Practicing Gratefulness

Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there’s always something we could be grateful for.- Barry Neil Kaufman

When you have destroyed your life to the point of what you think is unrepairable, where do you go? How do you even begin? What steps do you begin to take? Desperation drove me to do ‘whatever’ was suggested is my story. Even making gratitude lists!!! I’ve heard of these, what I would have referred to in the past, “stupid lists” since I arrived at AA in 2004. But never would I have thought these fluffy, psychobabble, silly things would be helpful. I’ve been such a cynic. I have called myself a realist, but in truth I have been a pessimist. I prepared for the worst because it WAS coming, nothing good was coming….. that happened to other people.

So when my sponsor suggested that I make a daily list and send it to her and she’d send me hers, in this new journey in sobriety…..I could have rolled my eyes all the way down the street. I was so damn annoyed!!! But when you are as beat as I was… you just do it anyway. Her lists were nothing short of amazing and wonder. Mine, on the other hand, coffee, my astringent (they were afraid I was gonna drink the crap in rehab so I just got it back), my pillow, and talking to my son. At least I could see something.

But it did get better, I got better. Lots of stuff happened and that would be entirely too dang long for this particular blog but I began to see things. I began to actually look for things throughout the day to be grateful for. A call from a friend. A beautiful sunset. A day without a migraine. A patient not cussing me out or hitting me (I worked in a fully locked unit so let’s just say my patients were a trip and sometimes I was the ride). A day without a fight with my husband. God’s grace. Becoming conscious of His Power, hell becoming conscious. My eyes were beginning to open to the wonder of life through the eyes of gratitude, from these little lists. That’s not all of course but I do believe now in hindsight they were a game changer for me.

Then the bottom dropped out about the time I thought I was catching my stride. After a month and half of inpatient rehab and 5 1/2 months in sober living I was going to move back home closer to my son and husband but into my own apartment. But like I said, what do you do when you have damaged your life beyond repair? What happened to me is I was handed divorce papers. I was heart broken. But I changed nothing in my daily routine. I continued to pray, meditate, talk to others that I trusted and most of all I continued to look for things everyday to be grateful for. Just like the quote says, “no matter what is going on outside of us, there is always something to be grateful for”.

I became grateful for God’s plan for my life. That all I had to ‘do’ was the moment that I was actually ‘doing’ at the present second, and knew that I could handle that. I couldn’t possibly handle everything I was going through, so I just didn’t. I just breathed it out. I focused on just what was good. Not what I messed up, not what I could no longer fix, not what I could have done differently in the past, not what was going to happen in the future, not what I wanted or thought I needed…… I focused on the moment I was in, mindfulness and being grateful. Grateful for everything that I had been through, the lessons I had learned, the mistakes I had made and the truth I had learned from them, the memories that we had shared good and bad because that energy was always and forever expended between the two of us, for who holds the future because it is far better off in His hands that it would ever be in mine. There were dark moments, sad moments, hard moments, and painful moments but they were all temporary although they didn’t ‘feel’ that way at the time.

“No matter how hard you try, you cannot get rid of darkness because it does not exist. It is nothing but the absence of light. In order to effect darkness you must do something with light, because the light is the only thing that actually exists.” -Teal

Developing the practice of gratitude in my daily life, for me, was one of the many things that brought light into my darkness. Not just the list though, that’s way too simple. Being grateful for something is more than just an attitude towards something, it takes action, awareness, care, concern, compassion, responsibility, respect, attentiveness….. get my drift??? It has paid huge dividends for me by bringing light into my darkness. I had no idea that gratitude could be such a game changer or at least it has been for me. It has immensely helped me and 4 months later after I thought I might just die without “him” I am once again whole. Completely grateful for the entire journey and hopeful for what is to come.

Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude. – A.A. Milne


Pain in Progress

Been a minute since I blogged! Been busy going through some life changes and some familiar problems I’ve had before. Nothing like change to bring about fear! Even when change is good, prayed about and not taken lightly…… It can still bring on the fear. In my case, it was time for a switch in the gear of my chosen career field. An overdue change really!

I don’t make decisions like that quickly! I pray for neon signs. After I get the neon sign, I ask for confirmation of the neon sign. Then I get counsel on the interpretation of the neon sign and then I pray some more, hesitate, worry, procrastinate, fear the out come, get some more counsel, continue to pray and meditate and eventually make the decision. Sounds nuts I’m sure! However, I did take the plunge! I love the new job!

In the process of all of this madness and stress, I have had a migraine for the last 7 weeks. It’s not like I’m paralyzed with pain everyday, but his sucker will not go away. This is not foreign to me I’ve had these before, I’ve just had a good string of wellness for the past year and a half. When they got bad about 4 years ago, I started the worst spiritual spiral of my sobriety! I was dry, defeated, spiritually disconnected, ate up with resentment, devoid of any faith, and I isolated myself away from the program. By the grace of God I made it back to spiritual fitness without a new sobriety date or blowing my brains out which crossed my mind a few times too.

The difference this time is I am in the NOW! I am present with God! I keep telling Him I know I have the faith that He can get me through this and I mean it! I didn’t have the faith last time, nor did I have fellowship of AA because I cut myself off from it!

“There is a direct linkage among self-examination, meditation, and prayer. Taken separately, these practices can bring much relief and benefit. But when they are logically related and interwoven, the result is an unshakable foundation for life. Now and then we may be granted a glimpse of that ultimate reality which is God’s kingdom. And we will be comforted and assured that our own destiny in that realm will be secure for so long as we try, however falteringly, to find and do the will of our own Creator.” 12 and 12 page 98

I practice self-examination, meditation and prayer daily. I also report my accountability of this to 3 other women in the program daily. May sound hokey or unnecessary but it has made a huge difference in my life and my sobriety. This is a WE deal, I have been told this from day one in AA. Difference is, today I understand what that means! I’m gonna come through this with the God, faith, fellowship and some sanity this time because I am taking the action necessary to do so.

20 Seconds of Insane Courage

Ever since I got sober I’ve heard it said that fear and faith can’t reside in the same body, well I’m here to tell you that is NOT my truth! I have been taught to be a woman of consideration in Alcoholics Anonymous and not to take any thing I read, hear, or see as truth until I consider it based on my own experience. And what I have concluded about fear and faith is that they are a balancing scale. The more faith I have the less fear……the more fear I have the less faith. Just because I have fear does not mean I have no faith at all. I have done A LOT of things afraid sober and funny thing is that God has showed up for me every single time!

Fear is an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence is shot through with it.- Big Book 67
I had no idea how true that statement was when I first read it! Fear has drove me all my life! I’m not good enough, I’m not doing it right, they’re gonna find out I’m a phony, what if I’m wrong, I’m not gonna get what I want, what if I choose the wrong way, thing, boy, job, shirt….. You get the point!

The answer to fear is trust and reliance upon God instead of reliance upon self! Self is insufficient to sustain me in times of trials, indecision, or difficulty. God is either everything or he is nothing. What is my choice to be? I can either trust infinite God or me? Hmmmmm What do you think I should choose?

Even when seeking God’s will for my life and feeling as if I am being led in a new direction by God, it is still possible to be gripped by fear! That’s what my week has been like! I’ve been getting NEON signs to follow God in a certain direction and still full of fear every step I have taken. But I have followed the signs afraid and guess what? God has showed up once again! So doing it afraid still works and God still suits up and shows up every time no matter how I feel! God is everything!

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” – We Bought a Zoo

Prayed to Jail

I was not too big on God when I got sober but I was kinda out of options! I thought I had “neatly evaded or entirely ignored” the God idea fairly well. I did this because I felt that if I prayed He might just know my location to send all the hell, fire, and whatever else I had coming. It’s not that I didn’t believe in God, I knew he was there.  Wherever “there” is. I distinctly remember having a conversation with my mom the night I got out of Jail for the last time where she was telling me that I just needed to pray and trust God blah, blah, blah….. I told her, ” that God shit may work for you, but it obviously DON”T work for me!” It’s not that I blamed Him or anything, I was just certain that after all that I had done there was absolutely no way that He would have any room or desire for me.

Then I end up at AA….. I may not be very quick but I am too damn smart at times! I saw that G-O-D in red on the wall in the 12 steps and knew these people had tricked me into another religious churchy group of some-sort. Well that was not the case at all! They told me I could choose my own conception of God, I didn’t tell them this at the time but I knew from what I had learned as a child in church that there were these things called sins. On the scheme of things, this choosing your own conception of God had to be a very BAD one!!!! Well I was so very wrong about that and about a lot of other things.

The feeling was that my life was over, but the actual truth was that it was just about to begin. I didn’t have anymore “good” ideas when I got to AA. When they told me to start praying for God to keep me sober in the morning I did it anyway even though I never thought it would work. Before too long I had a whole 2 days sober then 3 days sober! I was amazed! I know that sounds crazy but to someone who’s every waking moment away from a drink was when am I gonna get it? what time am I gonna get it? where at? how much? when can I get off? how much longer? can I get off early? can I sneak a doobie at lunch?etc…. 3 days is a big damn deal!!!

My mom called me one Sunday morning when I was about 3 weeks sober and we were talking about thangs, yes I said “thangs”. She asked if she had told me about what happened to her the night that I was arrested with my “full house”.  She proceeded to tell me the story. She felt something was very wrong with me but had no idea what it was. (partly because I wouldn’t return any of her phone calls and the last time she saw me I was stoned/strung out/drunk at my Granny’s funeral) She had this overwhelming feeling that I was in trouble and she called my Auntie who, by the way, has one of those super telekinetic God connections that just baffles me! They get together that night, on their knees, and pray to their God that He remove the Devil from my life. Less than 6 hours later I was arrested and a week later I was sober.

At 3 weeks sober I still wasn’t too keen on God but I was sober. I wasn’t too sure about this Devil thing and really I didn’t care. However, I was very sure about a few things….. When she told me that story I got chills from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I knew from that moment that God was way bigger than me and that He had ALWAYS been there, no matter if I was aware of Him being there or not. I also knew that I was arrested that night as direct result of an answered prayer because 2 people loved me enough to ask. Thank God for their selfless request I am sober today! Thanks for praying me to Jail!


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