Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Power of Awareness

Provoking change is not always necessary, staying aware of ourselves is more important.

I just read those words in my daily message regarding my Enneagram (personality) type.

Last night, at my AWOLmeeting, it was announced that a couple members had left. One was a late entry to the group so her absense wasn't surprising but the other one was a surprise. She was a strong member, bright and smiling, long in sobriety and acted as our treasurer. It was mentioned later by one of the moderators that she didn't feel safe.

I get that. If it weren't emphasized in the beginning of this 26 week exercise how important that we be committed to attending and finishing. It is important for the group vigor that we know we can count on each other to hang in and hang on.

It is not a meeting that I sit there in contentment. Physically, I'm tired from the day, it feels like my heart is beating about forty beats a minute and that only half of that is reaching my brain. I struggle to keep up with what we are reading and try to come up with something cogent and on topic to contribute. In that context, it does feel unsafe. We are all struggling with that and so there is a stilted feel to it, intimacy is not inherent in that process. I feel like I am doing a slow treading of water in that my feet don't have the security of touching ground and I am certainly not swimming either.

That feels unsafe to me. I usually know what to say. I am used to (care taking) sharing in a warm, engaging manner and receiving it back. So, the all important me is not happy. I am used to a level of ease that in this twelfth week isn't there. It ain't happening for me.

What is key for me is that I don't blame the meeting. And I don't blame myself for feeling lost. I am reminded of the desert mothers and fathers that slogged it out for decades. I do not have to sacrifice in the way they did but I can put up with feelings of boredom and insecurity. I can have faith that I am in a space, a place that invites sacred health and guidance. I do not have to be amused!

So, I will miss her bright shiny presence and mourn that I will not receive the gifts of getting to know her better. But. I did get a gift from her, nonetheless.

We have people put in our life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. That's what's good about today!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

You Are Loved, You Are Loved, Relax.

I utter the words to my dogs this morning from 900 miles away. My little terrier whom I think of as 'Edward ScissorsTeeth' has woken to an empty house this morning. It is empty of me, her all powerful, holy one. I, too, woke up at our time, 4:45 when the night is still dark.

She is my nervous dog child who chews upholstery, wallboards, curtains when afraid.

So , I send her the words of comfort above. The very words that I, myself, need to hear. My dawn is lonely too but the world is in its orbit and all is well. That's what good about today.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Daily Reprieve

A reprieve from the delusion of separateness and self centeredness is given if I attend to my spiritual condition. This does not only mean that I use prayer and meditation but that I welcome the stranger and love my neighbor in all their varied splendor.

That's what good about today.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Moment of Silence

For Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, this date in 1938 when Jewish shops and synagogues were destroyed by Nazis who beat and killed many while Protestant and Catholic Churches held silence. The Jews were forced to clean up the destruction and were barred from hospital care.

Another moment of silence for the survivors of this and other atrocities, that they have comfort and live in safety.

A third moment of silence for the 20,000 citizens of Mexico who are missing, that they have left this insanely cruel world and that their survivors find resolution, comforted by their faith.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

What's Good About Today

Mind . . . . I got so nervous about having a new friend over for lunch that I didn't know what to do with myself. I ran out to the store to buy food that I really didn't need. I was trying to clean the house and rake the yard simultaneously!

Body . . . . I realized that I was flitting around so much because I was deeply tired from yesterday so I laid down for an hour before lunch.

Heart . . . . I had a phone call from someone I spoke to yesterday who had a profoundly meaningful reaction to something I told her and wanted me to know how much it meant to her. She was able to surrender and get some peace for herself.

Soul . . . . By the end of the day, my home and yard were in orderly shape, I was energized from a woods walk new to me with my friend and all 4 dogs and I sat back knowing that I had used this day well. It started and will end with prayer, in between it included a big dose of nature and sweetness.

That is what was good about today.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Magic of 7, Part 2; Let Me Know if This Speaks to You

I am lucky as I have a natural affinity for tossing things out. If the world can be divided between those who save things and those who don't accumulate 'stuff' then I have always been in the latter category. That said, in American culture we are susceptible to 'the creep' .

The creep comes in on little feet. It creeps in by way of mail offers that look too interesting to throw out, a couple good buys, some silly gifts received, books that are only touched by a dust rag.  It's not much until multiplied by weeks and months. You know what I am talking about.

So, I rooted out bags, over weeks, of clothing and holiday decorations and tax returns from the 1990s and books and gift soaps and Chia pets that have never been hydrated. It didn't happen overnight. There were some areas that I heavily resisted. I think that the best possible advice is to pack stuff in a box if you are undecided and look at it again in a few weeks.

That worked wonderfully for me with a box of clothes. When I looked it over again I found that the items meant nothing to me and I promptly donated them. Regarding simplification in clothes I will claim what I call the New England clause; it's darned difficult simplifying to 7 when one considers the seasonal weather range of 100 degrees, slush, drought so I am still figuring it out.

I knew that for a simple woman I had accumulated more pairs of shoes than I have owned at any other given time. The count was 22 pairs of assorted footwear, I think I got it down to 15 but if subject to an audit I might blush. That's where the reality and the attachment delusion get mushy for me. I am lucky to work in a casual environment so any thing goes. BUT, what if I need this or that, I can admit that I seldom wear the crocs but maybe next summer. Maybe, maybe, maybe I will need it.

Sigh. I can only say that life has gotten immeasurably simpler and better since I cut down my 'needs', I feel less weighted down. As fall has turned into winter, there have been some exchanges and I am pretty content. I have at least 7 jackets and coats to choose from and I will look at that. It comes down to what actually gets used and that is where I will answer to reality rather than perception.

The truth sets me free of burden, that's what's good about today.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Magic Number of 7

As always, when I speak to an audience I say what I need to hear. For the last couple months I have been paring away what  no longer interests me. I don't remember what initially sparked my interest but I googled the term minimalization and I was off and running.

It helped that in my monastic journey I was in quandary (I could claim quandary as my home town) and it happened that the next topic for me to digest was poverty.  As I looked at blogs about simplification I came across Jen Hatmakers book called 7:A Mutiny Against  Excess. To keep it short, she narrowed food choices, available clothing etc to 7 items for a month.

So, my food list was eggs, whole wheat bread, greens, apples, peanut butter, milk and dark chocolate. I count coffee, olive oil, salt and pepper as free and necessary ingredients. Amnesia similar to forgetting pain after childbirth prohibits me from remembering if it was difficult in the beginning. I have kept to the regimen more or less since. I find it to be very satisfactory in two major respects.

The first is that it has measurably increased my free time. The simplicity of food shopping, prep and cleanup is incredible. I stick to choices that support what is locally available in season in my New England area and I can easily afford organic choices with such a short shopping list.

Which brings me to the second satisfaction. I can align my eating habits to the vast majority of those in the world limited in choice and ability to store  foodstuffs for 'tomorrow'. I eat a day at a time what is available. I bring this up because I saw Ann Voskamp's photos of African children with big smiles eating big plates of rice and beans. I thought to myself that I would have needed to save some of it for tomorrow. How do you do that in most homes of the world that are rough shelter! Where is their refrigerator, Carol?

So, I pay homage as I eat a few bits of this and that. Simple food that sustains me, made with my hands. And my life feels fuller for having stripped away some excess. Do I eat differently at parties? You betcha, I test this and that but my appetite stays right sized and doesn't lead me around like it used to.

That's what's good about today!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What is Good About Today?

All the Bloggers, especially Cloudia with her sun soaked wise observations from Hawaii and Mr. Sponsorpants who works at keeping us sober. I salute them and give them serious thanks for the beauty and wisdom that they share with us everyday.

That's what's good about today.

Let's be a little less self absorbed today! I'll try if you will.

God's Peace,


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Here I Am

Thank you for your kind words. I trudge the road of Happy Destiny. Still sober and still wandering after Francis and Clare.

There has  been a dis-ease in my spirit since my anniversary in June.

Usually when we get jammed up we know it's source. It has something to do with what the brother in law said or a cancelled vacation. There has been an affront to my sense of 'how it should be'. There is a story behind the internal tension.

This time around there is no story. None that I believe anyhow. What I choose to believe is that God is re calibrating me. I feel an internal wrenching that has no name. It has spontaneous weeping. It has a shift to quietness, a retracting from contact. It is powerful in nature. Such that I am moved to revere Step Three. I turn my life and my will over to God as I know not what to do.

That's what's good about today.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Short Comings VS Sins

It seems to me that at the same time we are oblivious to our own behaviors and their impact, we can also be manufacturing self blame and angst over our imaginary responsibilities to others.

I am in the middle of an AWOL, an in depth study of the 12 Steps. So, I have this list of defects and am praying daily to have them removed. I have summarized my list in a sentence or two about self centered fear and a lack of true faith in God to run my life and that is what I ask God to remove.

At the end of the day I run through the day to see how I did. I am starting to see that it is not missing someone's signals or not adequately intervening in what I have the ability to change that is the problem (whew, did you follow that?). I know this because when I do my Evening Prayers that call for confession, I can see all that as self preoccupation. My sin, I prefer the Greek interpretation for sin of 'where I missed the mark' is the fear that leads me to repeatedly over analyze to see my part in it.

This comes up for me this morning as I re-enter into a book study on non- violent communication. There is a focus on how we can communicate in an open, non judging manner. Some commenters are angsting about others in their church reacting in anger to well meaning behaviors. I guess I would say that it is never about 'them', it is about us.

Which takes me back to fear! How threatening it is when we are somehow accused of not (responding, understanding, doing, managing) enough. I get that and I get their fear.

Today, I can sit with that. I can exercise restraint of pen and tongue but anonymously blog to share my halting understanding of how it is to walk the walk. My friend and I spent some time together yesterday.

Let me tell you, on the first day of proposing a fast, it is not a good idea to visit a Farmers Market. I was tired, ate a little more than the little I planned to eat. Then went home to lie down as I was too tired and fuzzy to stop and visit with Louie.  I came home at 3 pm to no power. Rested and went to see Louie, nudged by the desire for for warmth and light which helped me to do the right thing. We pushed away his picked at food tray. I opened the Coke and the Hershey's Dark (so healthy it's like medicine!?) and we sipped and nibbled together. In retrospect, it was our communion.

So, what is good about today? Most everything, that's my guess.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Some Thoughts on Louie and Fasting

I am a novice in the dispersed Order of Ecumenical Franciscans and I have 30 Chapters on various spiritual topics to complete. You can complete one a month but must go no faster than that. In November or December I came to a Chapter on fasting.

In November I did some research on the CRON eating plan, Calorie Reduction Optimal Nutrition and other plans that have a fasting aspect. My focus was on health and simplification of my lifestyle, it was not spiritually connected.

So, I have had this Fasting Chapter hanging over my head awhile now and I haven't been able to get into it. When I brought it up towards the end of my meeting with my spiritual director last week, she had a different take on it. She is totally independent of the Order which is why it is a requirement that I see her as well as communicate with my Formation Counselor.

Her take is that 'my sap is running', I have just switched my sons room into a guest room (one more bag of booze bottles found!) which has changed something in each room, I am truly occupying my home in new ways and looking at what my mission in an expanded way. She could put into words why fasting was not resonating with me, it made sense to her and she supports me deferring it for something else at this time.

WELL! I wrote my Formation Director who lives in Japan. It has been almost a week and I have had no feedback. Is this benign neglect or Monastic Mr Smarty-Pants? No matter . . .

Who is Louie? He is everybody's friend in local AA. He has been fighting cancer a long time and in a nursing home, going to stay there on Hospice services. I took my fifth step with him a month ago when I could see it wasn't going to work out with my sponsor. I saw him yesterday and was taken aback at his decline, jaundice setting in and further weight loss in the ten days since I had seen him last.

I think I will fast with Louie. I will take in a little nutrition as I want to continue walking at lunch and working as everyone does.  I've been wanting to drop the coffee . . .

Thanks for listening, I knew you would be up!

That's what's good about today.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Did you ever notice how glacially slow sunrise happens? If you are in on it from its first light behind the trees, it seems to take forever. Today's showing was quite unspectacular as sunrises go. I viewed it  from behind the kitchen table. I had pulled the high, swivel chair around the corner of the table and tucked my feet up into the warmth of my body and waited. Today my meditation period was spent in this expectant place and it was good.

Hope doesn't have to be all warmth and soft colors. Today it came in the rhythm of peaceful regularity, as pale as the winter skin on my face and as quiet as the dogs reclined on their blankets.

It could have come in its louder fashion. Typically, if my soul is yearning in the morning for sustainence, I take it to the daily meeting at 7 am. I catch the sunrise on the fly, I head east so it feels as if I am traveling to join the cosmic sunshine. A mere 6 miles away, I pull into a parking lot of familiar cars in the early shadows, light pouring out of our meeting room windows, fragrant coffee in the air and greetings with my name in them. That sets a girl right for the day.

But, if I want change, to know God's calling, I can shift my focus, draw away from the familiar to allow some space. I never have a problem running along to the next shiny object. My task is to slow down, always. There is nothing that doesn't improve by my slowing down.

And so, I tell you in this slow moment, that is what is good about today.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

One Thousand Gifts

Ann Voskamp wrote a best seller by this name. The list is of things she is grateful for and how the process changed her life. I read it a couple months ago and fell in love with her lyrical writing style. I started my list and stalled out around twenty or so.

I am thinking about starting again, writing it in my own way, that is each entry would be three words or less. Can anyone join me in this?

When I change my thoughts, I change my world. That's what's good about today.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Plan

So, my one and only man child is home for a visit. I bustle in the kitchen asking a question here and there of his exploits. Somewhat exploitive they are. At 21, it is all about him. I give thanks that this is not what I live with every day. I take hope that he was honest enough to say that 'partying' was going to be his activity this weekend. A good sign that he can be at least that honest, he would have told a story six months ago.

The next morning I look for my box of matches to light my meditation candle. Not to be found next to it. Not to be found on the counter or the floor under it. Hmm. Boy smokes. Boy took?

Musing this morning that there is no promised Christmas present, slicer dicer in sight in evidence yet. Nothing mentioned, no substitute proffered.  Wondering if the check I sent him is going to help buy a better car or is already up in smoke.

Though I cannot make any headway in talking about substances stealing ambition or how Jesus asks that we love each other in thought and deed, I have a plan. It is a plan more for me than for him. It is to say what I mean and not say it mean.

I need to say that we humans need each other, self seeking avails us nothing. Being dishonest will only get you so far.

This morning I looked for toothpicks.  ?where are they? Boy took? Nah, couldn't be, sigh.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Acceptance Is the Answer to All My Problems

Years ago I picked up a greeting card that had a great message about the need for acceptance. I kept it for years, I think I had it taped to my bathroom mirror. A couple years ago I was gratified that I can enjoy the passage forever in the Big Book.

In the hour that I've been up, I have asked for acceptance in our living situation. It is super in a number of ways but I get pangs wishing I could give my dogs more companionship. I leave them for a long day at work.

I ask for acceptance because I can't meditate worth crap right now. My thoughts don't play like monkeys, they run like cheetahs! Ah, well. My only job is to keep the effort going.

I ask for acceptance of my overloaded desk at work. I will accept the bountiful from the universe and know that at any moment I can slow down and breathe and know that life is about taking one moment at a time.

I write what I need to hear, that's what's good about today.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Prayer for Presence Throughout This Day

Holy God of all, I ask for your help in keeping my thoughts in this moment. It is a present most valuable and given freely. Let me choose to claim it over and over. Let the worry over tomorrow and the concerns from yesterday dissolve like fog so that I might gaze in full appreciation at our blessings.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Honesty vs Rigorous Honesty

I am better than half way through a six month AWOL which means that we are coming into Step 5.
We started 4 in November and discussed and worked it for the expected 3-4 weeks but have now had 3 weeks off due to a storm and then holiday break as it meets on Tuesdays.

I felt emotional and low over the holidays and it occurred to me that part of it might be to my Step 4 moldering inside of me with no place to go. I shared this with my sponsor on a Saturday who had no time until this past weekend which is typical of her un availability and my willingness to put up with it.

So I reviewed it that morning, got distracted and went to meet her without my Step 4 in hand. This was unacceptable to her which was unacceptable to me and she harangued me about the timing of it in connection with the AWOL I actually had mentioned it to one of the facilitators who said it was fine especially since I had done it before and was in some angst.

There is a gift in that we have been like two politicians smiling and glad handing each other. It forces me to see that I am drawn to different types of emotional un availability and how I pick people as a set up to be 'better than' per my two paragraph describing how exquisite my thinking versus my hack of a sponsor!

Another gift is that it deepened my relationship with a couple  other members of the program. One is a woman who I am friendly with and one is a man who I took my fourth step to over the weekend. He is ill and offered to hear it, old veteran that he is, he has fondness for others and the program that I feel secure with. So, I did it. I'm not sure if I feel done with it. But it is drawing us closer in what may be his last months.

The last gift of the process so far is that I note where I have been less than rigorously honest. I thought I would spill it right here but I think not. For the moment it remains mine to ponder, pray on etc. Had I not stumbled to its importance (or not), I would not have an example of honesty versus rigorous honesty. For now, it is helping me to be more honest today.

Last year was the year of learning to love my neighbor, this year could be honesty in things large and small. To be oneself in all circumstances, that will take my higher powers help!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Step on Snakes Before Breakfast

 I really want to share Ann Voskamp with you at I have her posts emailed to me and their rich generosity of spirit are inspiring to me. She might be too much for you, her site misrepresents her as kind of giggly and treacly. If you follow her blog you will find her as in touch with her defects as any of us and down to earth in her struggles.

That is why I call her generous as she opens her life to all of us interlopers. I will enjoy her while she is so accessible as I fear that someday she will reclaim her privacy. Another reason I am growing to love her is that she is a True Believer. A year ago I might have passed her good words right by, thinking to myself, 'give me a break, a wacko Christian proselytizing'.

My Spiritual Director recommended her book One Thousand Gifts in which she mentions her process of writing a list of what she is grateful for.  Now, anyone serious about recovery has written a gratitude list. They are usually pretty concrete, numbering 20 or so, or perhaps starting with each letter of the alphabet.

Her list is lyrical which is another thing I enjoy about her, she is such a good writer. She has me, I tell you. I started a list in November and I better get back to it.

So, if you are ever in Amesbury, MA and want to talk about gratitude, join me at 7am everyday but Sunday for the What's Good About Today open meeting of AA. Because it's good to step on the snakes before breakfast!