Friends Before Family

This is so important and needed. Beautiful, amazing and incredibly wise. Thank you, kyesubire.

Kyesubire's

This season I have had disturbing conversations about friendship.

My heart breaks over and over hearing people talking about the pain of relationships in the time of hardships. I have been blessed to have long lasting relationships that are judgement free but deeply accountable and I have been judged and denounced by those I thought were friends. True friendship is intense and often hard to maintain because it needs extreme vulnerability that keep it alive. The hidden truth is that you cannot have many of these deep relationships. You cannot be naked and unashamed with many people.

Friendship is the foundation of all relationships even in the family. Just because we are born of the same father and mother and raised in the same home does not mean we are automatically friends; friendship must be cultivated. Many of us are closer to our friends when things are good and when…

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What we got here is a failure to communicate!

Irritated.

 No reason in particular… just feel like I could whack something really hard. Something. Not someone.

Really good thing I’m not drinking.  I wasn’t a happy drunk.

Actually, one problem I’ve been having is this:  lately, more often than not, I am not getting return calls or messages from people.  Some are friends, some just acquaintances.   I’m not talking about the lack of responding in a timely manner- I’m talking not responding at all!  What the??   The rudeness and lack of consideration astounds me.

There must be 50 ways to leave a message.

And maybe the above hints of where the problem lies:  two problems really.  My expectations, for one and two, there are just too many options when it comes to communication.

The good ole days-  a telephone.  Just call.  No answer? not home.  Busy signal? on the phone- but at least you know they’re home.  Then comes the arrival of answering machines. Ahhh…  now the screening of calls begins.  So as you’re leaving a message, paranoid self is wondering if there is someone hovering at the other end to see who it is before they commit to picking it up.  Caller ID made it simpler- you didn’t need to wait for the message to know who you wanted to avoid.  Email arrived soon after that.  Or before that?   Then cell phones- great- not home?  call the cell.  Don’t forget to check the cell phone voicemail.  Or iMessage if you’re rich enough for an iPhone.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot the text messages.  OK folks, now we’ve also got Facebook and the countless other social media sites where messages can be left.

Anyone else see how insane this is?

Rant over.

Thanks for listening.

Thanks be to God I’m still sober.

🙏 6/21/17 🙏

Image: By Warner Bros. Entertainment – Screenshots from the original trailer, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27935250

 

Today I am 3…!

And not looking back.

Well… except for the occasional review of history.  The present moment sometimes requires that re-assessment for optimal growth.  It’s called a searching and fearless moral inventory.  The 4th Step.  I’ve done many and will continue to do so.  Too often pointing the finger only leaves us stuck in our own muck and mire. But I am so weary-  oh so freakin’ weary, of making the same mistakes.

You see, I’ve been a slow learner.  An extremely, painfully slow learner.  Maybe the lessons that I’ve been needing to learn over the past 10 years have been strongholds-  iron hard lessons about character and personality.  They need to be confronted with a raw and brutal honesty.  Blindspots- named such for good reason.  Most times it takes an epiphany or breakthrough to reveal them.

And when they are finally revealed, seeing these behaviors and issues in ourselves can be incredibly painful.

But if we hang in there and continue the trek, peace will be found around the corner from there.

I think I’m finally up for it.

Lord, please help me to be up for this.

Now that I’m typing, I’m not sure how much I’m ready to reveal regarding the exact nature of this stronghold.

What I will say is that it’s all about emotional control.  Emotional sobriety.  Emotional intelligence.  Also known as EQ.

And my incredible lack of.

It’s also about maintaining sobriety vs being alcohol free.  Now being AF all by itself is a huge accomplishment.  But growth and change and true freedom all require work.  Heavy lifting on the psyche.  Without the emotional control that needs to be cultivated in sobriety,  things can get pretty ugly.

The term is dry drunk.

 I believe that is exactly what I’ve been experiencing for the past year.  Since last spring when the chaos began.  A chain of events, probably around 8 or 9, separate and unrelated events occurred in my life over the course of about 3 weeks, give or take.  I’ve not gone to AA meetings this time around but I began attending daily mass.  Last spring I stopped attending due to one of these “events”.   Had to do with another parishioner.  A male parishioner.  I’ve had traumatic events happen in my past that have centered around men.  I also grew up with a violent, morose, alcoholic father.  Until I was 8 or 9 anyway.  Enough time to leave it’s mark.

Let’s just say I have issues.

With men and with boundaries.  The boundaries could apply to everyone, not just men. Actually, I’m going to re-phrase:  I have had issues but I am healing and becoming healthier in both those respects.  I am changing.  Actually, God is changing me.  This is way bigger than me.

Can I hear an Amen?

‘Cause it’s been damn hard work.  Damn hard emotional work, lemme tell ya.  But I’m determined.  Where there’s a will there’s a way.

So I’m owning it.  Or rather, I’m going deeper.  I’ve owned it my whole life.  Thank God, I found a wonderful therapist and I’ve been “let go” from my job….. nice way of saying I was fired.  But it’s been an absolute blessing in disguise.  I handled myself with grace and integrity; much different than I would have even 2 months ago.  It’s given me time.  Time that I’m using wisely and productively.  Clearing, cleaning and organizing.  Both in mind, body, soul and environment.

I am becoming my own best friend.

This pandemic has triggered such deep stuff in me.  Things from childhood that I thought were gone.  It’s the layers of an onion analogy.  I wrote a post about the scars left behind a little over 3 years ago.  Not long after, I hit my final bottom.  Pray to God it was my final.  I take nothing for granted.  Especially my sobriety.  I had 11 years sober at 40 years of age and went out again.  It took me 22 years to get back.

So while I’m not looking behind me, sometimes a review is necessary….and that’s ok.

Thanks be to God.

And every one of you. 🙏

Finding Our Way Back

“The way home every single time is this:

After my worst failure, after I am convinced this time I have gone too far and destroyed too much, I must believe who God says I am.

I am not defined by my erratic behaviors but by something so much deeper, infinitely strong and constant.  I am a new creature.

When I find myself risking to trust this way of seeing, the power of the lie begins to vanish and that increasing confidence in who I really am becomes the bedrock that will break my shame and addiction so I get to live free for the rest of my life.”

…….Traylor Levvorn

Although this quote from the film “The Heart of Man” relates to sexual addiction, all addiction stems from the same misguided attempts to make ourselves whole.

I’m coming up on 3 years sober and free and in spite of tremendous upheavals and emotional pain in my life, and I know that I am far from alone in this at this time, I still remain with no desire to drink or medicate myself.  Thanks be to God.

Haven’t been around as ya’ll know…. I’ve been on an extended self-directed retreat of solitude.  I am blessed to be able to afford myself this opportunity.

Ending this with one more quote from the same film.  William Paul Young, author of The Shack, is the author of this one. 

See you next time I come up for air. 

“We have no idea about the truth of our beings.  We do not know how relentless this affection is that will pursue us, wrap itself around our brokenness and sing us into healing.

We matter.

Every single one of us matters and the choices we make matter.

Every choice to forgive, to be kind, to be authentic, to open up our inside worlds to tell our secrets-  these things change the cosmos- not just inside you, but inside this whole created universe in which we dwell

Who you are matters and who you’re becoming matters.

You’re the one He left the 99 to go and find.”

 

With much love and prayers to all of you amazing warriors.

And thank you…. I wouldn’t be sober without all your love and support.

🙏❤️🙏

 

Image Credit:

“IMG_6587” by {studiobeerhorst}-bbmarie is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

The Great Awakening

Redefining What Is 

And just like that, the busyness suddenly stopped.

And everything became quiet while reality grabbed hold and fear gripped the world.

And, in mere days, what was once important no longer was, and what was necessary was redefined, and what was needed found a way, and what was to be, slowly became so, and the people listened, and God waited.

And what followed would be remembered as The Great Collective Pause.

And the children stayed home, and the parents that could, worked from home, and families played together, and they took walks together, and they cooked and they ate together.

And they smiled, and they laughed, and they cried, and they cuddled, and they reassured each other, in spite of their fear and worry.

And in the forced stillness they began to pray, and God listened.

And while everything was closed, the air became cleaner, and the water became clearer, and the sky looked bluer, and the sun shone brighter.

And answers that at one time were lost in the chaos of too much, were unearthed in the presence of simplicity, and the winds of Mother Nature whispered of rebirth, and the picture of life began to change.

And the people prayed for guidance and mercy, and God heard hearts calling his name, and He answered.

And neighbors checked on neighbors, and friends called to cheer, and hearts began to heal, and rifts began to close, and egos began to crumble, and love flowed like rain, and life took on a slower, softer pace.

And parents remembered, and children learned, and people let go, and ‘I’ became ‘we,’ and we became one, and the consciousness of humanity turned its face toward love.

And what was broken began to heal, and what was missing was found, and what was no longer needed faded away, and the world shifted so abruptly on its axis that everything stopped spinning such that all that could be heard was the angels trumpeting our return to God.

Chris Coyler, March 22, 2020

Image credit: mysterious landscape by lxrowe@deviantart.com

Chop Wood, Carry Water

I am writing this as much for myself as anyone.

The ability to lay one’s life down for his brother produces perfect love.

And “Perfect love casts out all fear.”  1 John 4:18

I can feel the anxiety growing.

Not so much in myself but in the “energy field” we all live in.

Stop thinking and trying to figure it all out.  We can not.  And the mind and thoughts will tend to bring us down.  We need to stay with our deepest knowing part of ourselves.

Our heart.

The only things we have control over are ourselves and our ability to stay grounded, centered, aligned, balanced.

self-less.

Breathe. Be in your body.  Feel the sensations.  Ground yourself. Center. Align yourself with love, not fear.  State your intention to remain loving and helpful to others in need.

Do the next right thing.

Where have you drawn your strength from in times of need?  

I draw strength from my faith in Jesus Christ.  This has been my path.  We all have access to the Creator inside our hearts.  Ask for the truth of who you are.  It’s time to let all the pretense fall away.  Pray for higher, unselfish wisdom and guidance.

TRUST.

Pray for all those suffering and in need.

They have always been there but in our blessed lives, we have tended to not notice.

There is much to be done.  As Bob Dylan put it:  “You’re gonna have to serve someone.

Will it be yourself?  Or the other?

The following is the full and original version of our Serenity Prayer:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

I can’t imagine where I would be right now if not sober.  Curled up drunk and scared and of no use to anyone.  Or to God.

Thanks be to God for giving me the grace of sobriety.

 

 

 

My Tree

“If we walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1 John 1:7).

For many of us, walking in the light means walking according to the standard we have set up for another person. The deadliest attitude of the Pharisees that we exhibit today is not hypocrisy but that which comes from unconsciously living a lie.

                                                                    From My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

🙏

Choose love over fear.

Perfect love casts out all fear.

Love will save us. Not hate. Not fear.

Not Judgement. 

If you feel a need to blame or judge, first look within. Then cast the first stone….if you can.

Stay strong.  Stay sober. 

Each of us has a part to play in this healing.

Because…

every one of us has played some part, large or small, in getting us here.

Help someone in need. You won’t need to look very far.

May the Lord pour out His abundant Mercy and Compassion on us all.

 

Containment

I received the following information from an ER doctor in my family.  It is the most up to date information available regarding this pandemic.  Please be sensible, rational and responsible.  Panic is making this pandemic worse.

So much confusion, misinformation and denial is bouncing around on social media about the coronavirus that I thought I would try to explain, in plain language, why the experts see this as such an emergency.

You will see the claim online that this virus is a lot like the viruses that cause colds, and that if you get it, it will probably just seem like a bad cold and you are very unlikely to die. Depending on who you are, these statements are probably true. But they are incomplete, and the missing information is the key to understanding the problem.

This is a coronavirus that is new to the human population, jumping into people late last year from some kind of animal, probably at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. It is related to the viruses that cause colds, and acts a lot like them in many ways. It is very easy to transmit through the respiratory droplets that all of us give off. But nobody has ever been exposed to this before, which means nobody has any immunity to it.

The virus is now moving explosively through the human population. While most people will recover, about 20 percent of the people who catch it will wind up with a serious disease. They will get pneumonia that causes shortness of breath, and they may need hospitalization.

Some of those people will get so sick that they cannot be saved and will die of the pneumonia. The overall death rate for people who develop symptoms seems to be 2 or 3 percent. Once we have enough testing to find out how many people caught the virus but did not develop symptoms, that might come down to about 1 percent, optimistically.

This is a large number. It is at least 10 times higher than the mortality rate for the seasonal flu, for instance, which in some years kills 60,000 or 70,000 Americans. So just on that math, we could be looking at 600,000 or 700,000 dead in the United States. But it gets worse.

Older people with existing health problems are much more vulnerable, on average. The mortality rate of coronavirus among people over age 80 may be 15 or 20 percent. It appears to have 7 or 8 percent mortality for people aged 70 to 79. Here is the terrible part: If you are a healthy younger person, you can catch the virus and, without developing serious symptoms yourself, you can pass it along to older people. In other words, as the virus spreads, it is going to be very easy to go out and catch it, give it to your grandmother and kill her, even though you will not die yourself. You can catch it by touching a door knob or an elevator button.

Scientists measure the spread of an epidemic by a number called R0, or “R naught.” That number is calculated this way: for every person who develops the illness, how many other people do they give it to before they are cured (or dead) and no longer infectious? The R0 for coronavirus, in the absence of a control strategy, appears to be a number close to 3 – maybe a bit higher or lower, but in that ballpark. This is an extremely frightening number for such a deadly disease.

Suppose you catch the virus. You will give it to 3 other people, and they will each give it to three others, and so forth. Here is how the math works, where you, the “index case,” are the first line:
1
3
9
27
81
243
729
2,187 (US cases 3/14)
6,561
19,683
59,046
177,147
531,441
1,594,323
4,782,969
14,348,907

So, in just 15 steps of transmission, the virus has gone from just one index case to 14.3 million other people. Those 15 steps might take only a few weeks. The index person may be young and healthy, but many of those 14 million people will be old and sick, and they will likely die because they got a virus that started in one person’s throat.

The United States is not at this point yet, with millions infected, as best we can tell. We don’t really know, because our government has failed us. We are many, many weeks behind other countries in rolling out widespread testing, so we don’t really have a clue how far the thing has spread. We do know that cases are starting to pop up all over the place, with many of the people having no known exposure to travelers from China, so that means this virus has escaped into our communities.

We do not have approved treatments, yet. We do not have a vaccine. The only tool we really have now is to try to slow down the chain of transmission.

This can be done. In other words, R0 is not fixed – it can be lowered by control measures. If we can get the number below 1, the epidemic will die out. This is the point of the quarantines and the contact-tracing that you are hearing so much about in the news. But the virus is exploding so fast that we will not have the labor available to trace contacts for much longer, so we have to shift strategies. This has already begun, but we are not doing it fast enough.

It is now likely that the majority of Americans will get this virus. But slowing it down is still crucial. Why? Because the healthcare system has limited resources. We only have about a million hospital beds in America. We have well under a million ventilators. If millions of Americans get sick enough to need treatment, we will have a calamity on our hands. What will happen is a form of battlefield triage, where the doctors focus on trying to treat the young and allow the older people to die.

This is not theoretical. It is already happening in Italy, where people over 65 are being left alone on hospital gurneys to suffocate to death from pneumonia. They basically drown in their own sputum. There is simply not enough medical capacity to take care of them. The United States appears to be about two weeks behind Italy on the epidemic growth curve.

What do we need to do now? We need to cancel all large gatherings – all of them. You have probably seen that the N.B.A. has postponed the rest of its season. Other sporting events, concerts, plays and everything else involving large audiences in a small space – all of it needs to be canceled. Even if these events take place, do not go to them. No lectures, no plays, no movies, no cruises – nothing.

Stay at home as much as possible.Stay out of restaurants. I would cancel any travel that is not absolutely essential. Work from home if you possibly can. You may have to go buy groceries and medicine, of course, but make the trips quick and purposeful. Wash your hands assiduously after you have been in public places, for a full 20 seconds, soaping up thoroughly and being sure to get between the fingers. Sunlight and alcohol will kill the virus.

And please stop passing around statements on social media claiming that the situation is not serious or is being exaggerated. This is a national crisis, and conveying misinformation to your friends and family may put their lives in danger.

Supernatural Sammy

I rescued her in 2007 from a shelter.  She’d been there for a year after being taken from a home along with 152 other cats.  Some not living.  Horrible.  But I guess the woman meant well.  So often our intentions are good and we can’t see we’re making a hell for others.

Animal or human.

Sammy looked nothing like the photo above.  She was one solid mat ball of fur.  And, wow, she stunk…. real bad.

Oh, but she was a sweetie.

 A loving, affectionate mess of a cat and I had to have her… my husband (at the time) is a “designer” kind of guy.  At least he was then.  Everything he owned had to make a statement of excellence. We argued.  “But she’s a mess!” he cried.  “Yeah? Well so am I!” I piped back at him.

I won.

Turned out she really only responded to me.  She was actually quite feral but slowly she began to trust and we healed together.  You see I had rescued Sammy right after I was released from the hospital.  Locked ward kind of hospital thanks to Lexapro.  Four weeks into it, it triggered a manic psychotic episode and then a downward dive into a suicidal despair.

So Sammy and I, we were both a little off at the time.  Both traumatized by life.

My sweet 20 year old kitty is not well.  Dr. Bernie thinks it might be lymphoma. I know I’ve given her a wonderful life and I have no words for what she has given me.  Pure love and joy….and healing. I guess those are words but they seem so inadequate.  I’ve never had the bond with another animal that I have with her.  She is truly supernatural.  I sometimes wonder- she seems part dog, part human with a little cat thrown in.

I can’t fix this.

I just don’t want her to suffer.

Please pray for her peaceful passing.

🙏

I am so very grateful to all of you.  This incredible tribe of sober warriors.