Thursday, May 25, 2017

Life Is Not Fair

Dear Readers,
It's finally partly sunny here, after many days of rain.
Or maybe it's partly cloudy.
I never can understand the difference between those two weather phrases.

I think life is like that.
It's part sun and part clouds.
Sometimes it's raining, and sometimes it's not.
Like the weather, it's unpredictable.

I am working hard to challenge myself on my thinking that I am a victim in life.
I am not.
Life is not fair.
It never will be.
That is the truth of the matter, and the only thing I can do is to meet life with a brave heart.

Role models help me do this.
All the sober people on-line, and in real life, are role models for me.
All the women in my family, have all been role models.
People past and present, those who have seen more rain than sun, but continue with faith, are role models.

I recognize that I am far more optimistic, now that I am sober.
When I was younger, I used to be sunny person, but later when my drinking got heavy, I complained a lot more, about my job, my health, other people, everything.

I am slowly working my way back to accepting that I will have problems because that is life.
Everyone has problems, in one way or another.
I am learning I can accept my feelings, that they are normal human emotions, but I don't have to stay in them.
I can think differently, look at things from another point of view, and my feelings change, or become less intense.

Life is constantly changing.
It ebbs and flows, sometimes too fast for me, sometimes too slow.
But I am powerless to stop the change.

I did not choose to have a problem with alcohol.
I know my father didn't either.
But we did.
And it is with a brave heart, and much faith, that I continue staying sober.

With Love,
On Day 994,
Wendy

Friday, May 12, 2017

Self-Growth

I was hungry!


Dear Readers,
I find that using photos helps me write, for some reason.
They are another way I can express what I am trying to say.

Last week, Mr. UT and I went for a walk around one of our favorite parks, where there is a cool restaurant, so we stopped by, and sat outside to have a bite to eat.
I make Mr. UT take photos of us, which he will do, although sometimes reluctantly.

Our feelings and thoughts here were of fun, love and connection. When we go for walks, it gives us time to connect, and talk about life.

Now, we do squabble, but not nearly as often as we did when I was drinking.
And then some of our fights were about my drinking.
I am learning to breathe in and out, which gives me time to pause before I say something to hubs I might regret.
We have been married so long, that we have numbered our disagreements, i.e., how many suitcases I need for a weekend away is fight #10.

I am still learning.
I am learning how to be kinder, to myself and hubs.
I am learning how to listen.
I am learning how to not try to "fix" someone.
I am learning how to motivate myself.
I am learning how to support other people who are working on being sober.
I am learning how to detach with love, from other people and outcomes when needed.
I am learning so much.

I saw this quote on the Women for Sobriety newsletter, that is sent to me each week:

"Be patient with yourself.  Self-growth is tender, it's holy ground.  There is no greater investment"  -Steven Covey


I am still learning how to live sober.
This is something I will always be learning.

With Love,
On Day 981,
Wendy

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Look a Little Closer

Dear Readers,
Flowers are blooming in our favorite park!
Today, at my AA meeting we shared the "miracles" that have happened in our lives since we got sober. People shared powerful stories, heartbreaking drinking and using stories, and now their current miracles.

This reminded me of a post I read today, by Mark Goodson, Miracle of the Mundane.
He gave me pause to look back at where I was and where I am now.

Mark describes his using life and his sober life as a "great divide".
He talks about comparing your greatest fear, happiness, or problem in your two lives.

Where was I when I was drinking?
What were my fears then?
What brought me happiness?

When I was drinking, my life was all about me. It was when could I drink, who could I drink with, how can I hide my bottles, when could I get what I wanted.
My biggest fear was definitely worrying about getting pulled over by the police for drunk driving.

My happiness was when I was drinking.
That's the only thing I though made me happy.

Today, my life is about caring for my darling husband.
It's about caring about my wonderful family.
It's about helping other people in recovery.
It's about taking care of myself by getting exercise, sleep, and eating right.

My biggest fear today, is worried about getting old, as we have no children to help us.
(I did have this same worry when I was drinking, too, but it wasn't an immediate fear.)
However, now I am able to face my fears, and not be so afraid.
I am able to think through the fears, and figure things out.

Now I am happy when I am helping other people, when hubs and I are snuggling, when I am reading blogs, when I am at yoga.
I am happy just walking.
My greatest happiness is when I am with Mr. UT or my family and friends, and we are sharing a special time, or sharing a memory.

I don't consider these miracles, but maybe they are.
Sometimes I can't see all the ways my life has changed, because I am too close to myself.
It takes a look back to be reminded of the wonder of today.

Today I have been sober for 32 months.
After thinking about all the blogs I have read, all the people at my meetings I have heard, after talking with hubs about life, I can say, I am content today.

With Flowers Growing,
On Day 972,
Wendy

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cultivating Joy in Recovery

Dear Readers,
Having Fun and Getting Strong!
I was always too scared to try Yoga Sculpt class, thinking it would be too hard.

Last week, quite impulsively, I decided I would try it, and GUESS WHAT?
It was fun!
In fact, it was so fun I went again, today! I am stronger than I think.

One of the things I have challenged myself to, is finding joy in being sober.
I believe that this is one of the most important things I can do to keep from drinking again.
I will be in danger if I only feel sorry for myself that I can't drink, or thinking I am missing out.

For me, joy and gratitude go hand in hand.
If I am not thankful, it is harder for me to be joyful.
I find that I must cultivate optimism. I don't always have this mind set.
Sometimes I think, "What is life really about...I only have maybe 20 years left to live."
YIKES!
That is scary!
So along with optimism, I try to laugh at myself. 
Maybe I have more like 29 years to live, considering my mom is 92!

Helping other people in recovery is helping me find joy.
I helped a busy mom from my AA group, who had just moved, unpack boxes and fold laundry.
This one little act made a difference in my attitude that day. I was so content.

Acceptance is part of my joy.
When I accept things as they are, I am far more joyful than when I am wishing everything was different, or I was different.

I realize this is a journey. Every time I think I haven't made any progress or that I am stuck, I realize I have made changes. Good changes. 

I found this website that has some good information about finding joy.
I have posted a part of the article below, but the full article is here: Alcohol Rehab

How to Find Joy in Recovery

Establishing a joyful life in recovery usually involves a bit of patience. There will be many moments of joy right from the early days of recovery, but it can take a bit longer before the individual feels more fully happy with their life. The individual is able to find happiness in sobriety by:

1. Having realistic expectations. Expecting too much right away is probably going to lead to disappointment.
2. It is important to keep in mind that joyful living does not mean that people walk around with a constant smile on their face – it just means that for the majority of the time they feel content with their life.
3. In order to create a fulfilling life in recovery the individual will need to put some effort into it. Just giving up their addiction alone is unlikely to be enough.
4. Once people become physically sober they need to begin working on their emotional sobriety. It is this that will lead them to true peace and happiness.
5. Many people find that joining a fellowship can help them establish a more successful sobriety. This way they can benefit from a program and the experience of people who have gone before.
6. Other individuals may find that therapy helps put them on the right path in sobriety.
7. It is highly recommended that people maintain a beginner’s mind in recovery. This means that they do not allow their preconceived beliefs, opinions, and ideas to get in the way of helpful advice.
8. Those people who are most successful in sobriety are willing to take risks and try new things. It is always good to develop the willingness to try new things.
9. Sticking with the winners is very good advice for anyone who hopes to build a strong recovery. Those individuals who have already made their own recovery successful tend to be inspirational and a source of good advice.
10. When people achieve their dreams in recovery it can increase their sense of well-being.
11. Techniques such as mindfulness meditation can be wonderful for helping people develop emotional equanimity. The meditator investigates their own inner world and they develop much greater understanding as a result of this.
12. Joyful living is often all about perspective. It means viewing challenges as a chance to grow and failures as a chance to learn.
New Shoes... I Feel Like a
Kid Again!
13. Joy is not to be found in self obsession and selfishness. Sharing and thinking about others is what really leads to happiness.


With A Cup of Coffee,
New Shoes,
And Joy,
On Day 967,

Wendy



Friday, April 14, 2017

Communication by Mr. UT

Communication

Why is it so hard to talk with a loved one about their drinking problem?

Mrs. Un-Tipsy and I talk a lot, about a lot of things.  Truth be told, she does most of the talking, but I do listen, and I’m usually not shy about giving my opinion or view point.  However; I admit that when it came to her drinking problem I was at a loss as to what to say or if I should say anything at all.

We had our share of arguments about her drinking and what it was doing to our lives.  When I found hidden bottles of wine in the house I didn’t know the right way to approach her about it.  Should I yell or should I ignore it?  If I ignored it was I enabling her?  If I yelled was I just driving her away?  It was difficult to sit down and have a conversation without it ending in a fight.  She was in denial and I was frustrated, mad and hurt.  I felt helpless and that was not a feeling I was used to.  Understanding her addiction was difficult.  Why was she putting herself and our future at risk?  Why couldn’t she see what was happening and what it was leading to? Talking about it with her was a struggle for me.  I was always uncertain about what to say or how to say it.  I didn’t want to drive her away but I couldn’t let her ruin her life without a fight.  When she finally stopped drinking I was elated and scared.  I didn’t know how much to praise her about her decision and her progress.  I wanted to show support and offer as much help as she wanted or needed.  But was I doing it too much?  Were my offers of praise helpful or was I just bringing it up too often and reminding her of her past drinking?

Mrs. Un-Tipsy is a very strong woman, despite her occasional doubts.   She is unafraid of introspection and what she might find there.  She has used this introspection to gain understanding and help her continued sobriety.  I on the other hand have a very limited capacity for introspection.  Perhaps it’s a man thing or the way I was raised but I have a simple straight forward view of life and my place in it.  So I am impressed at how much Mrs. Un-Tipsy is willing to continue to look into herself and search for answers and strength.  But was it my lack of introspection that made communication difficult?  In the past, this difference of viewpoints contributed to my hesitation to talk about her addition.  Even today when I read Mrs. Un-Tipsy’s posts I sometimes learn new things about her struggles in the past and in the present.  With each new revelation I have a bit more understanding about the depth of her struggle and her strength.  I’m sometimes brought to the brink of tears reading of the pain she went through. 

Should I tell her again how proud I am of her or is it too much?  That question can only be answered by the person working on their sobriety.  As you struggle with your addiction remember to communicate with your family, friends and other loved ones.  They want to help but sometimes they just don’t know how.  Let them know what they can do to make your struggle a little bit easier.


Mr. Un-Tipsy

PS -  From Wendy: If you want the perceptive of a loved one who lives with someone with an addiction, please read this beautiful blog Real Life 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Gifts of Sobriety On 31 Months

New Saw, Happy Guy!
Dear Readers,
Mr. UT has been busy working on a house project. 
I am so grateful to be married to a guy who cooks, cleans, builds, fixes, mows, and makes coffee every morning. 
(He is banned from doing laundry, however!)
Not sure how I got so lucky!

On April 4th, I was 31 months sober.
I continue to be mindful of the gifts that being sober brings.

This is not passive, but an active awareness of all of the good things being sober is bringing to my life.
I have to be open to receiving these gifts, and I have to be active in my self-growth to pass along gifts to others.
These gifts are endless, and they continue to bless me each day.

The gift of being grateful, in all areas of my life, has opened up to me since I have been sober.
I didn't have this gift before, never knew it really existed.
To be able to find a reason to be thankful in almost any situation, is changing my life.
I have the choice of being resentful, or being grateful. 
When I choose resentment, or self-pity I am choosing to be unhappy.
When I choose to be grateful, I am choosing contentment.

The gift of freedom, means I can live my life in an open, loving way.
It means I have peace of mind.
I can open my eyes each morning, and I know I didn't hurt anyone because of my drinking.
It means I no longer hide who I am.
It means I can share myself fully.

I am learning to accept the gift of living life as it is, not as I want it to be.
Drinking made me want everything to be different, and filled me with resentments, anger, and envy.
Acceptance brings me peace.
I can let my life flow and not fight it at every turn. It's exhausting to be fighting life.
I am learning to accept that other people's lives are theirs, not mine to try to control.

Life has problems, and now I have the gift of learning how to work with these problems rather than over-reacting to them, running away from them, or numbing myself.
I still tend to over-react at first, but then quickly settle into an acceptance or problem-solving mode. I am able to help those around me by having this gift. 

I talk a lot about breathing, and I credit my yoga practice for opening this gift to me.
Breathing helps calm me.
I breathe through problems, both mental and physical ones.
When I there is a body part hurting, breathing into that body part relaxes it, and helps it heal.
When I am struggling mentally, if I breathe into the feelings, it relaxes the tight hold that feeling has on me.
Breathing helps me relax into my daily life.
I breathe in love and joy, breath out anger and resentments.

These are only a few of my gifts.
Big gifts, small gifts, are there for me if I choose.
Today I choose them.

With The Gift of Love,
On Day 948,
Wendy

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Isolation, Loneliness, and Sobriety

Dear Readers,
It is now proven that isolation hurts us. It makes us sick, depressed, and in some cases leads to death.
Some people are isolated due to a number of issues, some of which can't be changed, such as health problems or being unable to find transportation to get out and about.

Other people isolate themselves.
There are times I isolate myself, especially when I am sick or depressed.
Which ironically makes me more sick and depressed.

When I was drinking, I sometimes drank with friends. 

Sometimes I would drink alone at a bar, but felt "connected " with the bartender or other drinking strangers. 
But at other times, I would buy a bottle and drink alone at home. 

When I isolate myself now, I feel very lonely. I sometimes feel very lonely in a crowd, too.
Loneliness is a feeling that will wash over me.

Being retired contributes to isolation and my feelings of loneliness. 
I no longer have that built in community with my fellow teachers and students.
Also, I do not live near my family members, so I do not have that loving community.

When I feel lonely in a crowd, it is because I feel left out, or I feel different in some way.
This leads me to isolation as well.
However, I am growing up, and I have been learning how to be an adult living in an adult world.
If I can accept that I am really just fine being Wendy, that I don't have to be the life of the party, (not that I ever was), I am calmer, and can navigate social situations better.

I am working hard to breathe through the loneliness, not just ignore it, or say it's wrong or unimportant.
It's telling me something.
It means I am missing the human connections I need.

I am working hard to find ways to make fun and meaningful connections with people.
Volunteering has helped.
I feel very fulfilled after my time of helping people.
I have also found some lovely souls in the recovery community.

I make "playdates" with other teachers, going for walks or having coffee.
My yoga community helps too. 
I am working on keeping up with my oldest and dearest friends, because I can get lazy at times, and I put off calling them. 

Blogging helps me connect with people. When I read blogs, and leave comments, I know that somewhere out there, other people understand and care.

The most important step I can do to help myself when I feel lonely is to reach out to other people.
It's hard at times, because sometimes it feels as if I am the only one doing the reaching.
My adult self now understands that many people have much more going on in their lives than I do.
There are other people who are thrilled I reached out to them.

For my continued recovery, as well as having a happy life, I must keep reaching out, and keep myself from being isolated.
It helps other people, and it keeps the loneliness away for both of us.
I can't sink into the "poor me" place, as that is a lifeless place to be.

Sobriety is such a gift.
I don't want to waste it, or throw it away by shutting myself away in my house.
Being sober has made me happier, and I want to pass that along to other people, as others before me have passed it along to me.
I want to continue to see the little surprises that are happening along the way, little boxes of joy that open to my delight!

With Loving Thoughts,
On Day 946,
Wendy

PS - This week, I focused on loving my body. 
I had another cold, but I was so kind to my hard-working body.
It fought the cold, and today I was able to go to yoga!
Happy, happy, happy!
I also treated it to a pedicure and now I have lovely blue toenails!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Body Anger, Body Acceptance

Dear Readers,
Last week I was angry at my body.
I was angry it gets sick so much. 
I was angry it hurts a lot.
I was angry it stopped hearing.
I was angry it can't do yoga everyday.
I was angry I can only see out of one eye.
I was angry at my dry eyes, that I can't drive far on many days.
I was angry at it for all the past surgeries I had to have, for all the diseases I have had.

I am on my thin side these days, but I have been very heavy in my past.
In fact, and this is hard for me to admit, I used to hit my body because I hated it for being heavy.

I was expressing this anger to a friend, and she stopped me.
Here is when I accept my body. I can dance, I can hear the beat of the music.
She reminded me of all the things my body can do.
I can walk with my feet.
I can do yoga several times a week.
I can type.
I can see with my eye.
My brain can hear with my implant.
I can hug with my arms.
I can make the bed.
I can eat.

I can move.
I can love.
I can make love.

Since when did I think life is easy, that I will never have pain?
Why am I comparing my body to other people's bodies?
Why am I asking so much from my body, that it be perfect?

As I was searching on-line about being sick and still loving your body, I ran across this article, that has some wonderful messages in it...

"This self-criticism is not only painful but also tremendously wrong. My body’s job isn’t to meet anyone’s expectations — not even my own, really. Its job is to give my soul a way to live on this earth. My soul is here, and it likes the world, and that’s success. My body is a success. My body is successful."

"The body also provides a basic link to the deeply physical nature of life. There’s a reason humans are not bodiless souls floating around (metaphorically) in a purely cerebral existence. We are intrinsically physical creatures, designed for lives full of physical joys and adventures and sensations that can only be experienced through the body. We have eyes to see, ears to hear, tongues to taste, and skin to feel the difference between silk and sandpaper and a summer breeze."

Yesterday in yoga, I kept repeating to myself, "Thank you, body."
It really helped me feel stronger, moving slowly towards acceptance.

My body works so hard.
Today, I say, "Thank you, body. Thank you for helping me type this post. Thank you for healing me from my addiction. Thank you for helping me live."

With So Much Love,
On Day 939,
Wendy

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Strong Craving

Dear Readers,
Last Saturday, in the middle of my yoga class, I had an intense craving.
I haven't had one of these for a long while, so it surprised me.
I couldn't dismiss it right away, it kept popping up during yoga!
It very specific, tied to a cute wine bar in a trendy shopping area, where I used to go drinking before I would shop.
On Saturday, I had something to return in that shopping area.
So it makes some sense that I had an urge, except I have been to this area many times with no urges.
I was also very tired and was sick, and I wonder if that had something to do with the craving.

I have learned to never hide these strong urges or cravings, even if I don't have them very often.
In my AA, a man with many years sober, told of having an intense craving himself.
That shows me they can pop up even after a long time sober.

The disconcerting thing about this urge is that I kept entertaining the thought for a little while.
It shows me once again, how powerful addiction is. 
It hijacks my brain. It's tied to memories, tied to feelings, tied to people and places. 
It is even tied to my body, being tired and sick.

I am so grateful I do not suffer from many strong cravings anymore.
But I also know I must never take my recovery for granted.

The craving went away by the end of class.
I told Mr. UT, and he and I went together to return my item.

Here are some coping strategies I have used when I have had urges, taken from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
  • 1. Remind yourself of your reasons for making a change. Carry your top reasons on a wallet card or in an electronic message that you can access easily, such as a mobile phone notepad entry or a saved email. 

  • 2. Talk it through with someone you trust. Have a trusted friend on standby for a phone call, or bring one along to high-risk situations.

  • 3. Distract yourself with a healthy, alternative activity. For different situations, come up with engaging short, mid-range, and longer options, like texting or calling someone, watching short online videos, lifting weights to music, showering, meditating, taking a walk, or doing a hobby.

  • 4. Challenge the thought that drives the urge. Stop it, analyze the error in it, and replace it. Example: "It couldn't hurt to have one little drink. WAIT a minute—what am I thinking? One could hurt, as I've seen 'just one' lead to lots more. I am sticking with my choice not to drink."

  • 5. Ride it out without giving in. Instead of fighting an urge, accept it as normal and temporary. As you ride it out, keep in mind that it will soon crest like an ocean wave and pass.

  • 6. Leave high-risk situations quickly and gracefully. It helps to plan your escape in advance.

I am sending a prayer of peace of mind for anyone who is suffering with cravings today.

With Much Love,
On Day 936
Wendy

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

No Longer Hostage

On Our Walk...The Beauty that Fills my Spirit
Dear Readers,
Alcohol was bankrupting me emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
It was holding me hostage, and slowly strangling me.
My goodness was being eroded, my growth stopped.

It was not the solution to the problems I thought it would be.
It did not give me courage, in fact, it made me more fearful.
It did not make me brave, instead it made me a coward.
It did not give me confidence.
It did not make me pretty, nor a better teacher, nor richer.
It did not make me happier in any area of my life.

It did not make me a better wife, sister, daughter, or aunt.
It did not make me think clearer.
It did not make me wiser or stronger.
It did not make me kinder, and instead made me angry and bitter, full of resentments.
It did not make me feel less lonely.

It just stopped me dead in my tracks. 
I could not move forward in anyway until I stopped drinking.
Only since I stopped drinking have I been able to look at myself with less delusions, and with more honesty and clarity.

I believe we are all connected in this life. When I feel different, or feed into my self-pity, I lose that connection. Everyone has times of feeling different, feeling fear and anger.
As soon as I set myself apart from this understanding, or as soon as I see my problems as worse than another person, I suffer.
I suffer because I fail to understand the much bigger picture of life.
We need each other, and we need to forgive ourselves and others.
We need to support each other, because no one can do life alone.
My 91 Year Old Mother, Still Strong and Lovely

Today at my AA meeting, I had an intense feeling of being connected to my fellow humans who struggle with the same things I do. I saw more in common than I did differences.
All ages, races, genders have the same human struggles.

Today, I am living and loving my life sober.
More often, I am able to forgive myself for my mistakes, and let go of my perceived mistakes.
I am learning that there is no perfection, not for myself, not for other people.
Now, I am able to give freely of myself, not only to other people, but also to myself.

With Joy and Love,
On Day 929,
Wendy

PS - We just went to Boise, Idaho, to visit my mom, who lives with my brother and sister-in-law. This visit filled me with so much love.