Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Working to make sure I'm thinking the right way.
I'll forget the impression I'm making.
If my attitude is right, the impression will take care of itself.
--Walk In Dry PlacesDay 56
Why was I so afraid to be myself? Why did I feel that I needed to have the lack of restraint that alcohol gave me to open myself to others. Was I really opening up the real me? Or was I just caught in a masquerade that I couldn't end, afraid that no one would like me if my make believe persona disappeared. When did I start believing that the fairytale was the real me? Where did the real me go?
At some time in my life I started dressing myself up as a smart mouthed, flirty, life of the party girl. At some point I forgot to take the costume off when the party was over. I wore it until there was mascara running down my cheeks from my tears. I wore it until there were holes in the knees of my fishnet stockings from so many stumbles. I wore it until it was so soiled and ragged that it was unrecognizable as the bright shiny splendid ensemble that I had first put on. At some point it fell into tatters around my feet.
It was time to go shopping for a new wardrobe but I couldn't fathom how many castoffs I would have to struggle through before I found something that fit.
When I moved to MX part-time, it was with the purpose of finding a new costume for my new " masquerade party". I wanted to leave my old drunken sailor rags behind. This time I wanted to dress up as the big hearted, energetic, do-gooder. Unfortunately, I hadn't rehearsed enough for my new "role" and I just wasn't comfortable in my new duds. They didn't fit right and I found myself trying to stitch my old get-up back together but the material had become so thin and frayed that it never held together for very long and it seemed to fall apart quicker and quicker every time. I found myself continually mending new rents and tears, ironing patches onto the biggest holes. Eventually it shredded into tinier and tinier pieces until there was nothing left to salvage. I was naked. And all of my flaws and scars were there for everyone to see. I wanted to cower. I wanted to run and hide. I got down on my hands and knees and started searching desperately for something to clothe myself with and I found just a few scraps that had managed to survive. I sewed them together into a patchwork covering of sorts. I put it on. It fit. It was the most comfortable thing I had worn in a long time. An old cloak, of sorts, made of threadbare fragments of my tattered courage, dignity, will and pride.
Today my house is a disaster zone. We just got home yesterday and haven't unpacked and we're packing to leave tomorrow for two weeks in MX. There are boxes filled to their weight limits with toys for the toy drive and clothes for the rummage sale I'm holding to make money for the toy drive. There is no room for any of my costumes. That's fine. I don't need them, I've got my old cloak. It will be enough.
So today I'm out there just doing my best to unimpress while pressing on.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face. ~Victor Hugo
Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis. ~Jack Handey, "Deep Thoughts," Saturday Night Live
The cap’n and I are staying at a not-quite-seedy little hotel in a not-quite-seedy little town while the cap’n again works to support me in the manner to which I’ve become accustomed. It’s 8:00 am on a lazy Sunday (every day’s kind of a lazy day for me). Let’s make a register of what I’ve already accomplished today.
1. I woke up, (that’s always a good start to the day).
2. I knitted a few rows, trying to keep the clicking of the needles to a minimum (the cap’n is a very light sleeper).
3. I combed my hair and put on a tank top and shorts. Sans bra because it’s a lazy Sunday. I have to admit that it is the height of laziness when you can’t be bothered to put on a bra but the sisters deserve a day just to loll around, too. I may be almost 50 but I’m not stepping on them or tripping over them yet.
4. I slicked on some lipstick (I may go out without my bra but never, ever, ever without lipstick).
5. I walked a block down to the convenience store to get the Sunday paper. On my way, I passed a McDonalds where several men were sitting outside at the one of the concrete tables. I drew several appreciative looks. I’m sure I would have received a couple of whistles if any of they’d been able to claim two teeth between them to whistle through. We all know what kind of men are sitting at a McDonalds at 7:00 am on Sunday morning. Old ones.
6. I continued to the store, laughing all the way.
Doesn’t seem like I’ve accomplished much this morning does it? Let’s review a typical Sunday about 8 weeks ago.
1. I would probably already be back in bed. I would have spent the night trying to sleep. I probably finally got up at 2:00 am. By about 6:00 am, I would have probably drank enough wine to pass out for a couple of hours.
2. I wouldn’t be interested in knitting (or anything else for that matter) but if I tried either my hands would be shaking too bad or if I ‘d drank enough to still the shaking I’d probably have to rip out what I had knitted once I sobered up.
3. Probably wouldn’t have combed my hair, probably wouldn’t shower, probably wouldn’t put on clean clothes. Probably still wouldn’t wear a bra.
4. I still would have smeared on some lipstick. Combined with my uncombed hair and the mascara that I’d been too drunk to wash off the night before ringing my eyes, I could probably get a job as the understudy for Heath Ledger as the Joker.
5. Probably wouldn’t make it down to the store to get the paper… unless I’d been fortified with more wine. If I did, I would definitely draw some stares.
6. There would be nothing at all to laugh about.
If I had to choose between the two, I’d pick today. No probably about it.
So today I’m out there just doing my best to keep on lolling and lazing. And laughing.all the way.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places -- and there are so many -- where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
- Howard Zinn
Day 51 I completely skipped over Day 50. Who da thunk it?
Last year about this time, I was in the middle of my first attempt at a 30 day abs and I was feeling trepidatious (I'm pretty sure that's not a word but it working for me this morning). I had entered the 30 day abs with trepidation because I knew I had a trip to MX planned smack dab in the middle of it, but there was another newcomer to the MM forum that asked me to buddy up with him so I did. I did great until the night before the trip when I thought I could have a couple in the hotel. Uh-uh! It was a fast downward slide and the trip will forever be remembered as the "Trip to Hell" To Hell and Back.
So here I find myself with 50 days of abs under my belt and another trip to MX on the horizon in about a week. I was feeling really great about it. Strong enough. Then I was fb'ing with one of my gal pals down there last night. She was plastered. She warned me she was but I would have been able to tell anyway especially after I told her we would be down there Thursday and she said, "Great! What day is that?" She and her husband had just had another couple that are mutual friends over for dinner. The last time I had dinner at their house, her husband had to drive me home. That's okay because about a month later she and her husband were expected over at our house for dinner. The cap'n and I spent two days cleaning and cooking. The time of their expected arrival arrived and no sign of them but that's okay TIM (This Is Mexico). We waited another hour and there was still no sign of them so we called them. Her husband answered the phone and the cap'n asked, very casually what they were up to.
"Just cooking dinner for some friends of ours," her husband replied.
"That's funny," the cap'n replied. "That's exactly what we're doing…cooking dinner for you guys."
"JUDY!" I could hear him yell as the cap'n held the phone away from his ear.
Judy (not her real name) had forgot. You see we had come up with the plan while fb'ing one late night when both of us were sloshed. By some miracle I had remembered. I signed off last night with the promise we would meet them at Las Dunas, a local watering hole, on Friday, Sept. 9, 2011 and told her to write it down. She is still apologizing to me.
Do you understand why I'm trepidatious? I don't think I'll drink. No, I know I won't drink. I've got too much to do. A fundraising rummage sale that I'm in charge of, fundraising Bingo that I'm helping out with, a brunch for a few of my close friends that has expanded to their close friends. I thought I was too busy last year to waste time getting drunk too. I wasn't.
I am indeed trepidatious. Not just about the drinking, but about the not drinking. I'm actually not telling any of my friends that I'm not drinking because I don't want to be excluded from any fun drinking bashes they might have. I don't want to be blackballed. What kind of f'ed up thinking is that? What kind of friends do I have? I hate to say it but I'm guilty of doing the same thing to friends that stopped drinking. My friends will figure it out, they've seen me abstain before but they know that I've always eventually cratered and they'll be counting on that.
I have a secret weapon, though. I just read a really sad story about a girl that wanted something so bad but she just kept failing. She was so humiliated but she refused to give up. I'm going to carry it around in my pocket and pull it out anytime I get the urge to drink. I posted the link to it in the first paragraph. I think it needs a new ending.
So today I out there doing my best to find refreshing recipes for success and non-alcoholic beverages to serve at my brunch and reinforcing those lifelines for my friends in the Abacos. They could use some extra lines if you've got any you can spare.
P.S. That is the "Hope Town", Elbow Cay, Abacos, Bahamas lighthouse above. I just received a report from a friend at 1400 and it's blowing 100 knots.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Day 49 of abs
Six years ago I was living on my sailboat in the Abacos, Bahamas when Hurricane Jeanne decided to pay a visit. I'd never been through a hurricane before and I'll admit this girl from Kansas where tornadoes wreak their havoc usually in the middle of the night with little advance warning, held some disdain for a storm that announced its arrival well in advance. One of the first questions you encounter when you decide to live on a boat is "What are you going to do if you find yourself in a hurricane?" so you read everything you can get your hands on about the subject in the hopes that you'll never have to use that knowledge but there I was with a hurricane bearing down so now it was time to put the disaster plan in action. We were in Marsh Harbour at the time, at a little marina called the Port of Call. Jeanne was still about a week out and in all probability would veer from its expected path and miss us all together. There was a big party planned at a deserted beach on another island that everyone, and I mean everyone, was going to. For a change the cap'n and I decided to listen to our heads instead of our livers and decided to skip the party. You see, we weren't supposed to be in the Abacos still, we were supposed to have been long gone from that chain of islands. We were supposed to be clear down in Venezuela waiting out hurricane season somewhere south of latitude 12. Alas the tides of friends and parties had kept our docklines tied firmly to the Abacos and now we found ourselves without a prearranged hurricane hole to "hole-up" in. We knew we didn't want to stay at the dock, we'd seen enough videos of marinas during a hurricane on the weather channel and we didn't trust the holding well enough to anchor in "Mushy Harbour." Luckily, we managed to score the last mooring ball available in Hope Town on Elbow Cay and instead of putting off the inevitable for one more day (or two or three depending on the severity of our hangovers) we skipped the party and started making our boat hurricane ready. We used the information we'd gleaned from years of reading about the upcoming momentous event and more importantly we listened to others that had been through hurricanes before. We moved the boat to the safer harbor of Hope Town while all of our friends were moving theirs to Man-Of-War cay which was considered to be safer. We had waited too long to secure a place over there. We took all of the sails down and stowed everything that was possible down below. If it could move, it was tied down, if it could chafe, it was wrapped. With Jeanne still a couple of days out, we found ourselves sitting in our bare cockpit with nothing left to do but worry while all of our friends were still scurrying around moving their boats and making ready. We watched as self-appointed harbour masters shoo'd late-comers desperately seeking shelter from the storm back out of the harbour entrance, only a handful of boats were allowed into Hope Town and we were lucky to be one of them. We finally accepted that there was nothing more we could do and what would happen would happen and decided to take the ferry back over to Marsh Harbour and our friend's house where we would be staying even if it was two days before Jeanne was supposed to arrive on the scene. That decision was just another lucky happenstance since the ferries which had been assuring everybody that they would be running the next day, all of a sudden had the keen insight that maybe they out to secure their own boats, and announced the next morning that they would not be running after all trapping people on whatever cay they happened to be on.
I won't go into the details of the hurricane itself because I've already been long-winded enough and I've already told you in an earlier blog about the plight of five alcoholics stuck in a house during a four day hurricane and the desperate measures they take when the booze runs out. Envision "Lord of the Flies." But there were lessons which that bitch Jeanne taught me that have helped me weather other storms including the storm that alcohol and I have brewed up together. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Find a safe harbour. One where the holding is good and you are protected from the brunt of the storm. No matter how rough that safe harbour gets, no matter how much it tosses you around and leaves you sick and feeling like you might die, don't sail back into the storm. Ride it out. The storm will eventually pass over your harbour but if you cast your lot with the storm you can't know how far she will carry you from safety or to what depths she will drive you.
2. Surround yourself with people that are concerned for your safety and will help do whatever is required to help you get secure because they know that if you are not secure, you could break loose in the storm and drag into them, doing damage that could cause them to sink or lose their own safe holding causing both of you and whoever is in your path to end up broke and battered on the rocks. Don't let other boats that could be a threat to you in your safe harbour.
3. Listen to the advice of the people that have weathered storms before. You may receive different and even conflicting advice but listen and discern which advice is applicable to your situation and your "boat" and then apply it. It's great to read and listen but it only works if you do the work. All of it. No skimping and no half measures allowed, because the storm will find any hint of weakness you have left unprotected and that's where she'll take her opportunity to destroy everything you've tried so hard to fortify.
4. Use every lifeline you have, even if it's a little frayed.
5. Stow or get rid of anything that could become a missile and cause a hole or do damage to your "boat".
6. The friends that stick with you through the storm will be there afterwards to help you clean up and will be there to guide you away from or see you through future storms.
7. When the storm has passed, stick your head out and assess what damage it has wrought and then get off your ass and start cleaning up and rebuilding. Find the weak spots and make them stronger so they can withstand the next storm, if it comes. Don't wait for someone to do the work for you, your friends are there to help but it's your boat and it's up to you to make it seaworthy again.
Our boat made it through the storm with no damage and was as dry as a bone inside. Although it did look like someone had picked her up and shook her real good and not everything I though was stowed securely was.The Port of Call Marina that we were docked at before the storm was destroyed. Several of the boats that crowded into Man-O-War dragged and did damage to each other. A couple of weeks later, Hurricane Frances was hovering on the scene and while the weather forecasters said she was not going to be a threat, we were skeptical so we kept everything stowed and tied and sure enough she swept in. Once again the boat did fine but I learned another lesson.
8. There are always more storms on the horizons, you have to watch out for them and keep your defenses in place.
So today I'm out there doing my best to check my defenses for signs of fatigue and sending out my karmic lifelines to my friends in the Abacos even if some of them are a little frayed.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Love the moment. Flowers grow out of dark moments. Therefore, each moment is vital. It affects the whole. Life is a succession of such moments and to live each, is to succeed.
Yay! It’s another Saturday, another “act like I’m not a drunk” day. Funny thing is, “act like I’m not a drunk” days are starting to feel kind of normal to me. I no longer feel like I’m a gate crasher at an exclusive party.
I tend to want to hurry through things. As a matter of fact I found myself hurrying through the process of finding quotes about slowing down and savoring the moment for today’s blog. LOL
But let’s get moving. The other morning I was out for my walk and I was trying to negotiate with my Co-writer for a couple of weeks off from this blog. I pointed out that I have been writing this blog for a year and I think I deserve a couple of weeks’ vacation. Okay, I know there have been several weeks throughout the year (May was cringe worthy) that I have not written a blog but those were during binges and I’m not counting those, I consider those times research for this blog. I also kind of hinted that he was hogging all of my mornings by having me do this blog. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I’m trying to write a book but by the time I get this blog written my creative juices have turned to syrup and flow about as fast as molasses. (I can hear some of you saying that they don’t seem to be flowing all that fast when I type this blog either) I reminded him that this was supposed to be a trade-off. I would write this blog for him and he would provide me some inspiration and arrange a movie deal for my book. Alright, he nixed the movie deal but I keep throwing it back on the bargaining table.
I didn’t think he was listening so I hurried on down the path, intent on getting my walk done so I could get back to the cabin and type out this blog, complete my other duties like laundry and dinner and dishes, and maybe manage to eke out a few words of my book. Suddenly I heard, “Don’t Rush.” I thought he was talking about my book which I am determined to have to a publisher by my 50th birthday in March so later that night when I took out what I had typed so far I took my time and reread all of it. I could see myself rushing through it, racing from one big event to the next in a hurry to get to the end, afraid I was going to run out of time. I was skipping past all of the little messy, wonderful details that make a story and its characters real. The things that seem insignificant but give depth and texture to a life. I stopped and wondered how often I skimmed or hurried through the little messy, wonderful details of my own life. How many hugs were ended before they reached their full potential? How many smiles were not allowed to fully bloom.
But today I found myself hurrying through the gate for my walk again, eager to get it over with so I could get on with the duties of the day again when the gentle reminder came again. “Don’t Rush.” So I slowed down and breathed in the moment and thanked Him for the day and its beauty and asked him to allow me to recognize what his plan was for me today and to give me the time to accomplish it and pay special attention to the details. He assured me he would.
So today I’m out there doing my best to stop and smell the pines (God, they smelled good this morning after the rain last night) and let all my hugs reach their expiration date and all my smiles bloom into their full glory.
P.S. I went to a friends blog the other day and tried to comment but blogger wouldn't let me no matter what I tried. I haven't gotten a lot of comments on this blog :( but I've received a few. None lately though. Is there a problem submitting comments? If so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll look into it. Thanks.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
The girl that lay down to rest is no more,
She drifted away with yesterday,
It is finished.
As perfect or flawed as it will ever be.
Today a new girl awakens,
A new day awaits,
To be fashioned into her dream of beauty.
Kary May 8/18/2011
So today I’m out there just doing my best to be a Day Dream Believer and to not let my dreams be limited by my creative abilities, or lack thereof.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
I had a new friend accompany me for a short time on my walk this morning. I'd guess he was about 9 years old with too short jeans, a baseball cap slammed down on his uncombed shock of hair and a couple of ungainly teeth that hadn't found their rightful places in his mouth yet. I fished a dog biscuit out of my pocket for his buddy Sherman, a rambunctious black lab bounding with joy to be out on an early morning adventure. We talked about our dogs (the boy and I, not Sherman) and he was sad to learn that Stanley, the killer bichon, was blind and old. He explained he was on his way to a friend's house who, he excitedly told me, he would be spending the day with and the next day his friend would be spending the day at his house. We parted waving as I headed down the "broken down bridge" road back to my house and he continued on to his friend's. I doubt that our chance early mountain morning encounter will have any lasting effect on him but it sure started my day off with a smile. And perhaps some day when the boy is older he will carry dog biscuits in his pocket and he'll take the time to stop and share his morning with another young boy and he'll be better for it.
On another recent morning, Jeremy Henwood took a break from his job and stopped in at a McDonalds to grab something to eat. While he stood in line, a 13 year old boy came up behind him and asked him for a dime because he wanted to buy some cookies and didn't have enough money. Jeremy bought the young man three cookies and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. The boy responded that he wanted to be an NBA player and Jeremy advised him that he would have to work hard for that. As he left the building I'm sure Jeremy didn't wonder if his short conversation or his small act of kindness would have any lasting effect on the boy, he might have given himself a little pat on the back and felt a little better about himself or it might have been such a common occurrence for him that he never gave it another thought. He could not dream that his random act of kindess would end up effecting hundreds of people, maybe thousands, maybe millions. 3 minutes after leaving that McDonalds, war veteran and rookie policeman, Jeremy Henwood, was shot and killed as he sat in his patrol car . And today, because of a restaurant surveillance tape that captured his actions just minutes before his senseless death, the ripple effect of his last, seemingly insignificant, act of kindness is spreading in ever widening compassionate circles.
The above Prayer of Saint Francis was always one of my favorite hymns in parochial school. I'm sure I didn't pay adequate attention to the words back then but recently one of my mmabser friends, colparker who is a proven demonstrative disciple of that much esteemed plea from St. Francis, has been featuring it in the signature line of his posts and it has served as a familiar gentle instruction for me.
When I started this blog, I don't think I was thinking of the ripples I would make with it. Instead I think I was "lead" to do it in a desperate attempt to help myself. Like Jeremy Henwood, I am employed in a helping profession, nursing. It is a profession that has more than its share of addicts and alcoholics. We nurses are much more comfortable helping others than asking for and accepting help for ourselves. So I presented this blog to my stubborn "I can do this myself without any help from anybody else" mind as a way to help others but somewhere along the line while I was extending my hand out to others, I started hanging on to theirs for help and support. Just like in the prayer above while looking to console, I was consoled, when trying to provide understanding, it was given back to me, in loving others, I was loved. I sent out a call only to have it return to me in caring echoes and the ripples I was making were bouncing off distant shores and coming back to me in gentle swells, raising me up slowly and steadily. When I drank I liked to make a big splash that resulted in an immediate, fantastic effect. It could be awe inspiring but also devastating. I couldn't see the turmoil and menacing undercurrents it was causing under the surface and the magnificent waves that resulted were unpredictable and could destroy or erode anything or anyone that was trapped in its path. I couldn't see how far those waves would go or how wide their storm path was.
I can't see how far my caring little ripples will travel either but I'm content to know they carry no threat with them and that whatever or whoever they wash up against will not be harmed and they will be sent back to me a hundredfold.
So today I'm out there doing my best to honor Jeremy's memory by keeping the ripples flowing and St. Francis's prayer echoing.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
"To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."
Overcoming Addiction Quote by Elbert Green Hubbard (June 19, 1856 - May 7, 1915)
Sweat is dripping from my brow, I’m watching the clock, and my fingers are shaking. Just a few more minutes and the relief will flood my veins, my heartbeat will slow and I’ll be able to draw a steady breath. 5, 4, 3, 2, ….Damn! Somebody outbid me!
Okay, I admit e-bay is not a new addiction, but at least now I have a good excuse for getting my fix. If you’ve been reading my blog for the last year, you know that I’m very involved with a toy drive in the little village in Mexico we live in during the winter. It’s hard to come up with ways to raise money when I’m up here in the states. Last year I held a raffle that gave away some great items like free resort stays in Cancun and hotels in Merida but Paypal pulled the plug on that just days before the raffle ended. Seems they are not supposed to be selling raffle tickets on their site. Luckily we had already sold a bunch of tickets and were still able to hold the raffle and make a bunch of money. But this year I had to come up with something different. One thing that is expensive down there is good quality clothes, especially ones that fit us ex-pats that have moved to the land of the Lilliputian Mayans so I have been spending every free minute and every free cent I have (actually every free cent the cap’n has, just don’t tell him) buying up name brands like Ann Taylor and Liz Claiborne and Lily Pulitzer as if there is no tomorrow. Believe me you won’t find any of these labels in my own closet. I have never been a slave to fashion in the past but recently I’m starting to worry that my new habit may turn me into a certified “Bow-Head.” (Back in the eighties it was the fashion for woman to tie back their big poofy hair with big poofy bows. My financially unfortunate friends and I started calling the rich women in our town “Bow- Heads.” Rumor had it that these woman would only screw their rich lawyer/doctor husbands if they were facing Neiman Marcus.)
Once more I’ve digressed. So,I’ve been buying up these clothes in the hopes that I will be able to sell them at a profit at a rummage sale I’m holding down in MX when I go down to visit in a couple of weeks. All profit will go for the toy drive. Hopefully they will sell or else I’m going to end up with an even bigger variety of sizes then already resides in my closet. I’m optimistic. We had held a sale last year that was quite successful. I nursed a secret glass of wine during the whole sale. It started at 8:00 am. I think I’ll skip that marketing strategy this year. I have a hard enough time converting pesos to dollars without the help of Padre Kino (my favorite cheap Mexican wine).
Oops! Gotta go. There’s a pair of DKNY capris going off in a few minutes. I think I saw them on the rack at the outlet stores last week for $22 so I’ll probably only bid $35.
So today I’m out there doing my best to single handedly maneuver an economic turn around and keep the cap’n in the fiscal dark.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.
- Rachel Naomi Remen
I have a friend named Barbara who is the most popular person I know. She is invited to every party, brunch, or girl’s day out. When she is out at a social gathering, she is the person people gather around. If I’m out with another friend we’ll turn to each other and say, “Let’s call Barbara.” She brings with her a quiet grace that comforts us, she discerns the strengths in us that even we don’t know we have, she recognizes our secret talents and emboldens us. She is a cancer survivor many times over and her serene courage is solace for our own fears. She is our wishing well, our reflecting pool, our place of sanctuary. She listens. Don't get me wrong, she's not timid or retiring, she's a Texas southern belle and she defines fiesty. She just does not need to draw attention to herself, it is effortlessly drawn to her like a weary traveler to the welcoming glow of a lamp in a familiar window.
There were several responses to my “Giddy-Up” blog on the mmabser’s list. The responses reflected a fear that I was very familiar with, the fear of losing the perception I had of myself if I quit drinking. The self that was the life of the party, the confident, outgoing self. The chatty, funny self. The self that was the” lampshade on head” center of dubious attention. The self I had created with the help of alcohol to disguise or camouflage my real self. I remembered my real self as unsure, awkward, and withdrawn. The shrinking violet. The wallflower. Now I have to wonder if during my formative years when I started drinking, I managed to drown a self that could have matured into a woman of quiet grace like Barbara. A woman who has the respect and genuine affection of others instead of the momentary fleeting attention forced by an “in your face,” desperate brashness. Can that quiet, caring, sincere self be resuscitated? I hope so. I’m sure as heck going to try because she’s worth saving.
So today I’m out there doing my best to put on my listening ears and become a place of quiet grace for myself and others.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Grace means more than gifts. In grace something is transcended, once and for all overcome. Grace happens in spite of something; it happens in spite of separateness and alienation. Grace means that life is once again united with life, self is reconciled with self. Grace means accepting the abandoned one. Grace transforms fate into a meaningful vocation. It transforms guilt to trust and courage. The word grace has something triumphant in it.
- Yrjo Kallinen
Years ago my mother had a ceramic statue of the Virgin Mary for each of us kids. My aunt painted them and they are rather plain and stand about 3 ft. tall and depict her in her traditional blue and white robes (I often wonder if she got tired of wearing that same outfit since it is the only one you ever see her in) standing on the globe with the serpent beneath her feet. It always had a place in my home until the cap’n and I got married and moved into a new home. I don’t know if it got lost in the barrage of storage boxes that held the mementos of two different lives or if somewhere in my subconscious I thought the statue was too gaudy or embarrassing to be displayed in my new more sophisticated home and life. I had moved up. Okay I admit I didn’t lose her in the storage boxes and I did feel a little guilty about packing her away along with all the other uncomfortable reminders of my old life but it wasn’t until my youngest son had a meltdown that I realized the continuity and comfort that statue represented for myself and my sons. It was during one of the frequent arguments over new rules and ridiculous new rituals when he tearfully blurted, “You don’t even have Mary out.” He was 10 years old and probably wondering about his own fate in my new life. He was a chubby little kid with a burr cut whose life had been turned upside down, was I going to decide he was an embarrassment, too? Hide him away or try to recreate him to fit my new life? Mary came back out of the closet that day and has held a position of prominence in our household ever since. I realized couldn’t bury or hide my past, it was part of me, and the beliefs and traditions that molded me could not be reshaped into a newer more sophisticated model. All shiny new surface with no grit or life hewn character. Beauty without grace. Thank you, God.
That was 16 years ago and Mary now resides across the river on the riverbank where I can see her from my front deck. My 7 yr. old grandson, the son of that precocious 10 yr. old boy, and I plant pansies around her base every summer and yesterday my three year old grandson, the son of the capn’s youngest son, and I carried our watering cans across the bridge to water them. Today after I waved good-bye to the last of my hodge-podge family as they pulled out of the gate I went over to sit with Mary for a while and to thank her for sharing her grace with me and for not giving up on me, no matter how many times I shunned or ignored her. I also thanked her for gifting me with a mother that taught me what a true mother’s love is and who also has never given up on me. Thanks Mom, also for teaching me that nothing says love like home-cooked food and lots of butter and heavy cream.
So today I’m out there doing my best to nurture my little garden of grace and keep the weeds and varmints out.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Mother Nature is wonderful. Children get too old for piggy-back rides just about the same time they get too heavy for them. ~Author Unknown
It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
Now the thing about having a baby - and I can't be the first person to have noticed this - is that thereafter you have it. ~Jean Kerr
A year ago yesterday I started writing this blog. All day yesterday I kept thinking, "I've got to sit down and write a blog." But there was so much other work to do. The cap'n just got home on Monday and his son and family are arriving today for a visit. There were sheets to wash and tubs to scrub, groceries to buy and cookies to bake and by the time I sat down to write this blog I was exhausted and the words just wouldn't come. But all day long a phrase kept whispering in my ear, it is a phrase that popped in my head the first time I didn't feel like blogging and it nags me every time I don't feel like writing, which is just about daily. The phrase is "First, do the work of the Lord." Or in my case, "First, do the work of your Co-Writer."
So this morning I'm here at the keyboard first thing and ignoring all those other duties that are calling my name. What a different girl is sitting at this computer this morning than was sitting here a year ago. A year ago I was despairing over a disastrous visit from my brother and his family in which I spent the first two days drunk and the next week withdrawing. That visit was a blessing in tormented disguise, it was what spurred me down the trail to my arrival at this morning where I am anticipating yet another family visit. Happily, hopefully, and unburdened.
I think I've mentioned that "Kary May" is not my real name, "Kary May" is not the real me. Kary May is more like a child that I have been carrying around on my back for years, decades actually. She is not my mother's child (my mother would have whipped her into shape a long time ago), she is a child that was born of my love affair with alcohol. She's the child I never talk about. I try to keep her from family gatherings because I can never predict how she's going to act. She can be the life of the party and make me glow with pride one moment and the next moment she can have me cringing with shame, wishing I could disappear. "She's not mine," I want to shout. "She's not me." She saps my strength and my will and she steals devotion from my other children and people and things I love. I start to resent her and then she'll do something endearing and my heart reignites with love for her. She has such a good heart. She'll call a friend at the spur of the moment, or send them an email just to say she was thinking of them. She'll make some over-the-top gesture for a friend, or even stranger, in need. She tries so hard but then she becomes an embarrassment with her over-zealous, and desperate theatrics to draw attention to herself and she humiliates me. She makes promises she won't keep and she shames me. I wish sometimes that I could just abandon her but she's mine to bear, she's my creation, an inescapable part of me.
A year ago I told Kary that she was getting too heavy for me to carry. I was bowed from her weight and I couldn't stand up straight anymore. She was slowing down my progress until I was at a standstill. I told her to get off. She clung with arms around my neck and legs wrapped about my waist, choking the life from me until I managed to loose her hold on me and leave her lying in the dust with her arms outstretched for me. I knew she was trailing behind me, but I was in the lead. There were times that I came upon an obstacle or a fork in the path and had to stop to figure out how to proceed and she managed to climb back up on my back. I would carry her until I stumbled and fell and couldn't get back up with her weight pinning me down. So I would buck her off and get back up and continue on. She's falling further and further behind now but I can still hear her calling for me to slow down, wait up, but her pleas are getting fainter. I know that there will be times that I'll miss her and there is a part of her I'll always carry with me but there are places I want to go and I can't take her with me.
So today I'm out there doing my best to widen my distance, avoiding the ruts in the road and keeping alert for any signs of an ambush. Gotta go, I hear the call of the toilet brush beckoning me.
Monday, August 8, 2011
"Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things… I am tempted to think… there are no little things."
Motivational Quote Bruce Barton (born 1886)
Day 34 Just an ordinary day.
The company’s gone and the house is back in shape and I’ve had time to reflect on the last week spent with precious members of my family. There aren’t any extreme highs and, thankfully, no extreme lows it was just a typical, ordinary week. How wonderfully extraordinary! Here are 5 little ordinary things that aren’t so little or so ordinary.
1. My son saying, “It’s in our blood, Mom.” When we were discussing both his and my decision to quit drinking and the fact that we are never satisfied with just one or two drinks. What an extraordinary conversation but it was done with such openness and acceptance that it seemed ordinary, run of the mill. We could have been talking about the weather. How fortunate I am that he recognizes the signs at such a young age and that he feels he can discuss it with me.
2. A lovely chat with my daughter-in-law as she sat and watched me do the dishes. The extraordinary thing was I found that I talk too much and ramble on and on even when I’m not drinking. lol More importantly was the affection I felt for her and the affection I felt from her. I’m blessed.
3. An early morning when my grandson and I are the only ones up and we grab the fishing poles and salmon eggs and head for the stream. The sun is sparkling off of the water and my grandson complains that it’s blinding him and he can’t see his bobber. It was easy enough to spot in the branches of a bush a little while later. Damn that water’s cold. Oh, and the fish will leave to see another day.
4. Muscles and bones that cry out in protest when I get up in the morning because of what I put them through the day before. Too bad, they better get used to it. They can complain all they want, my mind and my heart feel like they are in better shape than they have been in a long time. The best part? I managed to lose a few pounds even though I was fixing family favorites like my macaroni and cheese made with heavy cream and eating s’mores almost every night.
5. The cap’n suggesting over the phone last night that I relax and have a glass of wine and watch the sunset out on the deck last night. I said, “No, thanks.” And you know what? The sun rewarded me with a big warm goodnight kiss on my cheeks and a clear head and an ordinary little joy to greet it with again this morning.
So today I’m out there doing my best to cherish the ordinary little things.
Friday, August 5, 2011
"Life is meant to be a celebration! It shouldn't be necessary to set aside special times to remind us of this fact. Wise is the person who finds a reason to make every day a special one."
Overcoming Addiction Quote by Leo F. Buscaglia (March 1924 - June 1998)
Can you believe it? I took the hill and conquered the 30 day abs but I know this is just one skirmish in my battle and I have yet to begin to fight. I didn’t really have a strategy this time but I think several things fell into place. One was the cap’n was working so the daily cocktail hour schedule was disrupted (that never stopped me before), my grandson and son came for a visit (as much as I wanted it to, that never stopped me either) and I decided on day 11 of this attempt at a 30 day abs that instead of another doomed attempt at moderation I was turning all my forces towards permanent abs’ing (done been there, too) So I don’t know what the magic spell was, maybe it was those early mornings spent with my Co-writer in his house mapping out our battle plan and letting him take command that worked (hadn’t tried that in a long time). Victory is sweet but I know it can be fleeting so I’ll be on guard. Thanks for sticking with me in the foxholes.
The cap’n will be home in 3 days and I’m a little frantic to get everything done I want to get done before he gets here but I’m going to take a moment to savor my triumph and celebrate with a pat on the back and I invite you to join me whether you’re on Day 1 or Day 1000, whether you’re shaky and feel like crap but you’re still not going to take that drink that will give you instant relief, whether you’re weaning off and today you’re going to drink one less or one-half less than you did yesterday, or whether reading this blog is your first step. Celebrate the fact that you’ve discovered the truth that you have a problem and that you have the desire to do something about it. That in itself is a huge victory. Take a moment but then jump into the fray because if you’re not advancing you’re retreating.
So today I’m out there honing my battle wits and hoping my varnish dries before it rains or I get off this computer and varnish before it rains.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Day 29 Looks like I’m finally going to make that elusive 30
I am stiff and sore this morning. And exhausted. But I’m smiling. The last two days with my grandson and his idol, Uncle Josh, have been non-stop for me. Plus I have been busy trying to whip the house and yard back in shape for the next round of family, the cap’n’s son, his wife and 3 yr. old grandson, that will be here next week. So between cooking and cleaning and weeding and planting and mowing I’m reinforcing my framework, mentioned above, and tentatively starting to nail some goals and up to the skeleton of my new “real” life. They seem to be holding. The secret is to go slow and make sure my foundation is set and won’t sink and that my framework can hold all my goals and won’t crack under the strain. I need to remind myself I can always add on later on down the road. Of course, while I’m doing all this some rain and maybe some snow, depending on how long it’s going to take, is going to get in until my structure is strong enough to hold the roof of my dreams.
Yep, it’s going to take a while, and I’ll make some mistakes that I’ll have to redo, some problems that I’ll have to fix, some new skills I’ll have to learn, but in the end what a strong, safe, and wonderful shelter I’ll have.
So today I’m out there doing my best to hammer those nails straight and true and adding a few extra just in case.
P.S. I’d like to take all the credit for that gem of a quote above but I have to give credit to my Co-Writer. I just tap the keys on the keyboard.
Monday, August 1, 2011
"I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.
I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have."
Day 27 of abs
Good Morning Monday! It’s 7:00 am, my son and grandson are still sleeping, the house is quiet except for the birdsong I can hear through the windows and I’ve got cinnamon rolls rising in the kitchen. Life is just as it should be. I found this letter laying on my desk this morning, I haven’t seen it in months and I don’t know how it got there but I’m taking it as a sign that it should be my blog this morning. (Plus I can’t think of anything else to write about) I wish I could take credit for it but somebody else posted it on the list when I first joined and I grabbed on to it wholeheartedly with both hands. I apologize if I posted it before but you know how us drunks are, can’t remember a damn thing and I’m too lazy to look back through the blog. So don’t stop me if I’ve told you this one before…
Don’t worry, you’ll be okay
Slowing down is good
Wisdom simmers and steeps and grows with time
Stop pushing yourself
You are enough just as you are
There is no need to perform
Let life unfold
You have what it takes to handle anything
Good things come from patience, not pushing
Let space and time reveal something miraculous
Accept where you are
Stop the judgment and internal lectures
Just be here
Don’t run or think or eat or scheme (or in my case-drink ;)
Return to yourself in this moment.
Where life is perfect and peaceful and safe
So today I’m out there doing my best ignore the “to do” list I just wrote out and slow down and savor this perfect, peaceful and safe day.