Monday, December 27, 2010

I AM an alcoholic ...

Day One Hundred Ninety
Originally uploaded by Dustin Diaz

I sat in a healing space today with a friend who is wrestling with the identity of being an addict. Would actually like to toss it away forever and also knows that it's the truth.

I too tried to push down, away, and out  for many years the fact that I am an alcoholic. It held stigma, shame, embarassment, self-loathing. I would eventually learn that these were my narratives about it -- not actual facts.

The healing journey that I have been on has allowed me to consciously shatter and open up space for the Truth to enter. Funny thing is ... when something is "just the truth", it no longer has a story attached to it. It just is.

I now am able to bear and even embrace this Truth: I AM an alcoholic.
It is no longer an identity to hide away, but rather it is one which has opened the doors for me to an entire community of people who have the allergy to alcohol. I have found a home, a place where I belong.

My friend's struggle today allowed me to soften and deepen my compassion for not just her, but for my former "who was" and the countless others who are in and out of the recovery rooms. Being an alcoholic does not have to be a damaging, shameful label anymore; it is just the truth of one part of the whole that is me.

I AM an alcoholic. I AM a teacher and a writer and a healer. I AM a lesbian. I AM adopted. I AM a spiritual seeker. I AM rigid and stubborn. I AM loving and passionate. I AM a swimmer. I AM a neat freak. I AM the fertile ground for the seeds of my Future Self to grow in.

There is incredible power and healing in re-claiming buried parts of ourselves. This, most definitely, is one I am grateful to have resurrected.   The paradigm shift that I have experienced allows this identity to take a new shape,  hold new meaning for me.   I am re-committed,  renewed,  and dedicated to my recovery in a way that I was not open and could not connect to before.   It is now with great pride that I proclaim:

"I AM an alcoholic !"

Friday, December 24, 2010

Marrying Life ...

Originally uploaded by magnetic_aesthetic

Last evening, I was brought to a new level of appreciation about the gift of sobriety through the messages of several amazing recovering women.

I listened to the story of 1 woman on a CD that was given to me as a Christmas present by my beloved -- a fellow traveler of the 12 Step rooms. The depth of her despair and hopelessness as a result of the insanity of the disease of alcoholism was compelling and moving beyond words. She traveled from jail, homelessness and losing her children to getting sober, graduating from college and becoming a probation officer ! And, the kicker was this: some of her most significant life challenges came AFTER she stopped drinking. She had a fantastic sense of humor about it all AND was simultaneously dead serious about the life-or-death nature of alcoholism.

At my favorite women's AA meeting, I witnessed a poignant exchange between 2 women who have both lost a child in the course of their sobriety to tragedies. One, whose daughter was killed in a car accident several years ago and the other, whose son committed suicide earlier this year. The mother whose daughter was killed years prior used to sit in this meeting and barely be able to compose herself as she was consumed by grief. Last night, she was able to extend her message of strength and hope to the woman whose son committed suicide. She shared with her that there is light on the other side of the darkness, that life does get better, that you do move on, and, most importantly, that it is never worth taking a drink over. I felt as if I were watching a miracle unfold -- a beam from a lighthouse that was bright enough to carry another safely to shore because she too had others shine the way. The relief that washed over the woman who lost her son was exquisite. It may have been the first time in months that I saw her actually relax her shoulders and crack a smile.

What I walked away with last night from these powerful messages, as I basked in the gorgeous full moon on my trip home, is that one of the greatest gifts of sobriety is that we can choose to accept and love what is here for us, what is being called for healing. It is about marrying life -- through richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, good times and bad.

I am down on 1 knee, making a proposal with God by my side ... I vow to not take a drink, to be true to myself, to love whatever comes my way.

I am marrying Life ...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

God Got Me ...

we are beautiful

I have been working with the strategy of waiting for a form to take shape.   It is showing up everywhere:  in relation to a friendship that has shifted and moved in separate directions; in the area of not chasing people who may not be ready to show up;  in my urgency to want to write and have something interesting to say and not wanting to make something up that is not authentic for me to pen.   

This is a return to a recent mantra of  "No job to do".

This morning,  as I walked quite briskly with 2 full bags of produce and was whining to myself about how friggin cold it is and how heavy the bags were,    I turned the corner to walk down my street and a woman was a few paces in front of me,  walking with a liveliness in her step while toting two significantly larger bags than me!   I marveled at her ease and her cheeriness,  as I could hear her humming a tune in the distance.    I picked up my own pace a bit to catch up with her and I remarked aloud:   "You know,  I am admiring how you seem to be negotiating these huge bags so easily.   Just awhile ago,  I was complaining to myself about lugging this produce and I'd love to know how you manage it!"

Without skipping a beat,  she turned to me with a brimming smile and simply said:
"God got me".

And then, just as quickly,  she took off to catch her bus and wished me a Merry Christmas.

I too walked with a livelier step after our paths crossed and could not stop repeating her phrase:   "God got me".

Everything always boils down to this:  when I forget God is with me,  I complain or moan or feel self-pity or doubt or get scared and anxious or I lash out.    Remembering that God is always with me,  never has or will leave me,   then I can find peace and serenity and love. 

This was the form I patiently awaited to take shape and to write about.   I am typing effortlessly.   It feels right and true in this moment.

God got me.

Friday, December 17, 2010

In the Holy Presence of God ...

365 Days Project - Day 14: Prayer
Originally uploaded by { karen }

This has been a week of intense prayer. But not the usual down-on-my-knees at night for my 10th Step review. It has been sitting for people for whom I care and love. The healing power of praying for another is amazing. It is a reminder for me that my recovery program is only strengthened when I am in service. You have to give it away in order to keep it.

Perhaps the most gratifying aspect of praying for others is that I get to be in deep conversation with my higher power in a selfless, rather than selfish way. I am brought directly to the line of the Prayer of St. Francis: "It is by self-forgetting that one finds." Putting my ego and neediness on a shelf this week allowed me to drop into Divine connection in a way that I haven't felt in quite some time. All week, I felt kinder, gentler, softer, more spacious and open-hearted.

Today, I sat with a former colleague at a new college that I will be teaching at this coming Spring semester. Their mission is very spiritually-driven and I was given a small book which was chock-full of information about the origins of this mission and, much to my surprise [pleasantly], a mulititude of prayers. It literally has the feel of an AA Big Book ! Complete with the serenity prayer AND the Prayer of St. Francis. One of the main statements in this little gem of a book captures the feel of this prayerful week I have had :

"Let us remember we are in the Holy Presence of God."

Life is always, always better when I do remember this. And, conversely, when I forget about my relationship with God, I am out of sorts, unkind, off my beam, acting from my small self.

There is no mistake that I should have this college and their handbook cross my path at this exact time. I am ready and open to receive and participate in fulfilling this mission. It is so much in alignment with my spiritual path. As my beloved fellow traveler & partner in healing shared with me when I relayed these pearls with her today: "You may just have found your teaching home."

The word that shouted the loudest from her statement: Home.

Home is when I remember that I am in the Holy presence of God.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Living from the Inside-Out ...

Sotto la torre del Mangia..
Originally uploaded by sirVictor59

Go out from the center and in from the world.

This is one of the lines from my teacher's conflict resolution healing process that has been reverberating in me. It has to do with feeling my internal structure and relating to the outside from the solidity of this place.

For the first time in all of my adult life, I have a deep bodily sense of my own boundaries. I vividly can feel where I begin and end, where another begins and ends. I have become increasingly aware of when and how my boundaries are violated by another as well as how I have done the same to others in the past.

As an adopted child who entered the world not attaching right away to a mother's form but instead experiencing the gaping hole of formlessness and then navigating the chaos of the unpredicable forms in an alcoholic home, I came by my fucked up sense of boundaries rightly. This is not an excuse, just a statement of fact.

I have gone from being a doormat to an overflowing fountain of messy, spilling boundaries to a steel trap that cuts off any attempt of intimate contact at the first whiff of danger. Today, I am finding that center, the balanced place of knowing what is acceptable and not acceptable, when to speak up assertively and advocate for what I know is right for me coupled with the loosening and freeing of defensive strands that no longer serve a purpose so that there is a flow for deep intimacy.

I am experiencing the world from in my body. I can feel the sensations and vibrations of the outside and simultaneously, I feel my sturdy inside that is no longer pulled of its base to move in the direction of the outside. I feel my separate self on the earth plane and I am no longer afraid to be one with the whole of the Universal life force.

This is living from the inside-out ...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Remote Therapy

Day FiftySix
Originally uploaded by Christa Watson |

I have not had a television by choice for 4 years -- a temporary recovery program of sorts in media abstinence. In my former relationship, as we drifted into separate bedrooms and paths of self-indulgence, my drug of choice became TV. I would numb out on hours of endless, mindless shows of which I recalled little to nothing.

Unlike other addictions, I now believe I can return back to controlled television watching in moderation -- hence my purchase of a TV and cable hook-up about 5 weeks ago.

Interestingly enough, I watch very little; an hour or so in the evening and some nights not at all. My top show is Iron Chef. My favorite network: the Cooking Channel.

Now television feels like a treat, a little slice of relaxation heaven. It is a choice I make and it serves no other purpose than to delight my visual and audio and-- given what I watch-- tastebud senses.

A few days ago, I began to get a fierce head/chest cold which turned into an upper respiratory infection. My doctor insisted on "easy does it". Me, the one who has been working with the theme of "no job to do", has found herself with just that. And not resisting it either! There are, however, a few small tasks required:

1) Have beverage and phone nearby on bookshelf.
2) Get comfy plush blanket for over legs/feet.
3) Sink into overstuffed chair and prop legs up on ottoman.
4) Grab the remote and click "on".


Remote therapy.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Just Who I Am

have a seat
Originally uploaded by lee.stephens

This was part of the daily reflection I received today:

You start preparing when you're thirty for the person you'll be at eighty.
--Janice Clark

We can't get away from ourselves, at least not entirely. Who we were at ten and twenty and forty and fifty remain as threads in our tapestries. Many of us shudder because some details of our personal panorama weren't so very pretty. But that's the way life is. We are what we are. And yet, we have examples of favorable changes, too. How we were never kept us from becoming who we wanted to be. This truth continues to reign in our lives.

The words of this passage could not ring truer. Particularly in connection with doing a non-dual healing practice today with a classmate and the discussion that ensued after.

This practice has 3 components:
- moving physical symptoms in curvilinear space
- sounding tones as thoughts arise
- rapidly breathing in and out in an unrhythmic way when arriving to "just the truth" -- a statement of fact, not tied to emotion

My classmate and I had an in-depth discussion of the part of our practice that found us with a "seed" statement -- one that no longer had a story or emotion bound to it. This led to further identification and disclosing of the truths we are learning about ourselves.

There is tremendous freedom in acknowledging "just who I am".

As the daily reflection passage notes -- there is a continuous thread in our tapestry of who we are that is present throughout many life stages. I have come to some places of acceptance in my healing journey about this very thing. To date, here is what I have learned about just who I am :

I am sensitive.

I get anxious over what is unknown or out of my control.

I am naturally funny.

I am rigid.

I am sensual and passionate.

I am an alcoholic.

I have to work daily to be honest;  I am wired to not be.

I have a constant thirst for knowledge.

I am a teacher.

I am hypervigilant.

I have a tendency toward isolation. 

I am often the last to see what is apparent and clearly seen by others.

I have built strong internal defense mechanisms for self-protection.

I am a big presence.

I trust too quickly and, conversely,  I don't trust easily. 

I am committed to healing myself.

This is just who I am.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Spiral Staircase ...

staircase safari
Originally uploaded by spanier

My interior continues to undergo construction. In addition to being re-wired, I have also had some significant gutting and walls knocked down.

In the home that is me, there were rooms cut off from  each other. To occupy one space meant evacuating another. Some rooms remained locked or unfit to live in.

A small child occupied the attic, while an anxious adult hung out in the basement.

A house divided cannot stand on its own for very long.

Today, I added a spiral staircase. It runs from the ground up to the tippy top of my structure. The attic is being aired out and the basement is for storing treasured things. The child and the adult can actually live together on the main floor, with sleeping quarters and private spaces on separate floors because there's now a staircase that connects them ! No more territorial battles or being banished to far away parts of the house for bad behavior or because you can't handle certain visitors.

My spiral staircase gives way to an open view from bottom to top. Everything can be seen, heard, and is welcome.

Oh, the freedom I will have to slide down that banister !!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No Job To Do ...

Autumn Carpet of Maple Leaves - Fall Colours, Germany
Originally uploaded by Batikart

Shuffling feet through leaf-filled sidewalk.

Inhaling crisp Sunday morning air.

Smiling, then not smiling.

Moving in the gap and the not-gap.

Walking, breathing, living God's love into the world.

No job to do ...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Preciously Formless

Sky's Secrets
Originally uploaded by Ben Heine

In the past week, my internal nervous system has been re-wired. No, I am not delusional and have not gone mad. In fact, I am saner and clearer than I have ever been.

My healer has named what had been frustratingly unknown to me for the entirety of my life thus far, yet felt on a deep kinesthetic, cellular level for which I had no language.

I suspect a reader of this would still be shaking their head and saying "What the fuck?"

There's an explanation. Indulge me for a moment ...

Close your eyes and imagine that you have been comfortably hanging out for 9 months or so, give or take a day, in your mother's womb. It was incredibly cozy in this little cave that was inside this being who carried you around -- an entity that you didn't really understand the concept of yet you did on some level. It's time for you to go and you're suddenly pushed out into the light and propelled from that comfy sack of warmth and you land into the hands of a doctor and probably several nurses and are permanently removed from that loving landlord who offered her amazing cervical condo free of charge, never to meet again ... For another 9 months, the same length of time you hung out in the womb cave, you have no friggin idea where you are. The mother who housed you felt so good and you don't know why she's gone and you don't have that feeling any more and you don't know whose hands are picking you up or feeding you and there is no breast to suck on and these people feel strange and totally unknown. And you take this lost, scared, uncertainty into your tiny little capillaries at that time but you don't have any real memories of any of this -- just a "knowing without knowing". And then, at the end of this 9 month period, a woman and a man pick you up and hold you closer than the strangers do (at least that is what you are told later) and you are put on the woman's lap and get into a moving machine that takes you to a house and you don't leave there for 18 years. BUT ... when you are 9 years old you are told about that time when you were with the nice landlord and you didn't remember that you had another mother because the one who is talking to you is supposed to be your mother cause that's what you call her and now you are completely and utterly confused and undone and you don't know what to do with this at such a young age.

I believe I understand from my healer about how I first got programmed internally because of this incredible void -- a gap she labels "formlessness" -- when I didn't have the kind of bonding or attachment that little ones with their biological mothers get PLUS the experience of having people around me make major life decisions that impacted me significantly yet were made without consulting or involving me. THIS is what she named for me that I had no language for. THIS is what allowed me to provide the above scenario and allow myself to freely explore what this may have been like from a sensing I have in the tiniest fibers of cellular memory.
THIS is also the catalyst for my internal re-wiring.

I have been frought all of my life with terror of what is unknown. Unbearable anxiety in any situation for which I have had no say, no control, no sense of power. It is at the root of my alcoholism and my dishonesty and my manipulation and my co-dependency and my selfishness and my care-taking and my over-committing and my fear of abandonment and subsequent holding others hostage.

My present circumstances that I have been writing about have actually replicated this pre-language time period of my life. And here's the really cool part: these circumstances are here because my Future Self has called them forward at this precise moment so I can heal this deep, old, gaping wound. So that I can tolerate others changing forms without being re-traumatized. So that there is no longer a split in me between an adult who gears up for the unknown in a hypervigilant way and a little girl who believes she will surely die from the exposure.

To face the unknown head on, without being debilitated by fear, is allowing me to experience what it is like to truly be free.    This is what it means to be a whole,  integrated adult.

I'd like to call it: Preciously Formless.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hawk-ness ...

Originally uploaded by Nikographer [Jon]

HAWK ... is the messenger. IT is also about visionary power and guardianship; the hawk is very protective of the young in its nest. It teaches us about providing for family and self. Hawk teaches us to be observant and to pay attention to what we may overlook. This could mean a talent we don't use, a blessing for which we haven't expressed gratitude, or a message from Spirit. The hawk has keen eyesight, it is about opening our eyes and seeing that which is there to guide us.
~ Power Animals website

This past weekend, I began to explore the animals I relate to based on an astrological forecast for November by Elizabeth Hermon. It is about seeing our strengths and weaknesses through the animals that we are. She suggested thinking about those animals whose characteristics we identify with.  I had previously done a lot of work with my Fox energy, but this go-round, thanks to the inquisitiveness of a fellow non-dual healing classmate, something very different arose.

The Hawk.

One of my strengths is about seeing the big picture view. I can take in a large territory and have a grasp of everything that is going on, which is usually played out in my role as the teacher in a college classroom. The "pulse" of the room comes to me very quickly, including individual students who are struggling, not paying attention, or otherwise "standing" out as targets on my hawk-eye radar.

The weakness of mine that I see in the Hawk is my reliance on hypervigilance for the purposes of self-protection. The "predator" in me comes alive when a sudden movement or change in form appears on my visual screen. The internal alarm system is set off, with "Danger, Danger" warning sirens blaring.

One of the qualities cited about the meaning of the Hawk that really resonated with me is "very protective about the young in its nest". This is a time for me of great uncertainty in a couple significant areas of my life. The "little hawk" , my small self, that sits in my interior nest has been squawking loudly. She's unsettled. She is the one most startled by the danger warning bells. It is an old, historic terror of what is unknown. On my adult healing journey, I have worked diligently to heal this wound. My little hawk is the keeper of many stored memories. So, as I sit in this uncertain territory, I understand that my little hawk can't help but be triggered. My work, as I see it, is to have the Big Hawk that I am be able to find the balance of watching over the nest, but not so guarded. To give room for the little one to fidget, to feel herself AND to also reassure her that she's safe in the nest.

My classmate this weekend was a witness to some of this process I just described. The way in which she held a space, allowed me to feel the trembling and fearfulness of the little hawk, while finding my own steady perch, talons grasping and all.

This is my hawk-ness...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Make Me a Channel for Your Peace ...

Woman practicing yoga at sunrise
Originally uploaded by dwanearmbruster

Tonight, I attended for the first time an 11th Step Meditation Meeting.

A friend from the rooms whose dream it has been to bring this kind of meeting to our area (she is a transplant from down South) took the leap of faith and will now host them at her home.

12 beautiful, sober women sat on pillows in her livingroom, aglow with candles as she led us in a guided meditation following the 11th Step as it is suggested in the Big Book.

We were invited to be with our breath, the in-breath meditating on "God", while the outbreath meditating on "Love". The Prayer of St. Francis was read and we were asked to focus on a line that we were drawn to. Mine was: make me a channel for your peace.

We were asked to think about our day and about any resentments or regrets that we had and then guided to surrender and to not hold onto the energy of these things, keeping in mind if there was someone we owed an apology to. We were asked to think about all that we were grateful for, envisioning the people and situations and bringing them into the space. We were reminded about the 2 choices we had each day: we could choose fear or we could choose love.

Then, to help us drop more deeply into meditation, we were guided down "12 steps", with an instruction at each step for going further into our breath, clearing our minds, opening our hearts.

For 15 minutes, we sat in silence. This part for me was very moving and powerful. The notion of being surrounded by this sober community and our collective breath ... I felt so safe and so held.

To bring us "back into presence", we were walked back up the 12 steps, again with an instruction for returning to the room, more refreshed, awake, alive, re-committed to our sobriety.

At the end, anyone who wanted to share about the experience was encouraged to do so. Many women had never had success meditating previously and were amazed at how easy it was when given instructions and being able to do so in such an intimate, safe space.

As I stepped out of the meeting and took in the brisk Fall night air, I was indeed renewed. Any dis-ease or worry had fallen away, dissolved in the ethers of the space.

I feel that I can do rightly by God in this moment. Make me a channel for your peace ...

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Book of Me ...

Ladislav Dvořák: It Is Raining From The Blue Watering Can On The Isle Of Žofín
Originally uploaded by josefskrhola

After a very tender session with a non-dual healing classmate and dear friend, she pointed me in the direction of an author/blogger named Havi Brooks. One of the tools that Havi has created is titled quite simply: "The Book of Me". She recommends that people give themselves reminders about what works for them, particularly when they are in scared, anxious, or dark places. Because when we're in these kinds of places, we forget and get lost. I sure do.

The picture I chose for the cover of my Book of Me features the moon along with shimmery ethereal bodies and a castle. What has worked since I was a little girl to help me anchor when I felt very alone and terrified was looking at the moon. As a healing, evolving adult, I have come to accept and appreciate the moon just for what it is and not assigning it any special, magical qualities. However, in terms of what works and what I may forget, if I am spinning and can't find my seat or feet, it helps to look up into the night sky and zoom in on the moon. Just watch how steadfast it is, out there in the vast, expansive no-thing-ness. It is reliable and consistent.

After saying my prayers last night and talking to God about how scary it is to feel so powerless right now, before I got into my bed I went out to the kitchen window and looked at the moon. That's all I needed. Just a 2 minute glance. And what I got from that is this message: "You can count on me." After today's healing, I also know that I can count on God. And I can count on myself.

In my session today, thanks to the skillful listening and guidance of my healer-friend, I uncovered a layer of grief that I had been blocking out for quite some time. It was the layer beneath the layer. The top one, more riddled with fearfulness than anything else, had been easy to access. The one below it, a river of grief, is the one I had avoided. This is where the real healing takes place. My patient healer-friend waited with me in silence, as I only peeked at it with one eye open at first. Then, after a few minutes, I looked at it head on and what was the water being looked at was now the water of the looker in the form of heaving tears. My words were: "I can't fight this any more." This was in reference to the ways I don't let myself feel or see anything that feels too much. Today, I gave up. White flags out and waving.

My territory of grief is not new, just not fully explored. It's a very little place. It is about being left and not held and not embraced and not protected. It is about a little girl's longing for an adult to reassure her and to show up for her. It's a pretty simple desire, really, with a whole lotta crap that has twisted it and tainted it and made it into something bigger than it really is. My expression of grief today was letting the little voice have her place: "I want mommy to tell me I will be okay."

So, this comes full circle. Peering at the moon to remind me that I can count on myself. To know that a little one who resides in me needs to know that too. I can give that to her.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Curiosity Killed the Cat ...

Lady Lula's Bright Eyed Stare
Originally uploaded by Zulpha

Remember my post from Friday about "Replace Fear of the Unknown with Curiosity" ?

Fuck that.

Curiosity killed the cat.

I am wading neck deep in the unknown right now. Any ounce of curiosity I had or false sense of adventure is gone. I need night vision goggles ! It's blacker than black. How fitting for an entry made on Halloween night !

Here is what I am clear about:
1. I am powerless.
2. I need to believe in the God of my understanding to keep me sane.
3. I need to turn my will over to the care of God. Any time I try to take it back, I am spinning out of control and making myself nuts.
4. I need to repeat Steps 1-3 early and often.
5. The Serenity Prayer is my go-to tool, kind of like an Allen's wrench -- good for adjusting mostly anything.
6. Lastly, I will not drown or die from any of this.

Here is the part that really gets me. Imagine a person in your life who you love beyond anything. And you are totally aware that they are struggling with the fight of their life. And you cannot help them and they do not want your help because they need to walk this alone.
This requires total faith and trust in their process. And, that you have no option but to completely surrender and let go.

The sneaky, curious cat who persists in finding other ways to get something it wants does not always have 9 lives to borrow from. Sometimes it just goes splat.

This is a one moment, one step, one day at a time operation. I ain't snoopin around to figure a way out of this discomfort or darkness. I want to land on my paws and hold my head up to see the light that's promised on the other side of all of this. I have to trust that.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Originally uploaded by *Zephyrance - don't wake me up.

The title in this photo speaks volumes:



This is so simple, it's fucking brilliant.

In last night's meeting, we were reminded about the life or death importance for an alcoholic to stay in the day. And how fear of the unknown, particularly the future, was not only unhelpful and even paralyzing, but it is the breeding ground for picking up a drink.

Part of not blocking the flow of life, I am learning -- painfully and slowly -- is being open to whatever presents itself and moving WITH the current of that situation instead of trying to control, detour, avoid or become completely irritated about it. Today is a perfect example. I arose very very early this morning to prepare for meeting with my sponsee. As 5, then 10, then 15 minutes surpassed the time she was to arrive, I texted her to see if she was alright. 10 minutes later, she texts me back to say that she overslept. After some initial minor irritation about the fact that I could've slept in later, I relaxed. I was thankful to have a jump start on my day and I answered several emails that I wouldn't have gotten to. I had a leisurely breakfast. At 9a, I was to have a practice call with some non-dual healing classmates. As I was the lone person in the "conference room" for almost 15 minutes, I hung up. I emailed the other members to tell them I'd waited and wondered if all were okay. I laughed out loud. Here was yet another scenario ! I did the practice anyway and enjoyed it immensely. I read all of the group papers for one of my classes and sent the students their grades. These are some gifts that come with approaching the events of my life with curiosity and wonder versus fear, personalization, disgust.

Here's the real deal: the shift in forms or rhythms or whole events are not happening to purposefully scare me. They are not looming with an intent to catch me off guard. They aren't even about me !

Curiosity can take me on an adventure. I can follow my curiosity to somewhere I may not have considered exploring before. Fear of the unknown is blown out of proportion from exaggerated tall tales that I create about what I believe could happen, based on past bad experiences. No part of that equation involves being in the present.
Being curious is in-the-moment and is active. It is VERY alive. Fear of the unknown is passive, it is waiting for and expecting something bad. It is crippling. It lacks life.

Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity. Now that's a mantra I can really LIVE with.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Surviving the Big Wave ...

Sandy Beach
Originally uploaded by © KristoforG

In a session with my healer yesterday, I got to the heart of what is scary for me when life stuff feels too big or overwhelming or too painful to feel ...

A wave too big that I'll never survive it.

It is from this place of terror whereby my dam and concrete wall construction is done. In non dual-healing terms, it is the territory of nega-Chesed: counter to flow, loving-kindness, it is tsunami-like and spinning and chaos. For me, it is the stuff I believe I can't bear or that I don't want to feel for fear I will drown in it.

The truth is ... I have survived big waves. My means of coming out on the other side may not have been very functional, yet I did make it to the shore. My alcoholic drinking was a temporary and illusory means of perceiving control over the accumulating wave of all of my history that I could no longer keep at bay, for fear it would wipe out everything. My busyness and workaholism during my long-term partnership was another way I surfed over the very same waves of my childhood home, packaged slightly differently, but able to spill and crash just the same.

So why not just get the surf board out instead of building a fortress ? Why do these waterfalls of chaos terrify me still ?

My healer's response to this: Because you think you'll die.

Another truth: I am going to die, AND, not likely from life's messiness. I may get very very soaked, feel uncomfortable, damp, washed out ... but probably will not die from feeling this.

One of the ways I have tried to fool myself and others is to silently build my dams underground and operate from the guise of "being serene, at peace". This is Chesed's partner, Gevurah, trying to counter it and ending up being out of balance with Chesed. My healer tells me that the real healing is in not believing my presenting Gevurah. The peace I convince myself and others of during times of distress cannot always be trusted. It is one of my covert ways of trying to escape the waves in an effort to not die. It feels more like burying my head in the sand, when the onslaught of water is eventually gonna come whether I keep it down there or decide to look at where and how fast the water is coming !

Another truth:   the "Big Wave"  is a construct of my anxiety about the unknown,  an embellishment of the challenges in life.  My belief that a situation is too enormous is my fear about my ability to be able to handle it.

Surviving the waves of life is not for the faint of heart, yet it's not about heroics or bravery. I believe I understand in this moment it is about willingness to be in the flow of life. Any act to dodge or avoid this turbulence is an attempt to get out of the stream, thereby missing life in all of its currents and movements and surprises. Through a barage of tears yesterday, I said aloud to my healer that I don't want to block the flow of my life, I want to be in it. This, for me, is how to survive the "big wave".

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tuning In ...

Cuba Gallery: Radio / vintage / retro / grass / wood / background
Originally uploaded by Cuba Gallery - Now on Twitter!

As a 48 year old woman, I still surprise myself. I forget sometimes how such small things are so enjoyable to me. It's simply about remembering what I like. My merging with and wanting to please others in the past, particularly my former partner, found me abandoning the memories of the things that brought me real joy. I re-discovered another one just yesterday: the radio.

The impetus for this reunion with the radio had to do with my baseball team being in the playoffs.  I could listen to them on the radio in the car,  but alas,  not online because these are the "big" games and aren't broadcasted online.  In several conversations with my sweetie,  a deeply passionate baseball fan and radio listener,  she was stunned that I didn't own a radio!   This is when it really hit me -- how I turned my back on a former pleasure.  So I took myself to a Radio Shack yesterday and purchased a good old fashioned radio.  I haven't had one in years.   I was beyond tickled last night as I sat in my big overstuffed chair in the livingroom,  grading mid term exams and listening to my ball team's nail biting last game,   losing their opportunity to enter the World Series this year.  

I am listening this morning to my favorite college station, which has a lovely Sunday morning program called "Sleepy Hollow". It's often instrumental or jazz or blues music, featuring songs from movie soundtracks. I used to listen to this program every weekend when I first got sober, 20 years ago. It was part of my morning routine. Then, when I began dating my former partner, she didn't like the music on this station; she preferred R & B. And, like the good co-dependent ACOA, I ditched my favorite station and adopted hers. I like THIS music and would never choose an R & B station over it today.

And here's another thought ... as a person living alone, I forgot what incredible company the radio is. Transmission from the outside brought to the inside. There is a whole world out there amid the giant signals towering high above life on the ground. I love being reunited with musicians and instruments that I haven't been this intimate with in quite awhile ... Joni Mitchell,  Tom Waits,  violins and saxophones.

I am finding great comfort spending the morning with my old, forgotten friend. And even more so, appreciating the return to myself  because I was tuning in ...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Breaking Down the Dyke ...

Little Falls Dam Panorama
Originally uploaded by photobunny

Dyke: an embankment to prevent flooding; a barrier or obstruction; a disparaging name for a lesbian.

The last structure came loose at about 7am this morning and the floodgates opened up, pouring their glorious waterworks down my face. My writer's block was pent up in this well-constructed dam.
I have a classmate to thank for this in part. She chose the absolute right healing and it has everything to do with flow. My "Gevuric" protective wall had been keeping out my "Chesedic" river of aliveness. I understand in this moment that this particular dam was not one of my typical "keep everyone out" concrete walls of years past; this was carefully and quietly built from the inside-out to keep me from falling apart. It has much to do with my current circumstances involving someone from the past and how 4 years ago, this situation nearly drowned me --- hence the new and improved super dyke (pun - intended !)

I have had a challenging relationship with Gevurah: a sefirot in Kabbalistic terms that has the qualities of judgment; boundary; structure.   For much of my adult life until a couple of years ago,  I had no real sense of boundaries and,  consequently,  this skewed my judgment and ability to discern.   These things are at the heart of the situation I refer to from my past.   As I began my non-dual healing program,  I went to the other extreme:  any hint of danger in the air, like a busy beaver I am feverishly building a barrier that will keep me protected. The dams I have constructed over time have either been over-the-top as in "large enough to fit around a castle, complete with a moat" OR poured with so much cement that they actually hurt people who want to come near and block me from intimacy.

In this recent episode, the construction seemed to have been going on silently underground, with hardly any noise or tinkering. What felt like "peace" was not quite that, yet I couldn't put my fingers on it. I got a bigger hint of this in the form of not being able to write. I literally had nothing moving inside of me, which is highly unusual these days. Lastly, I spent this past weekend with the woman I love. I was so moved in the fluidity of her expression of emotions. At one point, we were lying together and tenderly kissing and her tears began to fall in the midst of this moment onto my face. I was envious of her utter letting go in such a space of intimacy. I tasted each salty tear and longed for my own to fall and alas, I could not muster even a miniscule drop. This was my final signal that a full blown dyke was up in operation -- right under my nose !

I cannot protect myself from the outside no more than I can protect the outside from me or protect me from myself ! Damn Dam !
This is an illusion I have bought into so many times and, while there is temporary relief, it never truly brings peace.

After my healing yesterday, I began to feel the stirrings. In my AA meeting last night, the sharing of some of the women tugged my heart in a way that I hadn't let myself experience in a couple of weeks. And then, when I arose this morning, I could feel the outside of this structure begin to quake and bend with the impending pressure of the waterfall behind it. I put a load of wash in down in the basement and I could barely get up the stairs and into my apartment before it all broke loose. Tears, glorious tears, came streaming from of every part of my eyes, snot running from my nose, and audible sobs jetting out into the atmosphere. It was sad and it was not sad and it was a joyful release and it was grief and it was forgiveness and it was allowance of just being a human trying to make a life here on earth, one day at a time.

And then the words and the melody of a tune that my love and I listened to several times over the weekend would not stop playing and more tears and more tears kept coming. I have this gorgeous song below.

What a relief, breaking down this dyke ...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Making Something out of Nothing ...

this is the end
Originally uploaded by bogotagothic

My schedule as of late has not afforded me time to write. I also have not been called or motivated to write. Perhaps a block or too many daily things that are wanting of my attention more so than the empty page. I have actually thought, at times, when I am answering emails or doing other work on my computer, "Why am I not writing?" It is fleeting and then vanishes. "How can I make something out of nothing?" is the delayed response I am having to the first question about not writing.

I have learned in my non-dual training that everything is information and has a place and even has nutrients. This would then mean that believing I have nothing to say is indeed information about my current state and that I need to give this a place and see the nourishment in it.

Which brings me to my AA Big Book meeting tonight which looked at the chapter entitled: "We Agnostics". When it was my turn , it was clear to me that there was no mistake that I should read this passage: "Imagine life without faith ! Were nothing left but pure reason, it wouldn't be life. But we believed in life -- of course we did. We could not prove life in the sense that you can prove a straight line is the shortest distance between 2 points, yet there it was. Could we still say the whole thing was nothing but a mass of electrons, created out of nothing, meaning nothing, whirling on to a destiny of nothingness? Of course we couldn't. The electrons themselves seemed more intelligent than that. At least, so the chemist said."

The threads of seemingly nothing that have been blamed for my writing roadblock are actually the gateway into something much larger than I.     Let me stay here and see what arises ...

My body is pulsing with a highway of sensory activity. Hands tingling, in-breath, out-breath, heart thumping, solar plexus throbbing, swirling thoughts put pressure on my temples. I place each thought in front of me:
"There's nothing interesting here."
"You'll only be making it up."
"Just go to sleep."
"This is stupid."
"Give it up !"
" Who cares?"

Heart racing. Head hurts.

"God does." This is the response to "who cares?"

It is very, very quiet now. A rhythm in my body feels like a gentle wave.

It doesn't matter if there is nothing to say or write or to be profound about. God cares. It matters only that I am here. Whether or not I write is secondary. Perhaps my quandry was this: "Am I actually enough, just as I am, if I have nothing interesting to say?" Can it just be this ? Do I actually have the balls to hit the "post entry" button and leave this mish-mosh of nothing here on the page ?

I am back to the Big Book passage. "Imagine life without faith!"

I need to trust this nothingness. Having nothing to say is my truth in this moment. I am not going to analyze this or dig deeper or beat myself up over it. This is what is here.

I feel the tired press into my eyeballs. The screen is getting blurry.

Nothing more.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Seesaw of Sobriety

Pinhole Seesaw
Originally uploaded by Darren C.

The last 2 nights at AA meetings, there has been discussion about Step 10 -- specifically, the aspect of this step that focuses on emotional balance. That we don't just look at the "debits" but also the "credits".

Most of us alcoholics had (and still have) a distorted view of life, especially our relationship to others, to the outside. I have suffered greatly at the hands of all-or-nothing thinking. When I am engaged in this mind-fuck, it is literally like experiencing the world only on one end of a seesaw. I was either flat on the ground, feeling lower than low, inferior and self-deprecating OR I was high-as-a-kite, flyin in the air with seemingly no cares and being all in my head, ego fully inflated, looking down upon everyone from my superior position, like teeny ants to be squashed on the ground.

When the seesaw isn't in motion and you are sitting on one-end only, no matter how you slice it, you're stuck. Until there is some movement. If I'm sitting with my butt hitting the ground, then I need to let go, surrender to put the seesaw in motion. But I need to do this a little at a time, with intention, mindfulness -- otherwise, I am catapulted into the air and I am back in a place of being out of balance. If I am the one dangling in the air, I can't remain in this elevated position. Something or someone is going to bring me down. I can choose to surrender to this process so I can descend with some grace or I can be dropped swiftly and pay the price for landing painfully hard.

The 10th Step is a checks and balances tool. Where did things not go so well today and what was my part and what can I do differently and who do I owe an apology or an amends ? And, as equally important, what went well today and what am I grateful for as a result ?

For me, the 10th Step is what keeps me in integrity throughout the entire day. My every action is thought about, not acted on impulsively or impatiently or out of anger or fear. This Step helps me with restraint of pen and tongue. It guides me about when to slow down, when to pause, when to act and put something into motion.

I experience the greatest serenity when there is a back-and-forth, give-and-take ride whether it's in relationship to others or in relationship to myself.

The Serenity Prayer perfectly describes each aspect of being on the seesaw:
The one suspended in the air: accept the things I cannot change.
The one on the ground: courage to change the things I can.
Balancing between the 2: the wisdom to know the difference.

This is the seesaw of sobriety.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Removing the Veil to Forgive ...

light in the window
Originally uploaded by ati sun

I haven't listened to a lecture by Tara Brach in many months. I have to trust when it is right timing; tonight, I was moved quite strongly to sit quietly in my livingroom and select one of her recent podcasts. I chose the one entitled: "Blessings of a Forgiving Heart". It could not have been more fitting.

At the beginning, Tara offered a visual image of what happens to the heart when we are stuck in our resentment or our victimhood about being hurt by another. She described it in this way: "a fist balled up around a hot coal in the middle of our chest." She instructed the audience to close our eyes and to connect to a situation in which we have been hurt by someone and to identify where in the body we felt sensation and , in particular, around our heart. For me, I felt constriction around my temples, intense tightness in my neck and shoulders. Around my heart, I felt a solid barrier that was seemingly impenetrable. These sensations were very palpable and real.

Her talk incorporated a series of guided meditations throughout: the first one in relation to a situation in which we hurt another and the feelings that we have about causing such an injury. Second, a situation in which we've experienced a resentment about an injury done to us by another. Third, connecting to the feelings that are underneath the injury, when we are able to drop the story of judgment or blame. Last, watching ourselves remove the veil and make an intention to forgive the person who has harmed us.

All of the meditations were incredibly powerful. I applied each of them to the current situation I have been writing about. It was incredible for me to allow myself to explore all facets of this situation through the lens of understanding the process toward forgiveness.

Tara posed this question after the 2nd meditation: "If you would let yourself feel whatever arose about this other person -- WITHOUT BLAME or JUDGMENT -- what is underneath there ?" The feelings bubbled up quite abruptly for me. I felt let down and hurt. More so, I felt very vulnerable.

Tara shared an unbelievably true account of a woman whose son was killed by another teenage boy. At the boy's trial, she told him that she would kill him. And for the next 3 years that he was in juvenile detention, she visited him regularly. She began to bring him food, books. He had no family, having been bounced from 1 foster placement to another. When he was released, he had nowhere to go. The woman offered space in her home. She then said to him: " My son was killed and now he's gone. I told you I would kill you. But the person who killed my son is gone too. I want to welcome you into my home and I'd like to adopt you." My jaw dropped. I couldn't fathom being able to open my heart in this way, to forgive in the face of such tragedy.

Tara told this story for purposes of moving us into a place where we could "remove the veil" -- whatever barrier is present that separates us and the other person and keeps us from forgiving. She told us that we may not necesssarily be ready to fully forgive, but asked if we could make an intention, be willing to move toward forgiveness. With that, she took us into the last meditation.

I experienced more softening than I imagined possible, especially in light of the seriousness and harm of this person's actions. The intensity of my grievance and my harsh judgment and my wanting to make this person the "evil other" dissipated quite a bit. After the talk ended, I stepped outside to let my dog out and looked up into the night sky. It was crystal clear. One prominent star directly above me, fiercely shining. In that moment, I no longer felt separated or defensive or wanting to blame. I felt connected to a force that is beyond me, that is expansively holding this situation. I understood that there is nothing more for me to do.

When I came inside, I recalled that at the very end of her talk, Tara shared that Thich Nhat Hanh offers this instruction in situations needing our forgiveness:
Put your hand on your heart and say:
"Dear One, I know that you are suffering."

I did just that.

It was very comforting.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nothing Can Save Me ...

Winter Beach - The Cabin
Originally uploaded by Osvaldo_Zoom

In the situation that I have written about over the past week, I have rode a roller coaster of emotions while being pummeled with thoughts. A healing session this morning found me traveling to the back of the hollow, dark cave of the unknown illuminated by a candle flicker of clear seeing and navigated with solid footing. All the while, feeling the sweaty chest of the Great Bear Mother pressing against my back, urging me to keep questing and to not be fearful of what I might find.

I then had a question posed to me by my classmate healer, something that is part of a reading we are doing to prepare for our advanced study group and directly connected to the Great Bear Mother. The question was: "What is the force that you have spent your life avoiding?"

Me: "Being completely alone."

And then, with more awareness, I shared how I looked to be rescued from the intolerable terror of this force through clinging, seeking pity, clowning to win friends, booze and drugs, merging and enmeshment, co-dependency, care-taking, over-committing.

Then, with clarity and solidity, I replied: "Nothing can save me."

You see, this realization of all the ways I avoided being alone and then dropping into the simple fact that nothing can save me is what is at the root of my current situation. I created this situation, years ago, because I wanted to save myself, but it was in the guise of being the ultimate support person for another. Messy boundaries. Projecting my own neediness and lonliness onto another. Care-taker supreme, complete with lifeboat and supplies. And then I woke up in the middle of the mission and backed up and pulled out. I caused anguish and hurt and anger in the other who also desperately sought rescue. And now, I must meet, head on, the wrath of their revenge.

A couple days ago, the reading in my Daily Reflections book suggested that I give thanks to the people or situations that cause me turmoil, as they are my greatest teachers. I had trouble wrapping my mind and my heart around the notion until today.

This situation is here so that I can clear my past and further heal. Tonight, in my meditation and prayers, I shall make an attempt to give thanks for the lesson that is being presented.

Afterall, I wouldn't have arrived at the goldmine I struck today at the back of the cave.

Nothing can save me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Baby Steps ...

Learning to walk
Originally uploaded by fofurasfelinas

This past week has returned me back to Steps 1, 2 and 3. For me, they are both the baby steps of the recovery program and the foundation on which sobriety is built.

It is literally, for me, about learning to walk all over again on the vulnerable, raw, scary path that I began 2 decades ago.

There is something so so humbling and sobering about returning to the very 1st Step. To say outloud, on my knees, in prayer with God, that I am completely and utterly powerless over my present situation.
As I first began to do this, I felt so fearful and exposed. Like standing in the middle of a busy highway, naked, and having to admit that I had absolutely no control of the frenzy that was zooming by me in every direction. That is how my circumstances have felt most recently. I felt startled and anxious and scared.

Doing Step 1 over and over, morning and night (and sometimes midday) began to help me settle, little by little. And then, partnering that with the 2nd step -- that I could be restored to sanity by a power greater than me -- was such a relief ! In the middle of all of this chaos, I felt the craziness of the whole situation and at times, I questioned my own stability because of how surreal it has all felt.

The greatest gift, however, was to add Step 3 to the 1-2 recovery punch. The most anxiety-producing aspect of all occurred every time I felt my urgency and my desire to take my will back. To make all of this speed up or, better yet, disappear. I am not only lucky to have these Steps as a steadying force, but I also have fellow travelers who "get it" and lovingly nudge and reign me back in when I start to go astray.

And the pennies have helped tremendously. In my days of clinging to any sign for hope, I would see pennies show up in odd places. Over the past couple years, I have not relied on outside signals to let me know that I was okay because I developed an internal barometer that informs me about my "alrightness" , which has a direct cable link to God. But when I found myself not fully grounded in Steps 1-3, those shiny coins in my path were just the tangible things I needed to get my attention and get re-focused on my program.

1, 2, 3 ... 1, 2, 3 ... 1, 2, 3 ... a tender dance of baby steps.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Only as Sick as Our Secrets ...

“Love to faults is always blind, always is to joy inclined. Lawless, winged, and unconfined, and breaks all chains from every mind.”
Originally uploaded by Vashtia

I told my story of experience, strength and hope at my regular Sunday night AA meeting tonight. This is probably the 10th time at least that I've shared my story in the past 2 years. I never know what I am truly going to say, having learned that I should ask God to talk through me in the moment.

The very first thing that I said tonight as I began is that in order to bring myself into the room fully and into relationship with everyone, I need to not hold inside the fact that I am struggling and that it is an issue from my past that is now here and that I can't say more about it other than the fact that I have learned in these rooms that we're "only as sick as our secrets". This is the place where I can ask it to be held, by the room and by God. And that when I do this, I am not taking on the burden alone.

What would unfold as I shared my story was the theme throughout every segment having to do with,  you guessed it ... secrets.

My father's drinking was held a secret that was to be kept hush behind the walls of our home and, even in there, it was never to be discussed even though it was right out in the open spilling all over us.

My adoption was a secret until I was 9 and then it wasn't, though much of the important details were for a very long time.

My chameleon teen years were filled with the secrets I crafted in the forms of pretending and manipulating and lying. These would later fuel the mechanism that kept my alcoholism running at full speed.

The dirty secret that I had buried underground during my entire childhood and adolescence was stabbing and jabbing me throughout my drinking years -- that I was ... GASP ... a lesbian !
And that my "coming out" would coincide with my stopping drinking was the first recognition that we are indeed only as "sick as our secrets".

And then my 13.5 year relationship during my "dry" period. A basement full of secrets. The ones I kept to myself and the ones she kept to herself and then the ones neither of us could even let ourselves know about -- like the fact that we "didn't work" and were totally co-dependent and dysfunctional and unhealthy and shouldn't be together ! And all the years of deceit in the form of her using substances and pretending that she wasn't and telling me I was crazy for accusing her. And then her use was right out in the open and I repeated what I learned from my mom and swept the secrets under all of our rugs and into our closets so that no one on the outside would ever know what was happening on the inside.

And how my secret of being unhappy and out of love and totally dissatisfied with the relationship would finally be disclosed a week after my partner gets out of a rehab and it totally splits our world in two and then we split and go our separate ways.

And then there's the financial secrets that come to a head in '09 and I have to confess to loved ones the trouble and debt I'd been trying to hide and this is on the heels of re-entering the rooms of AA after a long absence.

Fast-forward to a couple of days ago. The final "secret". An issue from the past that is here for healing. What form and shape it will take is yet to be determined. Which brings me back full circle to the start of the meeting.

One of the members who shared this evening said that what struck him the most about my story was the gratitude that he could see and feel and hear in me. And how this reminds him about not holding things in because when we are no longer keeping secrets, we are living soberly and honestly. And he was right. Amid all that I disclosed in my story and what I am grappling with right now, I am grateful for my program, for being sober, for having the willingness to meet this, to be able to use the Steps to help me get through difficult moments.

May I not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. May I comprehend the word serenity and know peace. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave me. These are just some of the Promises that are at my fingertips if I choose to work for them.

I am only as sick as my secrets.

Today, I want a life in the whole Truth, nothing but the Truth.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Seated in the Face of Chaos

Red Hot Ice - Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon), Iceland
Originally uploaded by orvaratli

I am grateful this morning for all of the work I have done up to this point in being with the unknown. I am drawing upon every tool in my belt for the job that is before me.

Yesterday, upon opening a piece of mail, my entire world flashed before me and rattled me to my core. For reasons I can't disclose, I am not going to write about the details of the matter. I can say that this is the one situation from my past, the proverbial "skeleton in my closet", that has now surfaced in the most invasive of ways. My future will be altered in either a small way or a very big way depending on the outcome and hopeful resolution of this situation.

The difference in my response yesterday then perhaps a year ago, as a loved one pointed out to me, is that I am seated in the face of chaos. I am not panicking nor catastrophizing or drowning in it. I feel its intensity, its tremoring underneath me and I also feel my roots firmly planted.

I did some self-care activities yesterday that enabled me to bring forgiveness to my "who was" that was previously involved in this situation. I described it to someone as "being haunted" by a ghost from the past and taking in what it is carrying in the present time. It is somewhat surreal and very real all at once.

Last night before going to bed, I lit sage and cleared each room of my apartment of any lingering negative energy that entered as part of the news I received. I then sat on my meditation cushion and prayed and did loving-kindness meditations toward myself, toward the other party, and to all of my loved ones and to all of my enemies and to every living being.

I had a fitful sleep, with periods of deep dreaming. My mind was active and thinking ahead and it took a lot of effort to quiet it. I arose very early today and, upon the suggestion of a beloved one who is also a non-dual healing classmate, I did the MAGI process (a conflict resolution healing process) about this situation. It transported me to a different space -- from the restless one in bed to one who can sit up straight and feel the strength of her own container to hold what is here and what is to come.

On another note: I will leave shortly for a funeral of a good friend from my AA home group. He lost his 7 year battle to cancer this past week. He suffered greatly for the past year or more and selfishly I am deeply relieved for him and for all of us who witnessed him.

May each of us who are courageously encountering the Realities of Life, in their ever changing forms, find our center, our base, and our infinite cord of connection to God and the Universe.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blossoming ...

Turn your Face to the Sun
Originally uploaded by Ben Heine

Tonight I had the pleasure and privilege of hearing one of my sponsees tell her story of experience, strength and hope. She will have 8 months of sobriety tomorrow.

This is a woman who is determined to be sober. She brings a journal to every meeting and furiously takes notes, hanging on every word of every share of every member.

I met her at a Sunday night meeting, almost exactly 8 months ago, when she had 3 days of sobriety. She could barely look anyone in the eye, let alone hold her head up, and she shook like a leaf. Her self-esteem was on the sole of her sneaker.

She asked me to sponsor her when she was approaching 5 months of sobriety. I respected her discernment of waiting to sort out just the right person for the job. By this time, she had more of herself and it was apparent that she had grabbed onto this program by the horns and wasn't letting go. She asked for homework. She said she needed structure. She wanted to understand the Big Book because it didn't make sense to her reading it on her own. She wanted to work the Steps.

She and I meet faithfully, every Wednesday morning at 7:30am, over coffee. I have witnessed first hand a woman who was getting pricked regularly by the thorns of her past begin to weed her own garden, asking for her soil to be nourished and fed in our meetings and by her therapist and a support circle she created. Tonight, I saw a tall, strong, flower blossoming -- wide open.

Her story is less about the way she drank and more about what was fueling it. With great dignity and grace and unwavering integrity, she shared her experience of being an awkward, overweight, spectacled girl, who never felt like she belonged and then a young teen who was repeatedly sexually molested by her brother and how the culmination of all of these factors was the catalyst for her soothing and self-medicating with alcohol and food. The room, comprised mostly of men, fell silent and in awe of this brave sharing.
The statement that was the most impactful for everyone tonight was when she said the following: "In AA, I have learned that I don't have to keep living my history, that I can simply live my life."

Members of our group were struck by her honesty. The door was now held open for some people to speak openly about their own abuse as children and how grateful they were that this subject was given a voice.

This is a woman who strengthens my program on a regular basis. I just shared with a loved one tonight about how much I am getting out of being a sponsor. When I left our regular Wed morning coffee meeting today, I felt like whistling as I walked to my car. This is the joy of living that is spoken about in the Big Book. Recovery is where we go from being slumped over, nearly dead at our roots to rising up, turning our faces to the sun, and blossoming.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On Becoming a Warrior ...

Yvaine: Audtion 8
Originally uploaded by Elven*Nicky

In between teaching 2 classes today, I had about 45 minutes of downtime. I began to read a book by Carlos Castaneda, "Tales of Power", which is an assignment for the advanced study group of my non-dual healing school.

The first chapter is titled: "An Appointment with Knowledge". I was so taken by the following lines, given the territory of my personal work and what I have been writing about as of late:
"In the final analysis, sensitivity matters little ... what matters is that a warrior be impeccable ... what matters to a warrior is arriving at the totality of oneself."


Stopped me right in my tracks.

Here's my 1st take upon reading this. Substitute "sensitivity" with "people pleasing" . What had historically mattered 1st and foremost, top priority,  was that I be sensitive to the needs of others. In fact, their needs were always put before mine. My needs were not deemed important. At least not at the time I was busy attending to others. Enough pushing of my needs to the back burner,  however,  fueled some heavy duty resentments over time. I grew bitter and downright pissed off.
I understand today that I am responsible for creating these situations. So, as Castaneda's character, the sage don juan, suggests above -- a warrior is to be impeccable. I associate this with any one of these: Being in integrity. Rigorously honest. Trusting one's interior. Anchored and seated on one's base. If I am engaging in the world, with others, from a place of being impeccable, then sensitivity indeed matters little. Being in my Truth, trusting and listening to my interior and to God and having my actions be informed by these places, there will be a kindness that is "built in" so to speak. It does not mean I will be received well by another (hence, the sensitivity matters little) but it will mean that I have not abandoned myself, squashed myself or dismissed what is the Reality or the Truth of that moment. That, to me, is what don juan is referring to in becoming a warrior.

The last part of the statements, "arriving at the totality of oneself", is one of the most significant aspects of the healing work of our non-dual school. To become more of who we are, to come into wholeness of being. I am learning, with each healing session and with each new peeling away of my exterior, that the work to arrive at the totality of oneself is absolutely courageous, not for the faint-of-heart -- the stuff that warriors are made of.

I used to associate the word "warrior" with a person who fought in battle, usually with a weapon, and whose intent was to conquer and to dominate and to destroy when necessary. In reading both Castaneda and the Buddhist monk, Pema Chodron, the concept of warrior has dramatically shifted for me. It is much more brave and noble to show up in the world, consistently, in one's Truth than to put on some form of "armour" as a protective front -- which essentially keeps people at a distance and keeps me from connecting and relating and experiencing intimacy with others.

Becoming a warrior, to me, means stripping off the protective gear and getting buck-naked ! A proclamation of "Here I am!", free of shame and out in the open, not hidden in any way.

It's time to lay those old weapons down, raise my hands high in the air, and show up as the warrior I am becoming ...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cultivating my Inner Fox

Fennec fox
Originally uploaded by floridapfe

Stealthy messenger of the gods,
Cunning and wise, reliable friend,
Guide my steps through this maze of deception
And see this problem to its end.

~ Anonymous quote on Fox Totem website

Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of being read all about the Fox totem by a beloved woman in my life. I took in every word deeply.
Ever since my dream last week, I can't stop thinking about foxes. Particularly the one who is being birthed in me. Or perhaps has always lived here, dormant and patient, awaiting its landlord to wake up so she could actively engage in the fox hunt.

Of all the aspects of the fox totem that I heard, the ones that got my greatest attention were about camoflauge, shape-shifting and creation.

I am very aware that I have entered into a cycle of my life in which I no longer need to camoflauge and shape-shift, as I did for so many years, in order to survive what I deemed "unsafe" circumstances. I have been gearing up for the mother of all shape-shifts ... to remove every mask and false facade and deceitful trait so that I can become who I really am. My truest self. The one, as this beautiful soul reminded me yesterday, whose healthy shape-shifting can be an asset and a strength -- like adapting quickly in the classroom when the tone of the room has changed and requires a different approach.

I am aware in this moment that healthy shape-shifting also includes being able to more smoothly transition and adjust to the shifting shapes of others, of situations -- the very source of tremendous anxiety and fearfulness of my not-so-distant past. And that I can do this with the understanding that the changing shapes of others and of situations is not personal and does not necessarily mean I have to flee to the woods for safety. The only shifting I may need to do is subtle and deeply interior, rather than the overt and hypervigilant adjustments I've been accustomed to engaging in. Cultivating my inner fox will allow these adjustments to be unseen -- this perhaps is the healthier version of camoflauge !

Lastly, the aspect of creation. To birth something into the world is to offer new life. This fox energy, or "medicine" as it is referred to , is allowing me to be the one giving birth and the one being birthed simultaneously. This returns me to the Great Bear Mother piece. There is a line that goes: "The mother who watches out for her cubs, who essentially IS her cubs ... same fur, same blood ..." I am the mother and the cub. The lore is that foxes can take on human form. The cultivating of this inner fox is perhaps the canal for the true human me to come forth into the illumination of my life.

So I shall request outloud and deep inside, the profound statement from the above Fox totem quote: "Guide my steps through this maze of deception". This, for me, is a plea for Truth. Up to this point, the maze of deception was the smokescreen I constructed over the course of 4 plus decades and called it "my life". I hear the call of the fox and am ready to give birth and to be birthed into my True Self.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Nature . Sea . Sad . Solitude (La Tentation du Pire)
Originally uploaded by Tiquetonne2067

Fred G is not a member of AA, but is the mystery man I learned about from an incredible speaker tonight, in the form of an acronym, that will help keep me sober.

The speaker uses Fred G every night before she goes to bed as part of her 10th Step inventory.



I love this tool. It's specific and the phrase is catchy, like a secret password that you say when you knock on the door in some
dark alleyway.

Knock. Knock.
"Who sent you?"
"Fred G"
Door opens.

Doing this each night really will open the door to sober living. I really love the idea of specifically focusing on each of those areas, which are plastered all over the Big Book and the Steps. And the bonus being the inclusion of the gratitude list. Something I have great intentions to do and then it quickly slips my mind.

I'm gonna do my 1st Fred G right here on this page, before going to bed:

Fears: I was fearful about the workshop I was to give today, as this particular agency can be challenging in terms of their attitudes toward training. Later in the day, I was fearful about a staff meeting I would be doing involving a therapy client of mine and a plan we'd be implementing that involved a behavioral contract. I expected resistance. Both situations went completely smooth and my fears were unfounded. I realize that the source of my fear in both situations was my past experiences and anticipating those same behaviors.

Resentments: I have a current resentment with someone in the rooms of AA. I am going to pray about this situation in order to be guided in my next right action. I will also pray for this person.

Ego: This morning's fearfulness kicked up my ego's need to overcompensate in the form of impatient driving and raging at rush hour traffic that I believed should move faster for ME. I have to laugh at my self-centered, bordering on delusional thinking.

Dishonesty: I went to a speaker meeting tonight closer to my home and made an excuse for why I couldn't go to the Step meeting I often attend which starts later and is further away. I didn't want to lead the Tradition meeting tonight at the Step meeting because I wasn't into it, yet I was not fully honest with the group's chair when we texted back and forth about me not attending. I contacted him after the speaker meeting to apologize and make my amends. He was very loving and accepted my apology.

I am grateful for all of the following today:
- My relationship with God
- Being alive and in good health
- The abundance of work that I have, esp in this economy
- Being able to pay all of my bills and have money leftover
- The connections I had today with loved ones
- Having good meals
- My dog
- The ability to teach and connect with my students
- Getting to a meeting tonight
- The willingness to sponsor a young woman in the program and being available when she needed to talk this evening after the meeting
- Receiving the shimmering light of the glorious moon as I stood in my backyard and appreciating it for just what it is, no longer needing to anchor to it to locate myself in the world

Thanks Fred G for helping me stay sober another day.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Fox that I am ...

Red Fox Portrait
Originally uploaded by naturenev

Another "beast" dream last night.

My healer shared just this week that these Ox-herding pictures and Great Bear Mother stuff will be working me, rather than me working them. It couldn't be more true.

In my dream, I am in a large spacious field, surrounded by woods. In the distance, I get a glimpse of a large fox with striking features. I am enthralled and petrified. It sees me and begins moving toward me with lightning speed. There is a metal cage, much like the one that people are in when they go deep into the ocean to view sharks, and I quickly crawl in, shaking furiously as I try to bolt it shut, with this feeble latch. As soon as I hook the latch, the fox is above me in the pine tree and then is suddenly right at the opening of the cage, snout to nose with me, looking right into my eyes. My heart is beating rapidly and I blink and it has vanished.

When I wake up from the dream and make notes to myself, the following phrases appear on the journal page, as if they had been channeled, as I certainly was not aware of thinking them up.

"You cannot out-fox the fox."
"I can no longer hide from my true nature."

I can barely go back to sleep after this. I have now experienced the 3rd picture of the series: "Seeing the Ox." As I lay there, restless and exhausted simultaneously, I am flooded with thoughts, images.

The "sly" fox. Part of my true nature is that I am clever and quick-witted. I do things by the seat of my pants, I can improvise. I adjust to some situations very easily and readily. I am charming.

Foxes are cunning. Equally accurate about my true nature is that I have mastered every form of dishonesty and deceit. From exaggeration and manipulation to cheating and stealing and everything in between. In my drinking period, I wielded this tool belt of deception in order to get what I wanted, when I wanted it, all in the name of my addiction. After that, my cunning inner fox had me believe that I was doing "just fine" -- the guise for denial and self-delusion.

I went as far as to go onto the internet early this morning to google search the nature of foxes. On a reputable animal behavior website, this statement was particularly compelling:
"They [foxes] find an escape once there is a scent of danger."
I laughed out loud. My healer has been making this statement about me for years, almost verbatim (substitute the word "whiff" for "scent")    I also read that foxes are not just aggressive by nature but they are also gentle. And can even be domesticated.    I know that both of these qualities exist in me vividly. 

One of the first milestones in my lifetime of allowing my true nature to be revealed to myself and then to others was when I came out as a lesbian. I knew by age 6 that the way I felt about girls was the way girls felt about boys. And then, I wouldn't let myself know much more. My inner fox went into hiding, into stealth mode. Peering out from time to time, like when I would let myself experience brief moments of having a crush on a girl. This was swiftly stuffed back down into the foxhole. To come out of the woods and into the open field and frolic and proclaim: "I dig chicks!" or "I get turned on by breasts and pussy!" was a victory. The claiming of my true nature. Not to mention the freedom I felt to no longer be trapped.

In the dream, I wanted to see the fox and I didn't want to see the fox. That's how it's been about having my own true nature revealed to me. I'm curious and I'm scared. The cage in my dream was flimsy at best, with a latchhook that could have easily been broken. For me, that symbolizes a movement from resistance to readiness. My self-imposed prison is loosening its bars and locks. I don't really want to be protected from knowing who I am any longer. After all, I looked at my true nature face-to-face in the dream. I want to see the beast intimately, so that I can also see her beauty. And that she was.

I want to know the fox that I am ...