Tuesday, December 27, 2011


"There are many forms of loss - divorce, incarceration, illness, death, even emotional change.  When I lost the person I loved more than anyone in the world, I was more than devastated, and in my grief, I pushed everyone away...With the help of so many wonderful {program}members who held me and let me grieve in my own way and time...I learned to live with loss with pain, with despair, until eventually I began to feel alive again."  Courage to Change.

This is the seventh Christmas after the wreck when I lost the love of my life.  I am so grateful that I could mostly enjoy this Christmas season without having to pretend to be myself like I have had to in years past.  I have learned that the world in general finds it difficult to put up with people who are in grief.  We are irrational, irritable, morose, and generally no fun.  They want us to act like ourselves and quit being so self-centered.  I am incredibly grateful for all the program people who expected me to grieve and let me cry as much as I needed to, who expected nothing from me because they knew I had nothing to give.  Because of them, I arrived at a Christmas season with a real smile instead of pretend one.

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Sunday morning meeting by the pond at the park.  This one white duck looks like he feels like I used to feel - out of place.
Went to The Nutcracker ballet with friend, Mary.  Another friend couldn't make it so gave us the tickets!  Kids were getting their pictures taken with characters in the lobby.
My "for awhile" roommate had a bad case of tummy trouble so we went to the minor emergency center.  This is a picture of the room we were in - someone decorated for a soothing effect.

I have a roommate for awhile.  She's figuring out her next step in life.  My silver Christmas tree that stays up all year wasn't quite the Christmas mood she was looking for so she got this little one.  I like it!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Bob and Mary Ann with their brand new Christmas tree, hanging the ornaments they got from some of the NHS class of '59.

These pix are of the rebuilding of Mary Ann and Bob's neighbors houses after the tornado in Joplin.
Bob is taking a pic while I take one of him and friends
Mary Ann is opening the ornaments classmembers have given her and Bob to replace the ones they lost in the tornado.

Went to see the Muppets.  The Muppets live in the same world as the Star Trek folks.  Good always wins.

Monday, December 05, 2011


I kind of envision us humans as babies about a year old or less, standing in our cribs, screaming at the top of our lungs, faces red, tears dripping off our cheeks, snot running over our upper lips.  We have poopy diapers and diaper rash.  We are hungry.  It has been a very, very long time since anyone kissed and hugged us and rocked us.  We are wailing with all our might but no one is coming.  Somehow we missed it when we grew into adults and were in charge of ourselves.  Sure enough no one is coming because who we have to rescue us is us. All the blaming and complaining we are doing will never solve our problems. 

Friday, December 02, 2011

So here's what I think...

I think that a whole bunch of people in recovery plus a whole lot of other folks (I'm including myself in this) are just stuck in the emotional development of a one-year old child.  We complain and complain and judge other people and somehow miss it that there are a lot of things we could be doing to solve our own problems.  I had a counselor/therapist tell me a long time ago that when you complain and complain about the same on-going problem over and over and over, it's like a little baby crying and crying and crying so that someone will come and fix the problem.  Babies can't help it.  It's the only thing they're capable of doing.  If someone doesn't come and fix it, they just keep crying louder and louder until they exhaust themselves and then fall asleep. 

From time to time I realize I'm doing this - sometimes it takes me years to see it.  Recently I decided that if I complained about something for more than 24 hours (even just inside my head), I was going to talk to somebody and decide on what action I could take to solve the problem.  I say this a lot, but it's true:  I'm old and I don't have time to waste on fruitless whining.  Since I'm not a baby anymore I can just ask somebody for help if I don't know what to do myself.  Sometimes the solution is to accept what I can't change and turn my attention to something else - preferably something positive.

I see this one-year old behavior everywhere - especially in politics.  It's just sad.  Blaming and complaining don't solve problems.  We're stuck in our grown up bassinets.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I've got my work cut out for me - it's that time of year.  For many years now I've worked at enjoying the holidays.  For a variety of reasons, it's not automatic.  Left to myself, I would probably pretend that holidays were just ordinary days and go about my business.  But after I got into recovery I decided that those days were there to be enjoyed and if I had to work at it, I would do it.  Luckily, the love of my life was a holiday lover and that was a big help.  We had some truly lovely times.  We went to the zoo when they had it lit up with Christmas lights, we went to musicals and plays about Christmas, we had parties, we went to parties.  Sometimes we went off by ourselves and just enjoyed each other.  Since he's been gone, it's more work but I still believe it's worth it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Kristin and teammates at soccer match.
Kitchen table
Above:  Sharon's studio that they built on their house.  She is such a wonderful artist.
Neighborhood tree
Kristin making math problems on the refrigerator with magnetic numbers.
Thanksgiving table

Oh look !  My Christmas tree and Christmas lights are already up. Wait - they're up all year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I'm reading Geneen Roth's Breaking Free of Emotional Eating and she's giving me a lot to think about.  At the time of the year when there's a special day set aside for being grateful, I am grateful for the people who write books and the publishers who publish them so that I can learn about myself and the world.  I am reading a part of the book where she discusses the effect of "stuffing" our negative emotions (phrase borrowed from the program).  "None of us lacks for wounds," she says.  "Born of imperfect parents, sheathed in bodies that get ill and grow old, we are always subject to the aggressions and torment of others.  We all have our stories."  Instead of paying attention to our wounds and facing them, we try to run away by numbing ourselves with chemicals, food, gambling, sex, and/or self-righteousness.  The running away process causes us to project our pain outward causing us to hate and hurt others who are already hurting from their own wounds.  Profound. 

"Everyone gets abandoned, everyone... We all have to live through the feeling of having nothing left when people we love walk out, or move away or die."  So, what's the answer?  Live through it.  Love through it.  Learn through it.  Grow from it.  Understand that we can be transformed from it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Changing of the Guard

Saturday was my oldest daughter's 50th birthday, and I was honored to be invited to the party.  A long time ago I decided I was the "queen" of the family because I was the oldest (and by definition, the most wise).  Of course, that's actually a joke - getting older doesn't really make you wise.  But it occurred to me that when you turn 50 someone should crown you the queen, so I passed on the tiara I got at a women's retreat - it was child size so it just perches on the top of your head and falls off if you move in any way that isn't "queenly."  (Stiff neck, chin up, back straight, slow graceful walk, etc.)  Now she is the "wise" one and everyone should listen with humility to her advice - so now I'm off the hook.  Not that anyone actually thought I knew what I was talking about!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sitting Still

I read the same meditation books over and over.  I think I may be on the third year of reading the two I'm on now.  I was thinking about changing them out, or at least one of them out on January 1, but I read something this morning that has changed my mind.  It's a weird thing that happens - and I hear this from other people in the program all the time - when I read the same thing over and over:  I find stuff that seems to have just been put in the book.  I couldn't possibly have read it before.  But I must have.  Since I saw something brand new this morning, I may just stay with these two books for another year.

The gist of it was that many of us have a hard time "sitting still" for recovery because our lives have been full of "fight or flight."  Those are the two things we know how to do and neither one of them helps in recovery at all.  It's hard to get in a fight in the program - although it is definitely possible.  Mostly, though, people are working hard to learn NOT to fight.  Depending on how far their recovery has come, they might just smile at you and hug you and tell you to keep coming back if you try to start a fight.  Certainly people run away from the program all the time.  There's a saying, "If you don't like the program, we will cheerfully refund your misery."  So, people leave - running from truth, hard work, self-examination, ego-puncturing, etc.  Lots and lots of us come back when we have hurt bad enough.

That "sitting still" explanation is very helpful to me.  I've certainly been in that "flight or flight" mode for most of my life, and it still is hard for me to sit still.   The people I work with have big trouble sitting still and working out solutions to problems.  I'm thinking that they might be like me and just very used to either fighting or running.  But problem solving requires sitting still and thinking and taking responsibility instead of running away or picking a fight -both of which make the cause of the problem other people! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Meditation Practice

I only took an interest in meditation when I saw it was in the 12th Step, which is coming up on 30 years ago.  Before that I thought it sounded stupid and boring.  I had friends who had a serious meditation practice that really irritated me.  Nothing could start in the morning until they had sat still and in silence for 20 minutes and everything had to stop in the evening while they did the same thing.  We were on vacation in Europe at the time, and I had other priorities.  I just saw no point in it.  They weren't any different after meditating than they were before.  They weren't getting along and just went right back to fighting after their meditations. 

My first sponsor gave me a little booklet on meditation.  It wasn't program material but had been used by a lot of people in the program.  It basically said to write down all the thoughts you needed to get out of your head (the to-do list, etc.) so that you had room to listen for God.  Then it said to spend some time asking God for direction for the day and write down any thoughts you had.  Then you should definitely check with someone before you carried out any instructions because it might be God or your wishful thinking.  I loved this meditation and still do it a lot.  Recently, though, I thought I would try a kind of Zen meditation and I find I am loving it too.  I'm still not really sure what the point of it all is, but since it's in the steps...

Also I found a book I got at a used bookstore a hundred years ago.  (How to Meditate by Lawrence LeShan) It talks about the point of meditation, which is to get the benefits serious meditators have received since history began to be recorded - a sense of being part of everything in the universe and a felt peace that stays 24 hours a day.  I could use those benefits so...

Monday, November 07, 2011

Serenity Prayer

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...
I might not like this person/situation one bit, but I am willing to accept it with Your help.  I will (with Your help) stop blaming and complaining and think and talk about something else.  If there are things I can do to improve the situation without even thinking about changing someone else, please show me what they are.  Maybe the change I want to see can begin with me.  Maybe I could start treating him/her with the same kindness, courtesy and respect I want.  I need Your help to trust that I am in Your care and have nothing to fear.

The courage to change the things I can...
Based on my past experience, I think there's a good chance the changing I need to do is my own thinking and behavior.  I certainly am going to need your help with this too.  This business of treating other people the way I want to be treated (even if they are not treating me that way), is really hard.  My ego tells me that I need to straighten them out and show them what's what.  My ego tells me that when I don't fight back, I'm a doormat.  So it takes a lot of courage for me to not attack people.  I need Your help to trust that I am in Your care.  I need Your help to change my thinking so that I don't tell myself "victim" stories about how I am a feeble, helpless victim of other people and unpleasant situations.  That's the only way I can have the courage to change myself.

And the wisdom to know the difference...
Well, it seems that it's not all that hard, rationally, to know the difference.  I can, with Your help, change myself.  I can't change other people and situations.  The confusion comes from my ego that wants to tell me all problems come from other people and that I am always right.  So, please help me not believe those lies and know that changing my own thinking and behavior can solve most problems.  Even when changing myself is not enough to solve problems, behaving like a kind, respectful, rational adult (with Your help) in difficult situations can have a positive influence on difficult situations.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


When I worked in the non-profit field I had the opportunity to go to a lot of national conferences.  I learned a lot, met some fascinating people.  At one conference in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, I met a guy from California who said he had a football scholarship to Tulsa University but decided not to go.  When I asked why, he said, "tornadoes." I said they had earthquakes in California, and he said he was used to that.  Well, now we're having earthquakes in Oklahoma to go with the tornadoes.  I also haven't forgotten the 115 degree weather that went for days and days this summer, and the 115 degrees below zero we had last winter plus the two and three feet of snow.  Hmmm.  I'm starting to be one of those old people that says, "It wasn't like this in the olden days!" 

However, when I was sitting here checking my email last night and it sounded like a freight train was coming and then the whole house shook for a good period of time, I was suddenly grateful for all the fears that have left me.  I wasn't afraid; I was just a little entertained.  It didn't look like the house was going to fall down so I was safe.  After it was over I looked for cracks but didn't see any so I went to bed and slept like a baby.  The rest of the natural disasters like ice and snow storms and heat and cold, etc. are mostly just mild irritations and some entertainment.  I don't know if I'm just old so don't fear death and/or injury or if it's spiritual growth.  Either way I'm grateful.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


My friend's garden.  The birds just flew away as I took this picture and they're not in it to my chagrin.
I have no idea what this is a picture of.
Aaron and Adam looking something up on the computer.
Thien is cooking.
Trying to get an action picture of these three - totally impossible.  Only Jeremy knows how to act.
Bec's beautiful shoes she wore to the homecoming dance.
Thien and Adam at Bec's homecoming game.
Bec's band at half time.
Band in the stadium playing like mad.
Drums at the homecoming game.
13 year old tap dancer at the Dance Movie event I attended where a friend of mine who's a ballerina was in one of the films.  (and it won first prize).  The little guy was a great dancer.  The only thing was I couldn't match his dancing with the music he was supposedly dancing to.
Bronze statue (new one) in the park next to a golf course.
Lake on the golf course outside the window of the meeting room where a group I attend meets every Sunday morning.
Sunday morning meeting in the "glass house" at a park.  View is of the lake on the golf course.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Progress not Perfection

I've learned that I'm a slow learner.  Making any change is a huge challenge for me.  Thanks to recovery, though, my whole attitude toward change has matured; I used to try to change in accordance with some arbitrary rules I learned somewhere.  I was trying hard to be "a good person" so that I could feel all right about myself.  I was pretty much a complete failure at that.  I couldn't possibly live up to what I thought I should be.  So eventually I just gave up on myself.  In recovery, though, I learned that change takes place with the help of a Higher Power and it occurs in the here and now, one day at a time.  After some period of time, I can look back and see that I have changed - not perfectly but definitely for the better. 

I've also learned that arbitrary rules that I learned somewhere are not good guides to change.  Soul searching for how to live my life, meditations on kindness, reading other people's ideas and adopting the ones that fit with kindness, are better guides for me.  I read once that the Dalai Lama's religion was kindness and my sense of it is that all religions have that as a central tenet.  In recovery there's a saying - when deciding what to say in any situation, ask yourself, "Is it necessary?  Is it constructive?  Is it kind?" 

A big part of kindness is learning to be kind to myself, so "progress not perfection" is what I apply to my efforts to live the life I want to live.  For example, I have tried many times to establish a meditation practice that is truly a meditation practice.  I go along for awhile and then forget the whole thing.  Now that my life is not so busy, I'm working at this again.  I'm pretty good now with the morning meditation, but I forget to do the evening one.  Also, I do not yet have anything like a quiet mind, so I've adopted what I think is a Buddhist meditation where I focus on my breathing, saying to myself as I breathe in, "May I be free from suffering" and as I breathe out, "May I be at peace."  (This is not a prayer.  This is me giving myself permission to be free of suffering and to be at peace.)  Boy does my mind really hate that.  It wants to think about my to do list, what I ought to do about some problem, etc. etc. etc.  It could be discouraging if I were trying for perfection.  Luckily I'm not - the goal is progress and I'm seeing some of that as I persist every day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ignoring Problems

Ignoring problems has an upside and a downside.  The downside is, of course, that ignoring problems doesn't make them go away.  Problem solving is a skill that can be learned.  It's work.  It's my responsibility to learn it and not depend on other people to solve my problems.  It's good, though, to have the humility to ask people who know to give me the information I need to solve them.  I wasn't born knowing how to solve problems, and I will never stop needing information to do a good job at it.

The upside of ignoring problems is recognizing when I've done all I can, and it's time to stop.  It's the part in the Serenity Prayer when I receive the wisdom to know I've got a problem that I need to ignore (accept) because it's something I can't change - at least right now.  It's the opposite of doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  I'm getting better and better at this kind of ignoring of problems.  I've noticed that sometimes what I thought was a problem, isn't actually a problem.  This is particularly true when I think I need to change someone else.  It may well be that everything is exactly the way it's supposed to be.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why I Shop at a Ridiculously Expensive Grocery Store

  • The produce is fresher and lasts longer.
  • The produce doesn't have any pesticides on it.
  • The meat doesn't have growth hormones.
  • The milk doesn't have growth hormones
  • The cheese doesn't have growth hormones
  • The cows, chickens, etc. have not been tortured their whole lives.
  • The eggs are from vegetarian chickens (they didn't eat other chickens) so the eggs are lower in cholesterol.
  • The cows didn't eat other cows which means there's less chance of disease.
  • By spending my money there, help the farmers make money by growing clean produce and caring for healthy cows, chickens, etc.  I hope that when other food producers notice it pays to farm that way, they'll start doing it too.
  • They have a lot of stuff I really like but can't get anywhere else - like canned lentils.
  • Their flowers last twice as long but don't cost any more.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Unsolved Problems

There's something to be said for living into the 7th decade.  I'm a slow learner but I eventually catch on to some stuff.  For example, unsolved problems seem to plague us humans for long, long, long period of time.  I've decided that if I'm uncomfortable about something for more than 24 hours it's time to do something.  Usually that something is to talk to somebody about it.  The inside of my own head is not a safe place to be with a problem.  I usually just look for someone or something to blame.  Sometimes it's me, but mostly not.

Some problems can be solved; some can't; some can be solved at a later time.  However, I certainly have to start with accepting reality.  My physical problems only have temporary solutions at this point.  I've worked really hard at learning what causes them and what will help.  I know that exercise (the right kind, guided by people who know what they're doing), good nutrition (guided by people who know what they're doing), yoga and meditation, plenty of sleep, avoiding stress and food that promotes inflammation, and a positive frame of mind are all things that help.  So every day I do my best to do what's needed to take care of myself. 

I've learned to let go of my physical problems when I've done what I can to take care of myself, and then I just get on with my life.  Thinking about them all day or griping doesn't help at all.  In fact I really think it makes me worse.  I avoid pills too.  Pain meds just mask the problems and don't solve anything, plus there are gross side effects.  I just avoid them, not completely refuse them.  There are times when I've done everything else I can and it's time to use them.  But I'm aware of their dangers. 

If something new comes up, I make a quick trip to a good doctor and try to figure out what's up and whether there's something that can be done.  Sometimes it's as simple as using crutches when I have to be on my feet for several hours.  Using crutches keeps some of the weight off my hip and knee so they don't become inflamed and sore.  Simple solution.  That solution allowed me to spend several hours seeing the sights at the state fair without having a lot of pain.

In my past life I would have tried a couple of things and then just given up, assuming that I was just doomed.  Sometimes there are no obvious solutions and I have to surrender to reality and learn to accept and cope, but that strategy is actually a solution. 

Saturday, October 08, 2011


My latest bouquet.
Midway at the fair

The cops at the fair.  Little pink piggies on top.

Better view of the piggies.
Tony at the fair
My dear neighbors have already decorated for Halloween

Bridget with her purse and Christine her caregiver
Julie, Bridget's program coordinator is checking the books.

Two of the paintings on the wall at Cafe Samana - a great place to eat if you're into healthy food.
Eric here for a visit on his way to his latest adventure.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Short Answers

I've probably sat in thousands of meetings with a guy that likes to make the principles of the program into "one-liners."  I love it because I am able to remember the principles that way.  For example: "There's only one money problem - not enough of it.  There are only two possible solutions:  Earn more, spend less."  Try to argue with that!  I can't think of an exception. 

The other one I love is in regard to relationship problems, and it applies to every relationship of any kind:  "There are only three things you can do about a relationship conflict - change them, change yourself or leave."  Leaving could just mean leaving the room.  I would add that changing them is usually the first one us humans try - usually by raising hell in some way.  Almost always fails miserably.  People hate to be criticised.  It almost always just makes people want to fight back.  Asking extremely politely and respectfully will occasionally work. 

Changing myself means getting my attitude changed so that I can accept the person/situation exactly as it is without trying to change him, her or it.  That's the hardest one of all.  Of course, when I first heard this stuff, I wanted to argue - how can I accept a person or situation where I am being unfairly attacked?  The answer to that one is very complicated.  But the answer doesn't include arguing with the person.  Sometimes it just means that I accept reality rather than trying to change it.  It's likely that there's something I need to do about the situation instead of making it the responsibility of the other person. 

I love these simple ways of solving problems.  It's made my life so much less stressful.  Unfortunately, I've had to have help from someone every time I need to apply a principle.  I forget from one time to the next!

Saturday, October 01, 2011


Since I have such a limited amount of energy in a day's time now (actually I've always had a limited amount of energy in a day's time and so does everybody in the world - it's just less energy than I'm used to),  I have to make decisions about priorities.  I have never been good at this.  I always want to do everything and in order to deal with the limitations of time and energy, I just figure I will go faster, sleep less, or whatever.  Just fyi - that doesn't work.  But that's the strategy I most often use.  Grrrr. 

Recently I read that making decisions between priorities takes a lot of mental energy and we get tired quickly when we have to do a lot of it.  I can testify to the truth of that.  Whatever I was reading also said that the best way to make those decisions is to see which thing gives me a feeling of peace rather than stress.  I'm going to try that!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Outside Whole Foods - they've obviously gone crazy with the fall stuff.
My newest bouquet.

Found a place for the fabulous windchime I got for my "love gift" at Heart to Heart.  It's on my back door and chimes when I go in and out.

Here I am at yoga class with my dear friend Karen who is teaching it.  I am blessed to be in a class with someone who does such gentle yoga that I can't hurt myself!

The new outline method for the book I'm writing.  Each card is a chapter.  I write for 20 minutes, and then take a 5 minute break.  Good for a disorganized writer.

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