Monday, August 29, 2011


I attended a meeting last week that was on anger.  I was almost the last one to say anything and the meeting was large so I had a long time to think about myself and anger while I listened to everyone else.  I love trying to boil everything down to just a few words because it's so much easier to remember.  I came up with kind of a mental list of things that I either used to get angry about or still do get angry about.

1.  I think people should know what I want (and follow my rules because my rules are the right ones) and if they're not, it's because they don't care about me or are just bad, lazy people who need to be set right!!! (Actually, the best solution for this one is to understand that lots of people - almost everybody, in fact - has different rules than I do and they believe theirs are the only right ones.  Setting people right has never worked.  They get mad and feel criticized which usually means they keep doing what I don't want them to do just for spite or to show they can.  On the other hand, if I ask gently, politely and without a hint of criticism - "It would be wonderful if you could or would_______)"  sometimes they will actually do what I want.  If they don't, my best bet for peace of mind is to blow it off unless it's truly life or death.)

2.  Somebody is doing something that hurts someone I love.  I am a big rescuer.  In this case I usually react as if the person I love is in a burning building.  I rush to the rescue.  Sometimes this is insulting because they think they can rescue themselves - and that's usually true.  Sometimes they don't believe they're in a burning building at all - and maybe they're not.  But in either case, they truly don't want to be rescued.  Can't rescue somebody that doesn't want to be. 

3.  People out in the world are doing things that I think are terrible and wrong.  I used to get mad when I watched the news.  Sometimes I still do.  Even though what those people are doing doesn't actually affect me, I can still get mad.  If I think it affects me - well, then I can really give myself permission to throw a fit!!.  Only thing is unless I can do something about it, there's no purpose in expending all that energy and mental pain.  Blowing it off is best.  However, often there is something I can do about it, if nothing else by writing to my legislators or the newspaper.  I usually would rather just get mad than go to all that trouble.  So I've started writing letters.  I've noticed that I get all upset around natural disasters because it's the one thing we know is going to happen, but everyone acts all shocked and it takes forever for the folks who are supposed to know what to do to do anything.  I think I'm going to write up what I think should be done in the case of natural disasters and send it off to FEMA, the Red Cross and anyplace else I can think of.  Of course I have no idea whether I actually know what should be done or not.

Those are all the reasons I could think of as to why I get angry - just three things/situations.  Usually what precedes the anger is the feeling of powerlessness.  A long time ago when my youngest two kids were in a bad situation and I felt powerless to change it, I called a wise lady who said to get down on my knees and ask God to show me what I could do that day to make their situation better.  Guess what?!  That works.  Every day I came up with something to do that made it better and eventually made it a whole lot better.  I am never really totally powerless.  I just imagine I am.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Changing Emily

Okay.  I've had it with Emily.  She is depressed and cranky.  I'll check with my friend, Karen, who says she has the world's best poetry book.  Since I wasn't reading poetry at the time, I didn't get the information about it from her.  But now I'm ready for something more uplifting.  Here's the last one of Emily's I've read.  Not too depressing but definitely cranky:

Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
'Tis the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur, - you're straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I've embarked on several "30 day challenges" that are ideas for bumping up quality of life.  I love poetry but rarely read it because it seems to me that reading poetry should be reserved for times when I've finished all the important stuff.  I was taught this way of doing things (do the drudgery first and then the fun), and I've been working at escaping from it ever since.  So I've started reading at least one poem a day starting with Emily Dickinson.  She wasn't the most positive, inspiring writer of all time but I still love her.  This poem perfectly describes how I felt during the most painful periods of my life:

Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.

I think it always seems as if pain has no beginning and no ending.  Another reason to stick close to spiritual advisors who will remind you that it will end - and more quickly if you don't try to avoid it.

Farmer's market - very hot so not very many people.

A friend invited me to a Rotary Club fundraiser at the Outback.  Good lunch, good company.  I learned that the fundraiser was for school supplies for kids in two Tulsa schools.  Rotary also funds an international initiative to eradicate polio as well as an international initiative to train people in their mid-careers on conflict resolution.  I think they have schools in about 10 countries.
This picture is in my office as well as on the walls of a lot of AA clubhouses.  This one is in the little room where a group of us do a book study.  It says, "Should I forget the misery and the pain of where I've been, Remind me, God so I might not return there again."  Good prayer.
Here are some of the love gifts I found at Tuesday morning.  I love butterfly gifts for Heart to Heart.  They symbolize transformation (from a caterpillar to a butterfly) that takes place on that weekend.
Both of the counselors I've seen in the past six years have had beautiful spaces to sit and talk.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I can't remember how I ran across Geneen Roth's books.  But the more I read the more I learned.  I don't believe I'm technically an overeater although I'm over weight, but Geneen doesn't talk about that.  She talks about how our concerns with body weight and appearance have taught us to treat our bodies like naughty children and thus lose touch with what it's like to eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. 

Babies and young children know when they're hungry and when they've had enough.  I used to know.  When I was a heavy smoker, I ate whatever I wanted and whenever I wanted and how ever much I wanted and stayed skinny.  Then when I quit smoking I immediately gained a lot of weight and started dieting.  That in turn led to my gaining more and more weight.  At the age of 70, it's not that easy to lose weight.  So I decided to try Geneen's way.  At first I gained, then I started losing.  I've lost about 10 lbs but stopped losing.  It's hard trying to remember to pay attention and eat only when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full.  I've had a lot of practice eating when it's time to eat and eating whatever I serve myself or whatever they serve me in restaurants.  But since I initially lost some excess fat, I'm going to keep going.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I started college after I was an adult - almost forty to be exact.  One of my first teachers was a guy with a unique teaching style.  He taught humanities - literature, film, art, etc., and he simply introduced us to various things and asked that we write about our impressions.  No tests, essays, etc.  One of the areas he taught was poetry which I had absolutely no interest in.  I couldn't see the point - it all seemed obscure for no reason.  He said that poetry wasn't supposed to be "understood."  That good poetry simply evoked universal images in the minds of readers.  This fascinated me and I started reading and writing poetry pretty much constantly.  In recent years, all that has gone by the wayside in favor of more practical ways to use my time and energy. 

Resting, for me, has become a necessary activity usually accompanied by mindless television.  The practical ways I use my time and energy usually mean feeding myself, caring for the living beings in my household and taking care of my environment.  I run out of energy quickly and so I rest a lot.  Nevertheless, even mindless television can sometimes wake me up to other ways of living.  Yesterday one of the characters in a show quoted one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems that expresses the central idea that informs my life:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.

Monday, August 22, 2011


I didn't name my cat - he came with that name.  He doesn't answer to it so he probably doesn't regard it as his name.  I call him sugar booger.  There's a long story about how we came to have him, but it's not that interesting so I'll just say that he's a rescue cat and an odd one.  He has a very fast heartbeat, weighs almost nothing (he looks like he's almost starved if you look at him from the top), can't purr because of an injury to his neck and has the worst breath you can imagine.  He's also the most loving cat I've ever known.  I tell people he's on a mission to love as many people as he possibly can - he works really hard at it.  Since I'm often the only one here, he showers love on me every day.  He joins me in my morning meditation and his sweet spirit lifts mine. 

A few weeks ago he stopped grooming himself and began to look really scruffy.  At the same time he started peeing in places besides his cat box and drinking out of dishes soaking in the sink.  So I took him to the vet because I though he was sick.  The diagnosis?  He's old.  The vet said that sometimes when cats get old they get eccentric and want their potty boxes to be pristine before they use them, their water changed every day or more, and someone else (me) to groom them.  So...I am now the faithful servant of my sweet spirited companion.  He expects me to get to work the minute I get up.  He looks at me expectantly as I pour my first cup of coffee.  He is willing to put up with my having two cups before he gets insistent.  If I don't get to work right then, he just heaves a sigh (figuratively) and goes back to bed to wait for me to remember my duties.  I usually change his water and clean his potty box first.  Then I wipe him down with a "cat wipe" (did you know there were such things - I got them at Petsmart) and then brush him thoroughly.  As I write this he is sitting patiently at my feet waiting, so I have to go...

Friday, August 19, 2011


Pictures of my bouquets followed by a picture of Beverly and a friend whose name I do not know.  Beverly annoys me with how good she constantly looks.
Kristin in the playroom at Lynn's doctor's office.  Below - me and David.  I used to work with him many years ago and he turned up again.
Chuck is cutting limbs off the my tree in the backyard - the last storm tore it up pretty good.
I tied the left over balloons from my birthday party in the storage room.  They're still looking kind of good.  It's still a party!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Power Comes with Guidance

In my recovery program we are taught to pray for God's will and the power to carry it out (and pray for nothing else).  I do that every day, but it seems to me that I don't always get the power to carry it out.  Yesterday one of my meditation readings basically said that when we're guessing what God's will is, we don't always get the power to carry it out.  That may be because it isn't God's will.  Interesting.  Of course, this business of discerning God's will is very tricky.  Some of the world's greatest villains have said they were listening to the voice of God.  For sure, though, I can pretty much count on getting the power to carry something out if it's loving and respectful to both myself and others. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

365 Project

I really miss being in the habit of taking a picture every day.  That habit helped me look around me every day to find something worth taking a picture of.  I was ever so much aware of my surroundings.  Since I've been missing that habit, I've been telling myself that I can still take a picture when I see something worth it.  Once in  awhile I do, but mostly I don't.  So, I'm starting another 365 project today with the intention of seeing the interesting things I come across.  Probably I will take some boring, no good pictures but so what.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


In Oklahoma when the drought ends, it's not with a gentle rain.  It started on Saturday with high winds, hail and power outages and continued through this week.  Right now there's incredible thunder and lightning although it doesn't seem like there's any high wind.  Many, many trees in my neighborhood and all over the city have bitten the dust.  The sound of chain saws has replaced the sound of birds.  One day we got almost 5 inches of rain in one day. Of course, with the rain, temperatures are lower which is wonderful.  Who would have thought that 96 degrees would feel cool!  Lots of drama with the weather this summer. 

Sometimes it seems to me that the drama us humans create on the planet (in my opinion, totally unnecessarily), is accompanied by dramatic weather.  It occurs to me almost every day that at my age, I'm not going to see the end of it.  All I can really accomplish is to increase the peace within myself and share that with whoever wants it.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Greed and Fear and Finance

I've been watching the stock market go nuts.  Since I don't invest in the stock market because I think it's just about guessing which way the sheep will run, I'm not personally affected.  I took a tiny bit of time to check in with CNN and Fox to see what they were saying about what was going on.  All I heard was the blame game and guesses as to why what was happening was happening.

I would love to see some psychologists make a study of what drives investors to buy or sell.  I'm guessing it's not about the logical, rational stuff the media thinks it is.  I'm guessing it's more about emotions like fear and character defects like greed.  When the market is going up, people buy stock (greed), and when it's going down, people panic and sell stock (which makes prices go down more).  What's goofy about it is that people who make money buy stock when prices are low and sell when they're going up.  That's the rational thing to do but since fear and greed seem to be the motivators...

Sunday, August 07, 2011


A short, but typically Oklahoma thunderstorm came through just as my friend and I finished eating all we could at Golden Corral (I want to move in there so I can just keep eating).  Short, powerful wind bursts and little penny-sized hail, lots of rumbling thunder and bright lightening.  As we drove home, we saw trees, branches, a bus bench and various pieces of trash on the street.  At my house all that was blown down was a few tree limbs but my power was out.  So I sat on my front porch in my porch swing until my tail got numb.  Then I went and got an egg crate and sat on that while I watched it get dark and the solar lights come on in my yard and the neighbors' yards.  There was a breeze which, since I have a lot of windchimes hanging on my front porch, created music to go with the coolness.  Unfortunately I eventually had to go to bed in my very warm house but managed to eventually go to sleep until the power suddenly came on (does it ever come on slowly?) at 2:30 a.m.  I once again was grateful for electricity and went back to sleep without the icepack I went to sleep with.

Saturday, August 06, 2011


It's over 110 today.  It was 117 Wednesday of last week.  I've taken to skipping my morning chores and dashing out the door before 8:00 a.m. so that I can run my errands before the pavement starts steaming.  I see by the weather report that it's supposed to get down into the 90s in a few days.  I'm ready.  I'm noticing that I'm not that upset about the heat.  I don't like it, but I'm just basically indifferent to the weather.  Basic problem solving:  Park in the shade.  Crack a window.  Put up the sun shade.  Take an ice pack to put on my neck when I have to get back in a hot car.  Turn the fans on.  Go places where I can park close and not have to walk far in the sun. 

It was Farmer's Market day and I got there about 7:45 a.m.  It wasn't that well attended - too hot already.  But to my surprise the vendors had more to sell than I thought they would.  Lots of tomatoes and okra.  A few green beans.  Lots of yellow squash and zucchini.  I was thrilled to find some summer vegetables even though the weather is like living in a desert than in a place where things grow. 

In this last leg of my journey, I am determined to enjoy absolutely everything I possibly can.  Even the blistering hot weather.

Friday, August 05, 2011

How Not to be a Doormat without being a Bitch

I think I will write a book with the above title.  It will, of course, be only for women.  I don't think men would relate.  I know from what men tell me that they do worry about being a doormat.   And it's been my observation that they worry incessantly about being controlled by women.  Sometimes it has seemed to me that just asking a guy to change something triggered his fear of being controlled and so he just went into automatic pilot and refused on principle.  Made me nuts.  I told my dearly beloved husband that I thought he didn't feel like a real man unless some woman somewhere was mad at him.  He didn't deny it - he said he thought I might have something there.  I knew I did.  But the guys don't seem to worry about being a bitch or a sonofa...  In fact they seem to collect points for being "tough" (hard to get along with).

On the other hand, us girls seem to want to please (doormat?), until we don't, and then we blow up (bitch?).  I'm guessing - from my own experience and from talking to other women - that our minds seem to be set in a way - maybe by mother nature - to be kind and nurturing.  We feel guilty if we are some other way - which we frequently are.  Being a doormat used to make me really angry which led to throwing big fits.  Finally I've learned that giving in to someone else's wishes doesn't make me a doormat unless I'm going to come to some harm by doing so.  Other people don't know what I want unless I speak up.  But asking for what I want is way different from throwing a fit.  There a million different ways to deal with people who don't want to do what I've asked for - and, of course, acceptance is one way.  Sometimes, however, it's necessary to do something else.

One of my favorite memories is of one of my ex-husbands building a fire in a fireplace that was a gas fireplace.  Sparks and smoke came through cracks in the upstairs closet because the fireplace wasn't built to have a real fire in it.  I carefully explained that fact, but it made no difference.  Then I began throwing fits because I was so afraid the house was going to catch on fire.  Now that I've learned that taking care of problems myself is sometimes the only answer, I would just call the fire department.  I don't think I would be that popular with the person building the fires if I did that, but I would not be a doormat and I would not be a bitch.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


I spent yesterday reading back through my journal beginning in January 2011 through July 2011.  It really was a daylong process - my rear end actually started to get numb from sitting still so long, and I haven't had that problem since spending months on end in a wheelchair.  My goal was to see what progress I had made on my priorities. 

For most of my life, I was driven by necessity and urgency.  I always ran out of energy before I got to the end of the urgent necessities and so lived with fear and guilt.  I got a lot better in that department after I got into recovery, but I never really figured out what came first.  I remember having company over for dinner and falling asleep in my chair after dinner because I was so exhausted from the preparations.  One year my husband decided we should never again have Thanksgiving dinner at our house because after everyone left I was so shaky with exhaustion I could barely walk.  In this part of my journey, I was still learning my limitations.

Finally I figured out - with the help of the principles of the program - that knowing what my purpose is is the key.  At first my purpose was to get well enough to kind of function normally.  Then my purpose became to be a reasonably responsible adult.  Then the evolution of my recovery led me to a purpose of spiritual growth.  At the same time I was working at a job that was so demanding that I felt like I was working 24 hours a day while coping with my husband's very serious illness.  My purpose of spiritual growth gave me the tools to love my husband and my job.  This part of my journey was about acceptance of reality and doing my best within my limitations even if it wasn't perfect.

Now I'm in the last leg of my journey.  My purpose in this phase is to stay as healthy and functional as I can while continuing to grow spiritually.  Part of growing spiritually is to find ways to share what I've learned.  But for the past almost six years, my purpose was to get as well as I could and I think I'm pretty much there.  So now I'm back to learning my limitations and accepting reality.  I have goofy goals like increasing the number of times I am able to get up before 8:00 a.m. so that I have the most amount of time to do the things that matter the most before I poop out.  Some of the others are to eat well, exercise and write, as well as make time for my spiritual practices.   Some of these are going better than others.  For example, in January and February I was up before 8:00 a.m. three times, but in the last three months I've averaged about 20 times.  On the other hand, I've exercised zero times in the last month, but in February, March, April and May I averaged twice a week.  Sometimes I go backward instead of forward, but I've learned to accept that about myself and just keep on keeping on.

 I also have my dear companion cat to care for and that gets more involved as he gets older.  I work with a number of people in the program and although that's time and energy consuming, it also increases my own growth exponentially.  All in all I was pleased with my progress report, and am ready for increasing my progress. 

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