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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Unshakable Foundation, Part 2


Better late than never Part 2…….after the Inventory, then what? Well that is the other part of the unshakable foundation I have been working on for the last 2 years and a month. Thank you to AA for showing me how to be a woman of my word and giving me an ego that won’t let me be the ONLY one in my accountability circle that answers a consistent “no” to meditation on my nightly check-ins.

“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

I was told to pray beginning on day one when I landed in AA by accident (God knew what He was doing and it’s a good thing He didn’t ask my for my opinion because I was already trying to run). My thoughts on the praying thing were all completely negative due to the fact I thought I had “neatly evaded and entirely ignored” the whole “GOD” thing for a while. But I was no FOOL! I saw the G-O-D in red on the wall in those cute little steps of theirs and I was not real happy about it!!!. The problem was that alcoholism had done its due diligence with me and had completely crushed me from the inside out. I was utterly hopeless and I had been granted what I know today as the “gift of desperation”!

They told me to Pray and I did. I was out of options and good ideas…. or bad ideas for that matter. Over time, God and I grew to be on better speaking terms, mainly because my perception of Him Changed. But that is a longer story for another day. But the whole meditation idea I completely ignored for almost 8 years of my sobriety. I just figured that was for more balanced folks. You know the ones that can turn their brains off for more than 10 seconds, and I was not that girl! Not by a long shot! I ignored the directions on page 86-88 of the Big Book and would hit and miss Prayer in the morning and at night. I prayed in times of trouble, not so much when things were good. I leaned on the fellowship for strength and on conferences for spiritually filling my cup instead of really trying to enlarge my spiritual life through truly seeking God.

Then came the day I wanted more, I needed more! I listened to a Mark Houston CD on steps 10, 11 and 12. He basically said if you aren’t doing 10, 11, and 12 then you aren’t doing AA!!! Talk about a stake in the heart, because I knew he was talking about me. I was doing step 12. I was working with newcomer women and I had service commitments. But If I was really honest with myself, I wasn’t great at step 10 because my ego was justifying a lot of behavior and I was very unapproachable. Just ask anyone in my homegroup, LOL!!! My 7 year chip Birthday night “roast” was brutal! I’ve never been called a Bitch in so many Politically Correct terms in my whole life and from the podium. Prayer, some…. Meditation, NOPE! I needed some serious work!

But thank God we are a work in Progress!!!!! Spiritual Progress not Spiritual Perfection!!! I was finally ready to acknowledge that I was ignoring these vital steps!!! I was ready to address them head on! I found some women that were ready like I was, not without some misgivings. I knew I needed accountability to help me remain motivated and stay the course. I am so grateful for these women that have been with me on this!

Texting nightly inventories and committing to what at first was morning meditation. Which has become daily meditation. I’ve learned that I can meditate whenever I want to! If I miss it in the morning, I can do it at lunch or before bed, because there is never a wrong time to quiet my crazy head and listen for God. I listened to guided meditations on youtube, I still do. I’ve read spiritual books. I read 86-88 most mornings….. It really is a WONDERFUL way to start the day!!!! I pray my way through it! I’ve done 21 day meditation challenges from Deepak Choprah. I don’t get upset with myself if I can’t keep my head quiet for 3 minutes or 5 minutes or 7 minutes. However long it is quiet is however long I meditate. Somedays longer and some days shorter. It’s not about the length it’s about the effort! I believe God is honoring my effort.

The Unshakable foundation is this…… Emotional balance!!!! What the hell!!! If you would have told me that when I started this process, I would have said BS!!! No Way!!! Crazy-ass girls with heads that run like mine don’t ever get to a point where they obtain emotional balance……But it is true! Higher Highs and Not low lows…..Does that make sense? Less anger! The ability to keep my Big ‘ol mouth shut! The ability to appreciate the sunset in Puerta Vallarta for 30 minutes. To be able to pause my day for that long to watch it! I highly recommend it, if you haven’t tried it! God continues to reveal more and more to me and more about me! I’m so so grateful God gave me the willingness to give this a shot! I only wish I would have tried it sooner!

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.

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