Friday, January 27, 2012

No No No NO No No No

"Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better."
Emile Coue (1857-1926) Overcoming Addiction Quote
Day 136

I filled out a medical questionnaire yesterday.

                Are you allergic to anything?  No

                Are you on any medications?  No

                Do you have hypertension?  No

                Do you drink alcohol?  NO!!!

I haven’t been able to answer in the negative to that question in thirty-two years.  I wanted to circle it and put a big star and an A+++ at the top of page.  No more lying about the amounts.  I’ve been answering 9 drinks to that question for thirty-two years.  Oh, did you mean per week?  I thought you were talking about per day.

Except for the arrival of Attie-Jo, my week has been full of mundane tasks.  This is the time of year when we renew our visas and pay our taxes and our fideicomiso (Foreigners aren’t allowed to own beachfront land down here, instead we “lease” it for 99 years and the money is held in a trust called a fideicomiso.  To put it more succinctly, I have no freakin’ idea where the money goes).  I am still in that stage of sobriety where every day holds a reminder of where I was a year ago, so even the most tedious events hold a gold and pink shimmer.  I can remember my handshaking as I signed documents last year, a spooker in the car to smooth out my rough edges, pouring sweat in the air conditioned rooms and praying the officials didn’t smell bourbon or wine on my breath and throw me out of the country.  God, I made my life so hard to live for so long.

Next year when I go through the same routines, I probably won’t even remember this year.

Hallelujah!

So today I’m just out there doing my best to keep turning all of those negatives into a big positive and thanking God I could also answer in the negative to ¿Estรก embarazada?  If I am, I may start drinking again. LOL

P.S. They heard a murmur in Attie-Jo’s heart and did tests, so let’s all hope or pray or both for a negative on that too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Welcome To The World, Atalie Jolene!!


Every child begins the world again.... ~Henry David Thoreau

Day 134

My granddaughter was born yesterday.  Ol' Hank was right when he said what he said above, I have a whole new world to live in.  A world that has Atalie Jolene in it and I'll be able to give her a world in which she has a sober grandma.  I am so thankful for that.

As I returned my son's phone call yesterday via Skype, I had the thought, "Hey, I don't have to try to cover up the fact that I've been drinking, or wait until I sober up a little before I make this call."  I'm so thankful for that, too.

I am so full of hopes and dreams for this baby girl, and so full of hopes and dreams for me.  I'm looking out at the beach as I type this and I can see her with her with her little beach bag bending over to pick up a pretty shell and then squealing and running as the cold water from the gulf rushes in to kiss her toes.  I can see a bevy of well-loved dolls gathered around a little table up in the dome as Princess Atalie serves them tea up in her tower.  (I've had the tiny little china tea set for years, just waiting for her to get here.)

I can see her painting a pretty pink birdhouse with lots of yellow daisies and purple butterflies to hang high in the pine trees above the tire swing at my cabin in Colorado.  I see snow angels taking flight as a little angel in red boots falls back giggling, flapping arms and legs in the soft snow.  I feel a sleepy head on my shoulder as the dancing flames of a campfire settle down to glowing embers.

I feel tears of joy on my cheek as I type this.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Welcome to my new world, Atalie Jolene!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nurse Reveals The Top Five Regrets People Have On Their Death Beds - Living Faith - Home & Family - Catholic Online


Day 131

Don't let the messenger scare you away, there is nothing exclusively Catholic or Christian about this article.  I don't care if you worship the god of belly button lint, you're still going to die, so read the article.

Nurse reveals the top five regrets people have on their death beds - Living Faith - Home & Family - Catholic Online

I was scooting around the internet this morning looking for mass readings so I would have at least a faint idea of what the priest would be espousing in Espanol at misa today, when I came across this article.  What struck me was how many of these regrets I no longer have since I quit drinking.  I am actively working to reverse every single one of these.  Alcohol was keeping me from doing this.  It is like alcohol was killing me at the same time it was not allowing me to live the life I wanted.  Duh!

So today I'm just out there doing my best to leave no regrets and keeping my belly button clean. JIC!

P.S. I actually once saw a piece of modern art (?) at the Philadelphia Museum Of Art that was a plaster mold of about 100 belly buttons.  Not a speck of lint among them.  Also, as an operating room nurse, I'm not a big fan of belly button lint since I have personally cleaned belly buttons that you could grow a crop of potatoes in.  People please clean your belly buttons before you have surgery!!!  Maybe that is the sixth regret, "I wish I'd kept my belly button cleaner." Ja Ja Ja!  I'm just cracking myself up these days.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Time Of Peace

Peace is the only battle worth waging.
-- Albert Camus (1913 -1960)

Day 130

I emailed an old friend this morning and told her the only thing that would make my life better these days would be if I started shitting gold coins.  I know, I know, that’s a little crass but sometimes no other word fits and yes, I might be exaggerating on the condition of my life in general but for today it seems apt.

Greta is off of her crutches so we couldn’t panhandle for our breakfast yesterday, darn it.  She looks great, strong and brown, and the look of determination in her eyes reflects the same determination I feel.  We beat that sumbitch!  But I also recognize that wisp of wariness that occasionally floats across her eyes.  We know the sumbitch is just around the corner waiting to jump us again. 

As we sat on the terraza of Flamingo’s yesterday enjoying our desayunos, hot cakes for Greta and chiliquilles con pollo for me, we reminded me of a couple of old war veterans.  I knew onlookers couldn’t see the shadows of the battles we’ve fought lurking around us, all they saw were two friends enjoying a meal and one another’s company in the bright Mexican morning sun.  Just like them.  They also couldn’t see that, for us, the sun was a little brighter, the water of the Gulfo was a little bluer, and the shadows a little lighter.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to enjoy and prolong this time of peace.  And checking for gold coins. Ka-ching! Ja Ja Ja! (That's Spanish for Ha Ha Ha!)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Alive and Well, Sort Of

Day 129
Just a quick note to let you know I haven't fallen down the slippery slope.  We had a norte blow in early in the week and my satellite developed erectile dysfunction, and since TIM (This is Mexico) it took 3 days for a tech to get out to fix it so I was cut off from the cyber world.  I'm up and running this morning, sort of.  A hunk of frozen meat slid out of the freezer yesterday and landed on my foot and I'm hobblng around as best I can.  Greta and I are going to breakfast this morning and if she is still on her crutches we should make quite a pair gimping down the Malecon.  We could take Sandy, the dog, with us and make it a trio, maybe we could get a can and join the other panhandlers.  I'm looking forward to it, gonna get me some chiliquila's.  I promise a report this afternoon.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ask And You Shall Receive


I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.

--Abraham Lincoln

Day 124

The wind blew me off the beach this morning and onto the beach road which is a little more sheltered.   I soon found myself at the village square and since it was Domingo I wandered into the church.  I tried to shush my mind long enough to just listen but I’m not very good at that.  I found myself thinking about the mantra I used to repeat to myself on those tortured nights when I couldn’t sleep and I was trying to force myself to stay in bed and not go down those damn stairs and open that damn bottle of wine.  Some of those nights I really thought I was going to die.  When I’d worn out the “Hail Mary’s” and  I’d gone through all of the remnants of prayers that I could remember,  I would repeat this mantra over and over hoping it would lull me to sleep.  Sometimes it worked, more times than not though, the wine won the battle.

The mantra I made up for myself was a simple plea,

Dear God,

Please help me to

Be Better

Live Better

Love Better

This morning in the church I realized he had been listening.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Roses, Coppertone And Damn Bees

"There is nothing perfect,” August said from the doorway. “There is only life.”
--From The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Day 122

Our next door neighbors had an above ground swimming pool which was considered pretty high class in our middle class neighborhood back in the 70’s.  I was about six or seven years old before Mom decided I was old enough to swim in it without her playing lifeguard.  I remember feeling quite grown up and bragging about my new privileges to my younger friends, Lavonna and Lori, who just rolled their eyes and I’m sure thought, “Oh Brother, here she goes acting all like little Miss Know-It-All again.” 

I can remember counting the seconds and giving an update to Mom every ten minutes of that torturous hour after lunch that I was required to wait in order to avoid succumbing to the deeply dreaded cramps whose merciless reputation was facilitated by generations of mothers.  Luckily, today’s mothers are no longer subjected to the whining plea of, “Aw come on Mom, I swear I’ll just sit on the side and put my feet in.  I swear I won’t get in.  Can I go, Mom? Can I? Can I?  Pleeeeeaaaaasssssssseee?” since the fabled cramps have now gone the way of stuck crossed-eyes and gum that stuck in your stomach for seven years.

Finally the hour would be up or Mom would finally crater and I would run out the front door and across the neighbor’s yard and around the side of their house to the gate to their back yard and that 8 ft. in diameter oasis of flimsy aluminum filled with cool chlorinated water.  Along the side of their house ran a hedge of climbing roses and bees were drawn there by the sun warmed intoxicating perfume.  They would happily buzz around in a drowsy lull until a golden headed little girl raced by and the new intoxicating scent of Coppertone turned their heads and they would give chase.

Sorry Mom.  I didn’t sit on the side and dangle my feet for 10 minutes like I promised.

Yesterday morning I was sitting on my back patio and that same scent from so many years ago floated in from the blooming roses in my flowerbed.

“We need to leave in 10 minutes,” I hollered in to the cap’n as I put the camera and Coppertone in my beach bag.  We were headed up the coast a ways with a group of friends to the village of Sisal with its uninhabited sweeping beaches.

If we had been traveling by boat, Sisal would be a hop, skip and a jump from here but we were going by automobilia and because of one inlet that lacked a bridge, we had to drive all the way inland to Merida and then back out to the coast.

When our caravan finally arrived at Sisal’s windswept dune, we spilled out of our cars like eager seven year olds.  As I crested one of the dunes and looked at the miles of remote beach that stretched as far as my eyes could see I thought, “I could live here for a while.  I could walk these beaches for hours without seeing a soul.  I could write “my book” without interruption.  I could drink without anyone knowing.

Damn Bees!

I ran down to the water and dove in.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to stop and smell the roses and dodging those damn bees.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Message From Afar


love builds up the broken wall
and straightens the crooked path.
love keeps the stars in the firmament
and imposes rhythm on the ocean tides
each of us is created of it
and i suspect

each of us was created for it”
--Maya Angelou
Day 120
Some miracles can be buried and lose their shine in the razor sharp sands of time that wash in and pile up in a short 24 hours.  I wanted to write about yesterday’s miracle while it was shiny and new but because of a shortage of that shifty thing called time, I didn’t.  Now I find myself doubting that it was even a miracle at all and I’m frantically brushing off the sand and spitting and rubbing trying to bring it back to its original  luster.
I was walking my strand of beach yesterday scanning the sand for treasure, I’m not really a shell collector but I always manage to return back to the casa with one arm an inch longer from carrying a bag of sea junk.  Up ahead of me was a Mexican man also carrying a mesh bag and poking around in the sand and rocks, this was strange because he didn’t look like a “spit and polish” Meridian here for a holiday, instead, with his sun faded, frayed clothing and weathered face, he looked like one of the local fisherman.  Believe me, those poor souls don’t have time to play shell seekers.
I watched from afar as he prodded and dug at something in the sand until finally curiosity got the better of me and I walked up to see what he was so intent on digging up.  As I approached I saw him digging along the edge of a large buried slab of concrete.  He looked up at me and smiled and I tried idiotically to pantomime that the chunk of concrete would be too big for his bag and too heavy to carry.  He went back to digging and I continued on along the beach.  I hadn’t gone far when I heard him approaching from behind me. 
“Senora,” he called.
I turned and he held out his hand to show me what he had been digging for.
It was a starfish.
Now if you’ve read through all of my blogs, you know that starfish hold a certain significance for me.  Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about a starfish I found on the beach and I blogged about my mother and told about the priest calling her a Starfish Thrower in his homily at her funeral. So when the fisherman showed me his treasure, I knew it was special.  I knew it was a miracle.  I just didn’t know what it meant.
This morning I think I’ve figured it out.
As I grow older, I grow more and more comfortable with and proud of the similarities between my mother and me. For years I tried to deny them but one glaring similarity that couldn’t be ignored is the fact that both of us are married to “drinkers”.  Although I would never say that I was scarred by my dad’s drinking, I was definitely affected by it.  It was always there in the background, laced through all the years of my childhood.  Though not constant, the arguments about his drinking were frequent enough and frightful to me as a child. That may explain some of the fear I’m feeling these days.    I’ve been browsing the message boards lately in search of a means to bring a resolution and some peace to my turmoil in dealing with the capn’s drinking.  I’ve read a lot about detachment as a means of survival.  I don’t like how detachment sounds. It scares me. I don’t want to detach from anything.  I feel like that was what I was doing when I was drinking.  I tell myself that the cap’n and I love each other too much to end up like the testimonies that I’ve read.  I’m scared that those women told themselves the same thing.
 My dad never quit drinking, but in the last few years of Mom’s life there seemed to be less turmoil about it and there was a peace in their marriage.  Maybe Mom finally learned to detach herself, but I don’t think so.  I never knew that woman to detach from anything, we worked in the same hospital every day and she still called me nightly to check up on me. That’s how I viewed her phone calls then, now I think maybe she was just lonely.  I get that.
No, I don’t think she detached.  Instead I think Dad was one of her starfish.  I’m sure that sometimes the same starfish strand themselves over and over on the rocky shores and you have to keep picking them up and tossing them to safety.  Hopefully every time you fling them, your arm gets a little stronger and they end up further and further until they are finally far enough that they no longer feel the pull of the perilous coastline.  Or at least you get some respite.
I think Mom was just trying to tell me not to give up.  Or maybe she was just letting me know she’s still checking up on me. Lol

I tried to hand the starfish back to the fisherman but he shook his head and pointed to me.  It was a regalo.  A gift.
We parted and walked opposite ways on the beach.  The starfish curled up one of its legs in my hand.  It was still alive.  I looked over my shoulder to make sure my new friend wasn’t watching and I flung that little starfish with all my might into the outgoing tide.
Today I’m just out there doing my best to keep my miracles spit and polished and pumping my little two pound barbells as hard as I can.  The cap’n better watch out, who knows where I might fling him.
P.S.  There were some incidences I was involved in on the message boards last night that I’m not feeling particularly proud of this morning.  Some of God’s creatures that get flung from the sea onto the beach are not as benign or beguiling as the starfish.  Some of them are like the blue “Medusa” jellyfish that I also find on the beach.  You need to give these creatures a wide berth because even though they may look dead and harmless their long tentacles that are buried in the sand can still cause you extreme harm.   As malevolent as these creatures may seem, they may just be scared, too, and are using the only line of defense that is left to them.  There is no need to poke at them with your pointy stick and cause them even more misery.  I am sorry.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Simple Choices



The Nativity in Progreso
"Three flamingos preening,
Two marlins leaping,
And a dead grouper in Joseph's net"

“There are days when I think I don't believe anymore. When I think I've grown too old for miracles. And that's right when another seems to happen.”

― Dana Reinhardt, The Summer I Learned to Fly

Day 118

Did you know that every time I sit down to write this blog, I think about drinking?  I don’t just think about how to expel some more wisdom about “not” drinking, no, I think about fixing a drink.  I think, “Boy, a glass of wine would sure make the words come easier” or “If I knocked back a shot of bourbon, I bet I’d be a lot wittier.”  And all that may be true.  But today I choose not to drink.  That’s what it comes down to, a simple choice.

I’m not telling anybody anything new.  Hell, Jennifer Hudson was on the Today Show this morning and when she was asked what the secret was to her “miraculous” weight loss, she replied, “I chose to lose weight.  I chose to change my life.”  It is that simple and it is that miraculous.  Every day we get to choose who we are, all day long.  We can change ourselves any time we want.  Yes, events happen that we can’t control.  Shit happens, so to speak.  But through it all we get to decide exactly who we will be.  And if we decide tomorrow or in the next hour that we want to be someone else, we can change. Miraculously.

We tell ourselves that our addiction controls us, that it takes all of our choices away from us, that it has “power” over us.  That’s just so much bullshit!  That’s just an excuse.  With a simple choice, our addiction loses all of its power.   Jennifer Hudson chooses to be skinny.  I choose to be sober.  Tomorrow or in the next hour or in the next second Jennifer Hudson could choose to eat a dozen doughnuts or I could choose to have that shot of bourbon.  But right now I choose not to. With every breath I take today and every day of my life, I get the chance make that choice.  Every day I get the chance to gather miracles.  Miracles such as trust, and respect, and peace, and joy, and dignity and hope and honor and love and…

It’s not easy, but it’s a simple choice.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to keep choosing my miracles.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bearing Gifts From Afar


The Nativity in our village church.  My blanket is folded up neatly in the corner.  I guess Baby Jesus got too hot.

Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  And today?  Today is a gift.  That's why we call it the present.  ~Babatunde Olatunji, also attributed to Alice Morse Earle

Day 116

Good Morning!  I know it’s another “Act Like I’m Not A Drunk Saturday” but I’ve decided to do a regular blog today because I’ve been kind of busy/lazy this week and haven’t written much, plus I can’t think of anything to write that is worthy of ALINADS (Act Like I’m Not A Drunk Saturday) status, plus it’s my blog and I can do anything I want with it.  So there.

So now in a more charitable timbre, yesterday was el Dia de las Reyes Mago,  or Three Kings Day down here which celebrates the day that the three kings arrived bearing gifts for the Christ Child.  It is a day of great celebration here in a country that finds a reason almost every day to throw a party.

Anyway…I had my own gift I wanted to give the Christ Child yesterday, it wasn’t frankincense, myrrh, or gold, although I did try to talk the cap’n into throwing a gold coin in the coffers but let’s just say he doesn’t possess the same generous spirit that I do.  My gift was a baby blanket that I had knitted a couple of years ago.  The blanket’s pattern is called the tree of life and it includes bare branched trees on both ends of the blanket and rows of tulips in the middle. More tulips with their twisting stems and leaves border the entire blanket.  It’s an odd theme for a baby blanket with its stark naked trees and spring tulips, but I guess it is supposed to signify the cycles of life and birth.  I do know that it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever knitted and I learned a lot of new stitches and techniques through trial and error and demonstration (Thank you, internet and KnitWitch youtube videos)while I was completing it.  I did a lot of rip-outs and redo’s and I actually abandoned the whole thing for several months.  When I picked it back up, it almost seemed easier to rip the whole thing out and start over but instead I decided to go back, figure out where I had left off, find my mistakes, correct them and go on.

I didn’t realize until I was writing this how much that little blanket represents my life.  It seems like a worthy gift for a King.

So I went to our little church yesterday morning to present my gift.  I wanted to do it in secret, but there was a senora in the front row.  I decided to wait her out so I let the kneeler down and decided I’d have a little chat while I was waiting.  The kneelers in our simple little church are narrow and they are not padded so for me there is a tendency to keep my reflections short and when I saw the senora stretch out her arms along the back of the pew (she was sitting) and kick off her shoes, I decided I would continue my stealthy (I don’t think that’s a word but, again, this is my blog and I can do what I want)vigil across the square at my favorite taqueria.  After dos tacos I ventured back across the square and into the church.  It was empty.  I carefully picked my way through the assortment of barn animals that include a rearing stallion and a flamingo and gently placed my blanket over our Baby Jesus who is of grande proportions compared to his Mama and Papa (poor Mary) and is sporting eyelashes a young calf would covet and a knitted jumper and ski cap.  It’s been chilly down here.

Now he has my blanket for additional warmth.  As usual I like to attach an inordinate amount of importance to any gift I give and I wonder if years from now, the senoras of the altar guild will lovingly spread the blanket over the Baby Jesus and tell of its mysterious appearance on el Dia de las Reyes Magos many years ago.  Or will my humble little blanket be appropriated (aka stolen) for another poor baby in meager surroundings to be swaddled in.  I hope it’s the "latter"!!!! (If you read this before 11:17 pm CST, it mistakenly said  "former." It must be those last traces of alcohol still floating through my medulla oblangata.  Thanks for pointing it out Lulu, I'd rather have real baby slobbers any day.)

So today I’m just out there doing my best to keep spreading my gifts and watering that tree of life.
P.S. I'm going to a memorial mass for a friend's mother this morning and I'll get a pic of our Baby Jesus and the blanket.  If it's still there.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Every Little 'Ting's Gonna Be Alright



...there isn't a guidebook for setting boundaries. Each
of us has our own guide inside ourselves.  If we continue
to work at recovery, our boundaries will develop.
They will get healthy and sensitive.  Our selves
will tell us what we need to know, and we'll
love ourselves enough to listen.
--Beyond Codependency

Day 112

There was a moment on New Years Eve that I had my own private little celebration.  Even though I was surrounded by people dancing in the sand,  I was alone in my sobriety.  The band was from Texas,  the sand was in Mexico, and the music was from the islands.  All of these places hold a piece of my heart and people that I love.  I raised my eyes and my arms up to the stars in the dark sky and I swayed with the palms.  My heart sang along with the band, "Don't worry 'bout a 'ting, Cuz every little 'ting's gonna be alright."

This what I know.  God has never abandoned me on this journey.  He has rewarded me all along the way.  I know that "every little 'ting is gonna be alright."  I don't know what "alright" looks like yet, but I know it's gonna be beautiful.

The cap'n got up this morning and said, "I'm not going to drink anymore."  I know it's not that easy. I know he loves me immensely.  I know that's not enough.  But I know love can be a great motivator.  I know it was for me.

I know I'll keep moving forward with or without him.  I said some things last night.  I've said them before.  But before they were threats, this time they were statements.  "I will not live like this anymore.  You have a choice to make."  Before I was not strong enough to back these threats up, they were empty.  Now I am and we both know it.

From the Language of Letting Go,  January 3 (My apologies to Melody Beattie for stealing this but I just had to.  Buy the book, it's ability to speak to your needs on any given day is uncanny)

"What do we need to do to take care of ourselves?  Listen to that voice inside.  What makes you angry?  What have you had enough of?  What don't you trust?  What doesn't feel right?  What can't you stand? What makes you uncomfortable?  What do you want and need?  What do you like?  What would feel good?

In recovery, we learn that self-care leads us on the path to God's will and plan for our life.  Self-care never leads away from our highest good; it leads toward it.

Learn to nurture that voice inside.  We can trust ourselves.  We can take care of ourselves.  We are wiser than we think.  Our guide is within, ever-present.  Listen to, trust, and nurture that guide.

Today I will affirm that I am a gift to myself and the Universe.  I will remember that nurturing self-care delivers that gift in its highest form."

So today I'm just out there doing my best to put one foot in front of the other and love myself every step of the way.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year


Day 111

You might notice that there is no “Happy” leading in that title.  Because it isn’t.  I don’t know what it is.  I so wanted this to be a blog of celebration, of looking forward and excitement about a new sober year, but as you can tell, it isn’t going to be.  I have not had a drink, so quit worrying about that and I’m not going to have a drink but….the circumstances that caused me to relapse back in September are back in place and I’m desperately looking for a solution, a reprieve, or a coping mechanism.  I’ve tried reasoning, I’ve tried compassion, I’ve tried tolerance, I’ve tried screaming at the top of my lungs, I’ve tried humiliation, I’ve tried begging, I’ve tried ignoring it,…The only thing I haven’t tried is what I tried last September, which was drinking myself sick in a desperate attempt to get somebody else to change.  I’m not going to try that.  It didn’t work either obviously.

Nothing has changed…except me.  I’m stronger.  So while this New Year may not be the one of celebration I planned and wanted, it is one of resolve. I resolve not to drink.  I know I can’t change other people unless they want to change and I resolve to help them but if they choose not to, I resolve to change my circumstances.  I resolve to keep moving forward.

Well, this is going down in my blog history as the shortest on record.  I apologize for the mood of the blog but I swore to you in the beginning that I would always be honest and I have.  To paint all days a rosy pink would be dishonest and to say that quitting drinking resolves all problems would be misleading.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to strengthen my resolve and learn the lessons that this dark miracle is trying to teach me.

About 2 hrs. later...
You knew you weren't going to shut me up that easily.  Here is what I've realized in those insightful two hours.  I am like "Zelda" in the video game "The Legend of Zelda" (it's the only video game I've ever played) and I have again reached the obstacle or test in this game that always defeats me, or where I give up and turn around.  God, or Life if you prefer, has a reward waiting for me if I can get past this obstacle, at the least I'll gain another "life" or more power or special weapons to fight future challenges.  I have learned new lessons every time I've battled this obstacle.  This time I'm going to defeat it.  I deserve and need what's waiting for me.  Let's go.