Get Out of The Way, Me

I was doing some reading yesterday, and I came across a motivational idea in the book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. WHAT IF I could give up the path of struggle and instead choose the path of joy?

Hmm. My mind immediately went to A) sounds kinda hokey B) How is that even possible? C) Well, that might be cool. I HAVE struggled a lot already in my life. D) Hell yeah! I’m doin’ it!

Why am I always waiting for the other shoe to drop? Thinking about the past, worrying about the future, not enjoying the present. Why does everything have to involve so much pain?

Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe I can choose. I was looking into this idea and I found this quote. I pretty much love it.

“There are two ways of approaching life. The first is coping and the second is challenging to change a situation. The situation is the same but the results are different. Coping is linked to the past and our past knowledge and experiences. It is a conservative attitude, limited, restricted, passive, defensive, dependent. There is no vision and no hope. This is not Buddhism. Buddhism is about change. Changing ourselves, society and humanity for good. The way to change is determination based on wisdom. Change is a projection towards the future. It is positive, creative, independent, attacking and seeking. It is an attitude of great hope and vision. Coping is the past projecting to the present. Changing is the present projecting to the future. We can choose. The difference between ordinary and great lives is up to us.” -Kazuo Fujii, Buddhist Leader

Instead of looking for the downside I can look for the opportunity in each situation. I can let go of drama. I don’t have to live my life simply reacting to things based upon my past. I can fully embrace the present. Life does not have to be a constant struggle.

I think it will require some work, but the seeds are planted. I choose joy… and I can totally dig it.

Saturday Morning Dance Party

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I have been writing a daily gratitude journal- well, most days at least- for the past few weeks. I am already noticing a shift in my attitude because of it. I became sick with the flu this week, and felt nauseous in a way that I haven’t since my last hangover. I can’t believe it used to be normal for me to feel that way so much of the time. It is SO not normal. Today I am grateful to be sober because I am learning that I deserve to spend most of my life feeling good.

Early this morning I had a dance party in my living room with my son. I never would have done that when I was drinking because I usually felt like I had the flu on Saturday mornings, and it was all I could do to make coffee and supervise. I am grateful for Saturday morning dance parties. They are 1,000,000 times better than Friday night drinking parties.

Happy weekend to you all.

Happy New Year!

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I love this. It is kinda perfect for those of us who are not quite sure what our sober lives will look like in the long term. Maybe we are on the verge of becoming butterflies if we can just accept that our days as caterpillars are over? I think so.

xx-

Jen

We Are Trying For SOMETHING

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I needed this reminder today.

Sometimes it seems like the more work I do on myself, the more work that needs to be done. It is a never-ending process. When I take a step back and look at the big picture, however, I can see that my life is gradually getting better and better. I have taken responsibility for my life and happiness in a totally new way by getting sober.

I look at this quote as another reminder from the universe to be gentle on myself, even when I make mistakes. I haven’t been close to drinking, but I am so far from perfect sometimes…wow. I can be harsh, critical, grouchy, not present with those I love, etc. I am trying to be better at all of those things, and that effort matters. It means that I care about the impact I am having on the world around me.

So…if you are reading this, you are trying too. Be gentle on yourself.

Boiling Over

I think my off switch is missing. I have had a few upsetting events occur in the past few days, and I have found that I am really bad at getting over them. I keep getting more and more upset. I don’t yell or get mad. I sometimes cry. I definitely obsess about whatever it is that made me upset.  I find that my shoulders are up to my ears and my upper back hurts, and I know that I am STRESSED. Relieving this stress is not natural for me without drinking. Doesn’t that seem crazy? I used drinking as a way to deal with negative emotions for so long that now they just build and build and build with no stopping point … well, it is time to work on improving my life skills.

I can think of 10 things, off the top of my head, that would be SO MUCH better than drinking to deal.

  1. Talk to the person who upset me directly if possible
  2. Go for a walk or run
  3. Talk to a friend/family member/therapist about it**
  4. Watch something funny and laugh
  5. Write about it
  6. Yell into a pillow
  7. Punch a punching bag (I need one. I used to take boxing and I loved punching the bag! It made me laugh. I am weird.)
  8. Take a hot bath
  9. Read a helpful book (Something by Pema Chödrön or Don Miguel Ruiz, perhaps)
  10. Sit and meditate and visualize letting go
  11. Do yoga

So, I listed 11 things I can do (10 + bonus!), aside from drinking to stop being stressed, mad, hurt or whatever negative emotion I am experiencing. That is a good start. I haven’t been close to drinking lately, even though I have felt discouraged about it (mainly from talking to a family member).

**Be careful who you choose for support! Make sure that they are capable of giving you what you need, otherwise they can make you feel worse. (I learned this the hard way this week). Actually, I learned a lot about boundaries and what makes me comfortable this week. I am going to be more careful about who I talk to about delicate things in my life. I have a tendency to overshare, and I need to stop because it causes me anxiety. Baby steps.

My Hula Hoop

I had a really nice talk with one of my younger brothers today. I worry about his drinking a lot … it is easy for me to see how much BETTER his life would be if he were to stop. It is really easy to judge someone else’s situation from an outsider’s perspective, though. The hard part is actually doing it for yourself. But … it seems like he might be heading in the direction of quitting one day. I hope so more than anything. If I had my way my entire family would be in recovery. Ha! I laugh because it is both ridiculous and true.

This conversation, and my desire to influence my brother’s path, got me thinking about a saying that I heard recently. I actually think I read it somewhere … I have NO IDEA where because I read during, like, 50% of my free time or something crazy. Anyway, this saying was something about the fact that you only need to worry about what is inside your hula hoop.

What is in your hula hoop at any given time?  Hula hoops are pretty small. Right now, it is just me. Sitting here typing in the present moment. I don’t need to worry about my brother, my parents, my husband, or even my little boy (he is napping). I don’t need to worry about the future or the past because you definitely can’t fit THE FUTURE or THE PAST into a hula hoop. I like this because I can visualize my hula hoop and what I can fit in it, and it helps to stop my thoughts from spiraling out of control. Oops … sorry! Can’t fit that problem in my hula hoop. Moving on!

I am sure many of you, especially AA people, have heard this expression. It can work for a lot of different things.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Accidental Living

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In an ongoing search for “the answer” to help my baby sleep better, I have been reading yet another in a long line of parenting books. This one talks a lot about ‘accidental parenting,’ an interesting idea that got me thinking about intention in other areas of my life. Accidental parenting refers to creating bad habits in babies and children by not thinking your actions through for the long run. Living with intention is about making sure that everything you do has a purpose. In what areas am I living with intention, and in what areas am I doing what I am now calling ‘accidental living?’

Before I made the decision to get sober I did a lot of accidental living. Things would happen TO me; I only steered my ship some of the time. I thought I was being spontaneous, but now I see that it was less about that and more about learned helplessness. I didn’t believe that I had the power to make changes in my life. If something good happened to me– great –but I didn’t have much to do with it. The same with bad stuff. I was essentially giving my power away by being a product of my circumstances. This is living accidentally, or living without intention. Boozing fit in perfectly with this idea because it helped keep me stuck in those thought and behavior patterns for a long time.

I used to put a lot of resources into drinking that I can now put elsewhere. There is so much space that boozing used to fill… time, money, thoughts, etc. Booze takes up space, there is no doubt about it. Even if you drink normally, it still takes up space that you could be using differently. For me, it took up WAY too much space. And now I am relishing the fact that I have SO MUCH FREE TIME.

I am beginning with small goals. A few things that I can do/have been doing to live with more intention. Work everyday (for money). Write everyday (for me).  Entertain once in awhile. Eat healthy foods. Cut down on sugar. Drink more water and green tea instead of Diet Coke. Keep up with my gratitude lists. Work on letting go. Get up and move instead of messing with the iPad. Look at each moment as an opportunity for SOMETHING instead of as time to fill. It is a luxury to have this time, and it is up to me to make it amazing.