Uhhh…it’s kind of like that.

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Umm, hello. Let me introduce you to these magical little headphones. Put them on, because you catch recovery through the ears. But before you can do that, you’ll have to bring that nasty little mouth that runs like a freight train inside your head to a screeching halt, and (no disrespect intended) but you’ll have to zip it for a second.

We are one. That’s pretty much the bottom line. That means you, me, the fat Wall Street guy stuffing his bedroom with prostitutes and his face with foie gras, the cashier at the check out at the Quickie Chick…yup, we are all connected. And that my friend is a FACT whether we like it or not. (Pain is required. Suffering is optional.)

I did not like this fact when I arrived in A.A. Actually, I vehemently rejected the concept back then (and for many years after) so if you’re still in that space…I’m different, I’m separate, you don’t understand me, I don’t give an eff about you, peace and love. It’s all good. When we know better, we do better.

But if you stick around here on the planet long enough, you may just kind of start to get this sneaking suspicion that we are inter-related and inter-dependent (uhhh…and yes, science and medicine both agree.) Sometimes the pain of that feeling overwhelms me. In fact, I often think the knowingness of that kept me using for years. Because there is a lot of suffering on the planet. And I can’t really do much about a lot of it. The Earth itself suffers from our abuse. I am a part of that. And in many ways, powerless over it.

So sometimes my response to that feeling of powerlessness is to deny that suffering exists.  That looks like getting really really super busy and staying that way. It looks like a Louis Vuitton purse or some CHANNEL sunglasses (and by the way, no qualms here with either LV or CHANNEL.) It can look like eating and eating and eating     stuffing my feelings, stuffing my voice, stuffing my fear that I am small and insignificant, and alone, capable of nothing. It can look like me curled up in a ball in my closet with the door closed screaming “I don’t give an EFF!”

For many years, my response was not denial, but instead, the yeah buts

For example: the animal is already dead and wrapped in cellophane…why shouldn’t I eat it.

And this isn’t about meat eaters vs./vegetarians. Disclosure: I just made ceviche. “Of course I contradict myself, I am large.” That’s Walt Whitman.

It’s about….awareness I guess. And awareness is a journey. That means I can eat ceviche.  My journey began in sobriety, and if I could wish you anything from your sobriety (other than not waking up next to a stranger covered in your own puke) it would be awareness. Being present.

Being present began with NO MATTER WHAT we don’t drink and use. NO MATTER WHAT. I don’t know why, but that NO MATTER WHAT stuck with me. It was like they (all the people I was definitely NOT inter-connected with) were daring me to stay sober. No matter what (for an addict or alcoholic) will get you right into the present moment.

No matter what??????????  Seriously?  Now what?

There is NOTHING like pain for waking you up. But I didn’t think it would last so long.

When I was newly sober, the pain was like: I’m going to take a tire iron to your face and then let’s go get you some stitches.

Now it’s kind of a slow dull ache that just comes in the middle of shimmering green leaves, warm gentle breezes, the smell of my daughter’s hair. It’s this realization that I have expanded. The internal me, the space inside, is wider, deeper, more fertile and more barren. And I’m human, and I respond to the strangeness of it awkwardly a lot of the time. Last week I was busy being really busy, and I thought, I’m not going to write this freaking blog anymore. Then somebody liked a post or sent a comment or something and it connected me back to that space. The heart space. The put on your headphones and listen space.

I guess I keep looking for a place in my sobriety where I can get comfortable. You know what kind of comfort I’m talking about right? I’m talking about an SUV of comfort. I’m talking about a big ass MOTORHOME of comfort. I’m talking about the foie gras of comfort, the mow my lawn for $32 kind of comfort.

Except somewhere, my ‘comfort’ started getting a little itsy bit uncomfortable. And now when I see an email in my inbox with a quote for mowing my 1/3 acre of lawn for 32 bucks, I can’t help but think about the poor person (or more likely, persons) who are going to do that back-breaking work busting their butts for 2-3 hours for like $3 an hour.

I just don’t want to have that kind of relationship with another human being anymore. I just don’t. I don’t want to look at you and think I know who you are before you open your mouth. People have suffered so much to be here, alive, taking up breathing room on the planet. It’s so important to respect one another’s journeys.

I don’t want to decide who I’m going to be right this minute and stick to it. YUCK! I reject that. If it’s a mistake, so what.  We’re having this magical magical experience here…god’s little science experiments. I need you. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

And we need to listen. To each other, to the breath of the planet around us, to ourselves. To our center.

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Deep spiritual thoughts from JM…

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I do not mean this in any negative way. But generally, I don’t look to my husband (or any man) for significant spiritual direction.  This is not to say that we don’t share a spiritual journey. We absolutely do. It’s just that largely because I am a woman, I usually look to women to show me how to do this thing.  It’s kind of the same reason why my ‘woman doctor’ is a woman.  I just figure she probably knows (at an intuitive level) what’s going with that department and I like intuitive thinking. I like to know that the person I’m taking direction from is working with a little something extra in the inspiration department.

So we’ve been struggling a little with our kids. If you have kids and you haven’t gotten to ages 7 & 10 yet, may I advise you to hibernate between ages 4 and 6 so you have the strength.  It’s freaking exhausting. And I don’t mean exhausting as in: I’ve run carpool, dropped off the playdate, washed folded and sorted 17 loads of laundry.  I mean:  an argument every 13 seconds, complex negotiations just to determine what shoes will be worn to school and a melt down at the slightest hint of parental authority being exercised.  I guess this is where it just gets a little harder.  If you care about being a parent. And we do.

Anywhoo…I haven’t been quite myself with the whole evolution of WWIII in the house. My normal upbeat and positive ways (hee hee) have given way to a bit of a sullen and sulky complexion. It’s almost like I don’t even want to get out of bed in the morning sometimes. Mainly because I don’t want to try to recreate some elaborate hairstyle from American Idol and then be lambasted because I haven’t done it right.

So JM recently printed off this quote and left it on my desk. It’s from the Tao of Parenting I think (let me know if you want the exact source or title and I’ll email it to you.) It goes like this:

Dealing with difficult children is like watching a garden grow. Resist the temptation to pull up the plants to check on the roots.

In difficult times, children may thrive on conflict. If you take the bait, the battle rages. Instead, step back, breathe deeply, relax and stay at your center. Battles require two parties. One fighting alone soon tires.

I love this for so many reasons. It’s basically reminding me of that AA slogan, we cease fighting everyone and everything.  But like many AA slogans, I sometimes need the expanded version to put it into practice. The idea that what I’m faced with in this difficult relationship (and really, we could insert anything where it says children) is resisting the temptation to pull up the plant to check the roots…to ruin all my hard work just to reassure myself that the roots are there.

So it’s kind of back to the ebb and flow of things…right? I have to relax, breathe, and most important stay at (or find) my center. From the center, I know all is well. I am loved. What I’m doing is enough. God’s got it.

 

I want to tell you it isn’t going to look like this…

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It’s been kind of a hectic week and I’ve been thinking a lot about the top 5 best traits of sober (and by this I mean those digging for a spiritual path) people, none of which I technically possess without some serious higher power intervention.

Curiosity is by far taking the #1 spot right now. But I can’t promise that it won’t look like it looks in the picture. And because it sometimes looks like it looks in the picture, I really try to avoid it at all costs. I often don’t even ask people, how are you? This is mainly because I’m afraid you’ll tell me. And then I’ll feel obligated in some way to response to what you’re telling me, and that just feels unnecessary and awkward. My solution for realizing (many years ago) that I have no effing idea what you should do, was to stop asking what was wrong with you.

In spite of how it might appear, it’s not a “I’m a bitch so I don’t give a damn about how you are” but it’s more like a “ewww…let’s not get too close” kind of thing.  Feel me? Because I am like this, it didn’t even phase me when I was first dating JM and he was like, don’t touch my face.  Uhhh…ok, whatever. Dealbreaker. Face touched. Happily ever after. And I think we’re both good with how it turned out. But that doesn’t change the fact that when you get close, it gets sticky sometimes. Lemme explain (and for those of you familiar with some of my explanations…I apoligize in advance.)

So I was in yoga, and I was in yadapadastrassana or whatever pose it was we were doing at the time…

Side note:  I don’t think everyone can be good at yoga. This philosophy that yoga teachers like to spew in their drooliest voice that if you just keep doing the practice without expectation, you will one day magically twist your shoulders under your ass without even thinking about it, is, in my humble opinion, BS.  There I said it. 

Ok, so I was in yoga, well, to be exact, yoga hadn’t started yet. I was the first one in the room for the 8 a.m. yoga class, when two mid 50s men cruise in and start setting up their mats. They whip their Jade mats around like they own the place.  They’re shaking out their towels and just chatting it up about Steve Jobs and whether he was a genius–clearly, the one says, he was a genius– or just a type A asshole who turned people to mush beneath his creative uhhhh, passion.  And I’m (pre-class) laying on my mat with my eyes closed and not letting it get to me AT ALL.

Because I have been practicing my sitting mediation diligently. I’ve been sitting every day. I can just let their voices roll through my brain and watch them go by like a cloud. Until my inner voice becomes a thud in my head and my body heats up like it’s sitting under a palm tree in Florida in August (ok, in all fairness, that could have been because it was a HOT yoga class) and that peaceful cloud turns fierce and dark and stormy and the next thing you know, it not bothering  me at all has turned into, why don’t you shut the eff up? 

#SpiritualGiant.

Now at this point, there are few choices remaining in the day.  As Pema says, I’m in Shenpa (more on this later) —basically I’m hooked. ANd like a fish with that hook sticking into its flesh, I’m kind of in a little bit of a jam. And I can run from that. I can wiggle and squirm. I can blame it on the absolute audacity of other people to not live by my moral code (hello Emily Post) or, I can get curious. I can detach for a moment from the storyline I’m telling and I can look at how interesting it is that something as simple as a few voices could turn a person from a pile of mush to a volcano in a matter of minutes. Curiosity. I can’t promise it won’t look like the picture, but…I can promise what you find will amaze you.

Aside

Musings

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This from a mediation I love:

If all you did was just look for things to appreciate, you would live a joyous and spectacular life. If there was nothing else that you ever came to understand other than just look for things to appreciate, it’s the only tool you would ever need to predominantly hook you up with who you really are.

A little piece of anonymous history…

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It just takes one look at this guy to imagine what kind of drunk he was in his prime, but thankfully for the many people he has inspired and for those of us who still read his book, New Pair of Glasses, Chuck C. got sober at 44 years old. He testified before the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Subcommittee in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 27, 1969. This is his (partial) testimony, which has been copied from the official hearing records:

STATEMENT OF CHUCK C, MEMBER OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. Thank you, Senator Hughes. It’s a privilege for me to come with you this morning. I feel rather like a fifth wheel, because the things have been pretty well covered already: But I appear in a little different capacity than any of the others this morning, because I am Chuck C. and I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, applied to my own life, I haven’t had a drink or a sedating or tranquilizing pill since January of 1946, for which I am very grateful.  We in Alcoholics Anonymous think that alcoholism is a disease. You have heard it spoken of this morning several times as such. I think informed medical opinion throughout the country recognizes it as a disease. It is defined as a disease of twofold nature, an allergy of the body coupled with an obsession of the mind. However, most of us, or many of us, think that there is a third factor. We think it’s a living problem. We do not deny the allergy of the body or the obsession of the mind. I had them both. I tried for the last ten years of a 25-year drinking career to prove that I didn’t have an allergy of the body or obsession of the mind. However, I knew nothing about them, because I knew nothing about the disease of alcoholism. I tried to beat this thing myself for the last 10 years of a 25-year drinking career; and I proved to myself conclusively that I do have both the allergy and the obsession.

Now with 24 years of sobriety, 25 years of drinking, and the time before I drank to look at, I believe that our problem is primarily a living problem, and that alcohol is pretty much a symbol of it or a symptom of it. We feel that the medical approach and psychological approach, and the religious approach are all good. We feel that all approaches to this disease should be brought to bear upon it, but most of us are convinced that if we’re going to get rid of the bottle we have to replace it with something better, with a state of being that makes drinking unnecessary. For instance, why am I not drunk this morning? I’m an alcoholic. I’m an alcoholic of the tongue chewing, babbling, idiot variety: so why am I not drunk this morning? Because I have the thing I was looking for in the bottle. And what is the thing? It is a state of being that makes drinking absolutely unnecessary. There is nothing that a drink or a sedating or tranquilizing pill or needle can do for me but tear me down; therefore, there’s no necessity for it at all. It can’t do anything for me. I have the answer that I was looking for. Now, we have been in existence as Alcoholic Anonymous for 34 years. We have a membership of perhaps some 500,000 but we see that’s just a slight percentage, it may be 2 percent, of the problem drinkers. And that’s all we’ve been able to accomplish in 34 years. But we’re not selling it short. We love it, but much more has to be done. We think that before long it might be the legal opinion that they can’t throw us in jail any more just for being a drunk, that we have to be taken care of as sick people. And it looks as though there will have to be detoxification centers and halfway houses throughout the country.

And it’s going to take a lot of money. It’s going to take a lot of know-how. We are very pleased about the fact that there is a separate committee now that is very much interested in this problem and that it is manned by knowledgeable people. We think that perhaps through the medium of these meetings throughout the country more interest will be brought to bear on the Senate as a whole and that as a result you will get appropriations which will make it possible for you to do some things — such as setting up these detoxification centers and halfway houses. In this event what would be the position of Alcoholics Anonymous? Traditionally we neither endorse or oppose any causes. We cooperate but we do not affiliate. We are on tap in most of these things, but never on top. So I think our position would be this: That when the detoxification has been accomplished, that we would, as individual members of Alcoholic Anonymous, then be available to share our experience, strength and hope with those who are coming through the halfway houses. And it is from this angle that I think that it would be of the greatest benefit to your program. We cannot take an active part as a society, but we can take an active part as individuals. Senator Hughes: Sir, would you mind me interrupting you for a moment as you go along? I’d like to ask a question for the record. I have received a lot of mail from people who know nothing about Alcoholics Anonymous wondering why we don’t appropriate money to Alcoholics Anonymous to handle the job since they obviously do pretty well. Would you like to reply to that? Mr. Chuck C.: We also have the tradition that we are self supporting. We don’t take any moneys from any outside sources whatsoever. We support ourselves through our own contributions. We have no paid teachers or speakers. We do this work on a voluntary basis. And I’d like to throw this in for the record, also, that I suspect that in the last 23 years half of my waking time has been spent working with alcoholics throughout this country and Canada and in many of the other countries. And I find it a very fascinating and rewarding experience – I think that’s what you wanted.

A very interesting fact has been brought out already: When I came to the program the average age probably would have been 45. I don’t think it would have been less than that. It might have been nearer 50. But over the years the age has come down, down, down, until today the face of Alcoholics Anonymous has changed considerably. They are coming to us much younger. For instance, we have a man in our own group in Laguna Beach who had his first birthday in Alcoholics Anonymous before his eighteenth birthday. We find this is true pretty much throughout the country. Brought about through better educational programs such as the Committee on Alcoholism for instance, and things of that kind. People are coming to us much much younger than in my day and that is a very good sign. In A.A. we have a lot of fun. I find it the most fascinating thing that has ever crossed my path. I love it. I happen to have hated alcoholics worse than anybody in the world. As a matter of fact, when I ran out of time I didn’t care for the human race. I thought it was a cosmic mistake. I didn’t even like the good people and the drunks I hated. Because I was a drunk and hated myself. I hated all drunks. In the last 24 years, however, I’ve come to the place where I think I love all of God’s children, and of all of them I love the drunks the most. So my dedication, my love, and my life, are in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, working with drunks. Senator Hughes: I’d like to ask you a question and answer it any way you see fit. Why the word, “anonymous” Why do alcoholics want to remain anonymous?

Mr. Chuck C: There are many reasons for it. But the two great reasons – the fundamental reasons, I believe, are these: There is a little verse in the Good Book that says, “Let not thy right hand know what thy left hand doeth,” and this is probably the first time in our lives that we have ever been willing to do things like getting up in the middle of the night and going clear across town, at our own expense, to a dark room with an alcoholic who is really suffering. It’s the first time in our lives we’ve been willing to do these things free – maybe even hoping that nobody will ever find out about it.

And the second reason is that as long as we are anonymous people can come to us without feeling that they’re going to have their problems become general knowledge. And people will come to us with problems when they won’t go to anybody else, because, they don’t want it known that they have this problem.

 

This thing is seemingly proven in our work. Any alcoholic who sits through an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, leaves knowing the answer is there – whether or not he admits that he has a problem. Now, he might say to himself. “Well, I’m not one of these people. I haven’t gone to this extent. Therefor, I’m not an alcoholic.” But he knows, before he leaves that meeting, that the answer’s in the room for an alcoholic and maybe many years later when he runs out of time he remembers and comes back, and he isn’t lost.

So I believe that no one, no alcoholic, regardless of whether he has admitted it or not, who is exposed to this therapy about which we are talking, leaves with any questions in his mind. I think he knows immediately that the answer is in the room.

A little Rilke courtesy of the Elephant Journal…

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We live in a winner’s world. It belongs to those who triumph and overcome. Survival of the fittest often means that he who claws the deepest gets and he who doesn’t, doesn’t.

JM came home after working the Superbowl (for those of you who are newer to the blog, my husband is a production designer) and was telling me about what it was like standing in the tunnel as the Patriots came off the field after losing to the New York Giants.

They were so young, and they just looked, you know, devastated. It sucks that so often when someone wins, someone elses dream is dying, right there, in slow motion.

Defeat is hard to stomach, but winning can be deceiving. I ran across this quote from Rilke in a post on Elephant Journal and thought it made for a nice Sunday morning inspiration.

 

Winning does not tempt that man

For this is how he grows: By being defeated, decisively,

By constantly greater things.

 ~ Rilke

You may not be growing if you haven’t been at least a little uncomfortable anytime in your recent memory.  Just a thought.

The Saturday Morning Superpower Archives

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The Green Lantern’s power ring first appeared in All American Comics #16, July 1940 and throughout Superpower history, has often been referred to as the most powerful weapon in the universe. The only known limit to the power of this thing is the ring-bearer’s own will. Whatever the ring-wearer imagines, the ring will create.

If you’re looking for some life-giving force field that will let you fly (without the use of hallucinogens), travel through inhospitable environments (like Earth, or your local neighborhood), enter hyperspace (the parallel universe is no mystery to addicts and alcoholics…we’ve been living on another plane since the day we were born), look no further than your own belief system.

Your head (alcoholic or otherwise) is a highly advanced computer, and in spite of what you may think, you’re an incredible human being. You are at exactly the right place at the perfect time, and as a meditation I read each day says, you can never get it done, and never get it wrong.  Look for what you want to see today, because what you look for is inevitably what you’re going to find.

The thing about the power ring (if you ever followed comics as a kid) is that it has to be worn to be effective, but if you find you’ve left your house today without this magical little contraption, fear not! At many times in Green Lantern history, the ring was summoned from a distance (even if someone else was wearing it!) So if someone has stolen your personal power this morning, just close your eyes and command it back.

By far, the most significant limitation of the power ring is the willpower of the wearer. In sobriety, that’s a little thing we call faith. It’s what you are willing to believe. Are you willing to believe this morning that a power greater than you can restore you to sanity, can remove unhealthy obsessions, can place you as an equal (not less than or more than) in the middle of your world…a safe place where you are busy with the work of living and where you are surrounded by the love and support of others?

It’s an incredible feeling to be one among…our weaknesses are only what we believe is not possible for us. If you (like the power ring) need a little recharging today, why not flex your prayer muscle a little. The first time I said the 3rd step prayer, it was with my sponsor and we got on our knees in my apartment. I found this awkward and unnecessary. But that’s not the point. Since then I’ve said the 3rd step prayer many times (and usually not on my knees) because it reflects what I am willing to have happen in my life today:

I offer myself (in other words…I’m here for you Universe.)

Build with me and do with me what YOU will. (This was–and sometimes still is–hard to say, mainly because I instinctively think that it’s going to be something I won’t like. I should clarify that this has not been the case. In 11 years, god’s (his/her/it’s/energy/superconscious) plan for me has always been better than mine.

Relieve me of the bondage of self (who cares that I’m getting relieved so I can better do a ‘higher calling’ …whatever! Just take it. Being in bondage sucks!)

Take away my difficulties (yes please! I’ll take 2nd servings on that one! And again, not an issue that it’s so I can be of more service. You know why that’s fine? Because I get to do a lot of cool stuff and it’s where I’m happiest, even though I rarely know that in the moment.)

May I do your will. I’m gonna be honest here. I don’t know who ‘your’ is.  But I have a sense of the will. It’s love, service, patience, kindness. It’s softness in a crazy world. It’s fearlessness in the face of things that are just plain wrong. It’s a persistent faith in hope, goodness, mercy, redemption, evolution.  Doing ‘your will’ for me is a spiritual practice. Back to the beginning. I’m never done. It’s never over.

Happy Saturday.  May you be empowered today.

Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a mixed tape…

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Okay, heads up…NEW blog category. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a mixed tape.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately crawling through the archives of amazing speakers from XA-Speakers (where you can download to your Itunes for FREE a bunch of incredible talks on recovery.)

I came up in sobriety in southern California and I had the privilege of sitting in meetings with people who (I didn’t know this at the time) travel the world talking about this thing. I’ve really really missed those speaker meetings since I moved away from Cali. In Austin we have Citywide, which is very cool. But for the blog purposes, I’ve decided to start a new section grabbing bits of things I’ve heard since I’ve been here. Here we go:

The Mix

Artist: Earl H.

“I think it’s interesting that they (the writers of the Big Book) suggest to me that I should live a life of love and tolerance.  They throw tolerance right up there because they saw me coming. I’m a notoriously intolerant human being.”

“My disclaimer (not that I need one) is that there are a lot of people who have a lot of ways into this thing (sobriety). I had to (in reading the book) keep my eye on the prize, because I’ve always been more interested in the feelings than in the facts (for example, dissecting the 9th word on p.77).  The prize for me, is becoming a person who is comfortable living sober.”

Artist:  Scott R.

“I pray you’re out of plans.  If you’re new here and you have a plan, it’s probably a beaut. DON’T USE YOUR PLAN.  If you have a plan, find one of us after the meeting and tell us your plan. We want to know the plan.”

“You could be right, but not today. Today is not your day.”

“I crossed the line I said I would never cross.  I put a needle in a my arm. Why? Why not? It was time.”

Artist: Sister Bea

“It’s a miracle that I believe in something.”

“Our founders meant for us to use this thing (sobriety) in the present tense (meaning, actively, in our lives.)”

“One of the greatest promises can be found on p. 100 of the Big Book.  “When we look back we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in god’s hands were better than anything we could have planned.”

But what about (fill in the blank with your drama of the moment).  “See to it (not maybe you should, not it might be a good idea–SEE TO IT) that your relationship with him (her, it, whatever power is greater than you) is right (MAKE IT RIGHT!) and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. That is the GREAT FACT for us.”

Artist: Patti O.

“The book of AA says more will be revealed. It doesn’t say how.”

“I never had resentments until I came to AA.”

“Life has been very painful and I’m very dramatic, so usually refer to it (my life) as the dark night of the soul, unless it’s your life we’re talking about, and then I just tell you to get over yourself.”

“In those (painful) times, if I don’t drink and don’t die, and don’t drink and don’t die, and I eventually get beyond it, in retrospect, I’ve been able to see that every time I thought my life was falling apart, in reality, it was falling together and it had to be exactly that way for god to move me to where he’d have me be. See, I’m the kind of person, I settle…but God has a plan for me beyond my wildest imagination.”

H2O

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Imagine for a moment that you are a drop of water. It’s wonderful to be like water and there is no known form of life that can exist without you…the single powerful drop; the molecule that binds all that we know to the planet.

But a single drop of water is not enough to continue survival as we know it. While it is exquisite and perfect in and of itself, a much larger body of water is necessary.

So imagine now that you are a single drop of water and that you have surrendered your magnificence to a larger power, the ocean.  As you merge with the ocean, you now have access to all of its properties.  The power, wisdom, consistency, completeness, of the larger body.  By finding a home here, you discover where you belong–you, that perfect little single molecule–you belong. And nothing can keep you from what is yours. It is waiting for you. All you have to do is surrender to the ocean. Be one among many drops of the water. Work in harmony and peace with the rest of your kind. This is only one possibility in a world of possibilities.  Flow…

A New Pair of Glasses

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Sometimes what we need is a new pair of glasses, and there’s a fantastic book that you’ll bump into (I hope) if you stick around the program long enough, by just that name.

Chuck C. has said, “Every alcoholic I’ve ever known is a perfectionist, an idealist. It is this drive for excellence that …makes us set goals for ourselves that we can’t attain. We’re forever disappointed in our own performance and we demand more of those around us than they can put out. It’s a beautiful attribute, but it’s a killer until we learn how to live with it.”

A killer, he says! 

Well, back in 1958, Chuck was in a little bit of a financial mess. He had a vacant plant costing him something like $13,000 a week to keep the doors open on , and he was waking up every day in a cold sweat thinking, I’ve gotta get some business in there.  He was juggling 5 or 6 different deals to fill the plant and all of them looked like any one would come through and fix the problem, but…as luck would have it, it was not to be.

In the book (New Pair of Glasses, by Chuck Chamberlain) he writes that he had it all figured out. “I’d done all their (the business guys) thinking, all their planning, everything. I’d gotten the deal together for them. It was mine.”

And then they said no. No deal.

“Everything had just evaporated right in front of my eyes.”

You know that feeling? That is the WORST feeling.

“Twelve years before, I’d started making 12-step calls in business; helping people do things they needed to have done because I wanted to. And here was this pinch and I had to go get some business, and I went to get it and everything evaporated.”

(This is that moment when you’ve tried to power your way through a situation. You’ve set it all up, managed it, orchestrated everyone’s part, and it STILL hasn’t turned out as you expected.)

So he goes on to say that he just gives the (failing) business back to his partner and decides to just go back to making 12-step business calls (helping people do the things they needed to have done because he wants to)

and then he says…

“Something happens that you (the reader) knows is impossible!” 

A guy ( a business friend) calls me in my office and says, “Charley, I have the feeling you’re in trouble and I have written a check to you for $50,000. You don’t sign a note, you don’t pay interest, we’ll apply it to our next deal we have. Come and get it if you need it.”

And then Chuck C. says something I adore. He says,

“The gift of God was made at the foundation of the earth.  When I was sitting in that chair, in that moment, with everything gone, at the blackest moment of my life, the universe was mine. God was mine…I had to discover that. And being an Alcoholic, I had to discover it in my own way and my own time…He’s a gentleman, God is. He doesn’t intrude where he’s not wanted.” 

Our work is to stay sober and do the work of the spirit, whatever that may be for you. It may be a religious presence of god in your life, or it may just be the energy of all that is around you pouring into you. I call that flow. And when I’m trying to wrestle satisfaction from life (something I’m almost always doing, unless I’m consciously focussed on NOT doing it) I am not in flow. Flow for me is one of those brilliant places. I don’t yet know exactly how to get there…but I know EXACTLY when I am there, because my heart is at peace and my skin is literally alive with goosebumps and I can feel that everything is magically as it is supposed to be in each moment.

Like Chuck C., let today be for fun and for free and  invite God in.