A New Life

Along the Yellowstone River in August 2022

I have been thinking and praying and thinking and praying about blogging. I miss it so much.

But my entire message and my entire life has changed. I am not the person I used to be when I was blogging.

I am sober. 38 years. Continuous Sobriety.

I have not been to a meeting for quite a while. Last year I was going when a friend was dying and we had meetings for him, outdoors on Sunday mornings. As the weather grew colder, and his strength was leaving, we set up a gas stove in the garden and gathered round, drank coffee, and shared from our hearts. All people of my age, chronologically and sobriety. It was a beautiful time. My friend died in January. His wife, who has been my friend since day one of sobriety in 1984, is getting through, one day at a time. Some days she wishes it would end, but she keeps on, knowing he would want her to. And she is also sober. Over 40 years.

And now I will share what I wasn’t sure I should: I felt the discernment to become a Benedictine Oblate in November of 2019 when I was in Chicago taking an icon class. I didn’t even know what that was or even how to pronounce it! I had to look it up. Later, after I came home, I was at Mass one morning on my way to work, and the priest said in his homily:

If you are discerning something, don’t spend too much time discerning. Take Action!

After Mass I went to work, called the Abbey and spoke with the director of the Oblates. I set up a retreat just before Christmas in 2019. I met with the Oblates Director, who is a wonderful wonderful elderly nun. I spent a couple of days in prayer in meditation and decided I wanted to move forward. Just before the world ended (COVID).

In October 2020, I enrolled as a novice oblate. With hopes of being a full oblate within a year. But that was not to be. A bad case of COVID visited the nuns at the abbey and they had to close it to visitors for quite a while. Sadly, two of the nuns passed away from the virus.

I was so thrilled earlier this year when we were told that we could come to the abbey to make our make our final oblation in July. It would be small, only the oblates and their sponsors. But it would happen! Finally! And the date chosen? July 24, 2022. My sobriety date. I don’t really believe in coincidences, this felt like a gift to me.

My life today feels like something I have dreamed of. And yet never believed possible. I don’t want to go into too many details. I am worried about posting this publicly, especially here. In the place where 16 years of my struggles have been so graphically posted.

I appreciate all of you bloggers who have read so very much about me over the years. I really have a hope that I can begin to blog again, but it will be very different. Maybe even an entirely different blog. Not sure.

And on a bit of a side note: Over the last few years, I have lost a lot of friends and even two of my brothers. With my friends, I have seen things on social media that have really been disturbing. I have thought a lot about us “not knowing the hour,” and what we put out there. Not only on social media, but with our families and friends. If I knew that my last post on Facebook, or instagram, or even this blog, was going to be my last – what would I want to say? I am pretty sure it wouldn’t be smart ass memes or snarky comments about anyone – even politicians no matter how wrong I think they are.

Maybe I would want my last words anywhere to be:

I love you all. Thank you for all you have added to my life.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

And now it’s December

I love to think I am an eye-conographer (crazy spelling, but I don’t want to come up in searches for the real word). I currently have 5, count ’em, 5 eye-cons that are unfinished in my house. They get to a stage where they are so beautiful, I get too afraid to touch them lest I wreck them.

I thought I would try a bit of light-hearted calligraphy for a Christmas Card, just for fun. I actually think I like this card. Obviously I designed it and painted it, then stuck it in the printer and amazingly enough it turned out half decent as a copy on card stock. Then I added gold paint for highlights, which you cannot see in the photo.

I no longer have a steady hand like I used to. My hands are not steady and my calligraphy teacher is horrified by my calligraphy. But I just tell her that you can certainly tell that my work was not done by a machine! This card looks like it was done by the hand of a shaky 70 year old Ben a dictine (again with the spelling) with the heart of a 1960s hippie, which is exactly what I am. I don’t know if I will gather the courage to make up a bunch and send them out or just use the stupid mass-market cards I bought.

I will be 70 on the 15th of this month. I cannot even believe I made it this long. I am enjoying my life in retirement, but I think it is wise to face my mortality. My mother only lived to 57, and my sister to 70. I think my lifestyle is far different than theirs were, but heredity is HUGE. I never thought I could ever in a million years have osteoporosis with all the running, etc. I have done. But here I am, with a severe case.

I’m still very active, and I am sure it is very good for me mentally if nothing else. I need to get my blood moving and I particularly need to get out in nature every day. Walks are good. Very very good.

We had plans for my daughters to take me out for my birthday, but one of them has COVID and can’t go anywhere until Dec. 17. She says it is a mild case, and I pray that is the truth. She sounds like she has a cold. And she is in good enough spirits to send me pics of her and the dog bundled up on the couch, watching TV.

So, the other daughter thought it might be nice to take me for a trip to the mountains for one night, staying at my favorite hotel in the world and going to my favorite hot springs. I am so so excited!

I went to see my son and his family in Montana for Thanksgiving. I feel full of family and love, and the sense of God’s presence in my life.

It is now a long time ago, but I will never forget, that there was a time their father got a restraining order so I could not even see them. Those were some dark times. But the darker the background, the more you can see the tiniest light in contrast. My life today is so flooded in light and love, it is not recognizable as the old life.

And I thank God every day for this gift. It is all gift, and it is all love. Thank you Lord, and thank YOU reader for being here.

Posted in Aging, Gratitude, Osteoporosis, Retirement | 14 Comments

XXXVII

Lake McDonald Trail – Glacier National Park

It’s been two years since I have checked in. Every now and then someone will come along and comment. Some of the comments are nice, and some of them are semi-snarky… like “I don’t know what happened to Mary….” Well, I just haven’t been blogging, that’s what!

Most of the people I used to blog with have moved on. I think most of them are still alive and sober. I miss blogging very much. But blogging is a thing of the past I guess. I like it because you can make a blog whatever you want it to be, and people you don’t want to see it are very unlikely to find it. A couple of people found me over the years, but it was OK.

I did get to celebrate 37 years of continuous sobriety, by the Grace of God, in July. I’m gratefuller than words can say. The older I get, the more I appreciate all that the program, the fellowship, and sobriety gave to me. I am certain I would have been dead many years ago had I not gotten and stayed sober. And to think of all the wonderful people I have met, the places I have seen, the life experiences I have had – it is completely amazing to me.

I am in a very different place now. My last day of work is scheduled for 9/28/21. I have no illusions that I will ever go back to work. At the hospital, the place that always asked me to come back, there is no one left who knows or values my skillset or knowledge. It is OK. It is life.

On December 15, I will be 70 years old. Amazing! I am SO looking forward to my new life as an elder and not a worker.

I have become very involved with a religious order and will say no more than that. I know so little, I would never ever want to come up in a search for this particular thing.

This, iconography, daily Mass, and physical exercise will be my focus in the short-term for my retirement. I am so excited about this!

You may ask, what happened to meetings? I tried zoom meetings early on, and found that it was a free-for-all, with complete strangers dialing in from all over the country. Add to that, the chicanery of people wearing political (red) hats and shirts and spouting conspiracy theories, and I just bowed out. I found a group with better control than that and attended that for a while. I have a group of women friends who have met outdoors in more informal meetings, but those gatherings are not regular. I am not going to go to meetings with unvaccinated people, and unfortunately our fellowship is full of them.

A man I have known since the late 90s, sleeping in the bushes outside of the club, died recently. My heart breaks for his wife, but it makes me so angry at him! His facebook was an illustration of how this damn thing works. In June and prior, funny jokes about how stupid Anthony Fauci is, etc. In July, happy photos of being in the stands at a baseball game! Later in July, best wishes to get well soon. Later in August, RIP. God in heaven help us!

I am so very grateful for our Loving God, who has held me in the palm of His hand for all of these years.

Thanks for reading, leave a comment so I know someone came by….

Posted in Aging, Gratitude, Progress, Retirement, Sobriety | 13 Comments

XXXV

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Morning prayer and meditation on a recent camping trip

Today I celebrate 35 years of continuous sobriety.  I am so very grateful to a loving God and to Alcoholics Anonymous.

A month or so ago, I had another nightmare about my former husband.  This time we were living in a hovel, I had come home from work to find there was no furniture, he had left, which was fine, except – I was on the lease.  And on and on in the dream.

I woke up and had to tell myself over and over again that we are divorced and have been for 25 years.  I still couldn’t shake the fear, so I got up.

I walked into the living room and looked around.  I started to cry with gratitude.  The moonlight was shining in the windows, and my house was lit with the softest most beautiful light.  I stood in my living room and cried.

Because in that moment, I realized all that I have.  All that has been given to me.  How God has carried me through every single crisis, every single depression, every drop of anxiety, and all my worry was for naught.  God had me all those years, and he still holds me in the palm of his hand.

God has been so very good to me.

The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.  His wrath will come to an end; he will not be angry for ever.  He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults.  For as the heavens are high above the earth, so strong is his love for those who fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our sins.

Psalm 103

Posted in Depression, Dreams, Faith, Fear, Gratitude, Meditation, Sobriety | 21 Comments

New Pyrex Bowls

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Now that I have received my first paycheck, I have made a couple of impulsive purchases.  I don’t think $12 for a set of three bowls is going to set me back too badly, but perhaps if I made a hundred silly purchases, it would.  And I could easily buy 100 little things.   I must get very very serious about my money in these last couple of years of earning.

But first!  I am going to North Carolina this weekend to see two of my brothers. I am so excited to see them.  It has been 2 years.  They are 81 and 80, the 80 year old is in a nursing home and has been for years.  He has Parkinson’s disease, which is a pretty heartbreaking disease.  And scary.

Every time I think I don’t want to exercise, I just think of him, and I get out there and do whatever it is I am supposed to do that day.  I have a triathlon in a little over a month and I have been training.  Even at the end of these days when I am so tired.

I am into my 4th week of work this week.  It has kicked my butt more than I could ever have imagined.  I am so tired.  So tired.  I am also picking up one of my granddaughters after school each day, so I am working from 7 to 3 to accommodate that.  Then driving for well over an hour to pick her up, drop her off, and get home.  Exhausted.  I will get used to this, and she will be out of school in 2 weeks.  Phew!

This too shall pass.  Everything does.  Absolutely everything.

I am realizing how much the world has changed and how quickly and how I am from an entirely different era.  I am very glad of that.  I am glad I raised myself, even though having available parents would have been nice.  I am glad that back then it was easy to let yourself into the house after school and make your own dinner. I really didn’t think I was neglected or abused, it just seemed like that was how I was living.  My kids were also “latchkey kids” because I was so busy working and trying to put food in their mouths.  They also did not and still don’t think they were abused or neglected.   It was no great scandal back then.  Thank God.  They are all three very independent people, and I am grateful for that.

You know what else I am grateful for?  Being sober.  Having old friends who have also stayed sober all these years, and being able to see them on a regular basis.   I can’t imagine what my life would be if not for the Grace of God and the program.  What a miracle!

Thank you for so many nice comments on my last post.  I think I am going to try to blog more regularly.  I will try to actually collect my thoughts first in the future.  ha ha.  Maybe not.  I also popped into the confessional this weekend impulsively…. the priest asked me if I hadn’t had time to gather my thoughts and I told him no.  He very kindly took me through the Ten Commandments and asked me yes or no questions.  It was one of the most wonderful confessions ever.

Love to you…. Mary Christine

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Another Year, Another Tulip

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This brave little soul just decided to bloom today.  It is 73 º outside, so it has been fooled.  It is supposed to be nearly 80 tomorrow, and then a huge snowstorm on Wednesday.  Ah, life in Colorado.

An old blogger contacted me today and it was just so good to feel connected to the blog again.  It is really silly to not post anything anymore.  I get discouraged when people don’t read, but usually someone reads my posts, and if I posted more, I might get new readers, you never know.

I am going back to work in 2 weeks.  I am more grateful than words can say.

I need money, I am not good at living within my means, and having my granddaughter move in has just blown up my budget – to put it mildly.  I am very grateful that my 20 year + employer has asked me to come back again.  For the 3rd time.  It is a permanent part time position and I am so excited about it.

I need to be engaged in the world.  I need to have a place to go and people to see.  I have volunteered for many things at church, but it just isn’t the same as being gainfully employed.

The most amazing things have happened in the last 8 months.  I have grown tired of knitting!!  Of all the things to happen, this surprises me the most!  I cannot watch TV for more than a few minutes because I find the current political environment so infuriating, frustrating, and terrifying.

My sober daughter is drinking again, and it is my worst nightmare.  Just horrifying.  Her 19 year old daughter is living with me.  She has some pretty dreadful PTSD and depression.  She feels like a full time job, but I am so very grateful I have the space and the means to take her in.  She was completely out of places to go.  I think she is getting much better with the stability and calmness of my home.

Can I just tell you that daughter decided about a year ago that she really could smoke pot and still be sober.  That lasted a couple of months before she was drinking again.  After over 9 years of sobriety.  And she is back where she was years ago.  She is a bad drunk and I am so scared for her.  I *should* go to Alanon and take my granddaughter with me.

It seems that at least in Colorado newer people are smoking pot and considering themselves sober.  I guess because pot is legal.  But sober is sober, and smoking pot is not sober.

So that is it in a little nutshell.  I hope to hear from one or two or more of you.

 

Posted in Garden, Gratitude, Sobriety, Spring, Weather, Work | 12 Comments

Journey through September

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Pansies in the garden

It’s Monday morning and I don’t have to go to work or anywhere else.    This is one of the best things about retirement.  No dread on Sunday.  No schedule on Monday.  There is not even Mass at my church, so I am not off first thing to go to Mass.

I asked my son in law to help me paint my guest bedroom.  My dear brother and his dear wife are coming to visit me in October.  I took at look at the guest bedroom where they will be sleeping and realized it needed to be freshened up a bit.  Paint is always a good first step I think.

My dear son-in-law has ulcerative colitis and has been very sick lately.  I asked my daughter if he would be able to help.  She said yes.  He said yes.

They got here on Saturday and I said “Oh hell no, you are not painting.  Go sit down and what can I do to help?”

So today I shall paint the guest bedroom.  Please God, I hope I can still do this.  I used to love to paint.  I find it very difficult these days.   Aging is a real thing.

I tweeted something on Saturday night and my phone is still lighting up every minute or so.  I have felt like removing the tweet because it was very personal.  And now it has been like over 2,000 times and retweeted almost 500 times.  That is a weird feeling.

I can blog my heart and soul out here, but it is anonymous.  Or at least I convince myself it is.  That tweet is something entirely different.

This is what happens when I try to blog every day.  I blog about the extremely mundane life of a Catholic Retired 66 year old woman who has been Sober for 12,481 days (one day at a time).  Thank you for joining me on this journey.  xoxox

Posted in Junk-blogging, Retirement | 6 Comments

An Ordinary Thursday Afternoon

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I was in a triathlon on Saturday morning.  I had broken 2 ribs in August, so I had not trained.  I had kept walking daily throughout my recovery, and tried swimming and biking in the last couple of weeks and found it felt OK, so I did the race.  I knew I would be slow, because I am not running, just walking, and I hadn’t really trained.  But I did finish, and did not come in last, and wasn’t among the 20 people who did not finish, so I felt good about it.  Imagine my surprise yesterday to see some race photos where I am smiling and look happy!  So, that is what is above.  Me, walking along, feeling happy.

I think lately I may be doing a little bit of comparing my insides to other people’s outsides.  As an alcoholic, it seems there is always something that is there to fill that hole in my soul.  First it was alcohol, then drugs, then back to alcohol, then absolute abstinence from alcohol and drugs.  Then I had coffee and cigarettes, and I used both of them to wretched excess.  At seven years of sobriety, I was able, by the grace of God to quit smoking.  And as a result of that, my coffee consumption fell precipitously.  I really did like men an awful lot and relationships and dating take a lot of time and energy and sometimes make you absolutely ecstatic.  And then miserable.  In the end, that was something that I realized I would need to give up if I were to follow God as I wanted to, and felt called to.  That is difficult.  It is an entirely different lifestyle to live alone and not have any desire to have a “special someone” in your life.  Aside from God.

Through a great deal of time spent in prayer and meditation, I have realized I still am clinging to a major defect.  I like to buy things.  I like to get things.  I like to have things done.  I want what I want when I want it, pretty much.  In my working life, I could convince myself this was all OK because I worked hard for every cent I had and thought that as long as I was tithing and paying my bills, I could do what I wanted with the rest.  Sometimes that had led me into debt.  A few years ago, I was able to pay off the debt, and now I avoid it like the plague.

Recently, my neighbor and I decided to get our houses painted.  We got two different painting companies to come out and give us estimates.  Her house is much smaller than mine, so her estimate was approximately $3,500.  while mine was over $5,000.  It would be absolute folly for me to spend that much money right now, even though my house needs to be painted.  I had to say no.

It hurt me to say no.  I want a happy shiny freshly painted house like my neighbors!  Thank God I do love her enough to be happy for her.  But still pretty miserable for myself.

Then I thought about the fact that she wears jeans and men’s t-shirts every single day of her life.  She wears sneakers every day, for every activity.  She bought her house when it cost less than $100,000. and has just stayed there.  She has no debt.  She saves money.  She does not take trips to Europe and Hawaii.  She eats things like bologna sandwiches and hot dogs for dinner.   She doesn’t spend a couple grand on a bicycle just because she wants to.

This feels like the final frontier in recovery for me.  I just need to sit still and be satisfied with what I have.  I must stop thinking the next thing I purchase is going to make my life complete.   I know how untrue that is.

One day at a time.  Seriously, just like early recovery from alcoholism.  One day at a time. And doing things like unsubscribing to all the e-mails notifying me of SALE!s on everything I ever clicked on.  I can live very easily on what I have.

And I can eat soup.  And my delicious sour dough bread.  Simple.

It is time for me to knock off the acquisitiveness and covetousness.

By the Grace of God.

 

Posted in Bicycle, Clothes, Food, Friends, Meditation, Race, Sobriety, Thrift, Training, Triathlon | 5 Comments

Retirement 3.0

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I retired for the third time on September 5.  The next day was the 24th anniversary of the first day I started at the hospital.  This time when I retired, I felt the way people are probably supposed to feel.  A little bit sad, and feeling very reflective about all the years I had spent there.  Thinking about the young woman who started there and the old woman who drove away on that rainy Wednesday afternoon.

All summer long, I just wanted to be off work.  But when I truly walked out the door, I was sad and dreading the months to come somewhat.  This is not my first go-round and I know the perils that lay ahead.

Although it has hurt me almost physically, I have gone to mass nearly every day.  It is a hard time to be a faithful Catholic.  To realize that when you have been “playing by the rules,” and acting the way you have been taught is right, you might be in a terribly small minority.  That is painful.  To think that I may have confessed a small sin, bordering on scrupulosity, to a priest who may have been sexually abusing children, or at least participating in a culture that is tolerant of such behavior – produces a lot of anger in me.

Have almost walked out of mass a couple of times.  Most recently on Sunday at a nearby parish, that I really don’t normally feel happy attending, when one of our prayers was “for the victims of abuse in the church.”  Yeah, I almost stood up and yelled and stomped off.  But I didn’t.

How bout we stop praying for the victims and stop creating new ones?  How bout we stop promoting people who have participated in the culture, if not the actual abuse?  How bout they get evicted from their palatial homes and live like the rest of us?  How bout they take off their fancy red hats and silk garments?

The church is calling for OUR repentance on behalf of the church, but I see very little clerical repentance.  It is time.  It is past time.

I have decided to start blogging again, but I am not very clear what I am doing here now. At one time I had a blog really directed at people who needed to get sober or were in early sobriety.  As time passed, I realized that I was probably not the best person for that message.  At one point, I had another blog about fitness, to talk about training and races, and that was super fun.  I met a lot of really nice people, and learned a lot about marathons.  For a very brief period, I started a real Catholic blog.  It was terrifying, and I backed out of those waters quite quickly.  In 2012, when I was going through the worst depression of my life, I started this blog.  I just wanted to blog honestly about being a Sober Catholic.  And now I can add “senior” to that description.  Gross.

I felt at that time that the term “sober” was a qualifier to the Catholic.  Like somehow a Catholic who wasn’t perfect like the rest.  That I am an alcoholic, and got sober, and in spite of that, I am still trying to be a Catholic.

Now I feel that if more people were “sober” instead of besotted by lust or deviance, we might just have a better church.  I will gladly proclaim my sobriety and my Catholicism.

I hope I get some readers.  I miss blogging.  I promise I will be more cheery someday.

Posted in Retirement, The Church | 9 Comments

Scandal in the Church

I’ve been asked by people who know I am Catholic, what do you make of this?  How can you still belong to this church?  How can you trust that your priest isn’t an abuser?

I went to confession last Saturday – after the McCarrick scandal – but before the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report.  I so fortunate to walk into the confessional and see a retired priest I know well and love.  He just said “What’s up?”  And I told him that I was so sickened by what had happened in the church I felt like leaving the church.  He just said “me too.”  We talked for a while.  I made a good confession.  I received absolution.  And I left, resolved to do what he told me to do.

“Keep doing what you are doing because it is the right thing.  They will all answer for what they have done.”

I am sickened by what McCarrick was able to do.  I am sickened by the fact that he was promoted within the church when it was an open secret that he was an abuser.  He was promoted.  He was a cardinal!

The Pennsylvania report is beyond appalling.  I am sickened to read of the abuse of children, of course.  But I am horrified to read, in black and white, the complete lack of any kind of human or meaningful response on behalf of the church hierarchy.  They all just covered, lied, and obfuscated.  There was no care or concern for the victims or their families.  There was no apparent shock at what these priests were doing.  These priests were not an anomaly.  It was a culture.  And it appears to have gone all the way up through the church.

It would strain credulity that somehow what happened in Pennsylvania was confined to Pennsylvania.  Certainly it was, and may still be, happening in parishes, dioceses, and archdioceses throughout this country.

The dearth of meaningful response is not reassuring.  I expected to hear about this in homilies this week.  I have been to mass three times, and not one word.  I expected the good priests and holy people of social media to be expressing their shock and horror.

Instead I have heard vague and tepid requests for prayers for the church.  Oh really?  Prayers for the church?  Yes, I am praying for the church.  But I want more.

In my onion, Cardinal McCarrick should be in prison.  I want Cardinal Wuerl in prison.  I want the church to condemn what they have done.

I don’t want to see any more responses about being “saddened.”  I don’t want to hear any more euphemisms for rape, ritual child abuse, and cover-ups.

I am angry.

I will not stop being a Catholic though.  I will not stop going to Mass.  I won’t let the evil one’s victory to be complete.

full disclosure:  My late uncle is one of the priests named in the PA Grand Jury report.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments