You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Circle of Family and Friends – You and Your Personal Community’ category.

It’s so good to get back to the blog.  I have been letting other aspects of life get in the way and I have missed connecting with you.  It’s an activity that keeps me grounded and I need the grounding, I assure you.  I have multiple balls in the air on most days.

The really great news in my life right now is the release of my newest book: Let Go Now: Embracing Detachment. I am really excited with it.  It was published by Conari and is available on amazon and can be ordered in all the bookstores too.  You can always “see inside” when you go to amazon, you know.  It’s a collection of 200 essays on how to let go of the others in our life so that they and we can live the journey we were meant to live.

People often ask me which of my books I like best and that’s not a question that’s easily answered, but I would have to say this particular one is extremely helpful, even to me as the author, because of the difficulty I continue to have letting other people live without my interference.

Interference is so subtle.  It can be as small as a glance of disapproval that’s noticed.  A frown when some one shares what his plan is.  It might be something verbalized or only harbored in one’s mind, but the effects are felt, regardless.  Our companions can generally tell what’s on our minds.  Our attempts to control are never unfelt.

I have been asked to explain in a couple of interviews what detachment really means.  Perhaps the best way to explain it is to talk about what it’s not.  It’s not being enmeshed with others.  It’s not being attached to the whims of every one around you, letting those whims determine your next move.  It’s being free of the need to agree with the opinions of your companions.  It’s allowing for the growth of those companions, understanding that what they do doesn’t define us.  It’s allowing others to have their feelings and not feel compelled to feel them too, or try to change them or be diminished by them.  In short, it’s  respecting others where they are and expecting that same respect in return.

Being able and willing to live a life that’s detached from the turmoil that might be present in the life of loved ones, is the greatest gift we can offer them.  And ourselves!

How effective are you at living a life that’s comfortably “detached” from others. Please share in the comment section.

My mother passed away in 1998 but not a single day goes by that I don’t think fondly of her.  I was particularly reminded of her at church yesterday.  Our  minister honored those mothers present and those mothers no longer with us.  It’s a miracle that I think so fondly of my mother, actually, because we were not great friends in my early adulthood.   We were more or less estranged after I left my home town with a husband they didn’t really like.  And then in my early recovery I stayed away by choice, even though that husband was no longer a part of my life.   I occasionally called my parents but for a number of years I didn’t let them know who I really was.  It seemed best that way.  Our conversations were superficial which left fewer opportunities to argue, a great pastime of my dad’s.  He engaged me far too easily in those arguments because I was just as intent on being right as was he.

My mother generally looked on, not engaging in our struggles.  I always felt she was secretly glad I was standing up to him though.  She never felt strong enough to do it, except through her passive aggression.  After my dad passed, my mother and I spent more time together.  She stayed with my current husband and me for a few months every winter.  It got her out of the cold but the real upside to her visits was the development of a friendship that I had never expected to experience.  We shopped, went for lunch, had dinners out too.  She loved sports and we rooted for her favorite teams together.  She and I took up painting by numbers just as a lark.  I still treasure the only one she finished.  Mothers are an under-appreciated group.  That’s for sure.  I think of her as my guardian angel.  Some thing tells me that pleases her, in fact.

She left this world knowing she was dearly loved by me.  And that pleases me.

I mentioned in the last blog the joy of reconnecting with Ellen, a friend I had seen very little of since our graduation from high school in Indiana nearly 55 years ago.  As I write that number, I am absolutely amazed at how quickly time passes, never to be repeated.  Moment by moment our lives pass us by and then an event occurs that triggers a “look back,” and we’re shocked.  The reality of who we have become startles us.

The mini-reunion we had in Chicago last week end provided that “look back” and I remain in a state of shock.  We felt young yet, or so we claimed.  For sure we didn’t feel our age nor did most of us look our age either.  But the minutes had ticked by any way, slipping through our fingers like through a sieve, and the many fond memories of years gone by could only be recounted, not lived again.

There is some thing very special about reliving fond memories.  For one, they can be “used” to lessen the hold of a conflict with a friend or family member.  No one is in charge of what we dwell on but ourselves.  Making the choice to think another thought rather than the one that is creating inner angst is a great choice to make.  And one we can practice repeatedly with out announcing to anyone what we are doing.

The little joys that call to us for a show of appreciation can be as small as a barking dog, a chirping cardinal, that first cup of coffee in the morning with a spouse or a friend, or a child’s whimper to be picked up.  That note of thanks from a friend that was entirely unexpected deserves our acknowledgment too. When ever we seek to notice the many opportunities for showing signs of appreciation, they will seem to multiply.  Funny how that works, wouldn’t you say?

Today, look for the many times you can express appreciation.  Many will be woven within the tiniest of experiences.  The more we cultivate within us the willingness to really see, the greater will be our level of joy.  Sign me up!  How about you?

I just returned from a week end in Chicago with fourteen dear friends from high school.  There are so many sweet memories running through my mind that I don’t know which one to savor first and longest.  Starting with my roommate is no doubt a good beginning.  Ellen is her name and we hadn’t been particularly close in high school but we were in the same group.  We called ourselves “the Superlatives.”  We were certain then, that we were, and deserved to be, the envy of all the other girls in the school.  Needless to say we made a few enemies along the way.  But it’s now nearly 55 years later and we have mellowed.  Thank goodness, we have mellowed.

Life has a way of humbling you.  We have all had our crosses to bear, our barriers to full acceptance in one arena or another.  But we are survivors.  With a sense of humor, we have survived the troubled times.  And this  brings me to what I want to say about my roommate for the week end, Ellen.  Just a couple of months ago she lost her husband to alzheimers.  Because he was young, having just retired a few short years ago, it was devastating to her and their children.  But putting one foot in front of the other is what she and they have had to do.  And they have done it.  They have been courageous and comforted by the knowledge that nothing stays the same and that all is well despite appearances, sometimes.

As mentioned earlier, Ellen and I had not been particularly close in high school. There were 21 of us in the group and most had 3 or 4 whom they drew closest too.  She had hers and I mine.  But for the week end we had each other and the time was perfect for two women with very different life experiences to grow in appreciation of one another.  My journey into alcoholism and drug addiction and then recovery is a far cry from the journey she has been on, but it was evident that the details of the past were not as important as the pleasures we were experiencing in the present.

That’s how it should always be.  Let the past be past.  Sink your teeth into the present.  It’s the “gift” we have been given for the moment.  Ellen shared many tender moments about her husband, Bud.  And I listened with intention.  That’s the proper role always, for every one of us.  Being each others’ witness is the kindest offering we can make.

The encounters with all the rest of the women, plus two of their husbands, sent me home with a renewed spirit for the work I am “assigned to” at this very moment.  Knowing, as I do, that our paths have been selected for us, our experiences too, allows me to breath easily on this lovely afternoon.  On every afternoon, as a matter of fact.  We are not accidental friends.  We are, each one of us, threads in the tapestry of life that 21 women have been spinning for seventy years now.

Thanks be to God.

Some of my dearest friends are facing tough situations right now.  Being present to listen, or to hold them in prayer, or simply to serve as a witness while they make the journey that is quite specifically theirs to make is why God has “arranged” our meeting in the first place.  I can still recall how I used to think an idea such as this one was simply too far-fetched to even consider as a possibility.  And now it guides my thinking every day.

Being open and willing the allow new ideas to inform us is part of the necessary journey we are on, I think.  Nearly every idea I hold dear today has been cultivated over these many years I have walked along this spiritual path.

I saw a movie a few years ago that really brought clarity to why we are “here” in one another’s lives.  It’s to serve as a witness.  Being seen, being known, being accepted is what we hunger for and when we can’t find it, we begin looking in all the wrong places.  I certainly sought it through alcohol and drugs, unhealthy relationships, and workaholism.  Then I found the pathway to real meaning through a relationship to a Higher Power and connections to the kind of people who really do “sign up” to serve as our witness.

Being the witness to a friend on our path isn’t a one-way street.  It’s very much a two-way street.  We reap what we sow.  Not a new idea, is it?  Be alert today. Your attention is needed by many.  Start with the person standing closest to you.

. . . and it’s not always a pretty picture, is it?  I have said on many occasions, in many books and at many workshops, that the relationships we have attracted are perfect for the growth we are destined to have in this life.  Perhaps that seems farfetched to you.  It did to me when I first heard it, but I decided to believe it for lack of any other reasonable explanation for the myriad relationships I endured in the many avenues of my life.  I can see now, (hindsight is so revealing) that every single relationship offered me slices of the education I have needed to make me successful in the work I now do.  What I share with others, on the stage and in books, is based wholly on what I have gleaned from my own experiences within a host of relationships; some very difficult, some joyful to the core.

A former boss comes to mind when I think about past relationships that educated me in significant ways.  It’s an understatement to say he was a difficult man. He seemed to take pleasure in humiliating others and I was at the top of his list.  But for every time he put me down, he also praised me, generally in a back-handed way, but it was offered, nonetheless.  I grew strong working for him and I came to understand that what others say and do doesn’t have to define me.  I had been introduced to this idea in 1971 in a book by John Powell: WHY AM I AFRAID TO TELL YOU WHO I AM?  How it surfaced in that book was in a conversation between Powell and a good friend.  His friend, journalist Sidney Harris, strolled down a New York city street quite often in the early morning.  Harris was prone to buying his daily paper from the same vender day after day.  The vender was always gruff and Harris was always polite and even tipped the nasty fellow on a regular basis.  Powell was uncontainable.  “Why do you tip him?  He is rude.”  Harris simply stated, “Why should I let him decide what kind of day I’m going to have?”

Bingo.  My behavior in my relationship with my boss, with many ex-boyfriends as well as my first husband, my dad, and many good as well as casual friends had all been influenced by my perception of what I thought they were thinking of me.  I discovered how fearful I was.  I was a shell for years but can claim, at last, to be a whole person.  I enjoy having the praises of others.  For sure.  But I am not reduced to simply seeking them.  I am pleased with who I have become.  I certainly hope your journey has allowed you to come to this same place of self-acceptance too.  Just remember, where ever you are right now is the perfect place to be for the next stage of your education.

When I first heard the suggestion to detach from another person, I interpreted it to mean to sever all ties, all communication.  Considering it was a relationship partner I was supposed to detach from, I found the suggestion out of the question.  What I had failed to understand at that time and frankly, for many months to come, was that detachment didn’t mean to literally turn my back on some one.  But rather to shield my emotions from the behavior of others.  To let others do whatever they did without my own emotions jumping on their roller-coaster.  It wasn’t easy.  My behavior, from childhood on, had been a reflection of the behavior of the others close to me.  When some one was mad, I was sure it was at me or that I had triggered it.  If some one was sullen, maybe my actions could bring them around.  If a friend or lover pulled away, it was intentional and a flat-out rejection of my very being.

What a basket-case I was.  It’s embarrassing to admit it but the good news is that what was true is no longer true and that’s the hopeful theme in this particular entry.  We can change.  We can develop new understandings about our own character.  We can see how entwined we were with others to the benefit of no one. And we can learn how simple it really is to make new, healthier choices that will ensure our freedom from the emotions and the behaviors of others.  While it’s very true that no one is on our path accidentally, it’s also true that their purpose might simply be to teach us how to let go.  Learning how to let go of one person allows us to be able to practice it with every one.  And when that’s the case, peace can become our constant companion.

I participate in two telephone conference calls every morning, both of them related to my spiritual journey.  And in both calls, there are participants who have been part of my recovery journey for all 35 years.  That’s amazing to me.  It’s not that I don’t still have loving friends from high school and college who I see or talk to on occasion, but these particular “phone buddies” know me in the most intimate of ways.  As I know them.  And we are committed to loving and cherishing each other’s heart while walking, side by side through the brambles of life.  Nothing is too difficult to handle when we have others who are willing to shoulder the load with us.

I have talked in earlier blogs about the “angels on assignment” to us, the ones wearing skin and those who are looking on from the other side.  It’s so important to pay homage to all of them.  We simply couldn’t do life alone.  Nor are we expected to.  On the contrary, our connections with others, those special moments of joining that we experience, are the holy instants of our lives, and it’s in those fleeting instants that God is so very present.  Remember, when ever two or more are gathered. . .  Taking the time to appreciate every encounter we have throughout the day is the best way to say thank you to the god of our understanding for the blessings bestowed on us.  They are many.

I go into the hospital for hip replacement surgery February 11th.  My gait gives it away to onlookers.  I have been hobbling for some time now.  It began with a simple pain that worsened into a constant ache.  It’s reminiscent of my condition about a decade ago.  It was my left hip then.  The only time it didn’t hurt was when I rode my Harley.  No Harley these days and the ache is nonstop.

I had thought I could postpone this surgery until December.  I have workshops already committed to and didn’t want any interruptions.  But my body called and fortunately,  there was a window of opportunity that fit me, the surgeon and my workload.  So if you have time on Thursday to blow a prayer my way, I’d appreciate it.

Actually, I have no fear.  I think having been through it before helps, of course, but I also have the faith needed to know that there is a perfect outcome. Whatever my situation might be following surgery, I will be in good hands, as well as God’s hands.  Having constant  contact with God, a gift that I have nurtured for decades, pays off.

As I tell sponsees and friends all the time, we are always prepared for the experiences that wear our names.  Believing that has allowed me to live free of anxiety.  As I told a friend today who has made a big change in her life, she is embarking on a sweet adventure.  Every day is a sweet adventure, for all of us, whether we are doing the same dance or a new one.  Aren’t we a lucky bunch of people?  I sure think so.  Thanks for visiting my blog.  I love our friendship.


I had an opportunity to meet some one I took an instant dislike to at a friend’s home recently. Every thing about the man got under my skin. He was loud; he didn’t listen to others when they spoke; he seemed particularly dismissive of women; he was very judgmental, from my perception, and it seemed we had nothing in common. And then I heard him mention he was in recovery. What a difference that piece of information made to me. Why was I so quick to dismiss him at first and then just as quickly forgive him his “apparent” flaws, when I found out we shared the most important of all my values?

This gave me a lot of food for thought over the next few days. I had heard all the cliches, like “you spot it you got it” and every one is a mirror of yourself. I knew that I saw in him some of my own characteristics, particularly those that I abhorred, but what was it that allowed me to instantly see him differently when I found out we both traveled the recovery road? I am not sure I have sorted this out yet, but I do think having the willingness to lay aside my judgments when I want to is an indication that I can lay them aside even when I don’t want to. They have not become hardened in concrete. They are merely hovering over my shoulders until I throw them off. The decision to do so is always as close as my next thought.

What I most realized from this and similar experiences is that this man served as a great “learning partner” for me.  I was willing to cast him aside, not without extreme judgment of course, choosing to believe that he had nothing to offer me when, in fact, his very presence was offering me an awareness that I needed to be reminded of once again: every person is in my face for a reason and the lesson will be learned, if not now, later.

I accept this as a very hopeful awareness. It means that nothing that happens is by chance. Every person who wanders into my life has been called to that moment in time. Isn’t this a glorious concept? Doesn’t it change every past situation that you hated? Doesn’t it shine a new light on every person you meet that you aren’t immediately drawn to? It means we can live free of dread. We can anticipate all that may happen with joy.

Most of us experience times of hopelessness. I have had my share, many even in the early years of recovery. But we are never left to handle our hopelessness alone. If you are in a situation that seems uncomfortable, ask yourself, “Is there something here for me to learn?”


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 233 other followers

Categories

Twitter Updates

Archives