Last Day of July

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The photo is from my Friday hike.  It’s been so hot and dry, as you can plainly see.  But the clouds moved in and we got over 2 inches of rain over a two day period.

I usually write my best friend who lives in England an e-mail every morning.  Lately she has been responding with one or two sentences that don’t say anything but “I’m so tired.  I am going to bed.”  Or “The dog is in the garden, I must go.”  She got very upset with me a week or so ago.  Although we hashed it out and I apologized for a thoughtless comment, and we agreed to let it go, it appears she hasn’t let it go.

The days of begging for someone’s friendship are gone.  She can come back to me, but I have had enough apologizing.  I can’t take it back.

I mentioned something that happened 30 years ago, just in passing, and she took that to mean that I have been harboring resentment for 30 years.  Which I hadn’t.  And am not.  I thought it was a funny moment from our past.  She was apparently devastated that I would bring up such a thing (which I thought was just a funny memory).  She asked why I hadn’t talked to her about it before.  Because it was nothing.

Oh, relationships are fraught with peril.  This one always has been.  And yet, all these years, 34 of them, we have called each other best friends.  Right at this moment, I know from experience, I just need to back off.  She has a lot going on.  She has health problems, and she has family problems.

Did I mention that she was the person who made the twelfth step phone call and visit that first day I called AA?  She was.  I believe there was not another soul on earth who could have reached me that day.  We have been fast friends ever since.  It was the only twelfth step work she ever did.   She has been drinking since maybe 1999.

So for today, I will love her from a distance.  I know who she is.  Her anger and absence no longer devastate me like they used to.

And maybe I could get back into the habit of blogging?

There is no waste in God’s economy.

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Posted in Friends, History, Weather | 2 Comments

Thirty-Four Years

 

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Pope John Paul II Rose – recently added to my garden.  

By the Grace of God, it was 34 years ago today that I took my last drink of alcohol.

A couple of non-program people have asked me in the last couple of days “Have you really never ever had a drink since 1984?”  And the answer, amazingly enough, is “I truly have not had a single drop of alcohol since July 23, 1984.”  I count my sobriety date as July 24 because that is the day I got sober.  My last drink was July 23.

This morning I took a hike and for some reason the phrase “a lifetime battle with addiction” came to my mind.  I laughed.  There is no battle.  There is no fight.  I surrendered to the fact that I cannot safely drink and placed my trust in God to help me live as a sober woman.  This is not a negative.  There is not regret that I “can’t” drink.   I could I guess.  Who would want to?  Not me.  I didn’t give up a fun activity, I adopted a healthy, meaningful, and enjoyable way of living, only by the Grace of God.

Don’t get me wrong, I did the work.  I worked the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous extensively and repeatedly.   And then I helped other women to work the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous extensively and repeatedly.  I think that was completely necessary, but I don’t think that is what is responsible for my sobriety.  I credit a loving God with pulling me from the alcoholic trash heap of life and giving me a new life.

I did not always have good motives for staying sober in the early years.  Sometimes I just didn’t want anyone to be able to gloat if I got drunk.  Sometimes I thought about all the weight I lost when I quit drinking mass quantities of beer every day, and didn’t want to put it back on.  I really enjoyed wearing cute clothes and shoes and the attention I used to get.  Every day back then I was eternally grateful to not wake up with a hangover.  And every day I was equally grateful for knowing what I had done the night before.   I really believe God will work with any kind of motivation we may have, regardless of how inadequate it might be.

Shit got real when I was between 4 and 5 years sober.  It was hard.  Sobriety took on a different meaning and importance to me.  It become so much more serious.  I was so fortunate to find good sponsorship at that time and redoubled my efforts at the steps.  They’re not kidding when they say more will be revealed.  Once again, God had my back.

There are too many years to go through, but oh my God, I am so grateful for them!  What a life I have had.  It doesn’t even make sense that I could have gotten from there to here.

My 18 year old granddaughter is suddenly back in my life.  We have had many long conversations.  She is so shocked to get to know me as an adult, not just nana who bakes awesome pies and knits great gifts. She didn’t even know I am an alcoholic!  Amazing.   And how amazing it is to be a good influence in her life.

Things are good.  Not always pleasant, but good.

I am not enjoying working at all.  But I am enjoying spending money on ridiculous things like going to Hawaii, which was so very wonderful.  I have probably been careless with the money I have made, which is not what the plan was.  My temporary assignment will be over by the 2nd week in September.  I cannot wait to be retired again.  They do want to hire me on a permanent part-time basis, and if I can do that I will.

I miss blogging.  I miss the old days of blogging.  We had such fun.

I miss the old days of AA.  I miss my old friends who are mostly all dead now.

God has been so very good to me.

Thank you!

 

Posted in Aging, Family, Garden, Gratitude, History, Roses, Sobriety | 11 Comments

Life’s Highs and Lows

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This was my beautiful little Gigi.  She died on March 3.  I was devastated.  Which I thought was weird because I was considering giving her back to the shelter because her aggression never went away.  She had attacked me (involving blood dripping down my leg!) one week before her demise.

On Friday, March 2, I sat down to eat lunch at 2 p.m., and let her go outside.  She would normally stay on my front porch, or my back yard.  She headed out into the back yard (seen in photo).  At 2:45 p.m., I heard howling at my front door.  She was laying here, with her mouth agape, breathing very quickly and shallowly.  She tried to come in the house, but her back legs were paralyzed.  I called the vet whose first thought was that she had been hit by a car.  But she hadn’t.  I loaded her into the cat carrier for another one of those final rides.

The vet first tried to get her breathing under control.  #1 is always airway.  He kept her overnight, but told me he may be calling me anytime…. because he did not expect her to live.  He thought, after seeing her, that she had been poisoned.

The next morning, she was breathing, but still paralyzed.  I went in to the animal hospital to see her and she was completely miserable.  I could not make her endure this suffering.  The veterinarian agreed with me.  Thank God he is an AA friend and was so kind to me.  Hugs are very good when going through this agonizing decision.

I stayed with her until her last breath.  It was horrifying.  Absolutely the worst thing I have ever seen an animal go through.

I opted to not get her blood tested because I didn’t want her to have one more ounce of misery in this life.  Now I wish I had.  I really wish I knew what happened to her in 45 minutes on a sunny Friday afternoon that turned her from a healthy kitty to a dying cat.  But I don’t know.  I thought I could let go of the idea that someone poisoned her, but I haven’t.

Devastation.  I was utterly devastated.  And I wondered why.  But I think I figured it out.  I loved that cat.  I wouldn’t have kept her otherwise because she was a complete menace!    The other part was how shocking her death was, really awful.

There is a lot going on in my life.  A lot of family stuff.

There is also a whole lot of joy.  A whole lot of peace.   I am meeting with a spiritual director and she has me doing meditation every single day.  And then writing about it.  It is amazing to meditate on scripture and then write about it.  And then paint about it.  Yes, my spiritual journal is a watercolor book!

I ran into my old psychiatrist at work yesterday and I was so happy to tell him that I am feeling very very good.  He was happy to hear it.  He saved my life 5 years ago when I was going through the worst depression!  He thinks my saying he saved my life is hyperbole.  Whatever, I know what I know.  And I know he saved my life.

And I am getting ready for a trip to Hawaii!!!!!!!  I am beyond excited!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cat, Gratitude, Hawaii, Joy, Peace, Prayer, Work | 3 Comments

This is how it works for me…

Remember my indecision last month about the travels? It just felt like it wasn’t the time.

Later in the month, my daughter who has been planning a May 2018 wedding for over a year now finally decided on a venue. After maybe 10 different decisions. She and my soon-to-be son-in-law decided to go to Hawaii. I wasn’t initially convinced that I should go. I thought it was ghastly expensive.

She kept calling for my opinions on which beach? Which flowers 🌸? What color leis? How should she have her hair done, etc. Now, mind you, this is my sober daughter, not her twin sister who has been all over the world.

After a week or so of these phone calls, I asked myself a question that seems obvious… why are you not going to her wedding?

I actually went to their home so I could see their plane tickets with my own eyeballs. And then I started planning my trip!

Something tragic happened on March 3 (which I will write about in a later post), and I realized once again that life is truly short and uncertain and I better live to the fullest while I am alive and have four working limbs. I sat down last Sunday and bought tickets, with upgraded seats, to Hawaii. I booked an oceanfront room. On the beach. And I cannot wait to go to my daughter’s wedding- at my 50th State!!!

I gave up shopping for clothes and shoes for Lent, so I shall not be shopping for a dress and shoes and swim suit and sundresses and sandals, ad infinitum, until April 2.

I am so excited and grateful. I actually really like my daughter’s fiancé and I’m looking forward to him being a part of my family.

God is so good, if I will take the time to look and listen.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Indecision

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This is a lovely winter scene I went and tried to paint last Sunday.  My daughter and I took a Nature Journaling Class last month, and I have decided this may be a lifesaver for me at the moment.  Long ago I quit painting because I realized my paintings were mediocre (at best).  I didn’t want to be a mediocre artist, so I just quit altogether.  Which could be an analogy for my early life.  Anyway, I have a little kit and tiny sketchbook and can go out with my little folding stool and do little watercolors.  And if they are little enough, who cares what they look like?  They are cute, they are evocative of the moment, and it is good for me to get outdoors and to paint again.

I am very tired from the job.  I am enjoying it, and the money is a miracle.  But holy cow, I am tired!  I am working full time between work and the one day I take “off” and work at church.

In my e-mail box a couple of weeks ago was a note from an iconographer who lives in Greece.  It listed his classes for 2018.  One is in a small town in Ireland.  I decided I really could go there.  I reserved a small room at the monastery for a pittance.  The class is a pittance, and the airfare is even reasonable right now.  And then I tried to actually figure out all the travel stuff.  And then my best friend who lives in England decided she really could meet me in Dublin and we could spend a couple of days together.  And then I tried to figure out how to get to this tiny place from Dublin.  And then I tried to figure out how to tell my best friend that I am NOT sharing a room with her as she is assuming.  I do not share a room with anyone.  Not my BFF, not my daughter, not my sister, not no one.  I just can not.

And then….  a woman from church told me about a trip to the Holy Land another parish is taking.  So then I went into fantasy land about a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Which has been a dream.  It is probably $1,000 or $2,000 more than the trip to Ireland, but to go to Israel!  And I actually have the money.

And then…. I looked at the growing balance in my savings account and realized I don’t want to even touch it.

And then… I thought about all my travels in 2017 and how very much I loved every second of my “domestic” trips.  What fun and what adventures I had!

My sane and reasonable daughter is coming over this afternoon to help me to sort this out.  I hope.  I asked for her help.  She is so level headed and sane.  She also knows me well and most of the time has a much higher opinion of me than I do.  When I start freaking out, she always reminds me that whatever it is is just small potatoes compared with X that I sailed through before.

I am worn to a frazzle from work which makes it extremely difficult to think clearly.  I have a huge deadline next week and I am hoping to take some time off after that.  Just a day or two.  And then hopefully I can shrink my days at work to 2 or 3 a week.  I can handle that.  This 5 days is killing me now though.

I have no idea how I ever did this for enough years to earn a retirement.  Seriously.  Only by the Grace of God because this is impossible!

Any opinions about the trips would be appreciated, even if I ignore them…. thanks!

Posted in Family, Fear, History, Icons, Travel, Work | 8 Comments

Monthly Update?

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This tree is on the campus of the hospital where I work.  I love the tree, but unfortunately, they made this a little smoking area, as you can see by the trash can and the cigarette disposal thing.  I am enjoying afternoon walk breaks at work, I love the campus and its old trees, buildings, and flagstone sidewalks.

After the first month of work, I have finally found my energy again.  It was shockingly difficult to start working again after a year off.  I was physically exhausted.  It was a little bit scary.  I think I am ok now.  I don’t know how long this gig will last, but I hope to enjoy it most days until it is done.  I am certainly enjoying the money.

Last week I got to meet one of my favorite bloggers, Dr. 24 Hours.  He is a young man, almost 10 years sober, living a great sober life, moving from one side of the country to the other, with an equally wonderful young woman at his side.  I feel like I know him from reading his blog for over 9 years.  I am absolutely never surprised when I meet a fellow blogger, we really do manage to tell the truth about ourselves on a daily basis.  So grateful to him for taking the time to stop here on his journey home.

Life is very good for me right now.  And it pains me to realize that the largest influence in that happiness is having some money in the bank.  I really don’t make enough money from my retirement to be comfortable.  I can squeeze by, but it is a little frightening to not have the money to paint the house AND install new windows AND buy a new dryer or whatever I may need.  Yesterday I drove by a little shack for sale on my rounds and checked the price.  $295,000. for a 725 square foot shack in an iffy neighborhood.  Granted, I can make a lot of money on my house should I sell, but where would I go?  And if Amazon picks Denver for HQ2, I am selling and getting the heck out of town!

I’ve managed to remain very involved in my church.  I am so enjoying that.  Just after the first of the year, I started praying the Liturgy of the Hours on a daily basis.  It is beyond wonderful.  I do not have words to describe the experience, but I am so glad that my little bit of windfall from working afforded me the opportunity to purchase that lovely set of 4 books.

And an overseas trip will probably be in the future months.  I am so excited about it, but it is a totally different topic… More to follow….

Posted in Faith, Fear, Friends, Gratitude, Prayer, Retirement, Travel, Work | 4 Comments

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Gigi is kind of cute when she isn’t hissing or biting, huh?

Just thought I would pop in and post a tiny post about working.  I last wrote in my first week of work, when it all seemed so glorious.  Then the second week came, and all I could think was “what the hell was I thinking?”  The third week was OK because I had to go back to the drawing board and remember that I swore I would “wear this job like a loose garment.”

I walk around the hospital a lot.  I also work a lot, but I try to get up about once an hour and walk around.  Sometimes I see people who are happy to see me and hug me and we chat and that is lovely.  Sometimes I walk by offices where I used to work.  Some are happy memories, but the last several years there were mostly not good.  The memories of the situation that necessitated my leaving have come back to me, and I have become angry that it was handled the way it was.  But I mainly tell myself that I cannot afford to go there.  I really can’t.   I spent absolutely no time “processing” this after I retired.  And I am convinced that was and is a good decision.

Processing was a big thing in the 60s and 70s, and I was all in.  But as my focus turns from “recovery” to “faith,” many of my old ideas are changing.   Expressing rage and plumbing its depths has never been productive in my life.  Seriously.  Screaming and “blowing off steam,” for me, has only been fuel for the fire.  I have found that if I quietly pray for God to help me and try to turn my thoughts to others, I am so much happier.

This is sort of the approach I am now taking with work.  I am good, but I am only so good.  I am not perfect.  I work hard and I believe I am uniquely suited to do what I am doing and that is a great asset to the hospital.  But staying later, working more days than I had intended, coming in earlier instead of going to Mass, all these things are not necessary and not productive.

I am profoundly grateful for this opportunity to make a fair bit of money.  But I am willing to let go of it today if needed.  And that helps me to be happy and peaceful and  closer to God.  And in the end, that is all I want.

Posted in Cat, Gratitude, History, Peace, Prayer, Retirement, Work | 5 Comments