Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tonight - A Speakers Meeting & The Noon Day Meeting

Al-Anon Speakers Meeting
Tonight was a speaker's meeting. The woman who spoke was super articulate. She told of her qualifier and the hell she went through. She told of drunken binges and blackouts and how she went into isolation and could not and would not even speak. That was 24 years ago.

Tonight she could speak. And she did!

It reminded me of why I am getting my divorce. My qualifier is on the road to self-destruction. I cannot stop her. I got off the railroad tracks and pulled our daughter too.

I wish my in-laws and my soon to be ex-wife's friends could have heard the speaker tonight.

A Noon Day Meeting
I also went to a noon day meeting - this meeting was just as good because it was basically a Step 6 (although I could relate it better to Steps 1,2 and 3) and Let Go and Let God. Several women were there and spoke of their children who were alcoholics. As one woman put it - "If it is your spouse you could leave and divorce - but if it is your son - your only son - what can you do?" she asked.

What can you do indeed? I know what the literature says. I know the "supposed to" thing. But your own child? This has got to be the toughest Let Go and Let God there is.

I pray to and for all the parents out there who have children who are battling this disease. And I hope my daughter will understand one day soon why I am getting the divorce - although she has asked I cannot and have not been truthful with her. I told her, "That is between me and mommy." But I sense she knows. And there is no use telling her why, because she needs to love and respect her mom, and she needs her mom to love and respect her. If I did tell her it would look like I am placing our daughter in the middle of a "who's right and who's wrong" type of deal and everyone would wind up hurt. I do - just hope for -this -that our daughter understands the terribleness of this disease and it runs in families. This is a prayer too that I make every day, and hope she sees why I go to meetings.

This disease really does suck. I've been to two meetings today where the focus was not on me, but on the disease and it reminded me how terrible, cunning and baffling it is.

As the speaker said tonight, "It is cunning,baffling and powerful. And it is patient." Meaning it will out wait you and get you when you least expect it.

But there is hope. As she said, "Once I got out the way and stopped interfering with my husband's drinking, God intervened and he went to AA - that night! And the men took care of him that night - all night. And it began his recovery. And it began mine, as I left him at home by himself, and I went to an Al-Anon meeting.

She also said; "Man takes a drink. Then the drink takes a drink. Then the drink takes the man."

There is hope. More importantly - if you have faith - and work the program - miracles do happen. I can attest to this.

I hope you are well.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Program - Everyone Needs One

It's amazing now that I have an Al-Anon program, how often I find people "assuming" they can offer me advice, or crossing boundaries . . . I know they don't mean to . . . but it is truly amazing!

A good friend of mine was "helping me" yesterday. He was offering me advice, but when I told him the "help" I could use, if he could offer it, it became a little weird. It seemed he wanted to only help me the way he wanted to help me, and that what I needed in the way of help, well, was not what he wanted to give. So I can stop the mystery, my friend has a lobbyist/consultant that he uses, I wanted to talk to him over coffee, if and only if, he had time (I know people and he knows people and I want them to connect).

Anyway, may be I crossed a boundary looking for this introduction. Who knows.

I - by the way - offer my connections up to virtually anyone. I read this book awhile ago, called "Never Eat Alone," which was an "OK" book for me - but is/was a runaway best seller. What I liked about the book was the author was very honest about his career and how he was let go. He pulled himself up and created his own business. I have a lot of respect for people who pull themselves up - especially after being shot down. He offers a lot of insight into his "program" of connecting people.

But - as usual - I digress . . .

I met with my sherpa/councillor/shrink yesterday. She asked me to identify the qualities I would like in a woman. I listed several (about 10). But one of the qualities I listed was - someone who has a "program" - specifically, I guess - Al-Anon. I am a long ways off from dating - beyond a coffee - or a walk in the park - because my lines would consist of "duh" and "er." However, on the bright side, those two words are universally acceptable bumbling moves in any language.

Another quality was honesty. There were others as well.

But the program - the fact that someone knows that they contribute to the relationship when it succeeds and when it flounders ("they see their part in it") and they know boundaries, letting go, and being honest are very important to me.

My sherpa wasn't coaching me on dating by the way. She explained to me that the qualities I would look for in someone else are typically the qualities I have that I may not accept that I have (or realize I have). This was very interesting to me. The qualities then sort of surprised me. I was - in a sense - "pleased" with what I stated - they were all around sincerity and integrity, health and work-ethic.

Anyway - this post may be more about rambling than anything else, as I sit in a Starbucks somewhere in the universe at 2:18PM Wednesday.

As I sign off - a woman is screaming about her "latte" being a something or other that I never heard of that only Starbucks can charge around $5 for. By the way - it's about 90 degrees here. I would be screaming about how hot it is and I need ice for my latte, not that it is Chi or whatever the heck she is insulted that it is. My person opinion - but if you could hear her - wow. This is what I mean as - This is a person who needs a program. See I tied this to the post. Hope you are laughing a bit.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Loneliness versus Aloneness

Key words: Al-Anon. Loneliness. Aloneness. Solitude

Isn't it strange that we (I) can feel alone in a group of people? Maybe it's here, in a group of people, that I can feel an inadequacy of some sort that pushes me to the periphery of the group.

That's the way I used to feel sometimes, in certain situations.

Business Situations
Put me in a meeting, and I can fit right in. Put me one of those after work cocktail hour group things, and I suck. It's probably because I cannot find the balance between work and the people I work with and the socializing small talk, that I have to dig to find something in common with, versus the all-out, be funny, find something humorous about myself that I have done, we can share together, and hopefully find out something equally as funny about you.

But in these after hours cocktail hour things, I am uneasy. I am never too sure how much to reveal, since I err on the side of showing that I am human and make mistakes to put people at ease. And maybe, that is my mistake, my "character defect." Why do I think I need to be responsible for others "unease?" How do I know they are even uneasy? And who says I have to be responsible for others happiness?

Well, this flow of consciousness just revealed something about me. I am not responsible for others feelings. This is not new - for I discovered that I - under the past conditions - felt I had to make or be responsible for others having fun and being happy.

Note to self; Look at this harder. See where else this affecting you and your life.

Aloneness and Loneliness
OK. Back to loneliness. I am in state of being between loneliness, and aloneness. I do not mind being alone. I like solitude. It is refreshing and rejuvenating. But I am also a people person, a relationship person. I like to share ideas, conversations and just hanging out. I have been using Al-Anon meetings for this, as a crutch, as I go through this transformative stage in my life. (as you may know I was married to an alcoholic and through a long period of strife, set some boundaries and this time, stuck by them).

I have no regrets. In fact this is the odd thing; I thought I would be filled with self-doubt and fear (fear of being alone - or loneliness). But I am not. Some how I feel as if I am wrong or a feeling of guilt. I have told this only to my closest family members, and now to you - the readers of this blog.

On the Personal Side
I am not necessarily alone, as I have many friends, and a delightful little child, who, at times can act like 17 or 21, and then 8, but this, I believe is normal. And this little fact is enlightening for me. I find I may be overstepping certain aspects of her life and her choices, and in other areas, I see she needs a little more supervision and - some more chores - to teach her responsibility. But I am not pushing, I am going slow, a pace, that normally, is not normal. My old normal was; I go fast, want immediate results, and I want everyone to see it my way. My old normal. I am working on this. I see the need for staying away - and saying something once and only once, in order not to push her away, and thereby making me "alone with her." I see I must practice the opposite of what I would normally do, things that make sense to me, in order to help and create that bond of father and daughter. At least, I hope I am correct in this! ;-)

In my marriage, I realized I was alone. I was by myself - figuratively - and I was lonely. But, I would have stuck it out. So, the great gratitude I have, is the alcoholism and realizing now, the protection of our daughter was/is paramount, my heath, and my well-being - both spiritually and as a human - was suffering much more than I could have ever imagined.

Alone and Solitude
I am alone however - right now - but I am not lonely.

Being alone - especially early in the morning - is my solitude and can be great to rebuilding and programming my mind for peace and happiness. I do this by reading and taking notes on my reading. It is very refreshing.

I hope this post makes sense and helps you today discern loneliness and aloneness.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Try This To Stay Present

Here's a little exercise to stay present. I got this from Tolle's book, The Power of Now. Interesting, little thing. Here it is; Try to think about what your next thought is going to be.

That's right. Think about what your next thought will be. I was actually running and listening to this book in MP3 on my ipod when I heard this. So I tried it. It really forced me to stop thinking. I tried it for about a minute or so while running. I became a little concerned because I also lost a little track of where I was placing my feet,and I was running on some uneven ground. And, the truth be known, my head started to hurt.

Try this though. Try thinking about or guessing what the next thought will be that will enter your mind.

This - I believe - is a little exercise to learn how to stay in the present moment and help you train your mind to stop thinking random thoughts without your permission.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Accept the Day

Accept the Day. Al-Anon teaches us to "accept" things - people, events, situations, etc. Accept to me means - don't resist and fight with what is. While I am tired of hearing the saying, "It is what it is." there is a lot of truth in it.

Accept the moment if it is bad. Don't react. Observe. Observe the issue - the situation, as if you are an unaffected bystander. Cultivate the attitude of; "Isn't this interesting?" Or, "I wonder what this is meant to teach me." Observe and stand back. You may see the meaning of detachment here. You are not the situation. You are not less than if you sense you are being verbally attacked. You are who you are and you are WHOLE, COMPLETE and PERFECT.

Many people want to say they are not perfect. But I say you are. Listen to your inner voice when you say "I am perfect." The voice may laugh or it may say, "No you're not." But you are!

Remember this - there is a creator of infinite intelligence - a Higher Power - or God - if you prefer - AND he/she made you as perfect. What he/she gave you, was supreme rein over your actions.

Based upon this truth - you are perfect - what you may do is NOT always perfect. Give up the fact that you have to do everything perfectly. Perfectly doing is an evaluation or judgment of the action or activity.

Just release and accept.

Maturity in this program or in life is not about doing something perfectly. It lies in accepting reality. Not wishing or hoping. Just accept where you are. And realize you can move from where you are to another spot - another new reality over time. And you have the will to decide what spot you want to move to. Where you decide - and that is key - you decide - may not be perfect based upon others' opinion of reality or their beliefs. But it is up to YOU! You decide!

What you may do is not perfect - whatever perfect is. Accept this when something goes less than what we expected or desired. Laugh at this when you do something you may be embarrassed about. Realize this too, what everyone else does is not perfect either. Behind the closed doors of a bank President may shock you. Behind the mask your boss wears to work may reveal his foibles or lack of confidence. It doesn't matter what their weaknesses are - except that realize we are all struggling and have our doubts and fears and that this is just part of life. Accept this. Accept the day and just say "I am going to do my best." That's it. Not "It's going to be perfect." For what is "perfect?"

Listen to your heart, feel your emotions, understand your reactions to events, and realize - that this just is. Listening to your feelings and reactions can reveal more about yourself and what perhaps you are not accepting, which may allow you to release whatever imperfection you have or belief you feel you need to live up to.

This "accepting" may help you understand what false beliefs you have accepted as true about you and the world, that are in truth, making you feel guilty, feel ignorant, or holding you back.

Accept - listen - and allow the truth to revealed to you about certain situations and just observe today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Second Post Today - And Affirmations

I want to tell you - that since doing my affirmations out loud today, I not only feel good, but my ability to "talk" has been enhanced as well. The conversations I am having are positive, and I am a lot more articulate. I recall these are the effects I experienced a while ago when I was doing these everyday.

I am a walking affirmation and testimonial!

Try it and find out for yourself!

Affirmations & Feeling Good

In Al-Anon we are learning how to improve ourselves so that our situations improve. One tool that I find that has helped me tremendously in the past that I drifted away from, was the use of affirmations.

Affirmations are positive, present tense statements used in the first person. They are affirming what you want, what you want to become, how you want to behave. They are, to me at least, very centering. In the past I have taken a good book and rewrote it in a spiral bound notebook in the first person, present tense. I have - and this reveals my "weirdness" - rewritten Stephen Covey's books; "Seven Habits" and "Principled Centered Leadership;" also, Epictetus' book "A Manual For Living"; as well as Robert Anthony's "Beyond Positive Thinking."

In rewriting certain aspects of these books in the first person, present tense, positive - I become "uplifted" and receive a feeling of serenity. I drifted away from reading these rewritten affirmations - and I notice since I have done so - a little more static in my thinking. When I do read my affirmative books - I feel peace, calm and more serene, especially more serene throughout the day if I do this reading out loud - and I do mean out loud - and do it every day. It is amazing what this will do for you during the day - once you have found the book you may wish to rewrite. Because when your thoughts begin to stray, the voice of these affirmations that is now getting programmed into your head usually will pop up and help you get back on track, in very kind and gentle way.

I cannot explain it other than how I put it above.

Another good way to affirm, is to write out the behaviors and actions and thoughts you wish to carry around throughout the day.

Here are some examples;
I am happy, pleasant, and optimistic
I have an optimistic attitude to any situation
I know everything always works out positively
I am upbeat, positive and optimistic
I am very lucky because good things always happen to me
I can do anything I put my mind to
I am attracting good and positive people into my life
I am grateful for all I have and grateful for all I have become
I am excellent at time management
I write down everything that I need to do, before the day starts
I prioritize my most important things I need to do first, then I work only on the most important
I practice the principle of "Do it now" and this helps me avoid procrastination
I take action on my to do list.
At the end of each day, I look at my list and what I accomplished and transfer the things I haven't done to a new list.
Before I start any new task, I write it down, and review my list to see if this is the most important thing I have to do right now.
I always write things down and take good notes in meetings
I confirm with others who is responsible for what, and by when, so as to avoid confusion
I do only what I can do and I allow others to do what they can do.
I know mistakes are teachers to show me how to do something better the next time
I know life is a learning experience
I know I am separate from the project I am working on.
When situations are tense, I detach by thinking I am floating above the situation and looking down on it as a by-stander.
I look for the goodness in all people.
I return kindness for offense, compassion for anger, peacefulness and calm for crisis.
I hold my tongue, to get all the information first.

Maybe you get the picture - I hope you do.

Note, I do not say what I am avoiding. For example I do not say it negatively, like;
I do not drink coffee.

The "not" is cancelled out in the subconscious and is heard as; "I drink coffee."

Try affirmations - by writing out characteristics and behavior what you wish you wish to have. You can also affirm things you wish to have - that are realistic.

By writing these out AND by speaking them aloud you will see positive changes in your life AND most importantly gain a sense of self-control and self-centering which will help you to feel good about yourself.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Emotion - What It Is and How This Can Help You

I have read this before. But today, the definition of emotion means a lot to me, especially in the area of detachment. See if this has some meaning for you today.

Emotion is a reaction between the the body and your mind. You emotionalize things that you are thinking about - not what is actually happening. So, when we feel anxiety or fear, it is the actual thinking or thoughts that trigger the emotion. If we can eliminate the negative thinking - or the thinking that triggers our emotions, then, maybe, we can be detached from the event, situation, person or thing that we thought about.

Does this make sense?

It is not the event or person or thing - but it is our thinking about this that makes us feel a certain way.

By the way, this is true for positive situations, people or things too.

We have to gain control over our evaluation of the triggering event. Our judgment or evaluation as good or bad hooks us.

If we can eliminate this hook - this trigger - the actual evaluation - we can BE - be who we are and live a better life.

One way to look at this, is to look at problems. If we can realize we are NOT the problem and the problem is NOT a reflection on us as a Being, we can realize that circumstances are just that - circumstances.

I think it was James Allen in his works, "As A Man Thinkth," who said "Circumstances do not make the man [or woman], they reveal him to himself." This means to me, that if we can see where we are getting the anxiety from, we have a better understanding of ourselves.

Another word about problems. Life is a succession of problems. As soon as one is solved, another is on its way. This is not negative thinking per se, but life. And if we realize problems are transient - and realize we are not - we can become bigger than our problem we are facing.

Hope this helps you this today

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Action Frees Us

Ultimately you define yourself by your actions and behavior - not what you say or read or hope. Self-demeaning thoughts or thoughts of egotism do not make us our ultimate selves. However, thoughts constructed toward a well-defined goal or outcome and actions laid out and taken to reach the direction of the goal are all-important.

Constructive thought and action resolves or at least -reduces - the conflict going on in our minds between what we wish to become - or perhaps a desire and fear. Thought -positive - and action toward something allows us to become more inspired - and motivated and live a life of confidence and happiness.

I read somewhere that happiness is a by-product of working toward a worthy ideal or goal. Notice the words - "by-product" and "toward." The happiness comes in the "doing" - not the actual achieving - to achieve something you want or wish or desire and of course the word "worthy" says a lot in terms of grace, peace and balance.

Working toward means accepting what and how we work with life and living life on life's terms. It means going with the flow of the universe and hoping that the speed bumps and hurts that occur along the way, will prepare us for a better future. It is in this - the faith in realizing - that while we cannot see what the future has in store for us - that knowing - that whatever we are getting from the universe - will make sense to us later.

How often have I said, "Well, if this didn't happen, I wouldn't have experienced this, or achieved this . . ." As I look back on life, I have a reason to be grateful even for the worst of circumstances, for I find myself in a better place than I was before the worst. Now, the worst was hell at times, let me assure you.

I am going to leave you with this great and awesome quote that a fellow blogger left here in the comments - and that I use throughout the day and in Al-Anon meetings . . .

From Winston Churchill, "If you're going through hell, keep going."

I love that quote. I hope it helps you today

Friday, July 18, 2008

Remember the New Comer in Al-Anon

In Al-Anon do we really reach out to the new comer? Or are we wrapped up in what we want to say and sounding good?

This message may sound critical. But I am putting it out there for us to ponder . . .

I was at an Al-Anon meeting last night. It was/is a strong group (the people there have been practicing Al-Anon for a long is what I mean).

I have been at Al-Anon meetings where after the meeting the older members may complain about a new comer or someone early in recovery "bitching" about there lives in Al-Anon meetings. When I "drill down" (listen hard) I find that the person complaining about the newcomer, I often find they are complainers or they are controlling (still) or they are not living with active alcoholism (or all three).

My message is this: I am a pretty smart guy. I grew up in - not poverty - but not under the best of circumstances and I pulled and clawed my way up the social structure (whatever the hell that is and that means) to a pretty good life. My life was jolted into the stone age emotionally, when I found my wife had an alcohol problem. I just thought we had a crappy marriage - that one I could deal with (or so I was thinking - a duh here). When I engaged and found myself in the dance of alcoholism, I was under the spell of alcoholism. I found myself depressed, layered in wool blankets that kept me from feeling and living was basically in a dark cloud.

Now, now, is different. I am out of the spell. I am not living with active alcoholism because I am physically out and away from it. Even the sober days, when I lived there sucked. It felt as my daughter wrote, the house was full of alcoholism. And she was right. It dark and gloomy, lugubrious might be the better word.

What I am saying is this. I could easily slip into thinking that these people need to get with the program - the newcomer - that is. But that is not true. We need to get with the program. We who have learned to live with it or who have gotten away from it.

We need to show empathy for the newcomer and show them or tell them that if they practice these principles - which are so very foreign to the newcomer - that they too will find hope, serenity and peace. But it takes time we need to say. We need to be cognizant that they are facing verbal abuse, deception, lying, anger, perhaps even bodily harm. We need to remember that everyone in the house is getting "screwed" by this awful disease, and that the newcomer has not a clue what the hell we are talking about in Al-Anon. All they want is HELP. "Help me fix this" is the newcomers cry.

While we were discussing Tradition 5 last night, I realized that discussing a Tradition to a newcomer is like painting the deck chairs on the Titanic.

I am not saying we should immerse our being into helping the newcomer. What I am saying is we need to welcome them and state to them that this may be the complete opposite of what they were thinking they would hear, and that we need to be very clear that we will talk to them after the meeting. I am also not saying we should sell them on the program, but we should clearly point out we have been there too. And reading the preamble is not enough. All the words in the beginning of the meeting are lost on the newcomer. We need to say it again.

I have been in sales/consulting for a billion years. I have read all the books and have been in countless meetings with clients. If I can say one thing it is this . . . .

We need to see the life of the newcomer from where they sit and empathize and get a sense of the pain they are enduring - albeit a short minute or two - but just get a sense of surrendering our ego and wanting to say something smart - and just BE a beacon of hope.

That's all for now. That's my rant. I hope I stirred up a fire and a message the next time you see someone at a meeting that is dying.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Two Choices In Life and Only Two

About staying in the now. Staying in the present. Staying in my time-zone. In Al-Anon we learn to detach and we learn to not have our minds run into the future and run backwards in time. Our minds our great time travelers, and - even better soap opera stages! Our minds can take the simple and make it a disaster - if we allow it.

I am learning to detach. Closely related to detaching is gaining my purpose in the now. The present is where my purpose is. I have come to learn and say it is okay to have a goal - something I desire to achieve or have in the future, but I must work on the steps, the actions, the "to-do" list, if you will, that will allow me to achieve the goal or my desired outcome. I have learned that this is okay. As long as, and of course this is the catch - I stay in the present, working on, living in, the now, by doing and thinking about what I am doing - right now.

I am not sure how well I can explain this. But I am reconciling that all my past behaviors were not bad or keeping me from enjoying life. I am learning that I cannot get the future I want, that my Higher Power may have something better in store for me. I am learning however that I can set a goal, decide the steps I need to achieve the goal and then be present and work on the step in front of me. Aim for the goal. Be happy and just BE in the present with who we are, what we have, and where I am.

And here is the entire message or point of today's post. If you get nothing else from this post, please get this. And this was derived from my buddy, Dr. Robert Anthony (Beyond Positive Thinking).

We only have two choices in life.

We can be present and be happy with what we have (who we are, what we have, where we are)

- Or -

We can have anxiety, and think about the future or the past, and think about what we don't have (who we aren't, where we aren't).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesday - Traveling

I am traveling today. I flew into Miami . . . What a place. I've been here before . . . It is a great place to party. Too bad I don't party any more. Some how drinking alcohol and Miami and the beach all go together . . .

So, here I am. I am flying out. Business. I am changing out a lot about me. I am not sure where this journey is going and taking me, but I want to thank Al-Anon and I am grateful to my new thinking and priorities.

I had put my life on hold for so long. My mantra was; "I will be happy tomorrow. I will enjoy tomorrow. I will live for tomorrow." Tomorrow never comes.

I am - a saver. I started saving money as soon as I learned how to earn it. I am not a tightwad - I just don't buy boats, and if I can find a deal, so much the better.

Here is a passage from the $1.99 book (A Strategy for Daily Living) I bought that resounds with me. It is obvious to all and to me. But it is resonating with me . . .

"You may soon discover that often you act not from inner impulse but from the desire to behave according to how others expect you to behave.

Simple example of this occur all the time - when catch yourself smiling or agreeing with opinions you privately detest."

Have I been doing this? And if so, for how long?

I am thinking . . . . Good night - as this laptop must be turned off according to the instructions of the people who fly this plane

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In The Park, A Book, And More Peace

So, I went to the park. I ran in 90 degree heat. It was a good run. I like to run at just about any time of the day, even in the middle of the day. After the run, I sat in the shade. I bring my backpack - which is full of books.

Books. My obsession. I am searching for answers. I am not even sure what the question is - but I find the answers. They are there, staring at me.

I bought this book, at a remainder discount bookstore years ago. A remainder book is a book with a black magic marker mark across the bottom of the book. Usually means the publisher printed too many and has sold them to a discount book store.

Back to this book.

This book has been sitting around my house for - let's see - hmmmm, 5 years? Perhaps, 8?

I picked it up a few times. Set it back down. I have anywhere from 2,500 books to 3,500 books in my office area (in my old home). I obviously did not take these books with me. But I brought the essentials. This book came with me. Not sure how it made the cut. It must have been a "God-thing" (it's what we say in Al-Anon when we cannot explain certain things that turn out right for us and others).

You know I have been trying to gain perspective - if you have been reading my blog. Perspective is one of those all encompassing words - that means everything and can be twisted to cover things along the fringes . . .

Perspective to me is getting some detachment from parts of my life that maybe my illness of being involved with alcoholism caused me. Detachment meaning to me - letting go; not getting my ego involved where I am part of the solution and "married" to that solution, and if the solution does not work, I feel "less-than", incomplete, hurt, wounded, etc. Detachment also meaning to me, being happy and fulfilled right now, from where I sit, with what I have, have done, etc. Not waiting to be fulfilled, if I do this or that, win this business, do well in this meeting, can be with this person. This "waiting" to be fulfilled and accepting what I have right now, is the second phase of learning detachment.

BAck to the book, dear Joseph . . . you drift . . .

The Book: Written originally in 1973. Yep. 1973. What did they know back then? Well it was rewritten in 1997 (my version). It's called "A Strategy for Daily Living." It is about doing the things you need to do, daily to achieve you goals and vision. It is really the best detachment, Zen-like success books I have ever - and I mean ever - ever, read. The author is Ari Kiev, a psuchologloist, an MD (not Ph.D.), a doctor in NYC who apparently has been advising some of the most successful business people on Wall Street and neigboring areas.

So, I am reading about success and detachment from this book. It is - how should I describe it? A "keeper."

A "keeper" is one of those books I have to refer to - over and over again. I do not get tired of "keepers." The keepers tell me something different each time I read them - depending on what is going on in my life and my head.

I also bought his book - based upon an Amazon write up - also written in the 1970's - "A Strategy for Success."

Both books are about success and yet, being true to your philosophy and not getting caught up in success defining who you are.

So, I sat in the park yesterday, highlighting - I love to highlight - enjoying the shade. Watching, out of the corner of my eye, for people of interest. I love to watch people. They are facinating. Everyone, with their own lives, worries, love-interests, dogs, joggers, walkers, children, bikers, clothes they wear, - but I stay in the moment. I am - detached. I love this park. It is a real park.

I am sitting on the deck of this other house. I am enjoying the sun come up in the back of the house. I described my "next house" to my Sherpa/friend/advisor/therapist (I don't like that word for some reason - the therapist word) many months ago when she asked me what the next house would look like when I moved in. I said, "The sun would come up in the back of the house. The walls would be painted a light color - an off-white of sorts - but helping reflect the light of the sun come in through the house. Well, here I sit, months later. On the deck of the same house I visualized in my head back then. Weird - interestingly weird.

I am reading and highlighting again. But I thought I would share.

I am reconciling peace and success. This book - the answer - to a question I did not formulate clearly enough to articulate until I was speaking with a dear friend in the park last week - is here. It was always here. Sitting. Waiting. Waiting to be opened and read. Any earlier, perhaps, it may not have received the attention and the understanding because I wasn't where I am years ago when I first bought it.

Hmmm, another "God-thing?" Perhaps. Someone said God doesn't want to be bothered by small things. I disagree. The God of my understanding is so big and vast, he/she is beyond human comprehension and understanding, and words are too simple to describe the biggest and smallest of miracles.

So, I sit, and I reflect and I am grateful for this moment - again - where the sun is shining and I am Okay. And everything is just about right and perfect.

By the way, as an aside, I love a deal. The book was a $1.99 instead of the $12.95. Don't know why I mention that - except - I left it off in the part about remainder books.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Success and Just Being In the Park

For the past several months, good things have been happening to me. Many of these good things have made me feel uncomfortable. They are not my "norm" - or what I have programmed my mind for believing.

Because of the push for time - I will make this post brief - but hope to explain it simply as this:

Most of my adult life has been centered around work - and becoming successful. Successful meaning making money. Even when I got married, it was centered around this "success." I will not deny that I was in love. But over time, as a therapist told me, I lived in a shell of a marriage. Because of what I did not know - that my spouse was drinking and hiding it from me - that I drfited away and worked more and harder. At the time I did not know it was alcoholism.

So, today, as I have peeled back layers of whatever - maybe defense and coping skills? - or just layers of crud, I am seeing the world more - I cannot think of the term - except - cleanly and clearly. It is like - watching the sun come up (which is frankly right up there in the top 10 things in the world - ) with 20/20 eye sight versus sitting in a cave with a tiny flashlight with old batteries (so it is dim) and looking at the barren rock walls and shadows cast by this little flashlight.

So, as I sit - I have to reconcile - my happiness and being with my success driven programming. It is very uncomfortable. But I know it is meant to teach me something.

I went to the park again earlier this week. I wanted to go to this park again. I won't go into too much detail as I do not feel it is appropriate. In the park you see this tree. You sit in it and you sit under it. I feel comfortable. The feeling is odd. It is about doing nothing - just being yourself. Admitting who you are and hoping it is understood. Other park people come up. You are in the moment.

Then this discomfort arises. You have to be doing something else. There is - well - work! You begin to leave because this feeling that there is work to do and must get done! Now. But you are almost out of the park when you realize, that the work, maybe can wait. Maybe the work should wait. Maybe the work is in the park - back to being - just being. Maybe Being is the work.

This park is special. But there is a reason it is special. It is special not because of the park. It is special not because of what you find out, but how you find out. It is a time of more revealing and healing. It is going to be OKAY. What you find out and how you find out is the specialness of the park.

I want to go back to the park. How should I go about doing this?

Friday, July 11, 2008

My "Issue" and Life Long "Fight"

Raised in the "Success Ethic" world - my thinking has become distorted. I have this thought pattern that has been programmed into my brain. I have posted several notes about this before . . .

My thought pattern is simply;

"IF I can just get this, and I can do that, I will be happy."

It is simply the mindset of ;

Have -> Do -> Be

This is what I believed the Happiness Equation is (or was). If I have what successful people have, I will be able to do what successful people do, and I will be like successful people. That is, happy.

I am rewiring the circuitry in my brain. I am trying to tell myself that this is all there is - that is, this moment - this very second - is it!

So I need to do this;

Be -> Do -> Have

I need to reverse the equation. Just Be. Getting to Being -and enjoy what I have, where I am right now. As soon as I get caught up in the future-thinking, I lose my balance, I lose my presence, and I drift into thinking "What if I don't get to have?" As soon as I do this "What if I don't get to have?" thinking, I spiral into some anxiety, whether it is fear or worry about not achieving.

I heard part of a poem - and I think it is a appropriate, so I will share it here;

One life, that soon is past, only what's done with love will last.

Nothing else matters. We get one life. It goes by quickly. We can worry, hate, be unhappy, or be happy. The world, the earth, the universe, keeps on going, with or without us. Time slips away. We cannot control any of it - except - living in the moment - where, perhaps, God truly is. He is not in the future - he is not in the past. God is right here - now. Offering to us, a life to live, to love, to enjoy.

Love. That word in the poem above - that points out we will only remember and be remembered by the love we put into something. Done with love, it says. Action.

Love, a scary word, admittedly for me. Love was about risking - being accepted by another person or the rejected, which is the part which brings up the "scary" thing.

But what if love is also, just Being. Being who you are. Where you are. With what you have. And not think about the things you don't have, what you aren't now. BE. Just BEING means to me, not just be who you are, but BE present.

There is a second verse to the Serenity Prayer that is not repeated in meetings, but it is powerful and fits right into this post. Allow me to place the first two lines of the second verse, and I will close this post on these two lines;

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Me, Myself and I am Happy (?)

Hope all is well out there.

A startling discovery here on my planet. While I got out and away from the abuses of alcohol, and did do specifically for my daughter's safety, (I want to keep the focus on me and not the alcoholic as we say in Al-Anon) - I have come to realize something . . .

I am - er, uh, . . . . happy. I am/have finding peace. My world is not perfect - but I am finding contentment.

And to tell you the truth - it wasn't that I was searching for it - not for me anyway! And I have to fight the feeling of feeling guilty for getting to happiness and peace.

I have learned to pray to God a lot lately. I pray that I am not deluding myself.

I am just going to throw that out there into the Universe.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Buddha - One of The Greatest Teachings of . . .

There is so much to learn and relearn in life. There are so many great lessons to be learned from some of the world's greatest teachers that I am in awe every day when I read something I have read a hundred times before - and it still makes that powerful connection and forces itself through layers of stuff I have shielding my heart.

Here's one that makes a connection every time I read it. For a little background, I probably fit this mold of "overachiever" and "what I wear makes the man" thing, as well as a dozen other little character defects (dozen? Ha!)

Anyway, back to Buddha . . .

One of Buddha's greatest contributions to mankind is his teaching of; "desire creates suffering."

This confused me when I read it and I immediately discarded it as "rubbish." This is because I am a big believer in getting and getting is done through desire, willpower, and goal-setting.

How I am resolving the conflict I have with this is; It means that we need to accept where we are right now and enjoy what we already have.

This enables me to experience joy right now where I am and with what I have, rather waiting for it or thinking I will get something that will create the joy or happiness I believe I want or need. Or believing that if events or someone will just change, then I will have joy.

This is another one of those "detaching" things I am working on. My defect is the belief of; "If I just get this or achieve that, then I will be happy." This is a psychological shift - that if I get those new pair of shoes, this will create happiness. Except, as we all know, the new shoes we buy, does create a false or fleeting happiness. This is because eventually the new shoes become old shoes (at least they become "not new" about a week or two later).

And we identify with the shoes - briefly for our happiness. And we identify with the "getting" of things and believe if I just get this or that, I will be happy again or some more. So, a week later, I want something else, to give me this happiness or joy - albeit fleeing.

This is the "desire" I believe Buddha was trying to teach.

Life is not about getting. Wow. I cannot believe I wrote that. I am not even sure I can swallow that. Intellectually, I understand it. Emotionally, I am having a difficult time with it. My emotions are wired for getting and achieving.

And, as I write here, in this very moment, I am thinking this; If I don't get, what happens? If I believe life is getting, what if I don't get? Ouch! I get it! (Pun intended - I can never be too serious too long - another defect).

Now, how do I rewire myself? And just accept that . . .

Life is.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Self Talk

What are we saying to ourselves all day long?

Are we replaying old, worn out voices today? Nope. Not me. Not now anyway.

I was in a great mood yesterday. Then, I was driving in my car, and I envisioned a scenario of what might happen. I started playing the event in my mind, and then it drifted into a negative drama unfolding on the screen of my mind. All of a sudden the mood that was so good was gone. I was unhappy!

What happened?

I allowed my thinking to go from great to bad! I allowed it! I caught myself however and I decided to be Happy and eliminate that stinkin' thinking. See if you can catch yourself and the catch the typical events that you are playing in your mind. Try to eliminate them from taking over. Also see if you see the patterns of typical negative thoughts before they become full blown!

My thinking could have clouded what went on to become a great day.

I hope you are having a great day and stop the tapes (or MP3s or CDs) from swirling around and taking over.

PS - Why can't we more often imagine good things happening to us in our minds?

Monday, July 7, 2008

4th of July

This weekend turned out to be a good weekend. It started with several meetings and a walk in a park on July 4th. The walk in the park was a peaceful and serene day with people from the program. We all treaded carefully about certain topics out of respect for one another and fear that perhaps we may cross a boundary. This was strange - in a good way - an unexpected way . . . and frankly, very nice. When we did talk we exposed our frailties and spoke truthfully. There was no judgment, no evaluation - just being who we are.

This walk made this day one of the more special days that I can remember.

It's nice to just be who you are and laugh. It is/was the laughter that makes it things even better - for I love to laugh and love to see others laughing.

That's all for now.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Know What You Want and Keep The Focus on You

Keeping the focus on ourselves is a healthy principle we learn in Al-Anon. When our minds start to drift to the alcoholic and what they are doing or - in fact - anyone else - we start to "lose" control. We begin to worry what others might be doing and what others may be thinking or saying.

We - in essence - get wrapped up in things that don't really matter. By doing this, these forces (people, situations, events, things) become a regulator or like a car's governor (the device that keeps our car from going over a certain speed) on our thinking. We think, "If they are thinking this about me, then I shouldn't this (or can't do this)."

This can begin our "stinkin' thinking." We start "worrying" about what others may think about us or what we do. We then beat ourselves up by not living up to the expectations we think others have for us. We spiral out of control into a cesspool of "stinkin' thinking."

Who gives a crap what others think about us and what we do. This is not selfish, it's reality. We only have our lives to live. We cannot go living our lives by what we think others are thinking about us or what we are afraid of what others think about us. Like I said, "Who gives a crap." I know, this is awful language, - vernacular - but I cannot think of another way to make it more poignant.

So, the question is; WHAT DO YOU WANT?

What do you want?
When you know what you want, and focus on that, information and people come following through to you. So many of us don't know what we want. Or worse, we are afraid to think about what we want - for fear that we will be denied it. And some of us are afraid we will get it!

Psycholigists say that we are after the feeling of feeling good. We all want to feel good. And what is it that would make you feel good?

Keep the focus on you and what you want, not what you think others think will be good for you. They don't know. They don't even know how to manage their own lives. How in the world can they know what is good for you??

Start with; What do you want? What would make you feel good? What makes you feel good? What gives you enjoyment?

Start here.

And remember, don't allow others to hand you their opinions of you. You are the boss of your own life. Start here. Take control here. Don't give your power away to someone else by thinking what they may think about you. In the end, it doesn't really matter. So, live your life, starting today!

Go to that meeting. Call the friend in the program who won't give you advice, but will be there as a sounding board. Sometimes all we need is a person who will listen to us and help us hear our deepist desires and wants. Call the person you are afraid of calling for good hard listening.

I will post another note later. I had a very peaceful 4th of July. It turned out better than I could have imagined. I hope you did too.

Thanks! Joe

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Nancy - The Cartoon, My Sponsor and The Bible

Nancy - The Cartoon, My Sponsor and The Bible - For Al-Anon?

"With all thy getting, get understanding." A quote from the Bible for Al-Anon? And a Nancy cartoon?


Perhaps . . . But what if "understanding" means our Divine right to live out our time on this little planet, being happy?

I was about to do something stupid, and fortunately, I called my sponsor. I knew in my heart it was stupid, but I still had to talk to my sponsor. My sponsor allows me to say stupid things out loud so I can hear how stupid they are. I often answer my own question when I talk to my sponsor. I wind up hearing myself say something I learned in Al-Anon, after I tell my sponsor what I am thinking about doing or saying. I say, "I am forcing a solution aren't I?" Or I say, "It sounds like I am trying to manipulate - jeez . . . "

The other day my sponsor said to me, after I said I was about to "engage" my qualifier by just talking to her . . . he said, "It depends what you want. Do want to end up in an engagement (war of words) or are you after peace and serenity?"

I am after peace and serenity of course. I was the most positive person on the planet up until about six months ago. I would always find the bright side of everything. But, maybe this is not true, as I reflect back on this statement. I believe God maybe sending me back through the obstacle course to have me learn something again or to become better.

I am a firm believer that if we decide to be happy, happiness eventually catches up with us. But we have to decide we want to be happy, and then do everything in our power to JUST BE happy.

Here is a great cartoon I saw - actually someone gave me - Sunday.

It is a strong message. I hope it helps you this week.