Archive | July, 2015

The Only Requirement for Membership Is the Desire to Stop Thinking

30 Jul

I’ve been reading a great deal about meditation lately. It’s a key component of the 11th step in AA: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” I have several friends who swear by meditation and make it an integral part of their day. I’ve always thought that I was unable to meditate because I couldn’t sit still for more than five seconds. I’m currently reading a book called “Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Perhaps up until now, I haven’t been ready to meditate. Kabat-Zinn says:

You certainly have to be ready for meditation. You have to come to it at the
right time in your life, at a point where you are ready to listen carefully to your
own voice, to your own heart, to your own breathing — to just be present for
them and with them, without having to go anywhere or make anything better
or different. This is hard work.

Kabat-Zinn defines meditation as the “process by which we go about deepening our attention and awareness, refining them, and putting them to great practical use in our lives.” He describes mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgementally” and as as the “art of conscious living.”

So I’m trying to deepen my awareness and to pay attention in the present moment. It is hard work. But little by little, I am increasing the length of time I can sit still and just BE. Just be with me and not let my mind wander and go down the long list of things I think I should be doing. I try this in yoga too, when the instructor says to acknowledge and then let go of any thoughts that come into my mind. But we live in a society where we are expected to always be doing something, otherwise we are considered lazy. It’s hard to just sit and be. Yet it’s often exactly what we need.

Without taking the time to breath and be still and quiet my mind, I can continue to run around in circles like a raving lunatic. In today’s world, we barely have enough time in a day to do all that is expected of us. How are we supposed to just sit and meditate? We just have to make the time, because when we get ourselves into a good peaceful frame of mind, the rest of life falls into place.

Ordinary men hate solitude. But the Master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness, realizing he is one with the whole universe.” Lao-Tzu, Tao-te-Ching

You Say It’s Your Birthday

15 Jul

Some people say that their birthdays are really no big deal to them. Not me. I think that my birthday should be a national holiday. Ticker-tape parade, fireworks, the whole nine yards. I like to try to drag my birthday out into at least a week-long celebration. The other day that ranks way up there, and is like a second birthday to me, is my sobriety date. In fact, many in recovery consider that date to be their birth day—-the day they came into their new life. So that you have enough time to plan, my sobriety date is May 28, 2012.

My birthday was two days ago (I’ll leave it to you to guess how old I am) and I had a wonderful day. And it’s shaping up to be a fantastic extended celebration. My husband surprised me with an overnight stay-cation at our favorite local hotel. My daughter cooked up an amazing dinner for me, and a few close friends, including my sponsor, joined us to celebrate. Other friends I will get to see for lunch or coffee this week for my prolonged birthday pageant. So thank you for all the well wishes, the flowers, emails, texts and Facebook posts. Very much appreciated. I hope any bank or store closings weren’t too much of an inconvenience for anyone.

We also went to a lovely party this past weekend to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday. In the past three years, I have pretty much avoided events like this, knowing that I would be surrounded by lots of drinking. I wanted to put on my big girl pants and go to this one. The act didn’t go unnoticed, as the birthday girl told me that it meant a great deal to her that I went. Made me feel good about my decision. When I walked in, I was pretty nervous and was anxiously wringing my hands and fidgeting. My husband went to the bar to get me a mocktail so that I would have something to drink in my hands immediately. While he was at the bar, the husband of one of my dear friends kept me company and helped calm my nerves. It was nice to actually be out and be social for a change. I’ve kept to myself and hunkered down with my family so much during my recovery, it was good to branch out a little.

Things got a little tough for me when the restaurant staff started passing out champagne for the toast, but I moved away from the tray of flutes and my friend went to get me a glass of water to toast with. The evening culminated with an amazing fireworks display celebrating the city of Alexandria’s birthday. I know that they were really for my birthday though.

No one gets to choose their birth date, but we can certainly choose our sobriety date. It’s the day when we vow to stop drinking. The day we decide to turn our life around. The day we wave the white flag and sometimes fall to our knees begging for help. Each day sober after that date is a miracle and something to be celebrated. That’s why I count my days. 1,144 to be exact. 1,144 days without a drop of alcohol. Some days are easy, and some days are brutally difficult. In a way, every one of those days is like a birth day for me. It’s a day that I gain strength from my sobriety and grow in a way I wouldn’t if I continued to be stifled by my drinking.

Only 316 more days to go until I hit 4 years and get that shiny coin. When I struggle and doubt myself and fear I can’t make it, I’ll try to remember the new person I gave birth to that day in NYC when gave up alcohol for good and finally ripped off the bandage. And those 316 days can only be done one way——one day at a time.

Birthday, celebration of life.
Celebrate who you are.
Celebrate your uniqueness.
Celebrate your achievement.
Celebrate all that you are capable of becoming.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita, Beautiful Quotes

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