Two months is way too long to go without posting when I'm trying to keep your attention to my blog. I think the main reason people like to read my blog is because I'm authentic about my daily life. This makes it hard to write when I feel especially vulnerable, because if I try to write something that's not authentic I can "feel" that it's dry and stupid and I know you don't want to read dry and stupid.
In January I had my 9 year sobriety anniversary. Normally, I post something about it and send it off to everyone on facebook and I get a lot of "likes" and encouraging comments. This year I didn't post anything and I didn't go to my twelve step meeting to get my medallion. Having self-published my book in November I was still emotionally very vulnerable and I didn't think I could handle the feedback and comments from everyone. Why wouldn't I want all those positive comments and encouragement? Because I still feel a heavy dose of shame for being an alcoholic. Although I'm grateful for the support and feel blessed to have so many friends, when I'm not in the right mindset, each encouraging comment sparks my negative self-talk I've worked hard bury. Self-talk like, "Why do you think you can overcome your past?" "Who do you think you are?" "Your friends pity you." "You can have 9 more years of sobriety and write ten more books, but you'll still be the same insecure, insignificant, little girl you've always been."
Logically, I know these statements are not true. Logically, I know I'm a child of a God who loves me unconditionally, my family is amazing, I have some of the best friends
a human being has ever had, and my book is changing lives. But emotionally, when I'm feeling especially vulnerable and afraid and weak, these voices overwhelm me and this year I did not have the strength to push my negative self-talk aside and listen to the truth.
I was asked to tell my addiction and recovery story at a church. It was a great opportunity and the need for information and help for addiction was evident by the conversations I had with people afterwards, but it opened my eyes to the realization that
marketing my book means retelling my story over and over and over. And retelling my story means feeling my fragile emotions over and over and over. I would rather stay home and peel oranges with papercuts on my fingers. But I know God rescued me from addiction in His timing. And someone told me over the phone yesterday that my book isn't going to do anyone any good if it just sits on my shelf. And I've almost given up my dream of being an unknown writer locked away in a cabin on a lake enjoying quiet, stress free evenings of writing FICTION! So, I apologize for the two months of not blogging. I can't promise it won't happen again, but I can say that I am trying to be brave and that's as authentic as I can be.
I'm watching the movie August Rush. It's one of my all time favorites. The music is beautiful. Sometimes I hear music and it sounds nice. And sometimes I FEEL music and I'm transported into another world. And that other world is far away from finances, car problems, school work, addictions, laundry, grief, loss and pain. In the movie, a boy is looking for his parents and his mom is looking for him and his dad is looking for his mom. And they are brought together by the music they create. Music is something so beyond anything I can xplain completely comprehend that hearing or even better, FEELING it gives me hope in God's greater plan for me. It tells me there is something more than work and chocolate and dogs and coffee and Monday's and Friday's and summer and winter and worn-in jeans and high heal shoes. There are some really great things in life and there are some really aweful things in life. The hard part is going through the roller coaster of emotions along the way. One of my best friends
said she wished she "felt" things more like I do rather than being the level headed thinker I count on her to be. Her words really stuck with me. My life is such a series of chaotic escapades followed by attempts to clean up and balance my life that I didn't really think that it was a blessing to FEEL things so intensley.
On the Myers-Briggs test in the THINKING vs FEELING area, I don't even have a touch of THINKING. I'm all FEELING and for most of my life I have tried to control and squelch those feelings because a lot of them hurt too much. Drinking alleviated the intesity of painful feelings, but they all came back in the morning, along with a hangover. I've been hearing from my friends and therapist for the past few years that feeling my emotions again is a good thing and I have taken their word for it and I am better at it now than I have ever been, but I didn't think of it as a blessing. For much of my life I have thought of it as a curse. But as I'm moved by the depth of the brass and the strength of the strings and the steady, distant rythm of the tympany I can't deny the power of feeling music and passion and the smell of the ocean or the color of the fall leaves or the rush of water over my feet and hands in a stream, the wind blowing across my skin. It's when I've shut down these feelings that the life seeped out of me and the depression pressed against me like a heavy blanket.
Maybe it's a good time to start embracing the gift God gave me to FEEL. Not just the tough emotions I've been avoiding for years, but the inexpressibly deep and moving feelings I get when I hear the sound of something beautiful or see something brilliant or feel something warm and soft. It gives new meaning to the advice my therapist gave me to stop trying to do things I wasn't made to do and start focusing on my gifts. Sometimes it takes me awhile to get the message. I'm going to go download some music onto my iTunes, climb into my warm blankets, smell my clean sheets and drift off to sleep thinking about the taste of my morning coffee.
Today I was reading about King David giving God glory for giving him his hearts desires, with nothing he requested held back. It reminded me of the verse I read yesterday about the disciples, if they believe they will receive whatever they ask for in prayer. Then my friend replied to my hurried text this morning saying, “You have time. No need to rush it. Take a deep breath and enjoy the opportunity to write.It’s a lessing.”
Then I Iistened to a sermon from Eaglebrook’s website talking about how my own efforts to be good and righteous are a waste of time. I even got a visual when they showed a video of a son who was born unable to walk or talk. His father bought him a special computer so his son could communicate with him.The son asked to run a 5k race at his school, so this father didn’t just run the 5k with him, but since has run, swam and biked thousands of miles pushing his son in a wheel chair, pulling him in a raft and carrying him on his bike. The exertion on the father’s face in contrast to the happiness on his son’s face was more than I could handle as I literally caught my breath in a sob realizing that God doesn’t want me to use my workaholic tendencies to do anything for him, he just wants me to get in the wheel chair and enjoy the ride; get in the boat and cross oceans; ride on his bike and see the world!
I haven’t made a new year’s resolution in a few years, because I always fail to achieve it. But that seems to be the point; I’ve always made a “To Do” goal. This year I’m making a “To Be” goal. Because I’m tired and I want a piece of the joy I saw on the son’s face as
he was pushed across the finish line by his father, whose happiness was evident in watching his son celebrate their victory.
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how
to give good gifts to your children, how much more
will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who
ask him!” Matthew 7:11 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDnrLv6z-mM
Dick & Rick Hoyt Story
Christmas is a little different this year for me. It's the last Christmas my oldest child will be living at home (whether he likes it or not.) I've been spending a lot of time marketing my book and getting feedback and even though most of it is great I'm getting some flack by an extended family member that wants a few things changed, which aren't central to the story, but important to him and I've lost some sleep over it. These things added to my friend's son taking his life 2 weeks ago and the Newtown shootings have put this Christmas in a different light for me. I'm still chasing after presents for my Christmas list, but the gifts were not as important this year. I got the tree decorated, stockings hung and there's one ceremonial poinsettia plant on the table, but I didn't decorate the house as much as usual and it's missing some holiday spirit. My kids are busy working and playing and we're having a hard time finding a day we can all see a movie together.
But tomorrow night, whether we're ready or not, is Christmas Eve and we are all going to the Christmas Eve church service together. And I know while sitting in church listening to the Christmas story and music, none of the outside world will matter for an hour and a half. I'll be reminded that God left the perfection and awe of heaven to come to earth as a baby with the goal to save us all from this crazy place. And in his death there is hope even amidst suicide and tiny children being shot and families struggling through our economy and wars that never end and marriages that are crumbling and parenting that doesn't seem to be working and jobs that don't go anywhere and bodies that grow old and fail us. So, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My father's house has many rooms; if that were not so would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14:1-3 Personally, I was hoping the Myan calendar was right because I can't wait to be where He is.
I was able to block out the Newtown shootings until Sunday when I picked up the paper and saw the pictures of the little faces of those that lost their lives. I started reading the little segments about each child and their favorite things to do. I had to stop after a
few because I was getting choked up and my kids wanted some eggs and bacon. This
morning one news channel interviewed a little boy from the school who said he told the other kids in his class it would be ok, because his dad is a police officer and he would be coming soon. My thoughts wandered to how these little kids are coping with this jarring event and it took me back to 9-11 and turning on the news after I’d heard a plane hit one of the twin towers. In the early minutes I don’t remember anyone thinking it was an attack. I was amazed that an accident of that size could happen. Not long afterward, the second plane hit the second tower and the shock hit. This wasn’t an accident. I think most Americans felt the same thing I felt as I looked at my little kids, that they would never grow up in the same world I grew up in. The thought that my kids might grow up
without the innocence and security I wanted them to feel hurt as much as knowing
that people were dead and dying in New York.
Most of the time I feel like I have some kind of control over my children’s future. And then catastrophe happens and I realize I don’t have any control at all. I can feed them and clothe them and tuck them in at night, but that doesn’t guarantee their safety. So I go to God, the only place I know to go when there are no other answers that make sense. And he says, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill your body; they cannot touch your soul.” Matthew 10:28. That doesn’t take away my feelings
of sadness, because the shooting was more than just sad. It’s devastating. But it helps me feel like that little boy who was counting on his dad to come save him. Not many of those kids in the school could claim they had a father who could come rescue them, but all of us have the opportunity to claim God as our father and know that He has already rescued us by coming to earth as a baby and later, dying to save us. So, instead of being sad and afraid, that little boy motivates me to be brave in the midst of danger and tell others, "Don't worry, my dad is the savior! He WILL come rescue us...if you let Him."
I read my friend, Mary’s blog today. She’s an excellent writer and put it so much better than I can. So, I encourage you to go to her site. Her writing is short and sweet and full of artwork and magic and hope.
I went to a memorial service to support one of my closest friends. Her step son passed away. He was 19 years old. (silence) I've been working on this post since yesterday, but there just isn't anything to say that makes any sense. It makes me think about my own depression and wonder why I'm still alive. It makes me think about my own son, who is 18 years old and it makes me feel a deeper sadness because I'm a mom, but grateful I had to get up early to drop him off at the bus stop this morning. The pastor at the service read a verse from the Bible where Jesus talked about how it's better to be at a funeral than a party, because a funeral puts our lives in perspective. It makes us think about what's important. It's caused me to get my eyes off the presents under the tree and think about the people in my life. I stopped by my sisters house, because I was in the area. I usually have too many things on my mind and all I can think about is getting home to get them started. After school last night, instead of hurrying home I stopped by the restaurant I used to work at and visited a few friends. Today I'm going to get the most important things done, but I'm going to put the rest aside to see if I can get together with my friend who lost her son. And I'm not going to be able to comfort her with any of these newly found priorities, but I can be there and listen. And while I'm listening I'll be wondering how she is going to get through this, but I'll also be thinking about the reason for Christmas. That it's not just about Jesus being born to be a savior for the world, but it's also about God leaving the perfection of heaven to live in our fallen world and experience pain and loss as we do, so that we can, "approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)
Christmas is 19 days away. I've only done a little bit of shopping. Fortunately or unfortunately, since we don't have much money this year I'm almost done. I'm working as many days as I can at my "smelly" job where I get paid to sit and chat with friends while we take turns smelling some unknown entity and writing down what we think it might be. I'm swimming through a boat load of marketing ideas trying to prioritize what will be the best use of my time. I have two more weeks of classes. And I'm setting up the details of my chemical dependency internship for next month. There's also a few small things to do like help my son find a college for next year, calculate which college in the school classes Jenna and Johnny should take next year, sign up for ACT tests, get my kids in to the dentist, doctor, chiropractor, lacrosse practice, theater, church, etc, etc. You get the idea. I know you're doing the same thing. There's always more things to do than there are hours in a day. So, how do we get it all done?!!! We don't, obviously. The more important question is, "How do I fit in time for relationships in my busy schedule?"
Having all three of my kids in high school this year and many friends with kids who've already flown the coop, I know that relationships are the priority. I could concentrate more time on making money, but if I don't have anyone to share it with, it's not very valuable. I could focus more of my time on the success of my book, but if I don't have anyone to talk to about it, I won't feel very successful. And I could spend my time trying to get my kids all the gifts they might want for Christmas, but if we don't get any time together, their presents will feel hollow and empty. I could spend all my time trying to gain the world, but if I don't spend some quiet time with God I might lose myself along the way. I don't do things perfect. Sometimes I don't do them very well at all. But it seems that every time I invest my precious little time into a relationship, whether it's a friend, a child, my husband or God, I always get back more than I anticipated. Our presents this Christmas will be anticipated, opened, used and discarded, but relationships last forever.
Anne Lamott and Ellen DeGeneres
Every day I check my original posting about my book to see how many "likes" and "comments" and "shares" there are, and I get excited that there are more every day. I've been e-mailing, talking to people, reading and writing down any and all information I can get my hands on in order to promote my book. Of course, I have little idea of what I'm doing, so it feels a bit like throwing jello on the wall and hoping that some of it sticks. My latest search on the computer landed me on Anne Lamott's facebook page. She is one of my favorite authors and if I had to describe my own writing I'd say it was a combination of Anne Lamott, Ellen DeGeneres and Katy Savage. You don't know Katy Savage? Neither do I.
Anne Lamott added a post about her latest book tour 11 hours ago. As of now there were 176 shares, 244 comments, and 2,442 "likes." My book announcement from November 12th has 5 shares, 48 comments, and 87 likes. Ellen's last post got 35 shares, 103 comments and 1, 019 "likes," so I'm not that far away! lol. That being said, after hearing great feedback from my book, the comments that meant the most to me were not how good the book was or that the reader couldn't put it down (although I absolutely love to hear that) it's the comment about how the reader could see themselves in my story and/or they learned something or got something out of it for themselves. My motivation to write my story was because I felt so blessed to be led out of alcoholism and depression and into great relationships and a healthy life, that I couldn't help but want to share what I learned. I would LOVE to have 200 "shares", 300 "comments" and 4,000 "likes," but what I really want to know is, "Did you see something of yourself in my story?" "Did it help you in any way?" "Does the story contain enough hope to get you through one more day?" That's what I really want to know. ...but if you couldn't put it down, or it was one of the best books you've ever read, I'm glad to know that too.