Sunday, December 31, 2006

A New Beginning

Happy New Year is such a large wish. I like to take things in smaller increments. So I am wishing you all a Happy New Day, and hoping we all will be blessed with 364 more.

Tonight we will be sharing our home with friends and loved ones from the fellowship. What a blessing. I read A Vision For You this morning. I love the line "He will show you how to create the fellowship you crave." Another promise has come true...........

Remember in the coming year, More Will Be Revealed.

God Bless and Grace you All


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Today my gratitude is for my daughter Jolie's homecoming. She arrives Christmas Day!

Top Ten Things We'll Do While She Is Here:

1. Cuddle
2. Yak Yak Yak
3. Reindeer Prance Dance
4. Go to Starbucks
5. Shop the Sales
6. Go to Some Meetings
7. Run around in our jammies
8. Get a pedicure in a spa chair
9. Sing to the dogs
10. Cuddle more

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006

People sure get into some strange behavior around the holidays. I don’t know, maybe it’s just another “expectation” I shouldn’t be romancing, but I keep waiting for that “comfort and joy” feeling to hit me up the side of the head.

Public places are vibrating with desperate energy and traffic is a test of patience and tolerance for even the best of us. Seems like a frenzy, not a holiday.

I keep trying to ignore it all. I made a decision to do my best to focus on spirituality this year, but it’s testing my will. Someone shared in my Friday night home group about how many people we will lose over the next two weeks not from drinking and using to celebrate, but from the stress of the holidays. It’s important that we hold tight to each other right now. Keep an open mind, an open heart, and if necessary an open door.

I need to be mindful of how I am feeling and how I am acting. I need to stay in gratitude and conscious contact with my Higher Power and my fellowship. I feel the best this time of year when I’m with the people who know and love me; the people who are there for me no matter what. They give me comfort. They give me joy.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Not Crazy After All These Years

I saw this postcard on this morning and had to smile. This was me 15 years ago (except I can’t play the guitar). When I was active in my addiction I had a sneaking suspicion that I was crazy. In fact when I went into rehab, I insisted that the diagnosis for my admission be “depression”, not “chemical addiction”. So there I sat, in a lock down unit with a group of severely depressed souls, staring at each other in group sessions, dabbing our eyes with Kleenex, and shuffling back to our rooms. Meanwhile down the hall, the substance abuse people were having their groups…..I’d hear laughter, tears, spirited participation and see little friendships forming. (We are not a glum lot). That was my first “attraction” to a program of recovery, and I hadn’t even made it into the rooms yet.

I asked to be moved to the substance abuse unit. I figured if I was gonna be there for 30 days I might as well hang out with the fun folks instead of the zombies. I was relieved to be out of the whack job unit, but still a little worried about my “crazy” problem. I mean, I had been living a life that was unimaginable (even to ME…and I was the one living it!)

A couple times a week they would load us up in a van and take us to 12 step meetings; and other times program panels would come in and tell their stories. It was in those meetings and listening to those panels that I got my first glimmer of hope. I began to learn that “in our addiction we courted fatal disease, degradation, exploitation, impoverishment, and death by violence, even death by sheer stupidity.” Insanity? Yes. But did that mean I was crazy? No. That meant I was a practicing addict.

It was such a relief to identify with other alcoholics and addicts and learn that I wasn’t crazy. More importantly, I learned that there is a solution. It is a solution for “clearing away the wreckage of the past” (and there was plenty) and starting to build a new life based on this “Fellowship of the Spirit”.

Today I still have crazy thoughts and impulses. They keep life interesting. I just trudge along …… is so complex. I don’t think I’d want it any other way.

He had found God -- and in finding God had found himself. Pg 158 Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous

Saturday, December 09, 2006

6 Weird Things About Me

1. Sometimes I hold my dogs mouth closed and blow air up his nose till it comes out his mouth and his lips make a farty noise.

2. I am an ice cream snob - will only eat the most expensive brands , and then throw it away when its more than a week old.

3. I've been told I sleep with a smile on my face

4. I play with my ear lobes when I’m nervous

5. My life has a soundtrack. I have a song in my head at all times. When imagining events, I imagine the song that will be playing behind them.

6. I think men’s shoulders are sexy.

I tag... .... ,

The Rules - Each player of this game starts with the 6 Weird Things About You. People who get tagged need to write a blog entry of their own 6 Weird Things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says you are tagged in their comments and tell them to read your blog!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

There was a man who worked for the Post Office whose job it was to
process all the mail that had illegible addresses.

One day, a letter came addressed in a shaky handwriting to God with no
actual address. He thought he should open it to see what it was about.

The letter read:
Dear God,
I am an 83-year-old widow, living on a very small pension. Yesterday
someone stole my purse. It had $100 in it, which was all the money I had
until my next pension check.

Next Sunday is Christmas, and I had invited two of my friends over for
dinner. Without that money, I have nothing to buy food with. I have no
family to turn to, and you are my only hope.

Can you please help me?


The postal worker was touched. He showed the letter to all the other
workers. Each one dug into his or her wallet and came up with a few
dollars. By the time he made the rounds, he had collected $96, which
they put into an envelope and sent to the woman.

The rest of the day, all the workers felt a warm glow thinking of Edna
and the dinner she would be able to share with her friends. Christmas
came and went.

A few days later, another letter came from the same old lady to God.
All the workers gathered around while the letter was opened. It read,

Dear God,
How can I ever thank you enough for what you did for me? Because of
your gift of love, I was able to fix a glorious dinner for my friends.
We had a very nice day and I told my friends of your wonderful gift.
By the way, there was $4 missing.

I think it must have been those bastards at the Post Office

How often do I perform “good deeds” without expecting something in return? Not often enough I’m afraid. The “something” I usually expect is recognition. The Promises on pg.s 83 & 84 of the BB tell us that “self seeking will slip away”. This has been a slow process for me. It comes and goes.

There are countless opportunities for service work in our programs, our spiritual fellowships and our communities once we have been blessed with sobriety and returned to some semblance of sanity. It is important that I check my motives when investing my time and energy. Am I performing this service work out of gratitude? Or as it says in the third step prayer to bear witness to those I would help of God’s power, love and way of life?

This holiday season I know God will put people in my path that I can be of service to. I pray I can do it with humility, and when possible anonymously.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

When I tell my story from the podium I am fortunate to say that I was raised in a comfortable home by parents who didn’t drink, abuse or neglect me. I have posted about both of my parents having alcoholic fathers. They must have thought they dodged a bullet, if they gave it any thought at all. But the disease is cunning, baffling and powerful. It just waited, skipped a generation, and manifested in me. How amazing and fortunate I am that I have the Fellowship and the Twelve Steps. My grandfathers were the ones the wolves took down.

My parents met at Dennison University in Ohio. Mom was there on tuition, Dad as a member of Officers Candidate School with the US Navy. They met when the navy guys were doing morning calisthenics under the girl’s dormitory window. Mom stuck her head out to yell at them to take it somewhere else. Next thing she knew she was pregnant living in Springfield, Ohio. If you read my previous posts you know my mom’s family was affluent, and my dad’s family was dirt poor. Mom had some changes to get used to…….

There were many changes over the years. They had five children. When the first two were born they had to put the legs of the cribs in pans of water to prevent rats from crawling up and getting to the babies. When they found out they were expecting a third child (me), Dad had to drop out of pre-med courses so he could take another job. When the next two came along, I guess it was just a matter of making space for more. Families seemed normally larger then. We took care of each other.

My parents were married for forty years. They were not always perfect parents, and it was not always a blissful marriage. But I was there to witness more than thirty years of it. When it was good, it was very good. And when it was bad, looking back, it seems we made the best of it. The hard times were always a learning opportunity for us kids. I learned lessons of perseverance, faith, integrity and loyalty to the ones you love that sustain me in my recovery.

My father retired as a Vice President of Purex Corp in 1983. He struggled with heart disease, but had high hopes for retirement. They sold everything, bought a motor home and hit the highway. Unfortunately they didn’t even make it 20 miles before his final heart attack took him from us. Mom held him and promised to see him in another place.

Yes, this is very sad. It has taken me over twenty years to understand that life is about beginnings and endings. Ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows. Each of them is an opportunity to feel with all of the intensity you can bear, each with a gift to offer. I am grateful that I can feel today. I am grateful that I am willing.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

This is a picture of my mom (on the left) taken in 1938 when she was eleven years old. If you read the post about my dad you can see mom came from a much different background. This was taken at her home in upstate New York, a place called Tall Pines, after the tall pine trees that lined the long drive up to the large white house. My great great grandfather built the home, and the adjacent carriage house. There were also stables, a large barn and a small airport across the road. The road is named Marsh Road, which is the family name.

Mom and her brother and sister are wearing crinoline and patent leather. They are well fed, well versed and they know their manners. They’ve been told to smile sweetly for the camera, which they do, although my uncle Jack stands slightly apart as though he would rather be somewhere else.

My parent’s childhoods look very different. They were actually quite similar. Both of their fathers were alcoholics. My mom’s father was a pilot, an actual wing walking barn stormer. He was a hard drinking womanizer too. But not much of a family man. He only came home long enough to “hang his pants on the bed post” and get my grandmother pregnant three times. He had affairs with other women, it is rumored that he fathered another child and he made no effort to apologize or hide any of it. He was a spoiled rich kid who abandoned his family and left them to be raised by his own parents at Tall Pines.

My mom doesn’t really remember much about her father. What she does remember is the pain of abandonment. Her own mother had to go find work in the city. This left the children at the mercy of their grandmother, who although she loved them in her own way, she was in denial about her son and she had harsh ideas about raising children. It’s as though she was so ashamed of her son’s behavior she believed she could cover it up by exacting high standards from these wounded little children. She was very strict and religious and Mom spent her childhood intent on earning love.

Alcoholism robbed my mother of childhood nurturing. Hugs, and kissed boo-boos, hours of story time, mud pies and wrestling on the floor with Dad. The children were never free to just have a childhood. It also robbed her of the ability to know the truth. Children were to be seen and not heard. They were shut out. There was an elephant in the room. The scandal was more important than healing.

My mom began her healing years later, although she still sets sometimes impossibly high standards for herself. It was not so easy for her brother, who committed suicide in 1964; or her dear sister who has had years of therapy. My mom has a warrior’s heart and she met her soul mate when she met my father. His father had also been an alcoholic, and he understood her soul and her pain. Perhaps they began their healing journey together without even speaking of it. They were married for forty years. That’s another post.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

After a moment of silence for everyone suffering in this world
I offer a prayer of Thanksgiving for the blessings in my life

Sunday, November 19, 2006

This is a picture of my father taken around 1938 when he was probably 10 yrs old in Springfield Ohio. His family was poor, dirt poor, capital P poor. I love looking at the ragged clothes and yet the sweet dignity of the tie. My father lived his whole life with dignity. It was a quiet dignity, balanced by a sometimes outrageous sense of humor and his obvious love for family and friends. But under it all, first and foremost, this man was a gentleman.

My father’s father was one of the town drunks. The 1930’s and 40’s in a place like Springfield Ohio were hard. America was in the midst of the Great Depression in the 30’s; jobs, food and money were scarce. When the disease of alcoholism claimed my grandfather it left my father and his brother in circumstances that would have been dire if not for the spiritual practices they followed in their home. My grandmother was not a religious woman. But she was the kind of woman we read about in the Big Book chapter To The Wives and The Family Afterward. She believed she needed to keep the family together at all costs, keep the home neat as a pin, somehow keep the boys fed and clothed, pray for God’s mercies and hope that someday her husband would “regain his sanity”. It is so sad that my grandfather never found his way from Springfield to Akron. So close and yet so far away.

My grandmother took a job washing dishes on the nightshift in a diner downtown. My dad would go to school, come home and do his homework, fix a meal for his brother and himself and go to bed. Then at 1am he would get up and ride his bike downtown to escort his mom home, keeping her safe from her drunken husband or anyone else on the streets. Then a few hours more sleep and up at 5 am to deliver a paper route. He also used to go wait in line at the fire station once a week for any food handouts they were offering. Sometimes it was just bacon grease. They would fry bread in the grease, and that would be the substitute for the week’s meat.

My father never told me any of this. He never spoke an unkind word about his father. He simply told me that my grandfather had been an alcoholic. I never saw my father drunk. I never saw him cry either, until we got word that his father had died. This disease is cunning, baffling and powerful.

My dad died in 1984, before I got clean and sober and this is the first time I have been able to write about him. I don’t know why I am able to write today. There is something shifting in me and it is bringing me a peace that I have been longing for. I have carried so many regrets that he never got to see the person I became, but I think I am finally coming to understand that I can let regrets go. He would want me to. I am sure Dad never read the Big Book, but he seemed to intuitively know the following passage when he dealt with his own father and he used it as a design for living his own life. So I will gratefully allow my dad to teach me one more thing:

Cling to the thought that in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have --- the key to life and happiness for others. Pg 124

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The value of our friendships is without measure.
The women of this program have shared so much with me.....
Today I know how to relax and let the love in.

Intimacy....In To Me See

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray, "Take only one. God is watching."

Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. One child whispered to another, "Take all you want. God is watching the apples."

Today I am hoping that God is watching someone else and not me. I would hate to disappoint Him. Then again, I know He is watching me, and that is a good thing, because I need help.

I’ve got a bad case of self will run riot and a couple of new resentments that I’ve been whipping into a frenzy. It’s no wonder that I’m feeling disconnected. I need to return to center, pray for the “willingness to be willing” and focus on gratitude.

In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you learn to let go? Buddha’s Little Instruction Book Jack Kornfield

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New Election Rules According To Meg:

All Officials must within 48 hours of the close of voting:

Remove All Campaign Signs (their own AND their opponent’s---that's the price of success)

Restore the Surrounding Environment to its original condition

Penalty For Failure To Perform The Above Will Forfeit Election Victory

Monday, November 06, 2006

One of my sponsees relapsed this weekend, then put a few days together and drank again today. She is suffering from the phenomenon of craving that causes so many of us to “make the supreme sacrifice, rather than continue to fight.”

The sponsor/sponsee relationship is so special. Divine inspired and divine directed...sometimes it is the first time a person has ever been honest with another human or themselves. We bond heart to heart. When the dis-ease takes over, the walls go up and the bond is lost. I am feeling so sad. Now is the time for me to practice acceptance and faith. I am powerless.

I talked with her today, reminding her of what we read in The Doctor’s Opinion: She is beyond human aid, powerless over this disease and the answer lays in a power greater than herself. But the bottom line is there’s no reasoning with an angry, remorseful, drunk. And she sure didn’t want to hear about God.

So tomorrow she can wake up and expect a visit from the “hideous Four Horseman – Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration and Despair.

I guess the good news is that we are all still here for her. If she wants it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday Morning Gratitude:

The last fifteen years of my life have been rich and meaningful. I have had my share of problems, heartaches, and disappointments because that is life, but also I have known a great deal of joy and a peace that is the handmaiden of an inner freedom. I have a wealth of friends and, with my A.A. friends, an unusual quality of fellowship. For, to these people, I am truly related. First, through mutual pain and despair, and later through mutual objectives and newfound faith and hope. And, as these years go by, working together, sharing our experiences with one another, and also sharing mutual trust, understanding, and love--without strings, without obligation--we acquire relationships that are unique and priceless.There is no more aloneness, with that awful ache, so deep in the heart of every alcoholic that nothing, before, could ever reach it. That ache is gone and never need return again.Now there is a sense of belonging, of being wanted and needed and loved. In return for a bottle and a hangover, we have been given the Keys of the Kingdom.

from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous/ Personal Stories/ Pioneers of A.A.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Good humored patience is necessary with mischievous children
and your own mind

from Buddha's Little Instruction Book Jack Kornfield

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Gentle on My Mind

The meditation I read this morning closed with the sentence "I will not let what I think destroy what I believe." Sometimes I swear these pages are aimed right at me, like little fortune cookies from my Higher Power.

I’m a thinker. A deep thinker. A bizarre thinker. A profound thinker. A thinker ad nauseum. And if I let them, these thoughts and ideas own me. The meditation went on to say “Ideas can be so seductive, and we are so easily seduced. We forget that ideas are just that, abstractions that have been thought up.”

The meditation book I currently use is Meditations For Women Who Do Too Much. I try to read it every day as soon as I get to work so I can get centered and shake off the brain wreckage of my commute. My life runs in high gear, my program, my family, my fellowship, my career and my MIND. I’m reminded of the Dire Straits song : If you wanna run cool, you gotta run some heavy heavy fuel….

I’m constantly searching for ways to cool my mind and spirit. I don't run heavy fuel anymore. The best I have found are related to time spent with my Higher Power in quiet meditation; time spent with my sponsor with an open mind, and in time spent with other addicts sharing the message.

When I do those things my mind is quiet and I have the freedom to celebrate the woman I believe myself to be.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I’m trying to put together something to wear to a Halloween party tonight. I’ve already decided against a costume, but I want to wear something…….you know, “Halloweenish”. Honestly, my only criteria and number one requirement is I don’t want to look ridiculous.

I know, I know : “You shouldn’t feel that way”. “Page 62,” “Self seeking will slip away” Shut up, apparently I’m not there yet when it comes to my appearance.

On days like this I desperately miss my daughter Jolie. She moved up to Everett, WA in May. We’ve always been bonded tightly. Sometimes more like best friends than mother/daughter. There were years where we struggled with everything together. I guess that’s because while she was growing up, I was getting sober and growing up too.

Not having her in my daily life has been a trudge similar to my early sobriety. I just try to get through it one day at a time, dealing with the feelings as they come up. I surrender her to God and her own path every time I feel the ache.

Today I’m thinking about Jolie’s loving eyes. Not how they look, but rather how she sees me with them. Like so many women in recovery, I can’t always see myself clearly. But my little fashion consultant can. She sprawls on my bed while I’m getting dressed, and when I think I’m ready I look to her for the “nod”. If she rolls her eyes at me, I head back to the closet. The thing is, sometimes I try too hard. Jolie loves me just the way I am. And she’s honest and loving enough to say “you look good just the way you are. ” What a concept.

So back to the Halloween party. I need to figure out what to wear. I am in acceptance that Jolie isn’t here to help. So I decide, against my better judgment, to run it by my husband. He’s in the family room when I stroll out and strike a pose. He looks me up and down, and asks “have you seen the big , fat, rubber band I had laying on the counter ?”. God save me from alcoholic men.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

When I was growing up my dad had a zillion expressions to make us kids laugh.

So today…

In honor of my Father who I miss every day

In gratitude to all of you who showed me how to laugh again

And in order to say HAPPY HALLOWEEN


Sunday, October 22, 2006

These are pictures from Patrick's rim to rim Grand Canyon hike two weeks ago.
Evidence of the existence of A Higher Power wouldn't you say?

Today's prayer from Twenty Four Hours A Day:

I pray that I may build a house in my soul for the spirit of God to dwell in. I pray that I may come at last to an unshakeable faith.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"A man was lost in the desert and was near death for lack of water. Soon he came across a pump with a canteen hung on the handle and a note. The note read as follows: "Below you is all the fresh water you could ever need, and the canteen contains exactly enough water to prime the pump." What would you do?

Now that’s a question of Faith. Each of the steps in our program has a principle behind it, and Faith is the principle of the third step. The Step is: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Turning my life over to the care of God was a no-brainer for me. I believe in a power greater than myself, and it’s comforting to trust in a loving caring God. But turning my will over is a whole other story! That means complete surrender. And that requires Faith.

It’s so hard to surrender my desire to control people places and things. I wake up, say the third step prayer, and give all my problems and concerns to God. By the time I hit the freeway I’ve got most of them swimming around in my head again.

I have a sponsee who is working her third step, so we talk about faith a lot. I tell her what I’ve learned is that we “practice” faith, and that yes, it can be a daily struggle. Fortunately, this is a program of progress, not perfection. Four times in the Big Book is the phrase “faith without works is dead”. So we’ll keep working at it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

When I was 15 my sister Caron pierced my ears with a sewing needle and a potato. We didn’t have permission or any money, but I wanted my ears pierced more than anything in the world. She put an ice cube on my ear lobe first, then jabbed that needle right through the earlobe into a potato (twice naturally, since I have 2 ears). I considered myself very brave at the time. Now, looking back, I realize she was the brave one. I can’t imagine running a sewing needle through someone’s earlobe while they squealed like a piglet, and then doing it again.

I have discovered over the years that there isn’t much my sisters wouldn’t do for me. I have two sisters. My older sister Caron is stoic and accepting of whatever life throws at her. She is content to live in “today”, giving her energy to her plants and animals, and she loves her children with a fierce obsession. She loved me enough in 1991 to make me face my addictions and enter rehab.

My younger sister Nancy is a social worker at Children’s Hospital in Orange. She works with children in pain and families in crises. Nancy has within her a gentle calm and spirituality that radiates. She is loyal and loving and has been there for me in my darkest moments.

I am right in the middle. It’s nice being in the middle. When we walk arm in arm, one of them is on either side. Having a sister is a guarantee that you will always have a part of your childhood. We have shared clothes, hair dryers, bedrooms, secrets, hopes and dreams. There are memories we share that are locked in our hearts forever. It is a powerful bond, thank you Caron and Nancy, I love you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I have been asked often about the title of my blog, so here it is---

X & Y - Coldplay

Trying hard to speak and
Fighting with my weak hand
Driven to distraction
So part of the plan
When something is broken
And you try to fix it
Trying to repair it
Any way you can
I'm diving off the deep end
You've become my best friend
I wanna love you
But I don't know if I can
I know something is broken
And I'm trying to fix it
Trying to repair it
Any way I can
You and me are floating on a tidal wave...Together
You and me are drifting into outer space...
And singing
You and me are floating on a tidal wave...Together

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I collect monkey statues. The little See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil monkeys. Maybe I love them because I would like to view life that way. There is something very comforting about rose colored glasses. Evil? Suffering? What? I didn’t see anything.

I have been challenging myself to take a look, and more importantly, feel, what is going on around me. I also have been taking a look at what is going on in me. What do I think? What do I feel? What is my responsibility? What is real in my life and what is an old tired fantasy or resentment that needs to be laid to rest. Maybe it is the result of re-working the steps. Maybe it’s just some long overdue personal growth. But I’m grateful that I’m willing to look at reality today, and surrender the painful parts to God.

The other day at work there was a drunk passed out on the sidewalk in front of our office. The same day a crack-head was beating his woman on the street. Both cases made me feel so sad, and powerless to help. My sponsor told me not to take on their suffering. He said that instead I should continue to work at the root of the problem. His advice empowered me. I will work with the newcomer and I will give comfort and support to the women who have been battered due to their involvement with drugs and alcohol. And I will thank God for the opportunity to be of service.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

In July 2001 my daughter Jolie and I went to Paris for two weeks. The trip was planned as a high school graduation gift, but I had other motives too. I knew that Jolie was going to be making life altering decisions in the years to come, and I wanted her to start thinking globally. I wanted her to experience cultural differences and be immersed in the unfamiliar. I had traveled before, I wanted her to see and feel all of it. There is nothing quite like the experience of clearing customs at Chas Degaulle Airport and realizing you don’t speak the language, you can’t spend your money, you don’t know where the hotel is and Paris is full of FRENCH people who don’t generally like Americans. It is humbling. We did it together, and it was wonderful and scary and amazing and unforgettable.

Jolie is full of goodness and light. Everywhere we went she attracted people and we made friends. We avoided most of the tourist destinations and instead went wherever there was music or people in the streets. We ate many nights at a Café, where the owners taught us Greek dancing. We rode the metro and walked for miles and miles. Since we were there for two weeks, we made friends and began to feel a sense of community. It was everything I hoped for. I think there is something shining around Jolie that will enable her to be a citizen of “anywhere”.

All of the churches in Paris ring their bells at the same time each morning. It is a beautiful sound, bells ringing from every direction. A waiter at our café told us the reason the bells are all rung at the same time is so that everyone’s hearts will start to beat in sync. I don’t know if that is true. But I know that we had two amazing weeks together, right on that cusp between childhood and adulthood. Jolie lives in Washington now, and I’m still down here in So Cal, but we heard the bells together and our hearts still beat in sync.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

There are those moments in life where we can be Rocketed Into The Fourth Dimension of Existence. When I personally acheive this state, my connection to God is clear, I have a loving response to those I encounter and care about, my mind is quiet and centered, and most importantly I understand TRUTH.

My goal is to extend these "moments" to a way of life. I want to change my perspective. I want "a new pair of glasses". There is this guy Mike L. in New Jersy who keeps a recovery website. He writes in his blog about the 4th column of your 4th step inventory. He says it is the fuel that will rocket you into the Fourth Dimension. Since I am working on a 4th step, I'm buying an e-ticket. The wisdom of Mike L follows:

"Fourth Dimension of Existence"

Even though this is not mentioned specifically in the Big Book, by completing a searching, fearless, honest, and thorough inventory we are examining the 4 dimensions of our life: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. (BUT only the fourth dimension, "spiritual", is rooted in Truth. But set that aside for a moment and read on...)

Column 1 of resentment inventory deals with the physical - Who or what we're mad at.

Column 2 deals with the mental - What we think they did to us.

Column 3 deals with the emotional - What we felt when they supposedly wronged us. (Clarence S. used to say that alkies don't think, "THEY EMOTE!" which means we feel our way through life.)

And finally, Column 4 rockets us into the spiritual dimension, revealing the "exact nature of our wrongs" - the truth about what really happened. It usually reveals to me how my faulty thinking caused me to take actions which got the "ball rolling" in the first place. With 99% percent of the resentments I see (both in myself and in those I work with) the first 3 columns can be turned into a lie when the truth of the fourth column is revealed.

Consider this: Is it possible that the 4th column of inventory, which reveals to us the "truth", is the "fuel" that enables us to be rocketed into the "Fourth Dimension of Existence" that the Big Book describes on pages 8 & 25? This "Fourth Dimension" is later described on page 84 as the "World of the Spirit" as we begin to commence daily spiritual living with Steps 10 & 11.

The "World of the Spirit" is a constant because Truth, which we first discover in the fourth column of Step 4, is a constant. Truth is always present at the core of our Being even when covered up (or blocked) by a lie.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I 'm the controller for a manufacturing company in Lawndale, Ca. The business is owned and managed by two brothers, Erik and Brian. Although we work in a very impoverished area, the company’s building, with its flowering vines and yellow awnings is a bright spot in the neighborhood.

I think we are all animal lovers. Erik brings his two dogs Fritz and Heidi to work each day and we have two cats, Jerky and Jet, who live there. From time to time I have taken my dogs to work with me. We have a dozen or so employees. It often feels like family (especially when we’re fighting).

A few weeks ago a little dog got hit by a car right in front of our building. His little owner had walked him up to the corner gas station to hose him down during the heat wave (the kids in this neighborhood have no yards or garden hose). The boy was frozen on the curb watching his dog struggle in the street.

His name was Pepper. He had slipped out of his leash, soaking wet, run out into traffic and been hit by a car. Brian ran to the street and scooped up Pepper and carried him to the curb, but there was nothing to be done. Erik knelt on the curb and stroked him and told him what a good dog he was while he passed from this life to the next. I held his little owner and told him he was a good boy too.

Erik and Brian dug a grave for Pepper. All of the neighborhood kids still come and put things on the site. They bring candles, lighters, school pictures, little statues, and even pictures of their dogs. The kids are all very shy, and a little nervous around us. They don’t speak English very well. I just smile. When they leave I blow kisses and tell them to be very careful crossing the street.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he Trust in God and clean house." - Page 98, Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous

I’m working on a 4th step. If you are in a recovery program you know what this means. If not, then you don’t know the secret handshake and you should skip this post.

The Big Book instructs us to inventory three "common manifestations" of self-will: resentments, fears, and harms done to others. Then we share this inventory with our sponsor and it becomes the basis of a spiritual renewal. Kind of like a Chinese New Year.

A lot of people in the program hate working on their 4th step. I’m NOT one of them. My sponsor has been talking to me about love and compassion for those I have resentments at; and his latest blog is about forgiveness for both myself and others. This is going to be a good thing.

So with all of this in mind I pick up my pen, and ……………nothing, just tears.

hold on
hold on to yourself
for this is gonna hurt like hell
hold on
hold on to yourself
you know that only time can tell

Hold On Sarah McLachlan

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My husband left home today to hike to the top of another mountain. He does this about once a month. When he feels the need to clear his mind and shake off the urban decay, I find him in the back of the house organizing his gear. I don’t mind. The truth is he always returns home somehow better than when he left. Hiking is a spiritual experience for Patrick. He connects with his Higher Power when he is alone on the trail. Some friends have suggested that we should hike together, so I’ve gone with him a few times. I’m happy to report that my God is alive and well at sea level.

My help is in the mountain
Where I take myself to heal
The earthly wounds
That people give to me.
I find a rock with sun on it
And a stream where the water runs gentle
And the trees which one by one give me company.
So must I stay for a long time
Until I have grown from the rock
And the stream is running through me
And I cannot tell myself from one tall tree.
Then I know that nothing touches me
Nor makes me run away.
My help is in the mountain
That I take away with me.
Nancy Wood

Monday, August 21, 2006

I’ve just finished reading Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, a novel by Dai Sijie . It’s the story of 2 students who were sent to do hard labor during China’s Cultural Revolution. Chairman Mao Zedong was sort of an “egalitarian on crack” who altered Chinese history in the 1960s and '70s, forcibly sending hundreds of thousands of young Chinese intellectuals to peasant villages for "re-education." These students were taken from their families and robbed of any opportunity for education. The Cultural Revolution in China, and the ensuing death and destruction at the hand of Mao Zedong and his Red Guard happened in our lifetime. This is not ancient history.

It’s a great book, although as a priviledged American, I always get uncomfortable reading about any kind of suffering that I am not willing or able to help alleviate.

And then, of course, there’s the political issue. I get just plain pissed off. But if I examine my heart do I totally disagree with the theory of what he was trying to accomplish? I pulled into a 7-11 parking lot the other day. It was full of kids that just didn’t seem to have anything better to do than block my car. They were hanging out, smoking and talking on their cell phones, listening to their ipods, and looking incredibly spoiled and bored with life. I live in an affluent community. These kids didn’t seem to have a care in the world, not for each other, not for themselves, not for anyone less fortunate or humanity as a whole. Maybe a few months working in a homeless shelter, a hospice or in the fields with the migrant workers isn’t such a bad idea after all. What did Mao call it? Re-education?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Leap of Faith

I spent part of my Sunday reading The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry. It is a children’s story written in 1943, full of poetic metaphors and spiritual lessons. I am a member of a 12 step program, a recovering drug addict with 13 years of sobriety. In order to maintain sobriety it is important that we [people in recovery] “continue to grow along spiritual lines”. Lately I’ve been stalled in my recovery program; restless and irritable; lonely and depressed. My sponsor thought it was time for me to read The Little Prince. He says I’m like the fox. I know what he really means is he wants me to learn the lesson of the fox.

When the little prince meets the fox he wants to play and be his friend. But the fox is unwilling because first he needs to be tamed. The little prince does not understand this. So the fox explains that they will “establish ties”, they will start slow and come to trust and understand one another, and finally they will become unique to one another in all the world. “One only understands the things one tames”, “if you want a friend, tame me….” said the fox.

So MANY of us need to be tamed. We have lost faith. Many have been betrayed by our friends, lovers, churches, communities, governments, heroes, mentors. For those of us with addictions we have even been betrayed by our own bodies and minds. We have lost the ability to feel safe with one another. And particularly for people with wreckage in their past, rebuilding trust is a slow process.

So yes, sometimes I am like the fox. But the good news is that I don’t have to be an untamed fox. I have choices today. I can make a leap of faith. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells me to trust in an infinite God, rather than my finite self. So I will open my heart to those in the fellowship who will mentor me, and start the process of being tamed.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

All of my life I have been learning valuable lessons from dogs. I grew up in a large family, lots of kids and dogs. I think my parents had dogs to help them with the kids. Parenting a herd of kids is no easy task. We ran like a pack. The dog kept us out of the street, clear of the neighbor’s pool and snarled away many a stranger. They licked our wounds and tears, ran and played until we were exhausted, and then demonstrated how to go to bed without an argument. I learned about loyalty, fearlessness, not to pull tails, and where babies come from. I also learned about grief and letting go as our family pets aged and eventually died. These were all good life lessons. I’m grateful to the dogs of my childhood.

I still have dogs. My husband and I currently have three that we have rescued from shelters. Bob, Charlie, and Lucy. We say we have rescued them, but many days they rescue us. They know the sound of our cars coming down the street. When I open my front door after a long day I am greeted with love and enthusiastic affection by three amazing spirits. They leap in the air and shout for joy. They race in circles and bring me a toy to share. Then they settle down, look into my eyes and check on my spirit and the condition of my soul. Whatever it is I may need, they are here to serve. They know me better than I know myself . They know how to care for me without being asked. We laugh and play. We cuddle. Sometimes we cry. We walk and run, sometimes we sleep the day away.

Each of us who consider ourselves spiritual beings have at one time or another spent time contemplating our own definition of a Higher Power. At the beginning of my spiritual path this process did not come easily. A friend suggested that I may want to think about the GOD - DOG connection. I considered all of the unconditional love that I have been blessed with by these amazing little messengers from above. I was then able to understand my God. He is loving and fearless, gentle and forgiving. He wants only joy and delight for my spirit and cares only that the condition of my soul is peaceful.

So I have learned another lesson from my dogs. Now it is my turn. Whatever it is HE may need I am here to serve.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A word about the title of my blog. I love music. All kinds of music. My whole world and every scenario in it have a soundtrack, either real or imagined. But even more than the music itself, are the lyrics. I’m a lyrics freak. After years of listening to rock and roll, country, punk, indie, and now alternative music I’ve come to believe that there isn’t an emotion, a nuance, a fear, a hope or dream that hasn’t been perfectly expressed by a song lyric. And yeah I know this is not great literature. But is there really any poetry better than Bob Dylan’s description of Desolation Row?

How about Patty Scialfa’ perfect lyric about a young girl’s demoralization (yet again) in the song Young in the City.

I ferried my dreams across the water
Underneath a faceless moon
I woke to find myself uncovered
In this dark and dusty room

And then there’s Train “Calling All Angels” (I’ve done that more than a few times) and on and on and on.

A ride in the car with me means LOUD music, sorry no conversation. I sacrificed my hearing to the speaker gods years ago, standing in front of a bank of speakers in some auditorium while ELO played.

The point is….if you know me, you know I put on the headphones and live in my own world when I can. I don’t always know what to say to you when my heart is overflowing or my head is on spin cycle. But I know a song that probably expresses it perfectly. Just ask me. I’ll sit you down under my Ipod.
First post. Okay, okay, this feels like a lot of pressure. Make sense. Be articulate. Try to be interesting. Then I remembered what my friend David (who actually inspired me to move my blog from my mind to the screen) wrote in his early postings. He ventured a guess that he only had a few readers; and of those, only one cared, and that was his Mom. So…. I’m floating on a tidal wave (Chris Martin, Coldplay X&Y) I’ve been told that if I would just relax and keep my head back, looking skyward, everything’s gonna be just fine. But I’ve been known to bob around in the water, just to see what’s coming up behind me.