Monday, September 5, 2016

Wait for the Miracle

In my Alanon program we have a saying, "Wait for the miracle." Hang on, don't give up, keep coming back... Until you begin to live out your miracle. It really does happen too. It's amazing and the word "miraculous" is the absolute best there is to describe it. 

I am working with a woman right now, who is about 20 years older than I am. I am writing about this with her permission. The first time I met this woman was at a meeting. She came in with the perfect colors on for her skin and hair and was so well put together and lovely. She has a big warm smile and oozes warmth, and care and confidence. I just loved her from that first moment. She is one of those people that you are immediately comfortable with. 

About a year after attending our weekly meeting together, she asked me if I would be her sponsor. I was honored. We set off on our journey of working through the 12 steps together. She has shared her heart with me, so bravely, so boldly....each week she has journaled and worked through questions that we have discussed, she has faced some difficult painful memories and deep hurts that have affected her for many years...with such courage and willingness to examine them from every angle. She forges on ahead to her place of freedom. 

As we walk together on this journey of the spirit, as we drink coffee and talk, and often cry....because this stuff just makes us do that, I can see the changes taking place. I watch the healing flow through her, over her, to all of those dark and hurting places....and I listen as she tells me she feels different. She is doing life differently, she feels better, lighter, free, she has options today that she didn't know were available to her before working her program. I am watching the miracle unfold. 

I have been allowed to watch these beautiful transformations take place for many women through my years in Alanon. What an incredible blessing to me. To be able to walk with another, to get to witness a woman finding her freedom after many years of external and internal oppression that she felt there were no answers for. It always starts the same... Broken, in pain, hurting, feeling lost with no options, hopeless. As we begin to meet week after week and talk about what we can control, what we can't, and what to do with the issues and people that we carry in our heart that we have no power to change or heal...I watch them begin to smile more, we laugh more, there is hope in her voice. They aren't alone with their pain and fear anymore. 

I recently met with a second sponsee who is also quite a bit older than myself and she is so surprised at "the miracle" that is unfolding in her life. She is doing some very hard work, looking inside at what has tripped her up for a very long time, and making different choices today. I love hearing her talk about it and watching her face as she talks about how unexpected it all is to really feel better and hopeful. 

What these women give to me is invaluable. They show me that it is never too late to find a new way to do life. A new way to be whole and healthy and happy and at peace with one's self. I receive so much joy in watching their lives unfold. I get to live out the miracle of sponsorship and the 12 steps. What an honor to be allowed to accompany a sister on her journey to serenity and peace. 

I too experienced my own miracle and someone, bless her heart, walked me through those early years. I can assure you that sponsoring me was not for the faint of heart either! I was given solutions to problems that I thought would plague me forever. I spent so many years being angry and hurt and afraid...but desperately doing everything I could to camouflage my character defects, to not let anyone see. I have been given the courage to live an authentic life, free from any cover-ups, from shame, from hiding....I get to stand free in all of my imperfect glory, knowing that I am a work in progress and that its ok. The icing on the cake is getting to share that with other women. Being able to say "me too" when they share their hearts with me. 

It's all this beautiful circle of service...someone gently took me under their wing and shared life with me, now I do it for other women and continue to find my own healing in the process. Eventuall they too will one day offer their presence for other women and they will find even more miracles through that process. Don't ever underestimate the power of an extended hand to a hurting soul. For both parties. 

Bless us all....we keep walking forward, even when it's scary and painful and uncomfortable. Eventually we discover that we have been walking out our very own personal miraculous healing. Just for today. 

Much much love....
Annette

PS: "The wedding" is 12 days away. Did I mention I bought a bigger dress? LOL Little one tried cinching me up in some form of elastic that was supposed to be flattering and said, "Oh Mom, just buy the next size up! You want to be comfortable for this day!" So I did. 


Thursday, September 1, 2016

The dad and the dogs

This has been the wildest ride. I am mostly just a bystander but just watching is like sitting through an action movie. Early sobriety is filled with so many ups and downs and emotions and our girl is all over the place. The dad and I feel like we are in a little boat hanging on to the sides, soaring up into the big waves and wind and then crashing down.....just hanging on until we can get to smoother water. Early sobriety is messy and tumultuous. There is nothing neat and tidy and polished about it. Our communications are precious...until they aren't, but even then she is able to articulate...." Don't take anything I say, my moods, or any nastiness to mean I don't want this. I do. I'm just crazy most of the time right now, but please don't get discouraged and give up on me. I don't know if I will make it back out if I go back in again."

So the dad....through all of this. The dad has an engineering mind, logical, practical, makes his decisions based on facts, not emotions, he has ADD in spades, very routine oriented... We say it's a little OCDish, but that might be because we are the polar opposite of him. Emotional, scattered, squeezing more into a minute than it can contain with no pattern or method. There has never been a more faithful life partner though. This man would step in front of a bullet for any of us without a hesitation. He is very private and wonders why on earth I would want to lay myself out here for all to read about and critique...so I don't write about him very often. But today, I must. I am so touched (understatement....there are no words) by his commitment to us and to this journey.

Last week was challenging (another understatement) and emotions and feelings were being lobbed back and forth all over the place. Once things calmed down he said, "I needed you to remind me of what we are doing. I can keep moving forward. I forgot for a minute what the goal was and could only see that current minute." I get that....it's so easy to get lost in the moment and the chaos and forget what we are working toward with her. Sometimes we both have to remind each other where we all started 9 months ago and where we are now. There is progress. Huge substantial progress...and for today that is enough to let us forge our way into the next day.

So the dogs.....we have 5 dogs. Total craziness. 2 of them were Molly's that she adopted with an old boyfriend and then they broke up. She was going to find a new home for them when she moved out, but the dad said, "We can take them....don't you think Annette? They are small, how much more work can they be?" So Ruby and Annie, who have been together all of their lives, are ours, in addition to Rosey, Jake, and Maizy. Whenever they all feel like too much to me (it's the barking when someone drives down our driveway that gets me) I will say that we can find a new home for Ruby and Annie and Little One says, "Ohhhh, I don't think dad will let that happen."

The dad takes care of ALL of them! While I am out running around like a crazy person he is here keeping things steady. This man who would be fine with no pets, takes care of all of these dogs, feeds them, picks up after them, washes out food and water bowls, and talks to them....and they all love him. He has created a routine for them all lol which he likes us to stick to verbatim if he has another obligation and can't be at home. The conversations we over hear between he and the dogs are so amusing and endearing. I think that the dogs are therapeutic....we live in a situation that we really have very little (any) control over the outcome....but we have the dogs who snuggle on the couch with us....yes we are *those* people.....who greet us at the door, who go walking with us and lay at our feet when we are studying and writing. Who adore us no matter what is going on, no matter how defeated we may feel at times. They sit and look at us like, "What now dad? Tell us what you want us to do." They make us laugh. We joke about being reduced to gaining our feelings of "being in charge" by owning a pack of dogs.

I wish I had a picture of all 5 of them sitting together.....but that is almost impossible! Anyway, here we are finding joy in what we can. For today it's "the dogs" and each other.  For today it's the progress that we watch unfold in a very complicated journey.

I'm praying on the fly these days but you all are still on my list and still get thought about and lifted up each day. I haven't been to my Adoration service in a couple months and I miss it terribly. But none of you are forgotten in my busy-ness.

Bless us all......
Annette

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Losing my mind

Not really. Lol Well, maybe. I have so many ideas of what to write about.....until I sit down. Then they are gone. I have so much going on every single day I can barely keep track of everything. I think menopause is stealing my brain away which doesn't help anything. I'm sure I have an essential oil for this....I just need to take the time to apply it.

So you all know I live in the Ca. Sierra mountains. Im sure you have heard that we have had a drought for the past 5 years. This past winter, there was a lot of rain...and my conspiracy theorist friends think it's was due to geo-engineering....I don't have the time to think about those kinds of things, so I really don't know. I just know we had a wonderful wet winter in 2015/16. However, our trees are all dying. Through out the entire county. The bark beetle has come in like a plague and within days can kill a hundred foot Ponderosa Pine. We lost 7 trees from our little 2 acres.....but some of my neighbors have lost 32 trees, one lost 54...they will have to practically clear cut her property. When we go hiking we see huge swathes of dead trees across the lake. It's devastating. I have wondered what one does if they can't afford to have a tree service to come in and take down 54 huge towering trees.....that would be thousands of dollars. Who is prepared for a hit for that? I have a lovely picture, but am having trouble posting it for some reason. You can google "bark beetle infestation" images if you are interested. It is very sad.

I got a new car. I had driven my old Mercedes station wagon into the ground. It creaked and squeaked and the air conditioner didn't work anymore and it had 260,000 miles on it. We still have it... and I have to admit it, I miss driving it. Although one day a couple weeks go we had a heat wave....I was driving all around in the city in 108 degree weather and I was a lunatic. I was honking at people, and wanting them to hurry up...my girl kept looking at me and finally said, "I've never seen you like this." Lol I am usually a very calm driver, nothing bothers me. We will get there when we get there. Not that day. I was Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. I texted the dad to complain to him and he immediately asked where I was and he would come and trade cars with me....forever if I wanted him to. Anyway, he heard of a dealership that had this amazing sale on Jeeps.....so we got a bare nothing car. No electric anything. Crank Windows, no power locks, no clicker, a stick shift, but it does have an air conditioner and Bluetooth and it only had 6 miles on it when we bought it. So I'm good to go now. I drive about 30-35,000 miles a year. I always said a broken air conditioner was a first world problem. I changed my mind.....well it is, but as Molly said, "Me not having an air conditioner in my car doesn't do one thing to fix the world's condition, so I'm going to always have one!" That's my girl!

School starts tomorrow for little one. We haven't gotten our books yet from our charter school so we are winging it. Doesn't that fill you with confidence?! Raising up the next generation! I have an old algebra book so she can do some review in that, we are reading to Kill a Mockingbird together, she can do some writing...I'm hoping she will want to write a blog, she will draw and we can study some artists, we can go on some field trips. She is taking ballet and Pilates, still teaching herself Japanese, and in a couple weeks her biology, algebra, and US History classes begin. She will be fine.

My girl and I went shopping yesterday for a dress for her to wear to the wedding next month. She can only last for a short time when out doing errands or shopping. I understand. It's like the world, the crowds, the visual and auditory stimulations, just breathing sometimes, is too much for her raw senses. So we plan short trips and I go into everything knowing we might have to cut things short and I might have to come back later by myself to finish. I feel like God's grace is all around me because I can do this and not be mad or irritated for the interruptions to my flow of accomplishing all that I feel is so crucial to accomplish. I can let all of that go and just do what we can, accept her efforts to come out with me at all, as enough for today. This is the hardest most difficult path of her life....and all I get to do is walk along with her so she's not alone. And keep my mouth shut. Lol

The wedding is going to be here in a month and a few days. Sweet Jesus. I have lots of little things to get done. It will happen.

Ok, that is my update for now. More as it occurs to me. Thank you for being here with me.
Annette



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

So this happened.....

On Sunday I was blessed to be able to meet *in real life* my friend Sherry, who I met through blogging several years ago. You can check out her blog here at Oh For the Love of...Me. She has ended up being such a good friend to me. Very supportive to me in many various ways during some really hard events. I am so grateful that our paths have crossed.

So the way it happened, was that she had to be in the city for business....because she is a big shot. Lol I told her anyone that is paid to fly across the nation to do anything is a big shot in my opinion. She rented a car to come and meet with me and when we met it was as if we had known each other forever. So comfortable and easy. After lunch we walked and walked (in the heat....sorry Sherry) and drank watermelon/lemonade and sat in Adirondack chairs along the river and talked until she had to head back.

You know when you meet someone and you just know they are safe, their hearts are pure and kind.....that was how this was. Such a kind humble soul.

So this was us standing together on the big golden Tower Bridge overlooking the Sacramento River after our lunch at the Rio City Cafe.
Thank you Sherry for making the trip.....the highlight of my month! I loved this day!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Open doors

I have been offered a couple of new volunteer opportunities. One is being on a committee to incorporate more trauma and resiliency focused counseling and services to the population of our community that is in need. My focus of course will be our substance using population.

Then the website addicaid invited me to collaborate with them and submit some blog posts. Below is a link to my first entry. 

http://score.addicaid.com/addiction-and-mental-illness/

Im still parent coaching, I have a couple sponsees, and working full time (with some creative scheduling lol) and getting ready to homeschool little one, and being available for my girl. The dad, bless his heart, is so supportive and pretty good at flying solo when the need arises. Everything takes time and I wish I could create more time or more of me so I could do everything I want to do and be totally present for it all. I have to assume that these open doors are God things. Because in the big picture I am the least likely.

Monday we have a hike scheduled up higher in our mountains, with the dogs. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to this. The wild flowers should all still be in bloom...I am looking forward to a beautiful day.

Totally of topic, but I had a recent event so it's fresh in my mind. The political arena today is creating so much angst and dividing relationships. I will say that I am not voting for either of our main candidates. I won't argue politics here...so please don't try to convince me one way or the other. However, what I am so saddened to see is all of the arguing and the fighting and the **broken relaitonships** over these issues. I can't fathom ENDING a relationship or not speaking to someone because we disagree on politics. But this is happening all over. Apparently it is a foreign idea to many, that people can disagree and still be in relationship with each other.

Of course I have a Higher Power that I believe is ultimately in control. My job is to vote according to my conscience and God gets to work the rest out. I only have so much control over the outcome. Over any outcome. It is so disheartening to see this ugliness coming out of people and it is so counter productive to creating a peaceful, loving, planet for us to raise our families on. Again I am back to realizing that I can only control what goes on in my own hula hoop. In my own house....and some days even that is questionable! In my own heart....there we go! That is the only place I have full say of what is allowed and not. Thankfully, I have been given a set of tools and a spiritual relationship that empowers me to be true to my self and to respond in love when this sh*t gets stirred up.

God have mercy on us and show us the way.
Annette

Thursday, July 21, 2016

It's a process

Recently Little One and I had a visit with her counselor. The counselor gave us each a form to fill out and explained that at each visit we would have to now fill these out, stating what Little One's moods have been and how life in general is going for she and our family. This is a gigantic HMO so this information will be entered into a computer somewhere and on the other end will come out a graph sharing the gathered information and whether statistically the "treatment" is in essence, working or not. 

Anyone who has read here for a minute knows I loathe this stuff. I loathe anything that turns human beings into numbers on a page, that glops them all together into a big mass, I am not a joiner, and I want each human being to be recognized as the stark raving beautiful individual that they are, taking into consideration their own time tables and their own processes. 

I took the paper and said to the counselor who I adore (I swear she and I would be such good friends outside of her office if that was allowed....) 

"Well you know, we are all just people. We have ups and downs and that is just a normal part of life. I don't think that those types of good days and bad days can be used to judge whether treatment is working or not. We aren't machines that get programmed." 

She gets it, I'm preaching to the choir with her....but it's a necessary part of her job, to pass those papers out to appease the huge healthcare conglomeration. 

So in relation to the elements of addiction and mental health issues that hover all around my life....like with Little One and her work on her depression, recovery is a process. It's a life journey of ups and downs, good days and bad days. 

What I was taught early on was that sobriety was a one time decision and anything less was a failure. What I have learned all of these years into the process, is that maybe that isn't true for everyone. Maybe it's a cumulative process of putting together good days until eventually they begin to out number the bad days. When I look back to October at "my girl's" 27th birthday which was such a hard day, filled with the realization of what bad shape she was in, which prompted me to offer a hand once again....and then I look at where we are today, there are a lot more good days than bad days. It's not perfect sobriety. But it's so much better. We share so many good moments today. I have to acknowledge that maybe this will be as good as it gets for her. Maybe not....people get well, God performs miracles, everyday. But if this is it, I am going to enjoy every good moment I can along this journey with her.

I am not going to judge whether she "wants it enough," I am going to accept her efforts as enough for today. Just like God does for me. I am loved and accepted right where I am at this moment, flaws and character defects and all and we continue to walk together to figure out the next best step to take. 

God bless us all in all of our beautiful need for Him. 
Annette

My girl keeps a fresh vase of her home grown flowers on my window sill every few days. It does my heart so good. It's one of the good moments. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Willingness.....

Someone recently asked me how we stay connected, carry out our boundaries, and not have someone's addiction affect our life.

The simple answer is that that is impossible. 

I've thought about this conversation over the past few days and what I have come up with is that none of us are entitled to a life of smooth sailing. Very few of us receive it either...LOL but our response is up to us. There are parents of children born with birth defects, or whose children get cancer at a young age, or have an accident that changes everything for them all, or families that walk through financial devastation, or a natural disaster, and there are families who are struck with addiction. 

Life is messy and unpredictable and there are no guarantees that all will turn out the way we hope and plan. Our lives will be affected by so many things. Good things and awful things.  That is what living is about. We have people in our lives who are unhealthy. Do we reject, push away, cut off contact because they are dysfunctional in some way? Or do we decide what and how much we are able to give, what connection we can manage, how much time we can give to this person and we proceed in love and gentleness to hand our offerings over to them, with no expectation of a response or a change. We give it as a free gift, simply because these people are God's children too.  Just like each of us. 

I suggested to my friend that they pray for willingness to give whatever they are called to give. We are only called to be willing. Nothing more. We don't have to figure out our part, or their part, or what's next.....just be willing to do what is put in front of us to do. 

Make me willing Lord, to serve the least of these. The ones who don't live according to my rules and expectations. Help me to see them through your eyes. Help me to look beyond the exterior appearances, beneath the surface, the seemingly ungrateful replies, and help me to love unconditionally." 

Praying for this too, each day. 
Annette