My gratitude list (2015)

SunriseAround the time of the American Thanksgiving holiday, I think about the things I am grateful for. I have found the “alphabetical gratitude list” to be a useful tool in cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

A — I am grateful for Age. Youth was fun, and there are times I wish I was young again. The perspective, experience, and, yes, wisdom that come with age are irreplaceable.

B — I am grateful for my Brother. He inspires me with his joy and engagement in life. He has faced challenges, setbacks, and disability with grace and acceptance. And yet, he continues to engage and celebrate what he has.

C – I am grateful for Children. I am grateful for my children, who have brought so much joy and challenges into my life. I am grateful for others’ children, who are our future, and who keep my life from stagnating.

D – I am grateful for my Dog. He loves me unconditionally, but is also straightforward about making his needs known.

E – I am grateful for Electricity. It makes my life comfortable, and I wouldn’t be able to do most of what I do without it.

F – I am grateful for Fall.

G – I am grateful for my Grandparents, who are no longer physically in my life, but who were a big part of my childhood, teaching me to appreciate the outdoors, and who loved me and supported me in a way different from my parents.

H – I am grateful for my Health. While I have issues, I am able-bodied and generally healthy.

I – I am grateful for Ice Cream. I enjoy its cool, smooth texture, and its melting deliciousness.

J – I am grateful for Junk. I am starting to be able to get rid of the junk I have accumulated in my life, and that is a good thing.

K – I am grateful for my Kitchen. I love to cook, to create wonderful flavors and to provide for my needs and those of my family.

L – I am grateful for Love. It is a gift to both give and receive love, and to be able to love myself whole heartedly.

M – I am grateful for my Mother. With her aging, she is teaching me to accept the now, rather than wishing for what was.

O – I am grateful for Others. Life would be easier without them, but it would also be infinitely more boring.

P – I am grateful for Podcasting. Doing the podcast has deepened my recovery and my appreciation of life. It has also brought some amazing people into my life, who I would never have met otherwise.

Q – I am grateful for Questions. As long as there are things I do not know, or do not understand, I continue to grow. When I have no more questions, I will be dead.

R – I am grateful for the color Red. It is bright and cheerful.

S – I am grateful for Silence. In the silence, I can hear that still, small voice within. In the silence, I can calm my “monkey mind”.

T – I am grateful for Transitions. Change is life, and life is change. Transition can be uncomfortable, but is also inevitable. I can reject it and be miserable, or accept it, live into it, and revel in it as I move into a new phase of living.

U – I am grateful for Underwear. It makes my life more comfortable.

V – I am grateful for Vision, both literal and figurative. My vision enables me to enjoy the lovely sunrise this Thanksgiving morning. My vision enables me to look ahead and to envision a new future.

W – I am grateful for Water. Water to drink is a necessity of life. Water as stream, river, lake, or ocean connects me to something larger than myself.

X – I am grateful for Xerography. Without it, there would be no copy machine, no laser printer. It also reminds me of a family friend who worked for Xerox, and who was a model for me in my professional life.

Y – I am grateful for Yams. We will enjoy this sweet, orange vegetable as part of our Thanksgiving dinner.

Z – I am grateful for Zest. A bit of lemon zest adds sparkle to a dish or a drink. A bit of zest adds sparkle to my life.

Gratitude – Episode 129

DSC_0053Have you heard someone say they were grateful for the alcoholics in their life? How do you practice gratitude? Can you find gifts in the “punishments” of your life?

I reflect on gratitude while walking in the woods on a beautiful fall day.

  • (How) can I say I am grateful for my loved one’s alcoholism?
    • it is part of who she is — her personality
    • I am the person I am now
  • (How) can I find gratitude for pain in my life.
    • Colbert: “‘You have to learn to love the bomb.’ It took me a long time to really understand what that meant. It wasn’t ‘Laugh it off.’ No, it means what it says. You gotta learn to love when you’re failing… The embracing of that, the discomfort of failing in front of an audience, leads you to penetrate through the fear that blinds you. Fear is the mind killer.”
    • “What punishments of God are not gifts? … So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.”
    • ”It’s our choice whether to hate something in our lives or to love every moment of them, even the parts that bring us pain. At every moment, we are volunteers.”
  • What am I grateful for today.
    • I have a home to live in and food to eat and energy to keep me comfortable.
    • I have a family who loves me and who I love.
    • My body-self is reasonably healthy, despite the minor aches and pains I complain of daily.
    • The day is beautiful, crisp, clear with bright fall colors.
    • I have a program that helps me to grow spiritually and to become more of the person I want to be.
    • I am the sum of my live experiences. I would not be who I am without them.
  • What are you grateful for today? Can you find gifts in your “punishments”?

Upcoming topics include living with lies; clearing a path; and recovering from the death of a loved one who did not find recovery. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

Imperfection – Episode 122

perfectDo you feel that you have to be perfect? Do you go through life as if you’re on a stage? Is it hard to have compassion and love for yourself? Let’s talk about imperfection.

This episode was inspired by the book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, by Brené Brown. The gifts of imperfection, according to Brown, are courage, compassion, and connection. And with them, we can begin to live whole-heartedly.

Think back to your first meeting. How did you find the courage to walk in? How do you now find the courage to openly speak of what is happening in your heart and soul? We practice courage every day, and with it we can begin to embrace our imperfection.

I found compassion for myself as I worked the steps, and in particular as I worked the steps in the company of others. I was able to see my wholeness, to see that I was not uniquely flawed, and to start to accept myself as I was and to find compassion for myself as an imperfect person. And in finding compassion for myself, I could more easily “suffer with” (have compassion for) others.

And the last is not least: connection was the first thing I found in Al-Anon. At the end of my first meeting, I was no longer alone in my struggle and fear and desperation. I found connection, soul-deep connection, with others who were walking my journey. This connection, more than anything, kept me coming back.

What blocks us from living with a whole heart? Brown suggests 10 “guideposts”, each described as a positive attribute, and also described in term of letting go. This resonates strongly with me, because the first slogan I adopted from Al-Anon was “Let Go”. (“Let God” came later.) What are these guideposts?

  1. Authenticity (Letting go of what people think)
  2. Self-Compassion (Letting go of Perfectionism)
  3. Resilient Spirit (Letting go of numbing and powerlessness)
  4. Gratitude and Joy (Letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark)
  5. Intuition and Faith (Letting go of the need for certainty)
  6. Creativity (Letting go of comparison)
  7. Play and Rest (Letting go of exhaustion=status and productivity=self-worth)
  8. Calm and Stillness (Letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle)
  9. Meaningful work (Letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”)
  10. Laughter, Song and Dance (Letting go of being cool and in control) 

Upcoming topics include some more Concepts of service, and Al-Anon Dreams. A reader wrote in asking about intervention. If you have had experience with doing an intervention with a loved one, and you would like to share that experience, please call or email. I would love to put together an episode of The Recovery Show on intervention. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Laughter – Episode 121

When you came to your first meeting, were people laughing? How did that make you feel? How do you use laughter in your recovery today?

  • When (under what circumstances) did you laugh before program?
  • When and how did you laugh as a child?
  • How did that change as you grew older?
  • How did that change as you were affected by alcoholism/addiction?
  • Could you laugh at yourself then? … about your pain? … about your foibles and shortcomings?
  • How did you feel when you first heard laughter in an Al-Anon meeting?
  • How has recovery changed the way you laugh? Why you laugh?
  • Can you laugh about your pain? … about your shortcomings?
  • How do you see laughter as a healing force?
  • What have you learned about laughter in recovery?

Upcoming topics include Al-Anon dreams, and imperfection. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Worry – Episode 119

vultureDo you worry a lot? Is it hard to get your mind off the terrible things that might happen? Or maybe it’s just obsessing on the stuff that is wrong in your life today?

  • Think about a time before program when you were worrying.
    • What were you worrying about?
    • How did worrying affect your life at the time? (Inability to get things done, acid stomach, lack of sleep, etc?)
    • Did you get any resolution of your problem from your worrying?
  • Think about a recent time when you could have worried?
    • Did you worry?
    • How was it different from the time before?
    • How did you use program tools in this situation?
    • Were you able to move out of worrying into some productive resolution?
  • What is worry?
  • How does it differ from preparation?
    • Slogan: “Worry is not preparation”.
    • But also: “Preparation is not worry.”
  • Does “Let Go and Let God” mean we shouldn’t do anything?
  • What slogans and steps help you when you find yourself worrying?
  • What would you say to someone who can’t stop worrying about their loved one who still drinks or drugs?

Upcoming topics include laughter, Al-Anon dreams, and Concepts 6 & 7. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading “Worry – Episode 119”