Sunday, October 31, 2010


"Most of us don't seek God during happy times. We seek God when we're in distress."

As the priest said this tears sprang to my eyes. Had I not been an alcoholic who's life was becoming more and more unmanageable every day would I have sought God? I'll never know the answer to that one.

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Friday, October 29, 2010


Once in a very long while I feel like I get a nudge from the Holy Spirit. Most of the time I doubt those nudges, unable to differentiate between it and my ego. My ego is great at masquerading as so many things.

But last night I was sitting at a friend's house and got a sudden urge to call another friend. I ignored it for about ten minutes and then excused myself to go use the phone and call. Tears on the other end of the line. There really is nothing I can say to a sorrowing person that will make anything any better. But I can listen. So I did.

Kindness is seriously under rated. When I hear people talk about so and so is destined to do Big Things For God I recognize my own ego inflation tendencies. My experience tells me it's much harder to be faithful in little things. Especially when I get hung up on thinking there's something bigger I should be doing. What rubbish.

I'm having a really hard time lately living in this day only. I constantly feel like I'm waiting for something. Right now it's for the time change next weekend. I'm not sure why I feel like an extra hour of sleep is going to change anything but in my mind it is. My whole growing up I was fixated on the next thing, never this thing right in front of me. It was the only way I could cope with my reality. I know my restlessness is temporary but it is not fun waiting for it to pass.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kisses From God

The solitude was wonderful yesterday.
Very restorative.
I puttered and cleaned and cooked.
I love cleaning in my pjs.
But yesterday I got dressed because a friend was coming over.
I looked in the mirror and decided my hair would pass muster.

My hair is poker straight and short.
Depending on how much I toss and turn during the night
it can look, as my sponsor's sister says,
"Like you stuck your finger in an electrical outlet."
It was as if I stuck half a finger in yesterday.
They don't call them rooster tails for nothing.

Today the sun shone for the first time in days,
guaranteeing the snow would melt although
more is falling as I type.

On cloudy days I try to remember that the sun is shining high up in the sky.
I imagine I'm in an airplane that breaks through the clouds to see the sun.
Today when I was on an errand
and realized the sun was shining bright,
I felt like I'd forgotten there was a sun.
Sunshine on my face feels like kisses from God.
Feeling that sunshine filled me with gratitude.

I used to think I could only be happy,
be truly grateful, if things were going my way.
If the planets were aligned as they say.
As if I have any control over planets aligning.
I sure tried.

This afternoon I had a chance encounter with someone
who it was nice to touch base with again.
So many times in my job I talk on the phone to the same
people over and over again and rarely, if ever, get to
put a face and name together.

It doesn't take many words to brighten someone's day.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Before Me

A day of solitude lies before me.
My first in 6 weeks.
Sometimes on days like this, I practice silence as well.
Well, except for the committee in my head.
They never shut up.
I've gotten much better at recognizing their voices though.
Voices of my ego, not of my soul even though they try to convince me otherwise.

The biggest difference between dearest one and I
is that he is a big picture thinker
and I tend to get bogged down in details.

I remember once a friend told me a story
of when they had company coming and her house was a mess.
Everyone flew to a task. Picking up newspapers,
clearing the table, vacuuming the living room, wiping down the bathroom.
And there was one of her daughters, expending much effort by
dusting each individual leaf on a rather large house plant.
My friend was utterly frustrated.
I understood her daughter's actions completely.

Which is why you might come to my house
and find things in disarray
but my bookshelf has every single book in alignment
like soldiers on a march.
While a pair of dirty socks (or more likely, one sock)
might be peeking out from under the bookshelf
ready to be a soft landing
for a book that will never fall.

I wrote this post while thinking of the bookshelf in my livingroom. Ha. Then I remembered the bookshelf in the spare room. This one may harbour a dirty sock. I won't be spending my day of solitude finding out though.

Which kind of bookshelf do you have?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sorting It Out

Today I sat in the parking lot before my AA meeting and just about put the car in reverse and left. I've never had such a strong resistance to going in. Thankfully a few things came to mind. One - that when you least feel like going to a meeting you should go and two - I've never regretted going to a meeting. So in I went.

I had sorted it out in the parking lot why I had such a strong resistance and I'll be hashing that out with my sponsor. I appreciate that she will tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. It's why I asked her to be my sponsor in the first place. She loves me whole heartedly and will not baby me one little bit. She has the biggest heart and a humble spirit. Her bullshit detector is keen.

I am grateful though, that AA is a place where I can go and tell my truth. Today I felt resistance to being here. I sat out there and just about didn't come in. If it wasn't for what I've heard around these tables time and time again I might have put the car in reverse and driven away.

I am grateful for a place to be fully human and still loved.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I was going to save this one until Easter but I couldn't wait. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

And You Would Be.........?

I stopped by to see my sponsor on a whim tonight. As I got close to the road that leads to her house I said a little prayer and decided that dropping by to see her unexpectedly would be A-OK.

I drove up to her house and the lights were on. So far so good. One of her dogs came bounding up to greet me. That meant she was home. I rang her doorbell. I never ring her doorbell. I knock and then walk in. We have that kind of familiarity with one another. Her TV was blaring but she was no where to be found. I called. No answer. I slipped off my shoes and went looking. Her dog picked up my shoe and went to lay down and chew on it. As I called to him to give me back my shoe a voice said, "What are you doing in my house?" I looked around wondering where was my friend that she could see me but I couldn't see her.

That's when I realized the character on the TV show had asked me that.

Eventually I found my sponsor relaxing out back in her hot tub. I told her how her TV show lady was looking out for her. Lordy, we laughed and laughed.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Way Too Fuzzy

I keep thinking that I'll write a post when I'm not so darn tired. Dearest one and I used to have a joke that we would spend time together in 1992. Then that year came and went. So waiting for something to change isn't the answer. Showing up is. I'm having more days with less spoons lately. I do hope that changes soon.

I'm hedging my bets that I'm going to graduate from reading glasses to all day glasses today after my eye exam. I've been waiting for this appointment since June. Not that it's so hard to get an appointment but that's about the time I realized that without my reading glasses some things were way too fuzzy. Oh, couldn't I make an analogy of that sentence?! Insurance only pays for eye exams every two years so I had to wait until today to make it past that 2 year mark.

Youngest son and I deactivated our social networking accounts while we were on the phone together last night. Let's see how bad the withdrawal is, for me anyway. Our decision followed a lengthy chat about relationships and the false sense of depth to them when we know what someone is doing but not how they are doing. Sometimes I wonder if blogging can be like that, too. I've been having those what's the point of this again? conversations within myself about blogging lately. I still can't tell you what the point is but here I am anyway.

Dearest one is still home recuperating from surgery. I am missing commuting back and forth to work with him. It feels like a much longer drive when I'm traveling solo. We used to dream of working at the same place, different departments. What we have is so close to that we can hardly believe it some days. My office is less than a five minute walk to his. I have this pair of shoes that make a nice clicking sound as I walk. I am embarrassed, but not too much obviously, to admit how much I like that sound. Maybe it's because I spent my whole childhood trying to make as little noise as possible so I wouldn't get noticed and therefore not get in the line of fire.

Tired or not, there's lots to be grateful for today. Shoes, work, relationships, choices, sleep, eyesight. You.

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Friday, October 15, 2010


"I never believed you when you said alcoholics don't sip their drinks."

Only daughter and I had just come from my home group AA meeting. As a result of what she'd heard in that meeting she believed me now. (And there may be some alcoholics who are able to sip their drinks. I never could.)Because it was an open meeting and she hadn't been to one since she was a young child, I asked if she wanted to come with me. It was a good meeting. They aren't always. Some meetings seem deeper and fuller than others. If that makes sense. It does to me.

"Raw honesty. That's what stood out for me," she added.

I wonder if I take for granted what only daughter saw as incredible?

PS. I wrote this post way back in the summer and forgot about it. The photo is for only daughter. For once she woke up to the first snow of the season today while, didn't. That may never happen again.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I'm beyond weary.
Had one of those days where I was sure I'd left my brain somewhere.
Maybe by the side of the road.

A good sleep will help.
I hope.

Ironically early this morning a line from a song went flitting through my head:
"Today I'm going to try and change the world"

I even talked to God on my way to work about doing just that.
Then I had the first day ever where I hated my job.
Before a co worker had much more time than to say good morning to me I vented my feelings.
Not really the kind of first I'm proud of making.
It didn't take long for me to see my ego in the midst of it all.
It's too long and boring and perhaps not fit for my blog, even anonymous as it is, but most of my life's frustrations usually boil down to ego of some magnitude or other. My job has given me numerous opportunities to see this.

Earlier this morning I turned on the TV and watched some of the miners being rescued.

What is it that makes the tears just flow unbidden while watching something like that? Do times like that make one know at some deeper level just how connected we all are? I have no idea.

Ironically my boss told me today that that Johnny Reid song above is her life's motto. I hadn't mentioned it to her at all.

She then said that the news of the miners was a wonderful change from the mostly doom and gloom one hears instead.

Those miners, in some way, did change the world today.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

To Be Witness

The leaves are gone off the trees today. A hard wind came along and away the last of them went.I don't know what fits a death more - grey skies and bare trees or a sunshiny blue sky.

This is Thanksgiving weekend here. I came home mid morning and put a pie in the oven and made the cranberry sauce. The turkey was slipped in to the oven to roast just a few minutes ago. Dearest one was gone when I came home. I thought maybe he'd gone to have coffee with a friend. Nope. He was at the hospital with his dad, who had been feeling ill enough that dearest one's mom called and asked for help. He is okay, no heart attack as was feared. Dearest one will be home as soon as he can. It's been that kind of a weekend.

I am beyond grateful that I am sober and emotionally healthy. Otherwise I would not be in this place of accepting life on life's terms today. I don't do it perfectly of course. I'm just grateful for those times when it is so clear what the right thing to do is regardless of what my idea of the day was going to look like. Thy will be done is a really brave thing to pray some days. There is a bigger plan than I can see. That sentence doesn't answer all the questions. I don't think faith needs every question answered in order to be real and vibrant. Maybe just the opposite.

Last night my sponsor and I settled into her hot tub after everyone had gone home. She reached both her hands out to me and under an inky black sky with pin pricks of stars trying to shine through, we prayed together. A first for both of us. The first words out of her mouth were ones of gratitude. We then sat and talked and even laughed a bit. It is a privilege to be witness to someone else's journey.

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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Think Of Her

I'm just home for a moment.
This morning I phoned my sponsor to see if she wanted a ride to the meeting.
That's when I found out her husband had passed away a few hours earlier.
She'd tried to call me but in her distress dialed the wrong number.
I've been with her all day.
Just came home for stuff so I can spend the night.
Within the next few days her 'other family',
those in recovery will come together and grieve with her.
Please pray for her if you will.

Monday, October 04, 2010


I'm off on a bit of a road trip tomorrow so I might be scarce around these parts for a few days. I've been sick all weekend so I'm not looking forward to a 500 mile drive but all things considered I'll be glad at the other end of it. And the fact that I have the money to put the gas in the tank and food in my belly is not being taken for granted. I hope.

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Live and Learn

"People do it differently." She says it without judgement, without her normal exasperated know it all attitude. Then she tells me that one shouldn't cut into the carrot to cut the tops off and shouldn't leave them to dry out either. If I'd left a little of the green top attached and put them in the fridge right away they'd stay crisp until the New Year. She tells me this in a tone that sounds as if she has bad news to tell me and wants to let me down gently. I tell her "oh, well, I'll know for next year" thinking of the bald headed carrots wilting in the fridge, hours of unnecessary work that will most likely end up in the compost bin. Live and learn.

Last night as I lay in bed reviewing my day I thought about the kindness of my mom in our conversation about my freshly stored carrots. I never felt welcome in her kitchen growing up. The rule was I could experiment all I wanted if I got up early Saturday while everyone else slept and if I cleaned up after myself. So I did. Dark winter mornings found me (and everything around me) covered with flour, managing to dirty more dishes than necessary. I don't have memories of my mom teaching me to cook. We were rarely in the kitchen at the same time and never cooked together. Once she slapped me across the face at the kitchen sink.

Still, she was patient from a distance. She made cooking look so easy but without her side by side instruction all I could go on was what I observed from afar. That led to one episode where I tried to make pie crust and gave the recipe a try five times in a row. First I covered the little counter with flour and dough and frustration. Then I went to the dining room table. Eventually my mom came home from town to see flour on every flat surface and I still hadn't managed to duplicate her ease at what seemed like zip, zip, zip and there was a beautiful crust in the pie plate in one piece! Without her guidance how could I know about using ice cold water and handling the pastry as gently as possible? About rolling it out from middle to edge with feather light fingers? I couldn't.

Anyway I lay in bed last night and cherished a simple conversation on a Saturday afternoon reminded that sometimes a kind heart gets buried underneath a lot of pain, but still it remains.

Danish? Norwegian?

Being Danish and Norwegian myself, this little video makes me smile.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

All Crinkly And Bright

"How's my girl?"
That's how she greeted me, both in person and on the phone. I loved being her girl.

One day she greeted me while sitting at her kitchen table, a red rimmed white enamel bowl on her lap. It was full of the tiniest carrots and she was cheerfully scrubbing them clean.

When she smiled at me her eyes went all crinkly and bright.

"What a boring job. I'd never bother with carrots that small." That's what I thought to myself as we visited. She would've been shocked had I voiced my thoughts. I think it was that day I asked her what she did when she got cranky. She stopped and thought for a moment and told me she didn't get cranky. I would've thought she was lying except I'd never seen her get cranky. She had the kind of attitude that made the best out of everything.

I met her 20 years ago. I hadn't lived in this community as a sober person and when we moved back I went to a meeting in a town down the highway. An elderly woman there told me there was someone living in my community in recovery. I was lonely. I didn't know how to relate to people in sobriety. Many of my relationships had been built around partying and without the booze we found little in common.

So I called her up. Her of bright crinkly smiling eyes. She sounded gruff on the phone. Very gruff. Short, staccato bursts of words came out of her mouth. Oh my Lord I thought. She's needs help. I'll be her help. I'll be her saviour. That's pretty close to my original thoughts, too. I knew she was in Al-Anon. I thought whoever in her life drank must be drunk right this minute for her to sound so gruff. I pictured her as a tough old broad in camouflaged clothing wearing hiking boots.

Well, didn't I get the shock of a lifetime when she came out on her step as a stooped white haired lady wearing a pretty dress with an apron over top. She dried her hands and greeted me with a brilliant beaver toothed smile. She took me in as her own instantly. Her husband had died the previous winter and she was alone except for a grandchild she was raising. We sat on her musty blue sofa and chatted over china cups of tea.

She never dwelt on the past. But what I learned of it still amazes me. I live what most people would think of as remote. For me, it's normal. When she reached out for help in Al-Anon she wrote a letter. Eventually she learned of a meeting in the town down the highway. She had to walk several miles to the highway to catch the Greyhound Bus if she wanted to get to a face to face meeting. She did this regularly until the day came when she had a car of her own. It was a big yellow boat that glided down the highway. She could barely see over the steering wheel. We did a lot of laughing in that car.

The only mention she ever made to me of life before recovery was that she once went through a winter where the only company she had to talk to pour her heart out to during a 3 month time span, were her chickens. There was a certain grimness in her remembering. And also a thread of hope. If you can make it through three months without another living soul to talk to you can make it through anything.

She passed away quite a few years ago now. I miss her. We were privileged to take a road trip together once. Sometimes I'd take her to town. We went to meetings together occasionally. She took life as it came. She was up for any adventure. Our age difference of 50 years never came into the picture. We mattered to each other.

Yesterday I pulled the last of the carrots from the garden. You can see some tiny ones there among the bigger carrots. I thought of her as I trimmed their tops and decided which ones to keep and which to toss.

I kept many of the smallest of carrots in memory of that day she held a red rimmed white enamel bowl on her lap full of tiny carrots.

Friday, October 01, 2010


October 1
St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Saint Therese of Lisieux, toward the end of her life, had a beautiful image of salvation. It’s not in her autobiography, so many have not heard of it. She describes salvation in this way: All of her life she is a little girl. She is proud and happy to be a little girl. Her heavenly Father is standing at the top of a great staircase, always beckoning her, “Come, Therese! Come! I ask more of you!” She lifts her little foot again and again by all the actions of her Catholic faith and religious life, trying to please God. She is trying to climb up to God.

God watches Therese and sees her desire to come. Then in one moment that we call grace, God rushes down the staircase, picks her up and takes her. She knows afterward by hindsight that God has done it, from beginning to end. But it was important for her to keep lifting up her little foot. Our struggle, our desire, our “yes” is significant and necessary. But in the end it is always grace that carries us up the staircase.

Richard Rohr in Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p.324, Day 336

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