Category Archives: general musings

loveliness

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Rarely if ever have I remembered my time before recovery with wistfulness. Today was an exception.

Spotify may be the best investment I’ve made in many moons. A few keystrokes and “Layla” is streaming through my headphones.

Something about the late sun striping the bedspread in the tender angst of Friday afternoon takes me back some decades ago, when I knelt before my cheap little speakers, strained to cracking with Derek and the Dominoes.

The ache of all my hearts, the one in my mind and the one in my soul, the ones past and present, poured out as I howled away some murky loss, too deep for my own understanding. Today I marvel at how I was able to release the deep cold keening from my guts to the accompaniment of Duane Allman’s wobbly blues guitar.

I loved being that drunk. I loved the ability the wine gave me to smash through the restraints of society and discipline and shame and just wallow in my pain. I never felt more alive than when I was intimately in touch with the thing that hurt me, that walked every step with me, that never seemed to abate without the blessedness of alcohol roaring in my ears, drowning out my thoughts.

This is how I know that I am an alcoholic and that I will always be one. This is how people who are like me immediately identify with what I’ve written. Booze gives us a religious experience like no other. It puts us in touch with the God within us in no other way because it provides a visceral awareness of our own blood and the mayhem of our lives.

As a recovering alcoholic, I am mindful of the power of these thoughts. I try to refrain from glamorizing that time when I am in AA meetings, because I well remember sitting on a hard metal chair, teeth chattering from anxiety, wishing I could do it any other way.

But nothing else worked, and until I could touch the God within me through grace and mercy, I would recite the words and say the prayers and hope like hell no one talked about how glorious it was to be potted like a plant by means of some chemical.

I go tonight to be with those like me. Many of us are artists, writers, chefs, creators of lovely things, and we are giving of our loveliness to raise money for people who are also trying to do it our way, finding God within themselves. There will be alcohol there. That’s a big puzzle for some.

The truth is, we find that the harder we try to obliterate the fact of alcohol, the more likely we are to drink. I personally have found that shaking hands with my demons and calling them by name is more likely to keep us in a civilized partnership.

And interestingly, in spite of my nostalgia for the past, I have no desire to drink today. The price is simply too high, and the extremes of emotion as consequence of it are exhausting. Most of that deep cold keening has faded and crumbled, and in its place is the quiet knowledge that I know where I’m going, even when I don’t.

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trinity

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Sometimes the time just seems magic.

It has been a time of reconnection for me, of quiet conversation over food with this friend and that one, some spent alone in the quiet, clearing away the clutter in my environment and in my head.

I recognized some years ago that my recovery requires three things: prayer, writing and sharing thoughts with another person. This trinity makes itself evident most when I am seeking or providing help in our most practical and pervasive challenge: that of understanding the people around us.

My daughter is on a beautiful beach somewhere in the southern U.S., navigating a romance. One friend is walking her Path with family passed and present. Another friend is sifting through the lingering messages of addiction recovery.

Mulling over the conversations of three days in a row, what stands out is that life is a lovely wilderness with exciting obstacle courses that test our acquired skills and teach us new ones.

For those new to the Path, it is like Marine boot camp. The instructor is harsh and the tasks required of us are strenuous and unfamiliar. What I have learned is that the instructor has one goal in mind: teach us how to survive. The insults and bullying are not personal; they are edifying. The pain sustained will pass if we do not resent it.

For those of us who are challenging the negative inner voice, it is like boarding school. The voices strike at our soft underbelly, the tenderest parts of us. Here we learn to thicken our skin, to run the gantlet that sometimes brutally attempts to distract us from our goal, that of freedom.

For those who are trying to live outside ourselves and our comfort zones, it is marshaling our allies and agreeing to a battle plan: we must march in the same direction. We cannot always be on the front line, and it is important to have comrades who will allow us to fall back and even retreat when we are weary.

This requires trust, a gift from God, I am certain, because mine is in short supply at times. Yet it refills itself from some divine Source that I cannot comprehend.

The lesson I have learned is that I must not punish myself for my mistakes.

In “The Four Agreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz says, “…it is important for you to master your own dream.”

This is the basis for my role as sponsor, medium, channel, friend and partner. Easy to say, hard to do. As always, I depend on grace as my ultimate rescue when I am stuck. But I find I can access grace more abundantly if I pray, write and share.

the freedom to be outlandish

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outlandishI am up early; the house is quiet. My editors don’t need me yet so I can sip my coffee without a file waiting in my queue. It’s a nice feeling, unpacking a brand new day at my leisure.

I cruised by Julia Cameron’s blog for a bit. She’s bookmarked in my ARTS folder. It’s the place where I park important sites related to creativity. There’s lots in there about knitting but also about spirituality.

My rationale goes something like this: if God is the Great Creator and we are made in His image, then we must be creative as well. Julia says that in all her years of teaching she has never met a totally not-creative person.

Personally, my creativity is not limited to what I do with my hands. When I was an art director I learned how to think creatively, to find interesting solutions to common problems, to turn a thing on its head, to view life through a prism. Even at the time, I knew I was living in a gift, being paid to have the freedom to be outlandish.

We’ve had a break in the weather. The sun sets sooner and comes up later. I quit knitting a tank top and started knitting a shrug. The neighborhood yard sale is this weekend: it’s a good time to take inventory and divest myself of stuff.

I’m still married to the notion that I have to hang onto things because I might have a need for them someday. There’s also the pile of objects I keep because I just like the way they look. But occasionally I play a mental game in which I am packing to move into a new space. It sort of helps me determine just how much crap I really need to take with me.

This is true of my inner residence as well. Stubborn myths and contracts remain attached to my heart even though I have chipped away at them over the years. But others have become mushy and friable and I am relieved to realize that I am no longer bound by the peculiar catechism of my childhood.

Being outlandish can be lonely. But I find it attracts people of like-minded pursuits, those who find joy in service, those who are tired of their rut, those who are pioneers. These are the ones I depend on to lend me an arm when I am limping.

So down the path I go, probably the one less traveled. Surely treasure awaits.

cashing my reality check

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Some days it hardly seems worthwhile, recording my thoughts.  But I feel bereft of good sense lately; my ego voice is loud and strong and my spirit whimpers under the lash.

So I slept with the Devil.  And he is all that was foretold:  seductive, winning, glorious, COMFORTABLE.  And with little hesitation, he moved on.

But somehow I feel different.  I feel that a loop was closed, a knot was tied.  And now I set about the long, long, long sojourn into my deepest self, to manufacture means of hushing the screams of outrage against the unfairness of what was once a beautiful dance.

I have substituted physical pain for psychic pain, a computer for a life.  I am pathetic.  But I am acquiring discipline in the only way I know, one day at a time.  I’ve not issued a booty call in over a week.  I am trying to ignore the taunting judgment, “He’s just not that into you.”

Perhaps the next step is to gorge on reality.  But reality is boring.  It stares me down at the end of a straight line, a box with rigid sides.  I march toward reality along the gangplank of dying dreams, to step off into an oblivion of wasted time.

Fantasy provides me a chaotic space in which to nurture my obsessions, to strive again and again toward the past, a reckless moment of abandon, a tarantella of lost reason.

Somewhere between the two extremes must lie grace.  It is always there, the quiet sweet spot, the underlayer of promise that waits and knows no limit.  I depend on grace, for I am too confused to find my horizon.

I will say this:  I do live my life.  I don’t hold back.  I know that somewhere a sunny beach with warm sand is waiting for my body.  Mother Ocean pipes her sweet lullabye and the stars will gather to listen.

So I will try to use my time as best I can, do my job, pay my bills, nurture my soul and allow God to show me The Path.

walking the dog

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So I have a regular gig about four times a year, spending time with Gustavo. He is an Italian greyhound who thinks he is actually reincarnated 17th or 18th century royalty. I haven’t quite pinned down the family yet, and I believe his demise was quite violent.  Hence he has alarming separation anxiety in this life.

However, he must have laughed a lot with his friends and family.  Stav has a great sense of humor and is the life of the party.  He’s a little subdued right now, because he’s trying to remember where he’s seen me before.  But it’ll come to him eventually.

So far it has been a bittersweet reunion.  We are both grayer and calmer than the last time I was here.  We both take more supplements with our meals.  He is positively portly and waddles when he walks.  I have acquired a muffin top from excessive use of chocolate to get me through the recent breaking news and subsequent long hours with CNN.

But somehow the heavens and the Mother called a truce with the calendar and gave me a glorious first day with Stav.  The sun was brilliant on our walk and the breeze just right, free of impertinent insects and subwoofers.  The sidewalk felt like carpet and my feet seemed to skate along the few blocks of our route.

I wanted more. I wanted to abandon work and throw my phone into the bushes and walk with Stav until we could walk no longer. But his folks left crab cakes in the fridge and experience has taught me I will eventually want my phone back.  So we’re back in the living room, sitting in the quiet that’s as rich and thick as cream cheese frosting.

It is enough. I am content.

on the nature of tuesday

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What I believe today is that the answers to my most puzzling questions are found through interaction with others.

I have a new teacher. The reason I know this is that I talk to him a lot, in my head and in real life. And i think about stuff he has said and whether or not i believe it.

So today there are lots of people crossing in and out of my headspace, and there’s a lot of staccato on the wires. If you sit very still you can hear them whispering.

It occurred to me today that I was thinking about my interactions in terms of survival. It appears that most of the people I meet are behaving either as if they are predator or prey, or both. And while it may not look like it, I’m trying to be an observer.

I’ve been watching “Fringe,” and if you’ve watched it, you know all about the Observers. There’s one of them, September, who feels compassion, and doesn’t know what it is, because those around him see it as a handicap. And it truly is; he’s ostracized because of it.

So I think my new teacher and I are looking at our predatory nature, both together and separately. And he says things like, “I don’t want to hurt you,” and that both makes me laugh and pisses me off, because I think, what an arrogant statement.

But in his defense, that’s a line that seems popular these days. And is it because we are all such predators/victims? Is there space for Observers here? And must the consequences of that choice be loneliness and incomprehension?

I think not. I think there are other non-Observers who wish to evolve, who are just winging it on a daily (or hourly) basis, and who have lost so much that they have nothing left to lose by just putting it out there.

It takes tremendous courage, I think. The risks seem huge and the reward iffy at best. But maybe it’s just about the ride. As my teacher said, “You are welcome on my rocket ship. Just understand that we may crash.”

And I said, “It’s like Apollo 13. You wonder if you’ll survive reentry. But look at that moon in the window.”

shadow

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today I would dismiss the loopholes
the drifting gaze
the dodgy non-sequiturs

today I would accept the dalliance
the research
the confession

today I would creep past your keeper
stare down your hesitation
welcome your compromise

today I would pray for a beginning or an end
to this dead air
to this interruption
to this.

scandalous aging

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Tuesday and Wednesday I crash-watched two seasons of “Scandal” and I am lit up like a horny teenager. I was awake until 6 am — unheard of in the last three years.

There are all sorts of lights coming on and bells sounding and I’m not entirely happy about it. Life is so much easier when you have no sex drive.

Yesterday was full of hell and I went out on my own last night, drove to Collierville to the Mellow Mushroom and had pizza all by myself. Got exactly what I wanted and ate as much as I wanted and stayed until I was ready to go home.

Wondered where sober seniors go to hit on people. Figured at that time of night they were all in their recliners in front of the TV.

God, getting old really SUCKS.

not knitting…

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I’m blessed with work and the discovery of a new site called Listia, which is like eBay for barterers.  So I’m destashing/dejunking and occasionally finding something I really want in return.  But the graphicist in me desperately wants to tweak my look here and add some pics.  *sigh*  Maybe later…