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

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-Big Girl Panties


Resentment is the number one offender for us chronic alcoholic’s like myself, that’s what it says anyway. In fact, the Big Book states that it’s SO BAD that it compares it to death 4 times in one paragraph: grave, fatal, shut ourselves off from the Sunlight of the Spirit(that in itself is death), insanity returns and we drink and with us to drink is to die. You could actually split that up into 5 times if you’d  like, but regardless of the way you count it, it’s just bad!!!

They say it destroys us, first spiritually and it’s all downhill from there. We run on self-will, though WE don’t think so, which is just all ego. Which just means that we won’t listen to anyone telling us that says we are operating based on our emotions, self-centered fears or delusions. It will erode our spiritual connection with our Higher Power and our fellows.

So what happens when you know you are the target of someone else’s resentment? What do you do when someone continues to retailiate against you? Pot shots, hateful words, malicious gossip, snide and contemptuous comments….. But you are Awake in Spirit enough to know that their only hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience. What do you do now? That’s what they call “when then rubber meets the road”! Do you put the Spiritual Program of Action to work in your life that you talk about in meetings or do you subscribe to you deepest darkest insecurities, protect your pride and take matters in the hands of self?

“…..we begin to see that all people, including ourselves, are to some extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong, and then we approach true tolerance and see what real love for our fellows actually means. It will become more and more evident as we go forward that it is pointless to become angry, or to get hurt by people who, like us, are suffering from the pains of growing up.” 12 and 12 pp 92

I was told early on in my sobriety that I can chose mercy or justice. The literature tells me that I am basically incompetent of telling the difference between justified and unjustified anger(though my head would argue that point even today).  I was also told that it’s either justice for you and justice for me or mercy for you and mercy for me. Since I am extremely grateful for the mercy I have been given, I guess my choice is really a no-brainer!! I have no right to “feel” justified (because feelings aren’t facts anyways). So I must chose mercy for you.

Please don’t think that I’m some sort of Saint, it took me 3 days of meditation, reading literature and consultation with my sponsor and a few other spiritual advisors to come up with this conclusion. But the moment I did, a peace came over me!!! I typically hate character building and walking through uncomfortable situations but today, I’m ok with this. My mind may change tomorrowūüėä

In the last analysis, this person needs love, compassion, forgiveness, and the hand of AA. Sometimes the still suffering alcoholic is sitting “in the rooms” right next to you and let’s just face it…… Sometime it’s you or me for that matter!!!

We all need love, no matter how damaged we are or ate up with self we are or how unlovably insane we behave because I believe that is the will of my Creator.  Trust God, Clean House, and try, to the best of mu ability, to practice the principles in ALL my affairs!!! No matter what I fail at in life there is always a step to clean it up and I thank AA for that and I thank AA for my God!

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Unshakable Foundation, Part 1


Hey there blog-peeps! Long time – no type! Just living the dream or trying to…. I guess. Not even gonna attempt to catch you up on all that madness!!! I will just jump right in with something that I have been working on, towards and putting in to practice in my trudge over the last 17 months.

“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 & 12 page 98

So first off, If you have done more than just the 1, 2, 3, waltz around the rooms of AA, then you have had an introduction to the self-examination that this piece of literature is referring to. We learn to inventory our behavior at step four, confess to another in five, identify character defects and become willing to have or HP remove those in 6, ask our HP to remove those objectionable to us in 7, decide who was harmed in 8 and make restitution to those harmed in 9. We begin to continuously monitor our thoughts and actions with the practice of step 10, while we our cleaning up the wreckage of our past. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am not the greatest at telling you that I am full of fear while I am in the middle of a knock-down drag-out fight with my husband. It looks like rage on the outside but is truly more like insecurity and self-centeredness. Which is why I have become extremely grateful for step 11 for several reasons.

See, I miss stuff during the day that I am supposed to catch in step 10 when I ¬†“continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear.- Big Book(BB) page 84” I will still lie to myself in the moment. So, our literature gives us a backup plan of sorts on page 86, “when retire at night…” under step 11. Just in case I miss it in the moment, because, lets face it, I will miss it!!!!

I have been going through and answering those questions on page 86 in the BB in writing form and sending my invertory to an accountability circle of women for 17 months. Much different than just reading over them and answering them in my head. Or what I did for the first 7 years of my sobriety, which was not look at those inventory questions at all. I can look back at my written inventory and see what I need to bring to my Higher Power for corrective action in prayer. I can see where I have been intolerant of others or unkind and unloving. I can see which character defects have been activated once more due to my selfish, self-centered behavior.

It is not to something I use to make me feel terrible about myself but to see what I can do better tomorrow. I want to grow in understanding and effectiveness like the BB says at step 10. To understand where I have been wrong and what I have done good so that tomorrow I will be able to a better instrument for my HP. After all, He did grant me this gift of GRACE in sobriety. I do try, however falteringly, to do His will daily…

God help me!


Do you ever wonder “Where is God in this?” or “Why is¬†God letting this¬†happen?” or “How could this possibly be God’s will?”¬† Well I do! There’s just some things in life that are hard to reconcile. Like why my 24 year old dear friend had a massive stroke when she was sober and doing the best to live spiritually and serve God. Thank God for good sponsorship! I still remember vividly the phone call I got that morning. I was at work in a meeting when my phone rang. I excused myself from the meeting for a minute to take the call and proceeded to begin wailing. Really sucking snot hard! That kind of crying that you can’t contain the noise or¬†the almost hyperventilating breathing. I was devastated!

My boss¬†pulled me aside and told me to go for a drive. I got in my car and promptly called my sponsor. She made me take 10 deep breaths in and out and made me count them out loud to her. Then she said, ” Are you listening?”¬† I said, “Yes.” She said, “You need to be. Are you ready?”¬†I again said, “Yes.” She then exclaimed in a very stern and definite tone, ” This is NOT ABOUT YOU!”

Bam! Snapped back to reality from my self-pity, self-centered, self-absorbed feelings. Was it devastating, YES! But her family needed me, but not like that! They needed strength and assurance. They needed a shoulder or an ear. They needed help with their children. What they did not need was some self-centered, wailing, defeated mess!

This all happened about 14 months ago. She made it out alive, it was very touch and go for over a month. But her, her husband and her children’s¬†lives are forever changed. I wouldn’t have been human if I hadn’t wondered those questions I formerly mentioned about God. I was able, through the grace of God and an awesome sponsor,¬†to live to His purpose.

“Service, gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world we are partners in a common effort, the well understood fact that in God’s light all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given surely brings a full return … These are permanent and legitimate satisfactions of right living for which no amount of pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions, could possibly be substitutes. True ambition is not what we thought it was. True ambition is deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.” 12 and 12 -page 124

I am so forever grateful for the experiences God gives me, good or bad. Well, lets say I am grateful for them later down the road, because I am not always grateful for the bad ones at the time. I walked through that situation without it shaking my faith. Not everyone involved had the same experience as me. Some lost faith and questioned the existence of God and I completely understand why they did. That just wasn’t my experience.

So I rock along, 14 months later and I’ll be damned if I don’t have another situation arise that I have to ask God those same questions I did at the beginning of this blog. Another very dear friend of mine was blessed with a pregnancy after 38 years of a barren womb. We are 22 weeks in and she went into labor Monday night. She delivered the twin girls, Emery and Aylin, just before noon on Tuesday. Both the girls are angels in heaven now. I mean OMG! Are you freaking serious? Why? I am devastated yet again! I hurt so much for my friend! I feel just as helpless and lost as I did 14 months ago!

The first thing I heard in my head when I heard the new was my sponsor’s words, “This is NOT ABOUT YOU!”

“Henry Ford once made a wise remark to the effect that experience is the thing of supreme value in life.¬† That is true only if one is willing to turn the past to good account.¬† We grow by our willingness to face and rectify errors and convert them into assets.¬† The alcoholic’s past thus becomes the principal asset of the family and frequently it is almost the only one!” Big Book -page 124

I know without a shadow of a doubt that there is a plan. I know that the only thing, just like last time, that will get me through this is true dependence on God. I know how to not make this about me and I know my purpose!

“Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service¬†to God and the people about us.” Big Book- page 77

So I am leaning HEAVILY on God! I am focused on how I can serve! And my bags are packed to go do what AA has taught me so very well! WOW! How do you get from where I was 8 years ago……a me me me, what can I get from you, show up in the middle of the night unannounced and brake the tank on your toilet, self-serving, angry, psychopath…..to a woman who desperately longs to be of service in any way possible to my dear friend in her time of need? I’ll tell you how…… a total psychic change, a spiritual experience from actively working the 12 steps, in order as written and practicing the principles to the best of my ability and willingness on a daily consistent basis.

Man, I am so stinking grateful to God and AA right now I don’t even know how to act!

After Birthday Night


My husband was out of town at a Men’s conference, so he missed out on Birthday Night (BN). When BN was over I checked my phone and I had a text from¬†my awesome husband, it said……”you and I have been asked to speak at ______ Roundup May 10th”

My response, ” No No No No”

Him- ????, since when did you get allowed to say no?

Me- Answer your phone

Him- In meeting

Me- Was this your suggestion or idea? I will KILL you Mr Husband!

He called me after¬†his meeting and SWORE he didn’t throw me under the bus! I gave him the 5th degree of how this conversation went down. I am still not totally sure I believe him!

Like I said I don’t like speaking! He, on the other hand, is completely comfortable behind the podium or anywhere else that he has everyone’s full attention. He speaks very well and I don’t just say that because he is my husband! See he has a nice sized ego, so you have to be careful with compliments HAHA! Love you hubs!

I can already see how this will go down….. they will love him and they will listen to me and wonder why I was chosen. I am no way near his caliber of speaker. But, regardless, he was right when he asked me in the text…….”When did you get allowed to say no?” The truth is I don’t! I dang sure wouldn’t call my sponsor and tell her that I refused to speak! I am not that stupid!

But o do still have the compulsion to confess, so I did call my sponsor. I told her my response and she laughed and said, “I think that is wonderful! It ain’t about you anyway!” ¬†Then she gave me the same advice I have been given since I got sober , “Tell the truth and don’t say the “F” word.” ¬†After all, it has always worked in the past!

Instead of fretting over this for the next 2 months, I will add this to my prayer and meditation, trust that God knows what He is doing and just get mySELF out of the way! I will keep y’all up on the craziness that goes through my head over the next 2 months. Peace!

Drunk Dialies


Have you ever been guilty of drunk dialies? I sure have….. more than I care to admit! This should clue you in a little on my age of sobriety! Notice I didn’t say drunk texting or drunk posting on Facebook or Twitter. Drunk posting probably even has some cool name in the Urban Dictionary.

Kinda like Pregame:
n. To drink before going to a party. This most often happens because they party where you are going to will be carding and you are under or because you want to drink something hard to start your night off. Often pregaming happens at the house and involves taking shots.

See back in my drinking days, this didn’t have some-sort of cool name, it was just drinking. Most of the time to save money, in my case, because I have never been a cheap drunk. So drinking at the bar was very expensive for me or for whoever was buying my drinks (usually some poor fool who thought I was interested in more than just lightening my financial load). I digress….

I would somehow get home from the bar, I blacked out a lot so it was rare for me to know how that happened at times. Apparently, due to said blackouts, I had no recollection of the phone calls I would make at 2, 3, 4, in the morning. I would pick up my phone, after I “came to”. I was most often panic-stricken due to the amount of blackouts I had. I never knew where I was going to wake up, how I got there, who would be with me or not with me for that matter. I would eventually get around to checking my phone and find that I called any number of people. It was often some old boyfriend or guy I dated(I use that term very loosely) or perhaps my ex-husband. I would never¬†remember what we talked about when I looked at the length of the call or what kind of craziness I left on their voicemail.

I needed someone to take my phone from me when I started drinking, but that was NEVER gonna happen!

So I have been downloading new songs from iTunes, more appropriately, new songs to me or new to own. I was listening to the lyrics of “Should’ve Gone to Bed” by Plain White T’s. Best song about drunk dailies I have heard to date! Here’s a sample:

All day long I’m over you
Never really think of you
I keep you out of my head
But some nights when I’m striking out
You’re all I can think about
Just gotta have you again

So I down my cup
And then I hit you up
Saying way too much

Oh, I should’ve just gone to bed
I should’ve never called you
I should’ve listened to my head
When it said leave it alone
No, a few drinks in
Here I go missing you again
God only knows what I said
I should’ve just gone to bed

I should’ve turned the lights out
I should’ve called it a night
You should’ve never picked up my phone call
If you’re not sleeping here tonight

LOVE THIS! Brings back memories! Not fond ones but memories, nonetheless!

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Birthday Night


“Life will take on new meaning.¬† To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss.¬† We know you will not want to miss it.¬† Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.” Big Book – page 89

I had no idea what this meant 9 years ago when I really tried to get sober for the first time! I didn’t get the “giving of yourself” part of the program. I couldn’t understand why these people, that I barely knew me, wanted to bring me in their circle. I kept thinking, “they must want something from me” or “if they really knew me, there is no way they would let me hang around much less include me in this group”. I’ve said this before, I was just so angry. I hated me and kinda hated them for not seeing how they should hate me too.

My sponsors have always spent tons of time with me. I just knew I was getting on their nerves. Hell, I was getting on my own nerves! But these people kept answering my phone calls, taking time out of their lives to sit down with me and the Big Book, and inviting me to “get in the truck”. I didn’t know that I had the option to say “No”. I thought they would kick me out if they did. I didn’t understand that by spending time with sick-ass me was helping them, too. They would tell me, “thank you”, and I was so confused! I would say, “Why are you thanking me? What did I do?” It was totally lost on me why they would do any of this for me.

Well, I can tell you I fully understand it now! About a year ago, God must have known how very very sick I was! He sent me 3 sponsees in a very short time frame. At the end of last year, when they were all on their 4th step at the same time, I was shocked! It had been a long time since I had gotten a sponsee past Bill’s Story, much less all 3 to start clearing the bogged down channel between them and their Higher Power!

Last Saturday, I had the honor and privilege of giving all 3 of these women their 1 year chips at Birthday Night! Before Birthday Night (BN), I felt weird having to do this 3 times, like a braggart or something. I hate speaking anyway, don’t like that type of attention. But I spent some time in the afternoon in meditation and prayer about BN and when the time came I was ready. None of these ladies getting a year sober was my accomplishment, responsibility or my fault. HAHA God used me for His purpose in these womens’ lives and with their willingness and surrender to the process on a daily basis.

“You are going to meet these new friends in your own community.¬† Near you, alcoholics are dying helplessly like people in a sinking ship.¬† If you live in a large place, there are hundreds.¬† High and low, rich and poor, these are future fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous.¬† Among them you will make lifelong friends.¬† You will be bound to them with new and wonderful ties, for you will escape disaster together and you will commence shoulder to shoulder your common journey.¬† Then you will know what it means to give of yourself that others may survive and rediscover life.¬† You will learn the full meaning of “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”Big Book page 152-153

I am bound to these women with new and wonderful ties! BN was freaking awesome! I have fully experienced this paragraph in the book in my life and I am forever grateful!

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