Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Out from Under

I think I've been under a black cloud.  I spent Thanksgiving in bed with an ice pack on my face because I had a sinus infection.  Grrr.  BUT - now I'm better.  I was feeling very sorry for myself, though, and that's aways a crummy thing.  No more of that - the sun is shining and I'm going to have a great day, no matter what!

Monday, November 22, 2010


One of the tools of recovery is the constamt reading we do - individually and in meetings.  We learn a lot about self-examination and how to apply spiritual principles - from our books and from the examples from our lives that we share.  I've noticed, though, that application of those principles is so hard it sometimes takes years to accomplish a behavior change.  I start out the day with meditation and prayer and a fervent desire for improvement.  As the day goes on I totally forget and my brain attacks.  Oh God!  I've done whatever it is again - from eating 20 chocolate chip cookies to saying something mean about somebody behind his or her back. 

For example, one of the things I've struggled with and I've heard that a lot of other people do too - is gossip - defined as saying negative things about people who are not present.  Gossip is always an entertaining topic of conversation plus it has the added benefit of making me feel superior.  It's only afterward that I feel crummy - plus what I've said frequently gets back to people and then I really pay a price. 

One of the books we read says something like, "restraint of tongue and pen will pay off handsomely."  And that's very true.  The only problem is that if those negative ideas are in my head, eventually they will come out of my mouth while I'm not looking.  So, although restraint (keeping my mouth shut; minding my own business) is a good thing, it's only the first step.  That's where the inventory comes in.  If I'm monitoring my behavior everyday, I will notice how much effort is going in to restraint and can identify the thoughts that need changing.  The only way to change them though, is to explore why I'm having them - what's really going on with me.  Usually, there's something I'm afraid of or my ego is trying to boost itself by trashing someone else - most of the time because I'm judging myself harshly about something.

Once I've identified what's going on with me, usually I have to talk to someone about it and then ask my higher power to remove what ever it is.  Once the thoughts are straightened out, it's not so hard to behave appropriately.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Personal Inventory

I've been a lot of places with the 10th Step of continuing to take personal inventory but it's always been a benefit.  It was suggested to me from the very beginning that I do one every night (or once a day) and that it would be helpful to do it in writing.  I hated doing a daily inventory.  I felt like I was just looking for ways to make myself feel bad.  So I didn't get serious about it until I had a scary experience testifying before a congressional committee. 

My dear "spiritual mother" said that if I had been doing a daily inventory I would have noticed that I was very fearful and taken spiritual steps to address the fear before I testified.  Sure enough that would have helped a lot.  I've learned to address fear before doing something important:  Pray, ask for guidance, manicure my nails, fix my hair, put on my best clothes.  (That part about nails, hair, and clothes is spiritual preparation because doing that preparation keeps me from thinking about how I look.  I've already done my best to look my best.  After that it's "whatever.")

Since getting serious I eventually got around to doing a daily inventory - in writing like they suggested.  I just write what I did that day, what I liked, what I'd like to do better in the future and I ask for help to do better.  That's it.  No frills.  No examination of my emotions, thoughts, etc.  - just my behavior.  The rest is already plain to me. 

One of the ways this inventory is helpful - if I know I'm going to be doing it, I often show some restraint because I hate writing crappy stuff down.  Kind of like keeping a food diary - I hate writing down that I ate twenty chocolate chip cookies.  Now it's perfectly possible to just quit doing the inventory to keep from having to write crappy stuff down, and I've certainly done that.  But then I lose the benefits and the benefits outweigh the hard part.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

365 Project

The sculpture at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame taken before the Writers' Conference.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is the old Tulsa train station.
Minky at his birthday party before he got his new front teeth.
My neighbors are big on decorating for holidays.
Kristin felt sorry for me that I didn't have a fall mat so she fixed this one up.

Kristin picked some flowers for me.

Plus I have some new refrigerator art from Kristin.
Mara and I visited Philbrook and saw the gardens - wow!!!!

Here's Mara.
Here's me.
Kristin in her Halloween costume!
The benefit garage sale drew some interesting customers.
Here's Mary and Danna at the garage sale that will help Mary get to Greece with her daughter for the International Special Olympics.
Went to the park with Kristin and she found some new people to play with.
Aaron and Sofi at Thein's birthday party.
This is my kitchen table mess before I found a solution.
Here's my kitchen table after I found a solution.  (I love the new tablecloth I found at the benefit garage sale.)
And here's what the solution was - the wonder file.  You put your mess in the pockets and at the end of the day you fold it up.  Yay for solutions.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Today was my oldest daughter's birthday - she says it's her last year of being in her 40s - just like it's my last year in my 60s.  I remember her birth really well - for some odd reason there was an ice storm in Kansas City, and I had to walk across an icy parking lot in labor.  But she arrived really quickly and I wasn't tired or in pain at all after she was born.  I was absolutely thrilled with her.  She has been a blonde all her life but when she was born she had dark hair and a lot of it.  She was amazingly beautiful.  I've never been happier than that day!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Time Management

When I am down and out for awhile I get really behind with everything and then spend too much time worrying about that!  I love to read Steve Pavlina's blog on goal setting, time management, etc. because he is such a nut that I just have to laugh.  I totally ignore anything he writes on relationships because he is so far out there it's just creepy, but he knows what he's talking about in the area of acheivement.  Of course, as I said, he's a nut.  He decided to see if he could graduate from college in three semesters - which he actually did.  He says it was time management that made it possible, not brains - although he is very smart. 

When I'm stuck like I am right now with my writing - I don't have writer's block, I just can't decide what to do next - I look through some of the guru stuff I've got.  For whatever reason I looked up Steve today.  You wouldn't think there's much that would apply to me (the sleep half the day, move slowly, etc. person) from a crazy over-acheiver who probably works 24 hour days.  But sometimes... Today I read that he just writes whatever comes to mind during the time he's set aside for writing.  He's a very prolific writer so surely there's something to learn.  I've been stuck because I'm trying to decide between writing in third person and first person, whether I should consider other people's feelings about what I'm writing, who my audience would be, etc.  Today Steve's method spoke to me and I don't think I will try to decide anything and just write what comes to mind.  I don't have anything to lose anyway.  I have tons of stories yet to tell.

I mentioned my dilemma to my middle grandson (grandchildren are very wise.  we should consult them frequently), who said to write everything and then divide it into different books.  Cool.  Another brilliant idea.  It all boils down to - write.  So....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I've been observing my sleep patterns with dismay for awhile now.  My challenge has been acceptance since the mean judge that lives in my mind keeps telling me I'm a lazy bum and I should get up and take care of my to-do list.  I'm also trying to be grateful that I'm falling asleep early in the evening compared to the midnight it used to be.  This way I wake up before noon which is really helpful in managing my life.  I've checked out my very old journals and apparently - even before the wreck - I've had this odd problem.  People who've known me for the past 30 years agree.  So once again I work at accepting reality and my powerlessness.  I've tried pretty much everything so I've proved to myself that I'm powerless.  So...today I woke up at 8:00 - which I hope is a sign that I'm coming out of the sleeping 14 hours out of every 24 thing.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I may have a whole day for my life today.

I just read an article about the woman who wrote Seabiscuit while living with extreme illness that keeps her in bed for days at a time.  There's always some annoying example of someone who has it worse than you who has accomplished wonders.  My barrier seems to be waiting to get better before I accomplish wonders!  Apparently, she didn't wait and just went on as best she could.  J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series while a single parent living in poverty.  My sad story just doesn't make it as an excuse for not getting much done!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dodging the Bullet

I think I just dodged the bullet.  Dr. Dreamy doesn't think anything is wrong with my hip.  He thinks I just pulled some scar tissue loose because I was in an unusual position which in turn caused my leg to hurt so much it quit working for awhile.  He thinks I can go back to physical therapy and strengthen and stretch some of those muscles and I will probably be okay.  He agreed I shouldn't try to use the doctor he referred me to - but that if I needed follow up I could continue to come and see him - which is what I will continue to do.  Apparently, what I can expect is the possibility of trouble with my leg rather than complete healing.  I thought that was the case, but now I can be sure.  He said as I get more active (which is wonderful), I will need to be cautious about getting into positions that aren't normal for me, etc.  I can do that.  Whew!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Starting Over

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new end."  Courage to Change, One Day at a Time II.

I loved this reading this morning.  Starting from now and making a brand new end is possible every day.  I know tons of people who are living proof of this, including me.  None of us have to be a helpless product of our pasts.  We are perfectly capable of change with enough willingness and enough of the right kind of help.  The brand new end part requires a lot of prayerful thought for me.  At the moment I can see where I want to go but my body keeps interrupting my progress.  So, back to the one day at a time thing where I take what steps I'm capable of on that day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


"The group defines liberty as the free market, gun rights and limited taxation—essentially, the ability to “do” something without restriction, mainly in economic terms. But, these values don’t take into account other ideas of freedom—freedom from hunger and freedom from economic exploitation,"  - quote from a student newspaper on line referring to the tea party movement. 

I'm just guessing, but maybe the movement is not concerned about freedom from hunger and economic exploitation since none of them are experiencing these problems and see themselves as being able to keep from ever having these problems by their own hard work.  From what I've heard, these folks feel that people who need protection from hunger and economic exploitation are just lazy, have created their own problems and so deserve to suffer.  And so, apparently, they do not want to be taxed to provide something for others that they feel is caused by laziness. 

The thing is, I grew up in a time when women made less than half of the income men made from doing the same work.  Of course, women could not go to law school, medical school or a lot of other schools that trained men for high-paying work.  The trades that paid well were also off limits for women.  So, the choices women had were to be teachers, nurses, secretaries, waitresses, maids, factory workers, and wives - all low paying jobs.  Wives weren't paid much either, by the way.  If a woman was on her own (without a husband), especially if she had children, she was certain to be in poverty.  To an extent, this is still true now.  There are a lot of very hardworking women working minimum wage jobs - maybe two or three at a time - that are going hungry in order to feed their children.  Maybe some would say that that's because they're not trying to work their way up.  But what about people who are not disabled but who do not have the capability to do higher paying jobs.  The truth is the world is full of people - women and men - whose capabilities are lower than average.  Should they just do without the necessities of life, live miserably but humbly accept their fate, and die young after they've worked cheap to subsidize the rest of us?

Then there are the older folks who did plan for their retirement.  They've got a couple of problems - companies don't provide retirement payments as they once did, the stock market has crashed a couple of times in the last few years, and interest rates are almost non-existent.  Also, people used to die soon after they turned 65 but are now living to 85 on the average.  This year Social Security payments did not receive an increase, but the premium for Medicare went up.  So older folks are being penalized for the bad economy while their incomes have decreased drastically.

Then there are the people who are disabled - unable to work.  What should happen to them?  I could go on and on, but I won't.  From what I've heard, the belief is that churches should take care of the women, children, the incapable, the elderly and the disabled.  Of course, this would mean that you would only share what you have with others if you felt like it.  Before the laws were passed that use tax money to help these folks, the churches did a very bad job of taking care of these folks.  Apparently, not many people felt like helping.

I'm not crazy about the idea of reducing taxes and elimating social programs.  I'm not crazy about going back to people begging on the street, dying of starvation and treatable diseases, 8 year old children working in factories, 80 hour work weeks, and so forth.  I'm not sure anyone really is in favor of that.  Back in 1994, I think it was, when the Republicans took the House and Senate during Clinton's term in office, one of the things they did right away was to cut off school breakfasts and lunches for poor children.  That didn't go over well with the public and the program was restored. 

So, maybe we should all think about the actual results from changes based on philosophy rather than reality.  Some ideas have already been proved unworkable from past experience.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

This and That

One of the columnists in the latest Newsweek described Republican themes as "liberty and small government" and Democrats' themes as "compassion and fairness."  I thought those descriptions were a terrific summary that didn't make one or the other look stupid or evil.  The thing is, I wondered why we can't have liberty, small government, compassion and fairness all at the same time.  I realize I'm a hopeless optimist but I really do think it's possible.  Making those four things the goals of government for the next couple of years might be a way to proceed in a positive way.  I know, I know.  The belief is that you can't have small government and liberty if you are compassionate and fair.  But that's just bull.  In order to do something different, we will have to stop enjoying the war between the two ideologies so much.  A tall order but maybe someone will step up.  I'm going to write the President for starters.  Of course I already told him to get Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu to address Congress on reconciliation, but he didn't do it.  I think I'll suggest it again.  He's already on his way to being a one-term president (unless the economy rebounds greatly), so what has he got to lose?

Update on my current dilemma with my leg:  The damage from the hardware popping out and back seems to be healing.  I still have some discomfort when I walk, so I'm using my cane a lot as a precaution.  I will see my original surgeon this week and plan to get an appointment with another orthopedist to get a second (maybe it's a 3rd) opinion.  I'm thinking that I have two options:  try to get somebody to replace this hip in case it's defective or wait and see what happens - whether I have another episode where it pops out.  I think I like the second option better.  It's a little nerve wracking but I truly hate having surgery.  Sooo.  From now until after the first of the year I'm just going to be careful and work on finishing this book I'm trying desperately but not too successfully to write.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Invisible Gorillas

I'm listening to an audio book in the car called, The Invisible Gorilla.  It's slow going getting through a book just doing errands but I'm down to the last disc finally.  It's a very scary book about how poorly our brains work.  The title refers to an experiment where research subjects watched a video of a basketball game with instructions to count the number of times the players passed the ball.  In the middle of the video, a person in a gorilla suit walked in front of the camera.  After the video was over, the subjects were asked if they saw anything unusual during the video - 75% of them said no.  Scary.  When we're focused on one thing, we usually tune out everything else.

The whole book is about how our brains are wired to draw conclusions when there's no reason to do so and to ignore facts that don't fit with our beliefs.  It explains a lot about why people will devotedly believe things that simply aren't true.  Another example from the book is a question usually asked in beginning psychology classes- what is the connection between increased numbers of people drowning and increased numbers of people eating ice cream?  These two things increase at the exact same time every year.  Students usually try to figure out which one caused the other although it's fairly apparent that it's unlikely either could have caused the other.  It is true that drownings and ice cream eating do increase at exactly the same time every year - in the summer when many people are both swimming and eating ice cream.  If you were a conspiracy-type person, I guess you could decide that the government has put something in ice cream that causes people to sink. 

The book has a lot more examples of how people are misled by the belief that if an event happens after another event, the first event must have caused the second event.  Of course, it's extremely unlikely that just because something happens after something else happens, that the first caused the second - there are too many other possible causes.  But we love stories - our brains are wired to store stories rather than facts and stories usually run along the lines of "this happened and then that happened" - implying cause.  But there's actually no way to know except by doing a carefully crafted research study.

This all reminds me of what Don Miguel Ruiz says in The Four Agreements -  It's not a good idea to believe what you or anyone else thinks because neither of you has the truth - all you have is your own perception.  Much of the trouble in the world, he says, is caused by believing what you think and believing that everyone else is wrong.  It's a miracle that human beings are still alive on the earth considering how many incredibly stupid mistakes we make!

Blog Archive