May you be free from fear... May you be free from desire...
May you be blessed with unity... May you be blessed with peace...
May you be blessed with unity... May you be blessed with peace...
Sometimes I come to the keyboard or pen and paper already having an idea or thought or emotion that needs fleshing out or something that is pissing me off or making me sad. Other times, like now, I come with jumbles of thoughts bouncing around like a bunch of kids in a bouncy bounce house... jetting off at odd angles - arms and legs flailing. I know there's something under there waiting to express, it just doesn't have a form yet. So I ramble until it comes. Here we go...
Bouncy #1: The snow is here, finally! First snow of the season. LOVE IT! It's a funky crusty layered stuff. I walked on top of the crisp mounds this morning to start the car. My favorite way to "clean off" the car is to plan ahead enough to start it early and let it run until it's warm and toasty on the inside and wet and slushy on the outside. So right here I could clamber off on the many and varied implements to clean snow off cars, how they work, what I used to do as a kid in that regard. I could digress about the fairness of parking my car outside while the man cars get dry, warm garage space (no resentment there, just kidding!). Bouncy #14 (I skipped about 13 that flew by faster than I could possibly type them out here. Note there are 8-9 separate bouncy thoughts/topics in the previous sentences... count them! Crazy, right!?) so #14-ish... Climate change given the late, late start of the cold weather in our area while the Midwest, South and other areas of the country get slammed. Images of highway pile ups and jackknifed semis, media's' twisted focus on tragedy and chaos (and our contorted hunger for the same)...OMG (NID) that leads into presidential election conversations... STOP, how many months to go? Just shoot me!!
Bouncy #32-ish: I heard somewhere that Eskimos or Inuits have over 50 words to describe snow. I googled it and apparently that's a myth or hoax, according to Wiki and Laura Martin (1986), or at least in question or misunderstood. Franz Boas, 1911, was the author of the original analysis that spawned the first exaggeration that later became our commonly known myth. Damn I loved that mythical, folklore thingy... it somehow allowed me to acknowledge how limited our English language is. Or how shallow we are and imprecise in our conversations and apparently others have it figured out at least when it comes to the white stuff (the SNOW white stuff). Interesting how I cling to some things without regard to actual verifiability (NID stands for Not In Dictionary... underlined in RED as misspelled and it is the word I intended just a little side, side commentary and personal study, if you're new to reading this and wondered WTF NID stands for...Curious that verifiability is not in the standard misspelling dictionary, just saying) and use it to extrapolate a whole host of equally inconclusive beliefs and stereotypes. Whether I made all that up or someone taught me, doesn't matter much at this point in time, there it is. What there is to do is NOTICE... THINK... pay attention.
Wow, so that lead to a search for a saying that I heard from a friend yesterday... "Before you speak ask yourself is it true? is it ?? is it kind?" I had to look it up. Wow! I found so many awesome images and the acronym THINK before you speak...True? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind? LOVE that! I've never come across that before. I also love the simple saying "Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary DOES IT IMPROVE UPON THE SILENCE?" LOVE IT! Fits in well with my original title for this post "Checking In." A nice, elegant full circle. I do know enough to shut up now!
I mentioned expectations regarding small talk recently and it's really been showing up as an interesting topic of thought and conversation. Shakespeare calls "expectation the root of all heartache." There's an AA saying that says "expectations are premeditated resentments" love that one!
My personal experience and observations of expectations is tricky - a kind of paradox. You need to be careful, like "careful what you wish for," kind of careful. There's no way to be rid of them completely that I'm aware of. It's an act of supreme awareness to even notice them and then "check in" regarding whether they are even true or real for you or for anyone around you.
When you do notice, I say modify and embellish, go over the top with your expectations make them fun and perfect and wonderful to the extreme (thoughts create after all so why the hell not!). Then, and here's the trick, LET THEM GO... like a helium balloon. Watch them float away into the ether and let the ether take care of them. Move on to another subject in your mind and don't think of it again. If you do obsess or catch yourself running through scenarios and reactions and getting all sucked in again... just lather, rinse repeat... imagine the most insanely awesome excellent outcomes, contrary to every past experience, without regard for future situations... then send it off to the stars, forget about it and move on.
In the corporate world I used to stress... "Expect the best!" mostly to train people to pay attention and then get their thoughts out of the blame gutter. I later modified it to "Expect nothing... then you won't be disappointed..." Lately I've been playing around with this latest iteration. I have yet to coin a phrase for it... "Outrageous Expectations, Let Them Fly"? (Wow, "outrageous" has a lot of negative connotations according to the synonyms. I never thought of that word that way: flagrant, heinous, infamous... OK so I'll need another word for that). Amazing, marvelous, shocking, unbelievable... out of the box, over the top.... magical might work. (It's understood, for me anyway, that these expectations are positive, thoughtful, kind, etc. Just to be clear.) Then the idea of letting go is vital in the process it helps prevent you from turning those expectations into resentments or disappointments. How about:
Unbelievable expectations - let them fly!
Marvelous expectations - let them soar!
Magical expectations - flutter on!
Expectations - out of the box - over the top - ascend on!
Magical expectations... ascending!
You get the idea... pick one, make up your own. I must say it's way more fun than wallowing in all the possible negative scenarios. If you're going to expect, which is human, why not enjoy it! Take it for a spin! It's a gift you can give YOURSELF every day!! Happy Holidays!
Small Talk - Ugh!
Parties, parties, parties, it's that time of year! Yikes! I tend to be a somewhat private very independent person. Social situations of any type at any point in my life have been borderline uncomfortable if not downright agonizing. Family or not, didn't matter. Of course family social situations were the first ones I was exposed to. There always seems to be some unreasonable expectations, some hoard of unwritten, unspoken rules to adhere to... I spend the entire time on edge hunting for spoken or visual cues of what to do or not do. It's exhausting and anything but enjoyable. (I wrote those last two sentences in the past tense originally referring to my childhood. As I read them back to myself I realized that's exactly how I still feel so I changed them to the present tense!) The rules change, too, by the way, depending on whether you're talking to Great Aunt Snobby or Cousin Tie Die...
I'm not sure who's in charge of the rule book, someone related to Emily Post, perhaps? I even signed up for classes online to try to help with small talk generation. I never completed the course. I got frustrated! You're supposed to be able to come up with a short, to the point, interesting story related to a topic just discussed... impromptu of course. If you've read my recent posts, you're familiar with my impromptu skill set... totally south of diddly-squat.
I'm somewhat comforted by my thesaurus search on small talk's synonyms... babble, blather, chatter, gab, gossip, idle talk, polite remark, prattle, rumors... all forms of speech I really don't put much stock in to begin with. That would partially explain my lack of interest in developing my skills. I also didn't need them, growing up anyway. Small talk was my Mother's department and, I must say, she is exceedingly skilled at it and seems to actually enjoy it. Because she always had it handled so remarkably well in every social situation, I never had to learn or was exposed to lengthy periods of uncomfortable, yeah unbearable silences. Mom to the rescue!!
Fast forward 35 years and apparently small talk is one of those adult skills you are expected to magically assimilate from thin air.... like swearing responsibly. Fuck! Yeah, sure, there are books and online classes, but really!? Our educational system is completely screwed the pooch in some seriously important areas. Fortunately this year I thought I had one interesting topic I could jabber on about to all those folks I see once a year... changing my name. Apparently most of them had already seen it on Facebook and weren't at all curious about any details... so much for that grand conversation save.
I have figured out a survival plan, that works every time, ask anyone questions about themselves and leverage those details to ask further, unobtrusive, and seeming attentive follow ups. That even seems to fizzle out quickly and a boredom cloud settles maybe it's too obvious that we're all feigning interest to begin with.
It was all so much easier when I was drinking and/or drunk. I was thoroughly adorable and quite sure I was the bell of the ball, in the moment. Later on I couldn't remember a thing so unless it was horribly horrible it didn't really matter. Now that I'm sober I'm painfully aware of my inadequacies in the small talk department and the fact that my memory is a sieve doesn't help. If I could remember a few of those leverage details (kids names or ages, career, relationships) from the last time I asked them questions, it would be so much easier to strike up or resuscitate a conversation. I also get the distinct feeling that no one really gives a shit for whatever reason, no judgement there, I can't say I blame them... the feeling's mutual.
I choose to communicate with people one at a time or in VERY SMALL groups in quiet-ish surroundings without a million distractions. Then I'm good, I care, I'm listening, I'm often funny and actually somewhat interesting to talk to (not just my own drunken impression, people, in fact, tell me this). I guess I'm going to need to spin this into some type of party navigation strategy... any which way, it's good to at least acknowledge so I can adjust my party time small talk expectations and strategies! Everyday closer to being me! Happy Holidays!
Thanks Miss Ruth!
Think mystery and magic not mastery & duty... I woke in the middle of a way cool dream around 3:30 am and suddenly a poem came through. It's cool how they come a little bit then a bit more then soon there's too much to easily remember and I have to get up and grab paper and pen. The one from this morning is called Wild Thing and you'll find it on the P P & P page in a bit. Any which way... it made me think of a story I heard of a poet who described the poems as coming across the fields... thanks to the internet and Wikipedia (Seriously, THANK YOU... I contribute to Wiki)... I found what I was thinking of... Ruth Stone is the poet I was trying to recall.
"Writer Elizabeth Gilbert tells a story about Stone's writing style and inspiration, which she had shared with Gilbert:
As [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming...cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, "run like hell" to the house as she would be chased by this poem.
The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn't be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn't get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would "continue on across the landscape looking for another poet".
And then there were these times, there were moments where she would almost miss it. She is running to the house and is looking for the paper and the poem passes through her. She grabs a pencil just as it's going through her and she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first."
For me poems are like water and light or sound. The water is always flowing all around, dripping, gurgling, babbling, rippling, rushing, crashing, roaring, bubbling, burbling, blustering, thundering (I feel another poem coming...=) and then the light hits it in my view in my mind and I notice the words flowing, like water... out of the corner of my eye I see a sparkle and turn to look or I hear something... which also causes me to turn and look at the flowing words in my mind... and it feels like I do "capture" them as they go by. That's why I love Ruth Stone's description... she says collect it... or grab it... that works too. There is definitely that sense that if I don't get up and write them down they will just move on. Thanks Ruth!
Yesterday during a meeting I heard the promises read for the first time directly from the Big Book. Wow! Here's the meat of the promises: "We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will materialize if we work for them." I don't recall any type of promise from Catholicism... perhaps you'll get to heaven after you've suffered adequately here and also gone through purgatory...
The promises are found in the second half of Chapter 6 Into Action. They are described after step nine (making amends) and before the last three "maintenance" steps. There are other lines that also really speak to me deeply and truthfully, like the title of this post. Also: "We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality - safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead,, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience."
"We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while. What used to be a hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind... we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely on it."
Finally... "As we go through the day we PAUSE, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action." This was especially intense given my experience with emotions this week!
I was playing around with Facebook this morning and kind of inadvertently changed my name. I somehow had the idea that it was difficult... NOT... before I really realized it, it was done. In the digital world I'm now Laurie McCauley. I've filled out the legal papers and meet with my attorney next week... it should be done pretty quickly on the legal end as well. Yee Haw!
Step by Step
I contacted an old coach today Rosanne Cirkpatrick to help me with my goal of exercise, eating and weight loss "management." We worked together years ago when I lived in NYC and even after I moved upstate for a bit. Before all the major changes regarding smoke and drink.
I told her I want to "handle" my exercise and eating situation so I don't have to think about it. I don't want it to be on my mind. She asked me what was the motivation to make the change and I admitted it's somewhat of a mystery. All I know for sure is that I kept trying and trying and trying different things until it worked. I asked for help from Spirit, I journaled and I did have a support system for not drinking.... not for not smoking, really. Anyway, she asked me to put down my wellness goals. 10 bullets.
No Accidents - Uncorked
So as far as core beliefs go... no accidents is right up there along with everyone is a mirror. I just had a very intense and emotional encounter with someone at Top Shelf this morning. The source is irrelevant. The content was a personal attack on my behavior -accusations of control. I'm never good in moments like that with figuring out what to say or even how to respond. The ideal comeback always shows up 10 minutes to 24 hours later, never fails. This morning was no different, I basically walked away. Another AA member had a sane grounded comment, thanks to him!
I just went back into the meeting and wrote about it, thank God for my journal. I managed to slow my pulse and breathe. Somewhere between rage and sobbing. Such an odd feeling. Frustration at not being clear on why I'm reacting so strongly, why I'm so hurt or mad or wounded so easily. Pissed off at life that apparently bullies grow up to be bigger bullies and what's there for me to see about that? Am I a bully?
Here's what I wrote in the moment: "Wow - just got in a spat with XXXX - immediate huge shift in my physiology - anger - I said things that were not true. Wow - Deep Breath!!! I just put my name down for Chairperson, immediately I thought not to - WOW - so what is it about XXXX?? Answer: Being attacked personally.
There will always be those who are abrasive. I need to really think if I want to subject myself to that. I need to take my time and really think - Conversations with God says just act don't think too much...
"I never had a drinking dream when I was drinking!" Larry
Wow - Better - Just breathe -
"HOPE... Hold On Pain Ends" Jimmy
Back to current moment... after the meeting I went up to cross my name off the list of positions and Thais and Michael where there... I shared, thank God... I was OK to cry and be vulnerable. Thais said: "this is just what other sick people do, we're all sick, that I'm fine, that the pink cloud is over, that it hurts more coming from someone here because it's a safe place, it's OK to cry, let it out, you're doing great, what's there to learn?, there's more where that come from, welcome to kindergarten..." just to name what I can remember.
I know that I'm an extremely sensitive person, thus my need to stifle my feelings with nicotine and alcohol. So, this is like kindergarten!! I feel raw and beat up and grateful at the same time. I don't want to cover up or get tough - I do want to still feel and be strong in a fragile sort of way. Grateful to FEEL! The spectrum... surprised, foggy, unclear, angry, thoughts of violence, physical agitation, flushed, sad, violated, hurt, confused, frustrated, irrational, rational, needy, vulnerable, self righteous, wounded, blaming, taking responsibility, hurt again and crying, I had such a glorious day going and now this... HA! This is the best thing that could happen! Is this what the bible saying is referring to,.. "turn the other cheek," I get it! It's an opportunity to feel!
I feel a bit uncorked, like the pressure is relived, like the insides can just flow out now... This is where poems are born! Thanks XXXX!!!
Workin' It Out
I woke at 3am with the TV on. I'd fallen asleep listening to something on channel eleven, PBS around here. Truth be told, I fell asleep to Master Chef Jr. about five times. I have it recorded and couldn't manage to stay awake long enough to find out which of the tiny home chefs was sent home this week. I woke up, rewound and fell asleep again before the end many times. I still don't know who got booted. To avoid the nasty shock of waking up to a blaring Fusilo car commercial, I have PBS on when I start the DVR so when whatever I'm watching is ended it reverts to PBS. I tuned my attention to the speaker for a bit. The guy was talking about eating cruciferous vegetables and as he continued to speak and I continued to listen the whole pitch sounded vaguely familiar. When he went on to describe how awesome beans and mushrooms are to eat daily and flashed up a PowerPoint slide about large salads daily and bean soup and no calorie counting... I focused in on the big blown up book cover behind him. Sure enough, who was it but Joel Fuhrman, author of a book I recently read.. Eat to Live. Currently doing a PBS fundraising program on his latest book, The End of Dieting.
Now keep in mind that I don't believe in accidents or coincidence. Which basically translates to I apparently needed a little reminder of my whole focus on how and what to eat. I just started the "Loose 18 pounds in 4 days" internet diet again yesterday and proceeded to cheat last night. I know this diet is not sustainable (B = 1/2 c grapefruit L=1/2 green beans, 1/2 zucchini, 2 eggs, 1 cup tomato juice; D = 6 oz protein, 1/2 green beans, 1 small apple... similar quantities and small variations in greens). What I realize on this diet is how little I really need to eat, number one. Number two how much I do use food as a reward... think about it, obsess even. Three how addictive starches are... a single slice of bread is never enough and turns into a binge. Four - how much I did enjoy and really start to get into the mostly vegetarian food when I tried "Live to Eat" for a couple weeks a month or so ago. Why did I stop exactly? Probably for a piece of toast or some french fries that turned into an irreconcilable break and subsequent return to "normal" eating. I felt great, I realize now... better anyway!
I'm used to stops and starts, multiple failed attempts and processing lessons learned and awarenesses gained. So what's up this time? I was supposedly committed to the 4 day diet yesterday morning. I was very proud of my excellent preparation in the morning and really no problem sticking to it during the day. The evening is the danger zone! My undoing was also poor planning, rationalizing... and a Stouffer's French Bread Pizza that had to be eliminated as well as some Nutty wafer treats. Once they are out of sight, I reasoned... not just out of sight... but gone then I can proceed with the diet. Chris provided an assist and ate one of the two pizzas. I actually convinced myself I was obliged to consume those items in order to continue. I wasn't hungry. The pizza tasted good but the nutty treats honestly made me a little sick afterward.
Dr. Fuhrman was talking about the benefit of long term vs short term thinking. As much as I say I want to lose weight and get some healthy habits going on apparently I'm not quite there yet. There was some element of short vs long term impulses going on with smoking and drinking. What ultimately shifted, however, was just NOT THINKING at all... short or long term. I think I can give up thinking of all sweets, bread, rolls, pizza dough, potatoes.... could I start there and just not think about those at all any longer and therefore not eat them? That would be huge progress, right?!! Totally! In anyone's book. Patience is part of the problem here... impatience to be more precise. I want to be thinner sooner, like NOW! At least with smoking and drinking there were immediate rewards... well kind of. Honestly there are immediate rewards to giving up starches and sweets, I feel better and I'm not achy.
So... chickie what are you up to? Progress, re-focus... this is suppose to be the most important thing right now. Not this blog, not photo processing or journal scanning or Hope & Power or Clients or Chris or Mom or AA service or ANYTHING... Remember??!!
FOCUS Follow One Course Until Successful! I don't need to be thinking about, reading about, doing or planning for ANYTHING else! I'm so easily distracted! It was Thanksgiving I guess... and/or organizing files and finding the internet diet... getting wrapped up in an immediate short term "fix."
How many words was that, that it took me to figure out I need to renew focus...? No matter. It also just occurred to me that a single focus is not possible so the alternative is to dedicate a certain amount of time to the pursuit daily... as a default/priority... then do other things. Another good clarification, actually. So can I stick to the Fuhrman plan? I think so but with some adjustments. I will drink as much coffee as I like for now... no cream. I will also have some meat and I will watch portion sizes. A major part of his plan is unlimited quantities. My stomach is just not able to monitor that at the moment.
Ok, success! Daily 10 minutes in the morning of exercise. (That exercise kind of snuck in there) Follow the Fuhrman plan with the exceptions identified. I will bust out his book again and read through it. I also have the cookbook. I will make a daily checkin comment here to confirm that I've maintained that minimal amount of focus. OK! Yeah!
Anonymity or Not?
The meeting this morning was a Tradition meeting. The founders of AA left behind 12 Steps for individual guidance and 12 Traditions for use in guiding the overall organization of AA, or non-organization. A different Tradition is reviewed each month since there are twelve months and twelve Traditions. This month, the 12th Tradition is: "Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities."
In my mind I'm debating whether or not to discuss this stuff in my public blog... will I turn off non AA folks? Should I care? Do I care? (a little harsh but true...) Really!? Hopefully people can and will be open minded and curious. Any which way... onward! The topic has many facets which also apply to the publicizing or NOT of this blog...
According to the 12 and 12 book this tradition had its original roots in fear... fear of judgement and discovery by peers and bosses and so forth then the fear moved to fear of overwhelm as the organization and the demand grew no individuals felt they could shoulder the burden of the onslaught of interest in the program so anonymity was handy. Finally as AA "show offs" emerged and threatened the reputation of the whole the focus of anonymity is now rooted in the value of humility... check yourself, what are you gaining by telling or not telling anyone that you are a member of AA? Remember principles before personality. I guess I'm breaking the code right now? Not sure... I'm speaking for myself about myself. I don't mind if people know and that's my business.
Someone who shared this morning, Charlie, brought up a very valid point (that had been bothering me all along even though I couldn't really put my finger on it until now). He said his last name when he introduced himself which is not normal. Most people say their first name and last initial. He said his grand sponsor who was sober in 1945 and knew the founders stressed that anonymity was for outside the group. There's no reason to hide our names from other members. We need to know each other in order to provide help or find someone, etc. HELLO!! Excellent!! I totally agree! It makes so much more sense than pussy footing around our own names among each other. I'm adopting this interpretation as of today.
Next area where this particular topic is very appropriate at the moment... I met with Chuck V... last night and he recorded my voice reading all the poetry that's currently posted along with numerous other poems I plan to post soon. My vision is to provide a link with the spoken word for each poem. He loved the poetry and encouraged me to immediately post this site to all social networks. This reminded me that I am afraid to do this and while I was recording my own poetry which admonishes everyone to take a chance and be FEARLESS... I realized I have to do it. Soon! With my name change pending, I need to share it now while the names are associated... =) Interesting how all roads are leading to my own personal loss of anonymity on a huge scale. I say I'm fine with it... I guess time will tell!!!
Laurie Anne McCauley
Did that make you feel better?
I decided back in November 2015 to make my poetry available and journal online. I'm not exactly sure what "blogging" means but I am quite sure this is an online journal. Feel free to read on with an aire of open minded curiosity. At no time do I intend to offend, judge or pretend to know anything really, I'm just an observer and explorer, as we all are. Feel free to "boldly go" through my observations and perhaps it will spark or inspire. Comments are off because I don't want to be worried about political correctness when I'm writing. I'm not thinking about "you." I'm just writing because it feels "right". Feel free to enjoy or surf on.
Fibber McGee's closet!