, I set myself apart and feel rejected. Conversely, open, truthful communication nurtures feelings of trust and encourages me to participate fully in life.

However, as I begin to change my old habits, fear of rejection sometimes tempts me to respond in old ways. When this happens, I step back to really hear what I say. Then I can find a more appropriate, honest response. By being more open and honest I can be a part of all that is around me. This allows me to discover the truth in Al-Anon's Fourth Concept of Service, "Participation is the key to harmony."

Sharing my feelings openly and honestly may involve facing painful truths. Nonetheless, it is much less harmful than being dishonest or withdrawn. When I respect others enough to allow them to deal with the facts of a situation according to their own needs, I am allowing them to participate in life's experiences, too.

Thought for the Day
Participating fully in life requires being as open and honest as I can with myself and others.
"If I persist in remaining apart . . . I upset my own harmony. I also deny the fellowship a gift that I can offer only by participating."
*The Forum*, April 1998, p. 30

Passage 2
 As a member of Al-Anon, I am part of a group which is part of a fellowship of thousands of such groups, encircling the world. One cannot even imagine the many kinds of people who join al-Anon for the same purpose as I did: to learn a better way of life despite the difficulties of living with an alcoholic. Their social units and customs are different from mine; the spirit that motivates us is all the same. This holds us together as one united fellowship wherever in the world we may be.

In one sense, I have an obligation to members of every group, not only my own. That duty is to observe and preserve Al-Anon’s principles and Traditions. The principles, for the individual, are stated in the Twelve Steps, important to all Al-Anon, and to me personally, to know both the Steps and the Traditions and protect them from distortion and dilution, I will read them and try to apply them in both personal and group matters.
“Tradition One: ‘Our common welfare should come first; personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity.”

Passage 3 - Step 2, Self care
To me, when the Second Step talks about being restored to sanity, it covers more than the ability to function responsibly and realistically. A sane way of life also includes the willingness to play, to take a break, to cultivate a hobby. I suppose I think of humor as an especially appealing hobby. It takes no special equipment, doesn’t require travel, and never falls out of fashion. When I have a good laugh, I know that my Higher Power is restoring some of my sanity.

 If I can see nothing but my troubles, I am seeing with limited vision. Dwelling on these troubles allows them to control me. Of course, I need to do whatever footwork is required, but I also need to learn when to let go. When I take time to play, to laugh, and to enjoy, I am taking care of myself and giving my Higher Power some room to take care of the rest.

Today’s Reminder
A good chuckle or an engrossing activity can lift my spirits and cleanse my mind. I will refresh myself by adding some lightness to this day.
“Now I look for humor in every situation, and my Higher Power is a laughing God who reminds me not to take myself too seriously.“ As We Understood
Thursday, November 17, 2016
PASSAGE 1 - principles above personality
If I have made myself a part of an AI-Anon group to get help, wouldn't I be defeating myself if I allowed what we call personality clashes to interfere with my getting the full benefit of the program?

Individuals tend to be more or less dominant; sometimes the most competent and helpful assert themselves over-strongly and so engender hostility in others. Sometimes there just isn't a personal rapport between two people.

I want to keep in mind always that my help depends on the unity of the group. I will not allow myself to resent what anyone does; I will accept the fact that they mean to be helpful, no matter what they may say or do.

Today's Reminder
I will make a conscious effort to look for the good in every person in my group. I will not criticize anyone on a personal basis. If there are disagreements on principles, they can always be resolved by consulting the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
"We penalize ourselves when we allow disapproval of another person to endanger the unity of the group. Anything that damages the group interferes with its ability to function for the good of each person in it."

**I love and appreciate this piece.  We say the traditions at the beginning of every meeting and everyone says this part together "principles above personality."  I think that helps with setting up a smooth start with my sponsor too.

"Keep coming back" is a phrase we often hear in Al-Anon. Why is it so important? Because many of us have grown so hardened in our fights with alcoholics or flights from alcoholics that we literally found it difficult to sit still for the process of recovery. We had to have answers right away or take action right away. Yet we felt just enough relief at our first meeting to come back once more. And then again, and again. Slowly we learned to sit still, to listen, and to heal.

No matter how many years we've been practicing the Al-Anon program, we can use the reminder to keep coming back. Difficult times come and go, even after long-term Al-Anon recovery. With each new challenge, many of us still need reminding that "there is no situation too difficult to be bettered and no unhappiness too great to be lessened."

Today's Reminder
If I feel discouraged today, I will turn to the basics of the Al-Anon program. I'll get to a meeting, call my sponsor, go back to the First Step. One day at a time, if I keep coming back, I know my situation will improve.

"If I really want to learn how to fit easily and happily into my environment and my relations with other people, AI-Anon has something for me." One Day at a Time in Al-Anon

 **Another thing we say at the end of al anon meetings, "Keep coming back, it works!"  And in some groups, after the closing prayer "It works, if you work it and you're worth it!"

When I feel called to service, I pray for knowledge of God's will for me to make sure it's not just me wanting to manipulate, control, or avoid something going on in my life. I have a finely honed sense of responsibility. It's a constant challenge for me to view my choices through the lenses of health and balance.

 I'd wanted to be involved in Alateen for some time, but I didn't know how to go about it. I also wanted to heal the wounds I'd accumulated from growing up around alcoholism. Could these two things be related? Would getting involved with the teens be a wise choice for me?
As the God of my understanding would have it, a local Alateen institutions group needed a co-sponsor. I agreed to take on the role. Never could I have foretold then that I would receive far more from a group of hurting teens than they would ever get from me. As I listened to them tell their stories, buried feelings from my childhood surfaced-guilt, rage, shame, and abandonment-and slowly I started to heal.

At first the teens were skeptical of me. The more I shared my experience, strength, and hope in relating to them, the more they learned to trust me. Then our relationship began to work. As I availed myself of the AI-Anon tools and my Higher Power's help to heal my painful feelings from the past, it became easier to offer an honest and hopeful environment where these young people could blossom. I learned that I always get more than I give.

Thought for the Day
Recovery often means letting others touch my mind and heart as much, or even more, than I touch theirs.
"When I begin feeling down, as I still sometimes do even though my life is stable now, I am lifted up by these Alateens:' A Guide to Alateen Sponsorship, p. 7

**I have been thinking of getting certified for alateen.  They've been announcing that they need sponsors (especially at the age 5 and 6 level) and this is just up my alley.  I really think I'd love it and learn so much, especially in raising my own little ones.  But, I'm not through my steps.  I actually just asked my sponsor about the yesterday.  And haven't been praying on it, but will add it to my list.