Listen and Identify

I was amazed!

After listening to the hate being spewed in Charlottesville I was amazed to hear it on my own Facebook timeline.

“We have to get rid of them. They are dangerous and we don’t want them near our children!”

I tried to help; “If they aren’t bothering you, why must you bother them? Why don’t you try to learn from them instead?”

More advice came pouring in through the comments: “Keep your distance.” “Run!” “We know a guy …”

Why? Because they are different? Because we don’t understand how they live? Or because we think we have more right to be here than they do?

In Charlottesville the people are making these statements about other human beings.

On Facebook, these comments were about wasps.

Today I am talking about the insect.

Tomorrow it may be the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

Listen to your words people, our children are listening and watching.

And repeating.

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I Will Smile In The Mirror

Is this man causing me symptoms of PTSD? Is this man a terrorist? I had to wonder about this. This man is a bully who lives in an alternate reality and doesn’t think he has to take responsibility for any of his actions. This man is causing terror in people I know. Is this an environment that feels familiar to me? In many ways it does.

I didn’t like my reality too much so I created my own version. And I used various ways to keep the facts and real world out. One way was to overeat and stuff my feelings down. Feelings are very inconvenient in an alternate reality. So I learned not to feel.

I learned not to ask for help. I could do everything I needed on my own, thank you very much. If I couldn’t do it, I must not need it. I became very self-sufficient – in my own mind. Remember, I lived in my own world and couldn’t see the truth. I NEEDED help, but I neither knew how to ask for it nor how to receive it.

But I grew up. I learned to take responsibility for my actions. I learned that my behavior had consequences and affected people who loved me. I stopped doing those actions and i learned how to ask for help.

This man has not grown up. His actions bring up feelings in me I do not like and I am tempted to react in a negative ways. I do not want to give this man the power to take over my actions and thoughts and feelings in any way. No, that gives him way more credit than he deserves. I know how to be a decent person. I know how to reach out to others in love, kindness, tolerance and acceptance.

In fact, as I write this, I believe the best way to fight this man is to be even more loving, kind, tolerant and accepting. I will begin with myself. I will smile in the mirror when I see my reflection. I am strong and with God’s help I will survive this too. I will extend this to my partner and to everyone I meet. It doesn’t cost anything to give someone a smile, and I have plenty more.

So to this man I say thank you. Thank you for helping me see that I am a good person. And I want to be a better person. I see many other good people in my world too. I will pray for this man.

And… I will turn off the TV.

turn-off-tv

Candle in the Window

I have been thinking about the practice of putting candles in the windows during Advent. Advent, the time of preparation and expectation for the arrival – the advent – of something amazing! I remember hearing that this tradition comes from Ireland. This simple light was to let the minister know he was welcome to come in and pray with the family. This was a time when there were no churches and it was not safe for the religious to pray together. To keep authorities at bay they told the story that the light was to guide Mary and Joseph and invite them in with open and loving hearts.

When I was a child we had electric candles in almost all our windows. Was it a treat or a chore to be the one chosen to run around the house twisting all the bulbs on to light up our house? I thought it was because it looked pretty, but were we letting people know we had a safe place to come to?

Lately I have been shining a light into my own soul and I am okay with what I am seeing. Why? Because I know God accepts me just as I am today. (There was a time I couldn’t say this.) As long as I believe this, I can continue to keep growing and shining. But does my inner light shine bright enough for others to know they are welcome to come in? And do I consider it a treat or a chore to be a beacon of God’s light?

And what does that even mean? When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary he said, “Do not be afraid.” In fact, whenever an angel appears he usually says, “Fear not” and usually the one spoken to runs away – at first. But Mary ponders it all in her heart and sings, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

How does my soul magnify the Lord? What is He calling me to do? How do I align my will with His and not be afraid? What is God calling me to be in this tumultuous time?

To answer these questions I go back to the simple single candle in the window. I don’t over think it and I trust. I invite God into my heart and I know I will be called to be where I am needed when I am needed so long as I prepare.

candles-in-windows

What Was He Thinking?

Does anyone else out there wish they could ask God what He was thinking? I’m not even talking on a global or national level here. I mean, come on, couldn’t God make it easier to let us in on His plans for us? He sends us these signs and then leaves it to us to interpret them. Talk about confusing.  I could go on a political rant, but that is not my scene. Let me say this though, the God I believe in teaches me to pray for everyone, especially those who hurt others. If I can’t pray for them, who will? Right now, however, I am talking about closer to home, as in – me.

So, a few months ago I had applied for a job that seemed perfect for me. I mean – perfect. It showcased all my gifts, it was close to home, the interviews went great. I didn’t get it. Fine. I moved on. I licked my wounds. I figured it was so I could have more time to do something else. Obviously God had other plans. I have since gone in another direction and have been very busy.

This week there was a message on my phone from one of the women with whom I had interviewed letting me know there was a temporary position available, was I interested. I called and left a message saying I was. No reply. I called again. No reply. Now I am obsessing. I have been taught to do the footwork and leave the results to God. But how much footwork am I supposed to do? Maybe she left the wrong number? Maybe I could call the company and find out? Maybe now I’m stalking?

Why did this call come now? And why haven’t I heard back yet? Was this a reminder to look at what is important and get back to basics? It is very easy to get lazy and sloppy and put off till tomorrow what I just don’t feel like doing. Was this just a kick in the tuchus? Whatever the reason, I have been more diligent in my own schedule since I received that message. It really doesn’t matter what is happening “out there,” I still have to take care of myself and keep to my routine so I can be in the best fit, spiritual condition to receive God’s messages. This way I will have some hope to interpret their meaning.

Do you want to know what else I have learned? It doesn’t even matter if I am right in my interpretation or not. All I have to do is work on my relationship with God, trust in Him and do my best. Oh, and stay in the day. I don’t have to worry about the timing, the outcome or any of that. All I have to do is my part: I put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing.

one-foot

The Day After

I am disappointed and surprised by the results of the election. But am I going to let my recovery suffer because of it?

Today I wake up with a new-found conviction and gratitude for OA and its Spiritual principles. I remind myself that with my Higher Power, whom I call God, we can do anything. I am powerless over people who do not have recovery or who do not live by the principles found in the 12 Steps; but I am not powerless over how I practice the principles in all MY affairs.

I start by following my food plan and remaining abstinent so I can be clear to receive God’s will for me. I then continue my daily routine as if it were any other Wednesday. Next I will take my fears and resentments through the steps. I can remember that I have a program of recovery that teaches me how to deal with my fears and resentments so I do not have to react nor take it out on anyone else. I certainly do not want to have to make amends later for something I say or do now.  Right now, today, I am safe. I can breathe freely.

Then, I can be available to others who may need a little extra support today. I do not have to tell them how to feel, but I can remind them to look for gratitude in their own lives and ask what they can do to showcase and be examples of their own principles and values.

I trust my Higher Power. I trust Him because I can look back on my life and see He has always been with me. Therefore I know He is with me now as well. He has not “done this” or “allowed this to happen.” It is now up to me to turn to Him instead of the food to show others that good does exist and will prevail.

I am grateful I have a program of recovery and a relationship with my Higher Power.

Wren’s Mission Statement for Life

This morning I was asked to think about how I could condense my reason for living into one simple mission statement. I realized that I am happiest when I do the footwork and leave the results to God; when I stop trying to do God’s job; and, when I simply let God be God and me be me.  My role is to be of service to God and my fellows.

But what does that mean?

First of all, do I trust God?

God is God, of course I trust Him. I’m supposed to, aren’t I?

But isn’t trust earned?

When I look back over my life do I find myself arguing with God about all the bad things he “let” happen? Or do I realize that by the mere fact that I am still here, He has proven that He has protected me from myself? Besides, I do believe God loves it when we argue with Him. As long as the lines of communication are open He is pleased. Bring it on: yell, scream, rant, rave, curse, whatever.  Just don’t shut Him out.

Second, how do I know that what I think is God’s will for me is coming from God or from me?

Does it make me feel good, or guilty? Am I trying to get away with something? Is it going to hurt anyone? Do I feel confident about sharing this with everyone? Do I have an expected outcome? Am I practicing becoming a better person, or am I expecting other people to accept me exactly as I am and they have to do all the changing! As someone wise recently stated: God loves me exactly as I am, but He doesn’t expect me to stay this way. If my motives come from love, tolerance and kindness, I can pretty much guess it comes from God. If there is any hatred, anger or judgment, I need to look closer at my motives.

Third, what if I don’t like the outcome?

Let’s go back to number one. If I trust God, I can trust the outcome whether I like it or not. Simple, not easy. I may not see why today, or even tomorrow. But I hope someday I will see why it makes sense. And get this – it may not have anything to do with me.

When I combine these three answers, I am usually okay with discerning God’s will for me in being of service. The best part is… as I help others I am rewarded 100 fold.

copyright Wren 10/2016

“Drop Seeds”

 

“From the window I notice a small brown wren huddled on the grass beneath the bird feeder, struggling to fly.  The frigid wind bends the branches of the crab apple tree.  Fifteen minutes pass.  He cannot seem to find the strength.  Is he sick? Too young?  Too Weak?  It seems sad.  But I suppose there is little I can do for him.

Suddenly my attention is drawn to another wren that flies to the feeder.  I am astonished as she begins to toss seed with her beak from the ledge of the feeder down to the grass below.  The kernels fall upon the little bird and he pecks at them, satisfying his hunger.  The next time I pass the window he’s gone.

All day I watch the wrens at the feeder, thinking how we are put here not only to partake, but to feed the hungers of those around us.  Drop Seed.  Drop seed.”

 Found in Firstlight;  Author: Sue Monk Kidd

Thank you my friend, for sending this to me!

I Have A Voice

One of my early memories is of being gathered around the dinner table and politely asking for the salt, “please pass the salt” and no one hears me. “Please pass the salt!” A little louder. I am the youngest of four. “PLEASE PASS THE SALT!” “Don’t yell at the table!”

In Recovery I learn my voice is important and people want to hear what I have to say. In meetings each person shares and everyone listens without crosstalk, feedback, advice or criticism. It is wonderful! In a business meeting everyone has an opportunity for his/her voice to be heard whether or not he/she has a vote. It doesn’t matter if you have been in the program for 30 years or 30 minutes! In fact, I usually hear the more potent question from the newcomer than the longtimer.

A few years ago I learned that in OA we have a Concept of Service that specifically spells out that in OA we all have a voice. (It is Concept 4* by the way.) It has become my mission in OA to make other people aware of the Concepts and how important they are to personal recovery. Pretty much they kept me abstinent through my cancer treatment. But that’s for another post.

Recently I have been working an intense step study and some new stuff has come up for me. I have received new insights on why I am so passionate about why everyone in OA has a voice. I believe I had shared in a previous post that I had been raped. Well, while working on my Step 9*, I have wondered, “What amends do I owe a person when I was the one who was hurt?” I mean, I know I needed to forgive the person, but amends? But he was on my Step 4* list, so yeah, I was confused. This study suggests: “For those where clearly they have harmed you or others without any provocation whatsoever, at the very, very least you have hurt them by allowing them, or the memory of them, to have power over you…You may also have hurt those same people by not telling the truth to others when the truth should have been told. You may have hurt them by allowing them to continue to hurt you or others… Try to figure out what harm you have done to all the people on your list. It may be subtle, like ‘I did nothing.’”

So I thought back to what happened to me. What had I done? What had happened? How does this relate to not having a voice? I was talking to my therapist last week about this and I began to remember some things. Him telling me not to tell anyone; “It will be our secret.” But the real surprise was remembering his hand on my mouth. I was physically kept silent. I had no voice. I wondered why I hadn’t cried out for help – I couldn’t.

What I did to myself after was to stuff it down with food. To the point where it didn’t even happen. No, this wasn’t the first time I had used food to stuff my feelings, but this was the most effective time. And it was during this time when I really began to pull away from other people – and myself. These are the amends I really owe: to my family and friends from whom I pulled away. I thought I was doing everyone a favor by not being in their lives. I know now that is not true.  I used the food to silence myself!

I love my voice now. I use my voice when I write, when I speak, and even when I sing. It doesn’t mean that I have to be right, no, not at all. It simply means that I have the right to be heard. And so do you.

 

Remember, these opinions and thoughts are my own and do not represent OA as a whole.

*Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

*Step 9: Made direct amends to such people except when to do so would injure them or others.

*Concept 4: The right of participation ensures equality of opportunity for all in the decision making process.

voice

 

Good Grief!

Today’s writing in the “For Today Workbook” asked, “What have I learned of value by not running from grief into the food?”

I used to think emotions were the character defects we were trying to “get rid of” in Step 7*. Boy was I was wrong! Emotions are simply chemical reactions taking place in the body – simple, natural reactions that will pass when I let them. It is what I do when I have them that I need to ask my HP for help with.

I have learned to let my emotions have a voice. I don’t have to act on it, but I do have to listen. Otherwise I may eat over it. I can do this by talking to a trusted friend or writing, especially writing to my Higher Power.

I have learned that I can feel my emotions AND still turn my life over to God. In fact, it is crucial that I do.

I learned to ask for help. I learned to accept the help I asked for.

I have been reminded that life happens. But we have a secret: we have OA to help us through. What a gift and a blessing!

Even after I write, talk, pray, walk, or find some way to make it through the grief, sometimes I still have to just fall on my bed and let it wash over me and cry. This too will pass. And I usually felt better after.

I learned not to be surprised when the grief showed up. It had its own time-table.

I ended up with a much closer relationship with my Higher Power.

AND, I have learned to share my story. Maybe someone else is going through something similar and needs to know they can get through abstinently too. Together we can!

Remember, these are only my thoughts and do not represent OA as a whole.

* Step 7: “Humbly asked Him to remove our defects of character.”

I’m on Facebook

Wren has a facebook page!

Shhhhhh, it’s still anonymous!

“Wren Home” is the name of my page. But I have to get “friends”!

So tell your friends, and they’ll tell 2 friends and so on and so on. (Did i just date myself?)

No, it’s still not an April Fool’s Joke. I really did it.

So go be my friend, okay?

Thanks,

Wren