Tag Archives: Gratitude

The Winds of Change

So, for those of you who have been following along, my previous post was about possibly losing things that are near and dear to me.

Well, Hurricane IRMA passed right over us, the eye itself in fact. We survived. While many in this state suffered to varying degrees, we came through remarkably well. Our home was not damaged. We did not lose power. We had running water. Were we scared? You bet.

As I mentioned, throughout the state, friends, and neighbors have been suffering through difficulties (some still are) including loss of power, no ice, no running water, backed-up plumbing, flooding, damaged or destroyed homes, damaged or destroyed vehicles, and other challenges.

In many ways, at least for me, this experience had many similarities to when I first got sober. Once Hurricane IRM was over, we realized how fortunate we were compared to so many others we know. There was that same sense of wonder and amazement I experienced when I came through be sober for a while. There was that innate knowledge that things could have turned out so much worse.

The hyped up-state and sense of worry and constant sustained sense of anxiety were all quite familiar, and so too was the mental and physical exhaustion that came with them.

When everything was over, there was a sense of relief, with the release all at once of the pent-up excitement, worry, doubt, and fear; a fear that was present always, no matter how much it was suppressed and pushed to the background.

Everything is not completely back-to-normal here yet. Some things are still not as abundant as they were before the storm such as gas, water, propane, and other supplies. Some are are yet without running water, properly functioning plumbing or electricity. It’s funny how much we take these basics for granted every day until we have to do without them.

Just as in recovery, there are repairs to be made, things to be put back in order, as they should be. Those basics we so take for granted become so mush more appreciated again.

This experience has once again, in a clear and practical way, shown me that recovery is just like life itself: we have to work at it, so it doesn’t fall apart and stop working.

Gratitude Is Still the Attitude

eleanor roosevelt - discuss

Hello to all!

Hope this post finds everyone doing well. Yes, I have been gone for a while, haven’t I? No excuses; it has been far too long!

It has been an interesting year, and I began to concentrate on other things. While I have not neglected my recovery, I obviously have neglected this site. To those who were following me, let me offer my apologies. I will make a renewed effort to write more often in this, the New Year.

This year, like any other was filled with many obstacles I’ve had to navigate; some ethical, some social, some business, and some spiritual.

There have been times this year when I had to make decisions that have put some people off. This is unfortunate, but in the end, I did what I thought was right. Those that were put off can either do their best to see my perspective, even though they don’t agree, or, they can just be put off. Their choice.

In the course of writing, one has to be ever mindful of political sensitivities, as well as personal viewpoints. I have striven to write quality content that is honest, on message, without unnecessary distraction(s) in the outlets I write for. If something is not on point, relative to the story, and the message or theme, I do not bring it into play. In these outlets, I am writing for a specific community, and I see it as my job to be informative, honest, accurate, always moving conversations forward in a productive, positive way. I do not feel I’m be duplicitous by doing this; it’s my responsibility, above all to be professional.

On the social side of things, I have made some changes; some small, and others not so small. I have not been a person that gives with the hope of “getting something in return.” There are those who can not really do anything for me other than be positive, and encourage me. To some, that might not be much, but to me, that is huge! My greatest joy has been to help these people in whatever way I can, even if it is something small, but I know it means a lot to them.

There are others that have helped me in ways that I can not ever repay, tit for tat. As I am usually the one saying, “Don’t worry about it,” this has been difficult for me when I am the one that can not pay someone back, in whatever way. I am getting better though. And, it makes me feel good inside that people care enough to help me achieve my dreams and goals.

There are some adjustments I have made this year as far as dealing with people during the course of “doing business.” Naturally, if a situation becomes intolerable, and the relevant issues can not be resolved in a mutually acceptable manner, one must simply walk away, moving on, and be thankful for the lessons learned. Sometime however, it is not best to move on, if there is a possibility that issues can be resolved.

The biggest issue I’ve dealt with this year has been with people taking me for granted. (Yes, I know that sounds so self-absorbed, but in reality, it is just a matter of practicality, truth, and self-respect.)  In the past, I have given people the benefit of the doubt, but this year, for some reason, I am less and less inclined to do so. There are two ways this happens: Those who just get busy and caught up in their own lives, and those who consciously do it just to squeeze the most they can get out of someone.

If the person is someone close, and someone who is important to me, I’ll see what’s up because maybe there is some serious shit going down in their lives I was not aware of. If I can assist them in some way, and they want my assistance, I will give it.

If it is someone with whom I must do business with, then I am inclined to bring it up and discuss relevant issues. If there is no change, then I speak through actions, or more appropriately, lack of action. Just as silence can be deafening, and as Miles Davis aptly said, “Less is more”, I do not do the extra I had been doing before. I don’t pick up someone’s slack anymore. I carry my weight, and I execute my responsibilities to the best of my ability, but everything else is no longer my concern. (Yes, I am concerned about it to the extent I want it to work out well, but if it is beyond my control, I have to let it go.) And lately, I do not feel angry, nor do I feel guilty. I have worth, as do we all. That’s not conceit, that’s fact. So, for those who no longer value my efforts on the team’s behalf, I guess they will have to pick up the slack, or show me they value my contributions.

As for me, just as me, I have made some strides. On the plus side, I am meeting new people, learning new things, and visiting new places. My recovery is in a good place, and on the 26th of December, I celebrated 26 years clean and sober.

Things I need to work on: Quit smoking and lose weight. Learn more, do more, be more.

The best thing about 2014 is that I am ever more grateful for my wife, Teresa, who encourages me, kicks me in the ass when I need it, and knows me, and loves me anyway. Sure, there are days we drive each other batshit-crazy, but in the end, she is my best friend. I am grateful as well to have a roof over my head, food on the table, and the opportunity to write about the music I love. I am grateful for these past 26 years that I have had, which I would not have lived had I not sought sobriety and recovery.

So, in the end, Gratitude is still the attitude!

Gratitude: Happy Valentine’s Day Dear!

Vinoy-Hibiscus

So: What do Valentine’s Day and gratitude have in common, you may ask? In my case, quite a lot actually. This is my third (count ’em folks, that’s three!) marriage. You know what they say: “Practice makes perfect!” Well … I’m not sure about the perfect part, but on the whole, it is pretty damn good.

Consider that my wife could’ve had anyone she wanted. No, seriously. She was hotter than hot (as in “Finer than frog hair”). She had a great job, her own house, a killer vintage hot rod, and a good head on her shoulders. It’s not like she needed a man, or a husband. I, on the other hand, was a train wreck! There were a number of issues I was procrastinating in dealing with because I did not want to admit defeat and failure. I was an amusement, something different. I was cocky, ballsy, and wicked funny. I also kept my word, as things turned out. I had a sense of honor.

As things progressed, I keep chasing her and chasing her. One day her best friend sat me down and basically said that I had quite the set of balls to be expecting anything in the way of a permanent relationship until I took care of the issues I was procrastinating on finishing up. Me being me, I made a list as this person sat there reading me the riot act, saying that without these things being dealt with, there wouldn’t be a permanent relationship. Now, my wife and her friend didn’t believe that I would take care of all these difficulties at all, much less do it in a relatively short amount of time. But I did. I said I would, and they had laughed; but I did it.

So, after chasing and chasing, she finally let me “catch” her. Interesting. Anyway … so here we are, many years later, and still married! Amazing. We live in our dream home, with beautiful, peaceful gardens, and inspiring artwork. We share the mornings (when the sun fills the house with light) over a cup of my hand-blended Happy Budah coffee. She handles the linear logic, and I handle abstract logic. We discuss politics, art, history, travel, and laugh at The Big Bang Theory. We discuss finances together (whereas before, I was lost in this area). She has been kind enough and smart enough to allow me to pursue my dreams (writing and artwork). She has also been patient with my acquisition of guitars and amps, which we both hope I’ll be able to play fairly well someday. (I’m working on it!) While I am still not allowed to use power tools, I have been known to change out faucets and repair toilets. We are both at a point where it is OK to have some alone time without feeling jilted and neglected.

So, everything is honkey-dory, right? Silly people! This is a marriage, not a fairy tale. There are things that she will never understand. She knows my recovery is important to me, but to her, it shouldn’t be a difficulty to stay clean and sober. She is proud of me for doing it, but does not see where the difficulty is in doing so. For those of you who are with someone who is right about things 99% of the time, you know how frustrating that can be. For my part, she will never cease to be frustrated by me getting lost in a paper bag, or trying to visualize how to put something together. In fairness though, she has become somewhat more patient over the years. Are there days that we wake up and say “What was I thinking?” Sure – you bet. But she has been the best friend I have ever had. She always has my back. When life and the universe kick me in the nuts, and I dust myself off and get up, she is there to give me a hand. As much as I drive her crazy sometimes, she respects me because I have always kept my word whenever I have given it. I don’t quit. And she loves me because I still make her laugh and smile. I am very grateful to have her in my life. Best thing to happen for me so far.

To Teresa I say, thanks for letting me “catch” you. Thanks for being in my life. Thanks for sharing the day-to-day with me. Loves you mucho!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

“It’s A Selfish Program.”

-- Image is ©Kerzner 2008 --

— Image is ©Kerzner 2008 —

We hear many things over the course of our recovery in our respective meeting halls (or “in the rooms,” if you prefer). These often include “It works if you work it!”, “Easy Does It!”, and “It’s a selfish program.” I am still surprised in many ways how often “It’s a selfish program” is misunderstood and/or misinterpreted. It IS a selfish program in that the main priority is achieving and maintaining quality sobriety. However, this is not accomplished to the exclusion of all other aspects of our lives. Also: AA is a selfless program. The two work hand in hand, along with gratitude, and a willingness to do the work.

When we are new in our recovery, we see the world as both scary and full of possibilities. Most want to embrace their recovery with a vengeance, almost as if they can get back all the wasted years of their addiction(s). Most are more than willing to try recovery as they have run out of plausible options. Sometimes, lacking the learning, experience, and wisdom that comes with long-term recovery, some take “It’s a selfish program” to mean that it is all about them. They are thinking “I come first. My recovery comes first. It’s all about me.” Yes, recovery comes first, for without sobriety, where will we be in our life’s journey? Recovery should be the priority, but not in place of, or to the exclusion of our other responsibilities. IF we are fortunate enough, we are still husbands, wives, partners. We are also fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers. If we are fortunate enough to still be employed, we are also employees, team members, bosses. None of these go away just because we have seen the light and decided to work on being clean/sober. The world goes on, and we must function in it. These responsibilities are also part of our sobriety, believe it or not. Working an honest recovery means being “honest in all our affairs”; this means we honor our obligations and responsibilities, at home, at work, wherever.

As mentioned earlier, AA is also about being selfless. This is what is meant when we speak of serving others and “giving it away.” Helping around the house will get noticed. Participating more in your home group is noticed. Giving your boss and teammates at work an honest day’s effort will get noticed (and will be appreciated too!). The idea is that we don’t think ONLY of ourselves and OUR needs. We help people where, when, and however we are able and willing to do so – even in the small things. We begin to give away the possibility and promise of the stability, and hopefully, peace, we have found in our own sobriety. We are a beacon to our fellow human beings of what is possible through recovery. This is what we give away most: The idea that anyone can experience a better life through recovery, if they are willing to do the work. We give away the idea that a new beginning IS possible.

Now, all this does not mean life is a bed of roses and all our difficulties will vanish. That is a fairy tale that no one promises. AA promises hope, a new beginning, possibly sanity, and hopefully peace and contentment. There is still all that wreckage from our addiction(s) and their consequences scattered throughout our lives. We have to clean that up as much as possible, and some of it can not be completely made right. There will still be haters and knuckleheads in our paths daily, and we learn to deal with this in a constructive, positive way. We will still have setbacks. Recovery is about learning how to deal with all this and not lash out, pawn it off on others as being their fault, and/or crawl inside a bottle, or drop pills, hit the casino, or just run away. Recovery is hard. No one said it is easy. The key to a good working recovery is balance. Balance between prioritizing our ongoing recovery efforts, honoring our responsibilities, AND serving others. This is what recovery is really all about.

 

Let People Know You Care … Say “Thank You”

— Image ©Kerzner 2012 —

If you are one of those people that think that little things don’t matter in relationships, then you are “daft” (as our British friends are so fond of saying). In today’s busy lifestyle of work, family, and technology in general, it is all the more meaningful when someone takes time from this busy day of theirs to tend to your need(s), even in some small way. They might offer encouragement, a gentle rebuke, advice, love, assistance, or even a kick-in-the-seat-of-your-pants that is needed!

When someone does take time from their day for you, that means they care. This is not something to be taken lightly! It means that they value you and your presence in their lives, if even for a moment. Just as a smile goes a long way, so does a “Thank You.” It makes them feel better for having done something for someone else, and it makes you feel better for acknowledging that gesture. For a person in recovery, gratitude is especially important. Gratitude reminds us that we are NOT the center of the universe, and it keeps us humble. Gratitude encourages us to help others, also an important part of any recovery.

So remember to let people know that you appreciate their help, and their service: say “Thank You.”