Telling the Truth

happy-cat

Who am I to advise you not to qualify your life?

I closed my last post with that thought.

The only thing I can say on my behalf is that I am someone who knows that trying has availed me nothing. For me, I must either do something wholeheartedly or forget about it. I have proven this.

After a year of hard-fought sobriety, on 21 June 2014, I took two Valiums that were not prescribed to me. Two days later, just for good measure, I swallowed one more. Not even enough to have a good time! But enough to cause me to reset my sobriety date to 25 June 2014.

I did this because honesty is all I have left. I did this because I took the pills with the same mindset I used to have while drinking — I wanted the effect those pills would produce because I wanted to feel something other than the depression and anxiety that was clouding my life.

When I took those pills a few days ago, I did not realize that there is a difference between emotions and feelings.

My turbulent emotions (or moods, if you prefer) flit here and there, constantly changing. They are fickle, inconstant, and deceptive. But I can actually choose how I want to feel.

How I feel now, moment to moment, is up to me, based upon what I focus on and to what I give attention. I can choose to fuel peace and serenity, or I can choose to fuel the opposite — discord, misery, despair. I can feed the white dog, or the black hound.

I learned this in practical application as young as age 10. Desperately unhappy but having to face another day at school, surrounded by cliques of mocking classmates with whom I had never (and did not try to) fit in. So I decided to try smiling. Just that — smile. Pretend that I was happy. It was a matter of survival. And to my surprise, I began to feel better. I began to actually feel inside like my smiling face looked on the outside.

So acting “as if” can produce the actual feeling I am emulating, despite whatever emotion is running rampant. Interesting…

I smiled, just now. And so I move forward, building my second first year of sobriety.

And for me, I know I will build not by trying, but by doing.

 

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A Book of Days (of sorts)

Diary Pages

Well, hello there!

Life has kept rolling since I last wrote. Sunrises, changing seasons, Crepe Myrtle trees bursting into bloom.

Biggest News Flash: I have one year sober!

Actually today, I have one year, one month, and two days sober. And how has life changed because of that? I have not had to come to, face down on the floor, in 397 days. The cats are happier. Work has been steady.

In fact, since leaving dear Elephant Journal at the beginning of May, I have been thoroughly busy writing and working with friends to strengthen their business.

Other perks of sobriety:

  • Paying off debts and old fees
  • Ability to take care of day-to-day business
  • Daily bathing

Ah, yes. Sobriety is good. Plenty of pros about it.

There are, however, those pesky cons that come calling, as well. Namely, I am now more aware of myself. And wherever I go, there I am, to my surprise.      And while it may, in turn, surprise you to hear this, I am not always the best company. Indeed. wandering_beach

The mind reels.

But while I have accomplished much in the past year, there still are plenty of items left on my “to do” list:

  • Write to my friends in Bristol, England
  • Remove all traces of splattered red nail lacquer from my bathroom walls and floor
  • Revise and polish my current novel manuscript
  • Shop said manuscript around the literary universe
  • Go on tour to support above-mentioned novel (after it has been published)
  • Start belly dancing again
  • Initiate a daily routine of good oral hygiene for the cats

 

birds flying

Ah yes. No rest, it seems, for the wicked. Or the sober. Or the wickedly sober. But one minute at a time, I move forward in this brave new world of sobriety, bounded only by my imagination and willingness to live in the now.

And in this early morning moment, being quiet and richly present seems to be the next right thing to do. And so I am doing it.

Forget regrets. Leave “should” behind. Determine not to try, but either to do or not to do. Stop qualifying life.

Wishing you well, too. Live deliberately.

Until next time, then.

 

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Moving past when I was BAD…

My latest—and yes, this time, my last—piece on elephant journal.

It is my wish that you can take something valuable away from it.

Bitter, Angry and Drinking: Heart-felt ways to grow when Sober is not Enough.

 

5-broken glass

 

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A Journey of No Interest, it Seems.

The following piece may turn out to be my final one for elephant journal.

From my first piece in January 2014, “Life—Only Sober,” which has received more than 8,000 views, to this latest piece, “A Journey of Sorts: On the Road to the Light,” published last night, my views have steadily gone down. “A Journey of Sorts” has barely been looked at by anyone—not even 50 views.

So this is it, in its entirety. Perhaps it is flawed. Most likely it is. But I keep writing, because in the end, if I can say something that matters to one person (yes, and I count as a person), then I have accomplished much.

One voice can make a difference.

And so, without further adieu, here is “A Journey of Sorts: On the Road to the Light.”

_________________________________________________________

Via Pamela Mooman on Apr 8, 2014

girl explore journey free

We are all on a journey.

If you are reading this, then you and I have at least two things in common: We are above ground, and we are breathing. And so our journeys continue, though perhaps not along the same route.

We all have light inside. When we are at our best, it shines and warms the spirit of all, even those not in our immediate circle of life. One person living well does make a difference.

But even though each of us is a being of light, this illumination is broken into infinite shards, shining differently through everyone, in as many ways as there are people. And this diversity is beautiful, really. Each of us has an individual approach to this journey that is our life here and now.

A Sanskrit proverb tells us: “Look to this day, for it is life, the very life of life. In its brief course lie all the realities andAnsel Adams, The Road, create, resolutions, new year, path, journeyverities of existence…”

Some people grab this idea and run with it. They keep running with it, gazing with wonder around them, and this is inspiring. It is no mistake that we call this type of shining life en-light-ened.

Others are born with challenges to overcome—or not. These difficulties include physical and mental disabilities, from deafness and blindness to Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality. They also include the tendency toward addiction. These people may eventually lead enlightened lives, if they work hard to clear out the rubbish that has been piled atop their intrinsically glowing spirits.

And some choose to be miserable. They choose worry, they live in dread of—and yet are fueled by—the next tragedy or trauma. For those in this sad condition, their inner light grows dim and their pits of despair get deeper day by day, week after week, on to the end of their days.

But the good news is that we can change.

We can allow our experiences to teach us, to serve as the vitamins that nourish us so that we grow tall and strong and bright. When we let our lives feed us, rather than drain us, we can do amazing things. We can climb mountains, invent new quantum theories about the very nature of the universe, carve out a new society through leading a noble movement.

Change, however, does not mean we stop being everything we are. Qualities and traits, some positive, others destructive, compose the totality that is us. But we can choose not to act on certain drives, not to act out particular previous behaviors.

For example, once an addict, always an addict.

I am told that, even after decades of sobriety, the urge to use does not go away, not entirely. In moments of stress, at 2:00 in the morning when sleep eludes, while unpacking from a move and that favorite brandy snifter is unwrapped and staring back, empty, begging to be filled…

release, dance, girl, bird, flight, movement

Sobriety is a full-time job. Triggers pop up everywhere.

But I do not have to act on them. Nor do you.

Rather, I can busy myself with focusing on my own light, not worrying about how you shine yours, because I will never be able to do it just the way you do. And that is good.

If we all shined our lights the same way, in the same direction, at the same strength, the end result would be one illuminated area, blasted halogen bulb-bright, so bright that the details might actually be lost. All else would be dark and unexplored.

But lights shone at diverse strengths in all directions allow us to truly see our surroundings, to continue the journey with a quiet knowing, to gain a more complete understanding of where we are, right now.

This keen, loving awareness of the very moment is the essence of enlightenment. And with enlightenment comes all things, because in this state, we realize all things already are in us.

Helpful and destructive, ugly and pleasing—all exist within each one. Learning the totality of who we are is the journey toward enlightenment, a journey, in the end, toward ourselves.

 

Turning on the Light.

Dream-Work

Doing the right thing is often not easy.

Acting in a positive manner comes more smoothly at some times than others, but doing so is seldom easy.

Doing so anyway is called doing the work. The word “do” in various forms is getting thrown around a great deal here. Just what does this mean?

The word “do” is defined as “to cause or produce an effect or result” and “to take action in a situation in order to change it or solve a problem.” A synonym of “do” is “achieve.” Living a positive, productive, driven life is our life’s work, traveling the road steadily on a journey back to our best selves, to our own inner light. And our personal light, in all its glory, is but a shard of the totality of all Light.

So we rest in this, knowing that it does matter whether or not we shine. For if even one light goes out, then the world will be that much darker in a particular area. We each shine our individual lights in our own direction, and there are as many directions and strengths of light as there are people—infinite options for variation, each with its own beauty. So we strive to be our best selves, to live purposefully, mindfully, to act with emotional sobriety.

00f/45/arve/g1926/040As Jack Kerouac said, “Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”

We must do the work. Yet not many want to read about what the work is, about the qualities that make up emotional sobriety. There is no glamour in the work. To do it, we must be down in the trenches, among the grit and grime. It is about getting things done, behind the scenes, down and dirty.

 To grow, we must do the work.

The last article I wrote for elephant journal, titled (perhaps unfortunately and inaccurately) “About the Monsters,” is really about emotional sobriety. But because of the title, I suppose, and the accompanying images, nobody knew what it was about, and, consequently, very few people have read it. I wrote a book review that has twice as many views as this article that was—is—so important to me.

Yet I am broaching the subject of emotional sobriety and imploring us all to keep doing the work again, here and now. I love Phillip Levine’s book of poetry What Work Is. In fact, most of those I admire as creative mentors are really not glamorous at all. They work. And they work hard.

True achievement is never glamorous.

It is about practicing, about doing the work day in and day out, over and over, so that we slowly get better at it. For ballerinas, it is about practicing that pas de deux until the toes bleed. For writers, it is about cracking our souls open, spilling  onto the page and staining it (hopefully) with ink, only to have to do it all over again the next day.

The creative process—and life itself—resembles the myth of Prometheus. He gave fire to humans, the the other gods on Mount Olympus punished him by chaining him to a rock and having an eagle eat his liver. Every night his liver would grow back, and the horrendous affair took place all over again the next day.

For me, this blog is part of my work. And I want it to be worthwhile, readable, something to which people can relate. Look for (hopefully) improvements in appearance and continued deliberate and purposeful subject matter that is genuine, from my heart to yours.

 

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