Gratitude – July 29

12 Steps

I tried to post this earlier…really, I did.  No internet connection at home.  Ugh.  What did people do before wi-fi?

Anyway, today I want to express my gratitude for my sobriety and everything that helps me stay sober.  I believe, with all of my heart, that if I hadn’t gotten sober, I would’ve died, either at my own hand, or through crazy, risky behavior like driving in a black out.  I also believe that if I ever pick up again, I will be right back where I was before I stopped some 20 months ago – on the suicide-by-installment plan.   Instead, today, I am able to live my life alcohol-free, mostly drama-free, and with a lot of joy and serenity.

I am grateful for my life of recovery every day, but what brought this to mind specifically was a conversation I had with a friend that I think is on the slippery slope of untreated alcoholism.  I see in her the mood swings that I used to feel myself.  I see the depression that is sometimes obvious, but sometimes just visible under the surface, even though she puts on the facade that everything is okay.  I see and hear the hurt that she feels when she tries to make jokes about her behavior when she’s drinking.  And I see her discomfort when she is seriously hung over, but has to keep going.  So far, she hasn’t suffered any major negative consequences due to her drinking, but as we in recovery know, that just hasn’t happened “yet.”

My friend knows my story, knew me when I relapsed, and saw what I went through on the path to recovery.  I know that sharing my experience, strength, and hope, listening when she needs it, and helping her (if she ever wants help getting sober) is all that I can offer her.  I do hope, though, that she can see that there is a really great, gratitude-filled life on the other side of a life filled with booze.  And I hope she sees it sooner rather than later.

 

So, today I am grateful for….

…sobriety

…Alcoholics Anonymous

…my husband and my sponsor

…good friends who support my recovery

…my fellow bloggers, their blogs, and their comments

…my sponsee, who keeps it fresh for me

…the peace that comes with recovery

…my faith

…the gift of desperation

…my life.

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Please share your gratitude today.

Please share your gratitude today.

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Gratitude – July 26

gratitudequotes7

Today I am conscious of my treasures, I have had a truly lovely day full of them.

Here is my gratitude list for today:

  • This morning a good friend of mine had an art show to sell some of her work.  She’s a very talented abstract painter and I have coveted her beautiful work for a long time.  Today, I was able to buy two of her prints (she was selling her work for ‘love contributions’, so buyers paid what they were able to) that I plan to hang in my office at work.  I can’t wait until Monday to see them on my walls.
  • Another good friend of mine went with me to the art show, and she brought her two lovely teenage daughters with us.  I had so much fun with them!!  My friend is one of my closest confidants, and I always feel comfortable talking to her about everything.  I am grateful for the connection that we share.  I thought that perhaps it might be a little bit difficult for me being around teenage girls when I miss my own daughter so much.  But it didn’t turn out that way at all.  I enjoyed being around girls that age again.  They laughed and talked and sang along to the songs on their iPhones that I had never heard.  It was a happy, lively energy that I have really missed.  I’m so thankful that I stayed in the moment and appreciated it for what is was rather than dwell on my past hurts.
  • After that I went with another of my friends to Michael’s to buy frames for my new prints.  It was my lucky day there!  All of the frames were half-off and I found two that were perfect.  My friend and I had a fun time chatting and hunting for stuff for new craft projects.  Again, I was grateful that I was able to enjoy the time with my friend and stay mindful of the good time I was having.

Bernadette's prints

  • I came home to a nice dinner that Austin made, and spent some time with my stepson before he had to leave to go back to his mom’s.  I love the dinners that the three of have together.  It’s really the only time that we use our dining room table (Austin and I usually eat in the living room while we watch shows) and the conversations, while eventually always turning to something gross – I guess that’s what happens when there are two boys at the table – are more focused and meaningful than the typical ones throughout the weekend.  I really like that, and I am grateful for it.

So, my Saturday was filled with friends, fun, family and beautiful things.  How was yours?

Gratitude – July 23

Strawberry Shortcake

Happy Wednesday!  It was a good day today, with much to be grateful for.  It was much like yesterday, and the day before, uneventful, no drama and, really kind of predictable.  I really appreciate looking for, and finding, things to be grateful for on uneventful days.  It takes more careful observation throughout the day and reflection in the evening.  I like that.  It’s like replaying my day, focusing on all of the great things that happened.  That’s a nice thing to do before bedtime. 🙂

So, here’s my list for today:

  • I am grateful I have so many wonderful friends at work; they brighten my day.  I love the breaks that we take to chat and catch up throughout the work day.  There is always laughter and smiles in my office.
  • I am grateful that this week has been a reprieve from the workload of the previous two weeks.  I have even had enough time to really clean and declutter my office, and now it looks fantastic!  I only wish that I had taken before and after pictures.
  • I am thankful that I haven’t been as tired the last couple of days even though my allergies and sinuses have been bothering me every morning.
  • I am thankful for the month old puppies that are crawling around my living room.  I can just sit and watch them play for hours…they are getting bigger and braver every day.
  • I am grateful for the strawberry shortcake that I made tonight (and had for dinner!).  Tomorrow it’s all salad, all day.
  • I am thankful that by doing my gratitude lists every day (well, almost every day), my mood, perspective, and level of happiness has improved so much.  When I remember how much I have to be thankful for, it always brings me joy.
Austin and puppies

I couldn’t resist posting this picture…see how much I have to be grateful for? 🙂

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what are you grateful for today

Gratitude – July 21

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My Monday was a completely unremarkable day.  I went to work and it was a normal day; there were no deadlines, no disasters, no fires to put out.  After work at home, there was no drama, no tasks that needed immediate attention, no errands to run, no phone calls to return.  It was an uneventful day, and for that I am grateful.

When I look back at my active drinking days, I see hungover days filled with angst and regret, nights filled with drunkenness and all of the drama that went with it.  There was wreckage that was out of control, relationships that were trashed by words that couldn’t be taken back.  There was the constant anxiety that came along with keeping all of my lies straight and my bottles hidden.  There was the exhaustion that came from working hard to keep up the charade that I was okay, life was okay, everything was okay, when, in reality, I was dying on the inside.  It was a horrible, dark and ugly time, but it was never uneventful.

Now, as I live life in recovery, I embrace the drama-free days.  Of course, sobriety isn’t without its share of challenges and trials, but it isn’t so consistently one disaster after another.  And there are a whole lot fewer self-inflicted problems created.  I am able to see the beauty in the mundane, and the joy in the normal.  I don’t have to struggle through all of the chaos to keep living…I just do it, easily most of the time, without having to think about it too much.  That is truly a gift for which I am thankful.

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Please share your gratitude today.

Please share your gratitude today.

 

Gratitude – July 20

 

help each other

Last night our friends who recently relapsed came over for dinner.  They have a few days of new sobriety under their belts and we thought that it might be nice for them to get out of the house and away from the guilt and shame they were feeling.  We spent several hours talking about alcoholism, recovery, our personal stories, relapse, AA…the list goes on.  It was a wonderful evening, I am so glad that they accepted our offer to come visit with us.  They shared with us what feelings and events lead them back to drinking, and the consequences that resulted.  We shared with them our own tales of relapse and of cleaning up the wreckage.  We talked and laughed, as only we alcoholics do, about things that I know would completely horrify the ‘normies’ out there.  Even after being in recovery for a few years, it still blows me away how quickly people trying to accomplish the same thing – sobriety – can become completely comfortable talking about very intimate things.  We alcoholics bond quickly, I think, because we all share the experience of having lived in the hell that is active alcoholism.  It is not a nice place, even just to visit, and I think that talking about it with others like ourselves helps keep us from going back there.

After our friends left last night, I was thinking a lot about how lucky I was to have spent the evening with them.  I am filled with gratitude that they both opened up to us, shared their feelings and their fears.  I am thankful that I was able to offer my own stories and that helped  put them at ease.  I am also grateful that all of us were able to be completely comfortable being vulnerable with one another.  These days I think that is a beautiful, but rare, thing.

I got a voicemail today from the wife thanking us and saying that it really helped them.  That’s so awesome.  What I don’t know is if they left here knowing how much they helped us.  I’ve written before about keeping it green and remembering my last drunk, but I don’t think that anything helps more than talking to other alcoholics.  That’s why I blog, that’s why I go to meetings, that’s why I have a sponsor and that’s why I sponsor others.  Together with other alcoholics, we can accomplish the very thing that we could never do alone.  For that, I am grateful.

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thankful-what

Gratitude – July 18

Better Days

This was an extremely busy week for me.  When I wasn’t working I was either sleeping, or wishing I was sleeping.  But now, the weekend is here, and for that, I am very grateful!!  I am looking forward to catching up on my blog reading, doing some writing, and otherwise taking it easy (well except for the 10 loads of laundry that are waiting for me).

The week, though busy, was a good one for me and I have many things for which to be grateful.  Here is my gratitude list for the last two days, since I didn’t make time to post yesterday:

  • I am always busy at work, but this week and the last have been exceptionally crazy because we started a new block of classes.  People are always coming into my office – coworkers, faculty, and students.  Sometimes they need help that is work-related, but what I really love is when they just come in to talk, share something with me, ask for advice, or offer me advice.  Yesterday and today I was especially grateful for the conversations that I had in between all of the work that I had to do.  It is such a blessing to me anytime someone comes in, closes the door and says, “do you have a minute to talk?”  Those are truly the highlights of my day.
  • I am grateful that Austin is teaching in the morning for the next five weeks.  Not only does that mean that we get to have all of our evenings together, but we get to see each other at work too.  It works out pretty good, being as he’s my favorite person in the world.
  • I’m so thankful that my stepson is here for the weekend.  I got used to having him here all the time while he spent two weeks with us, and I missed him this week.  It’s so fun to listen to him and Austin talking about Star Wars games, although sometimes it’s like they’re speaking a different language.  I’ve seen all the movies myself, but I have never heard of some of the people and places they talk about.  Who has heard of Utapau, or Darth Sion, for Pete’s sake?
  • Tonight, I am grateful for being able to do nothing.  When I got home from work, I gave myself permission to forget about my list of to-do’s and to just relax.  And that’s what I have been doing…just putzing around doing nothing…and it feels great.  It’s very easy for me to get mired down and feel overwhelmed with all of the things that need to get done (like the 10 loads of laundry I mentioned).  I do sometimes get lazy and put things off, put my internal dialogue when I do that sounds a lot like a mother yelling at her teenager to clean their room.  So I am grateful that today I have been able to do nothing and not feel bad about it.
  • I am thankful that it’s Friday, and that the weekend is here; that I get to spend time with my boys and that I don’t have to set my alarm for tomorrow morning.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful weekend, full of things that bring you gratitude.

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what are you grateful for today

Gratitude – July 16

gratitude2

I am grateful to be sober every day, but the last couple of days has me thinking about it a lot more than I usually do.  Austin and I have some friends, a married couple, that we know through the program.  They are both early in sobriety, and trying to start a new life of recovery as a couple.  Last week they relapsed…together.  I guess that is the risk you take when both halves of a relationship are alcoholics.  When one goes down, there is always the potential for the other to follow.  That’s a pretty scary scenario.  It breaks my heart that our friends are going through all of this.  They both want to be sober, and they are committed to getting back on the wagon, but it seems like the road ahead of them is awfully bumpy.  I really feel for them, I hate to see them in pain.  But seeing what they are going through also makes me recognize just how lucky I am to be where I am right now.

Twenty months ago, I was right where our friends are, married to another alcoholic, relapsing and feeling hopeless, not wanting to drink, but not able to cope sober.  I was fortunate though, that Austin didn’t join me in my relapse.  Seeing our friends makes me realize that could’ve easily happened.  Thank God Austin didn’t pick up too.  What would’ve happened then?  I shudder to think.  What would’ve happened if it had been the other way around?  If Austin had relapsed, what would I have done?  Would I have sent him to rehab, like he did for me?  Or joined him in drinking?  I don’t know.  I hope I never have to know the answer to that question.

As I think about all of this, and it has really been on my mind a lot, I am so grateful to be sober.  Sometimes I need to be reminded of how it feels to be in active alcoholism, I need to keep that feeling fresh, so that I never have to go back there.  I have to remember how fortunate I am that Austin and I work our programs both together and individually, that we don’t rely only on each other to maintain our sobriety.  I think that’s the most important thing couples in recovery can do; be supportive, give each other a lot of grace, and allow each other to work their own program.

Today, and every day, I am happy to be in recovery.  I am grateful that I no longer have the desire to drink to cope with life, and I pray that it stays that way forever.

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Please share your gratitude today.

Please share your gratitude today.

Gratitude – July 14

to do

It should come as no surprise that I didn’t get to my gratitude post yesterday.  It was a 12 hour work day for me, and it was crazy busy.  But that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t mindful about the things that I am grateful for, it means I was just too tired at the end of the day to open up the laptop and type.  Better late, than never, right?

Classes started yesterday at the school where I work as a registrar.  I am grateful that we had such a successful start, as most of the vocational schools here in Tucson are struggling with enrollment.  I feel fortunate that we had so many new students start; it’s good for them and good for the school.  Of course, it means a lot more work for me, but I am thankful to have it.  I am also thankful that the day went so smoothly.  Even though the day was chaotic with things to get done, there was only one minor hiccup in my area.  That’s definitely something for the old gratitude list!

I am also grateful that when I got home last night, my Honey had some comfort food ready for me.  He knew that I would be tired and hungry so he was prepared.  It’s wonderful to be taken care of when I need it most.

I am grateful for the kind words of coworkers.  Yesterday, as I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, more than one of my coworkers told me how much they appreciate what I do.  That type of recognition is what keeps me going.  The best conversation came early in the day though, and wasn’t work related.  I am very open about my recovery at work, and once a year I do a talk to the student body about alcoholism and addiction.  Yesterday, one of my coworkers came to my office to tell me how proud he is of me and my recovery.  He has a friend that is struggling with alcoholism right now, so he is seeing first hand just how difficult it is for alcoholics to stay sober.  I was touched by his comment.  We spoke for a few minutes and he told me that he had taken his friend to treatment over the weekend, and how hard it was.  Boy, I remember those days.  I am so grateful, though, that his friend was willing to get help.

All in all, it was a good, but exhausting day.  I am looking forward to another one.

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thankful-what

 

Gratitude – July 13

gratitude.happiness

I am finding that to be more and more true.  When I think about all of the things that I have to be grateful for, I am much happier.  Today, like all the days before it, was full of gratitude worthy moments for me.

  • Austin and I went grocery shopping.  It seems like it’s been a long time since we did this chore together, it’s been one of us rushing to the store to just get a few things.  Today we shopped together, taking our time, talking about what we would have for meals this week, laughing and being silly the whole time.  I am so fortunate that Austin and I always have so much fun together, even doing the mundane daily things that we all have to do.
  • I napped, even though I thought I didn’t want to.  I often fall into the Sunday trap of not wanting to nap because I don’t want to sleep away the last day of the weekend.  The truth is, I know that it’s important to rest (and what better day than Sunday) especially when I know I have a busy day coming.  Tomorrow will be at least a 12 hour work day because it’s the start of classes, so I know that I need to be rested and ready to go.  Anyway, my ever-persuasive husband talked me into laying down and I went right to sleep.  I woke up a little grumpy because I didn’t want to get up, but after a bit I felt great and happy and I was glad that I had slept.
  • We had Bible study this evening and I really enjoyed it.  There was a lot of discussion and thought sharing.  I am moved by the honesty that our little group shares.  For me, our study on Sunday evenings is a lot like an AA meeting; I always feel better after it than I did before.  Even when, like today, I am happy going in, my mood and perspective is improved after spending a couple of hours with friends who I love, having dinner and talking about God.  It really is a beautiful thing.
  • We had an awesome monsoon thunderstorm tonight.  There was lots of thunder and lightning and a down-pouring of rain.  It smells wonderful and it lowered the heat.  I know that it will be muggy and humid tomorrow, but standing outside (under the eaves so we stayed dry) listening and watching and feeling the storm makes it worth it.
  • I am typing this as I’m lying in bed next to Austin, who is reading.  Just before we came to bed, we spent some time with the puppies.  They are 17 days old today and they all have their eyes and ears open now.  They are standing up, on shaky legs, and are starting to try to play with each other.  It’s so cute to see.  They nip at each other with their little toothless mouths and crawl all over each other.  Until one is overcome by sleepiness and then it’s game over.  There is something so soothing and calming about watching and holding these little creatures.  I think it was Charles Schultz who said, “Happiness is a warm puppy.”  He couldn’t have been more right.

I hope that you all have had a wonderful weekend full of gratitude worthy moments.  They’re there, sometimes you have to look harder to find them than others, but there is always something to be thankful for.

Gratitude – July 12

I’m late with this post.  It’s Sunday morning, and I should’ve written this last night, but, oh well…the day got away from me.

Yesterday was a lazy day.  I spent time watching TV, napping, and then in the evening, I went and had coffee with a friend that I hadn’t seen for a couple of weeks.  It was a good day with lots to be grateful about.

Since I have been taking the time to write down the things that I am grateful for each day, I have noticed that I am much more attuned to all of the good things I experience throughout the day.  There is a definite change in the way I think.  Just a couple of weeks of writing a gratitude list has already retrained my brain to go to positive thoughts first.  In the past, I have had to consciously tell myself to look for the good in situations after I find myself wallowing in the negative.  It is like a breath of fresh air to be able to go to gratitude first, and then tackle whatever needs tackling.  It feels like freedom, it’s empowering, and it’s easy!!  If you haven’t tried it yet, please do.  It works.

So yesterday, my stepson had to go back to his mom’s after having spent the last two weeks here. He spends every weekend with us, but in the summer he gets to stay for two weeks.  We had a great time with him, and I was sad to see him go.  I had gotten used to the routine of having a kid around all of the time, and I liked it.  Not so long ago, these last two weeks would’ve been really hard for me.  I would’ve constantly thought about my daughter and I know that I would’ve engaged in a shit ton of self-pity.  My feelings about not being with my daughter would have overshadowed any of the good stuff about being with my stepson.  That didn’t happen this time.  I’m not sure if it is all because of my taking on gratitude as my healthy habit this month, but I know that it sure helped.  When my mind started to wander into thoughts of why my daughter isn’t in my life, I was able to redirect them into gratitude that God has given me another chance to be a parent.  It doesn’t minimize the feeling of loss from the past, but it does give me purpose and comfort in the present.

So today I am grateful for a new way of thinking, a better way of living, and for all of the good things in my life.

Oh, and napping…I am definitely grateful for napping.