Monthly Archives: December 2014

Looking Back – and Forward

Today, as I do each year at this time, I made time to look back on the past year with love, gratitude and forgiveness.  For me, this is so important, so I can move on – evolving and growing in the year ahead. A huge part of that is always looking at the lessons I’ve learned from my clients, friends and family.

As I look back with love, I am not only grateful for the presence of each of you in my life, but for what you (along with the situations in which I have put myself) have taught me.  I am struck with immense gratitude for the work I do.  How fortunate I am to be in a position to connect with others who are courageous enough to want to face their challenges head on!  It gives me the opportunity to be an intimate part of that journey, to see their progress and celebrate their successes and to sit with them in their pain.  I am always deeply honored that these people chose me to be there with them, and I’m inspired by their willingness and ability to change.  It gives me joy to be able to do what little I can to help, and it also affords a perspective that elicits so many insights into my own issues and relationships.

I send love and gratitude to each of you who have been my clients this year.

As I look back with gratitude, I also examine the challenges I faced this past year.  I continued to manage a life-changing diagnosis from the prior year that not only knocked me off my feet for a while, but also rocked my self-concept as the physically and emotionally healthy person I had always considered myself to be. While I still get “flare-ups” occasionally, they are extremely minor, and I am so grateful for the medical and spiritual team I have gathered to coach me through this personal healing.

Another challenge recently, has been some constant physical pain – something that has never been an issue for me.  I understand that, just like the emotional upheavals, this is part of my life path, and there is a gem of wisdom somewhere that I need to experience.

I am more conscious and .

Forgiving others is a gift to ourselves.  The loss I mentioned above involved others who obviously see the world from a totally different perspective than ours.  While I have always sent love to those who are my biggest source of pain, this situation has once again penetrated a new level of understanding that I want to approach each decision I make from a place of love, and compassion.  Forgiveness is a process, and I am navigating that road.  At times, I think I’ve reached my destination, only to slip back a step or two when something else hits.  But a part of this journey is also forgiving myself for not measuring up to my own expectation.  If I do what I can in this moment, I will be propelled forward and there will be love and light at the end of the tunnel.

Love is the answer to all our problems.  So I send loving thoughts to each of you, and to those who won’t be reading this, but have been a part of my life in any capacity this year.  There is no such thing as a justified resentment.  I release those I’ve held, and look forward to spreading light in the new year.

I wish each of you love, gratitude, forgiveness – and peace.

 

Twelve Practical Tips for a Sober Holiday

Twelve Practical Tips for a Sober Holiday

Since New Year’s Eve is known for partying, I thought it might be a good time to bring out an old blog from my days of working in the substance abuse field.  (This came from conference material, and while many of these suggestions are focused on those in a 12 Step program, most can be heeded by any of us, by being a little creative and substituting something from our own lives where it talks about 12 Step activities and meetings).

Here are twelve practical tips many 12 Step groups offer for any holiday:

1)   Plan extra 12 Step activities.  Take newcomers to a meeting, answer phones at a clubhouse or central office, volunteer for Twelfth Step calls, speak at meetings, tell your story, or visit alcoholic wards at hospitals.

2)  Be host to 12 Step friends, especially newcomers.  If you can’t throw a formal party, take one person out for coffee.

3) Keep your 12 Step telephone list with you at all times.  If you experience an urge to use, postpone everything until you’ve called someone who understands and can remind you of your priorities.

4) Find out about special 12 Step events. Many groups sponsor holiday parties, special meetings, or other celebrations.  Go to them.  If you’re timid, take a supportive friend.

5) Skip any drinking occasion you are uneasy about.  Many of us were clever at coming up with excuses when drinking.  This is where we can put that talent to use.  No office party is as important as saving your life.

6) If you have to go to a party where use is probable, take someone with you who is supportive of your sobriety.

7) Don’t think you have to stay late.  Plan an “important date” in advance which you have to keep.

8) Go to church.  Any church.

9) Don’t sit around brooding.  Read a book, visit a museum, take a walk, or write a letter.

10) Don’t start getting upset about all those holiday temptations now.  Remember to take each holiday “one day at a time.”

11) Enjoy the beauty of holiday joy.  Maybe you cannot give material gifts, but this year you can give love.

12) “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”  (Step 12 of Alcoholics Anonymous)

MORE TIPS TO REMEMBER:
Here are some other choices we can make for ourselves during the holidays:

1) We can keep a realistic attitude by staying in the present and not dwelling on those past experiences and traditions that keep whispering, “This would be better if. . .”

2) We can choose to keep a sense of humor about it all.

3) If the holiday stress is building up, we can choose to take a break and do something different like going for a walk, breathing deeply, or calling a friend in the program.

4) We can avoid major life changes during the holidays by remembering it is not a good time to move, change jobs, or begin or end intimate relationships.

5) We can keep a hopeful attitude.  There is much to be said for the old adage of counting our blessings.  They are a wellspring of hope.

6) Through prayer and meditation, the guidance of a Higher Power will help us make the right choice each time.

Sending Love on Christmas Eve 2014

This morning I am thinking about all the racial incidents we’ve had this year and I can get sick to my stomach if I stay in my initial reaction. I know, as a white, middle class female, I have no real concept of what it must feel like to be in these situations as a black male. Or to be the mother of one of these young men, who must feel fear every time he walks out the door.  I also know that there are good (heroic) cops and there are bad cops, and that no one really knows – or may ever know – what really happened in any one situation except those involved.

Not sure what I’m trying to say here, except that I am committing to be open-minded about each situation as it arises, rather than to lump them all together and make assumptions.  My heart goes out to all who suffer in these incidents on both sides.

What I do know is that more violence is not the answer to any of it.

Sending love and light to everyone on this Christmas Eve.

-I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.               -Martin Luther King

 

 

Coping with Loss During the Holidays

Holidays can be a time of mixed emotions, especially if you’re struggling with the recent death of a loved one or another loss, such as a relationship breakup or divorce.

The biggest thing to accept is that things are not going to be the same as when your loved one was with you.  It’s important to speak about the person you’ve lost and make them a part of the holiday in any way you can, especially the first year.

There is no timetable for grief, and the concept of closure is a difficult one.  (My personal belief is that there really is no such thing as closure.  You can eventually make peace with the loss, but you’re never “done” with it).  Grieving someone honors them and the relationship you had with them.  That being said, it’s also important to move on when you’re ready.  Doing so allows you (and the loved one) the freedom to continue to grow and to integrate the changes into your lives. (Yes, our loved ones continue to grow and evolve on the other side, and your relationship continues – it’s just going to be different).

When preparing for the holiday, think ahead about what you can comfortably handle and bring others in to help with the parts you can’t – hanging lights, cooking a meal or ordering food, etc.  Speak up when you feel friends and family are leaving you alone a little too much, or if they’re trying to keep you too busy.  You may not think you know what you need at any given moment, but you have to go with what you’re feeling – and ask for it.

There are no “supposed to’s”.  If you don’t feel like putting up the tree, don’t.  And feel free to change your mind, even if it means cancelling plans at the last minute if you just can;t find the energy to do something you’d planned.

Let traditions slide if you just don’t feel up to them this year – or change things up to give new meaning to this time.  If there are children involved, be sure to acknowledge that the holiday will be different this year.  Have them help with various planning and preparations if possible, so they feel more a part of it, especially activities that honor the loved one – lighting a candle, setting aside time to tell everyone’s favorite story involving him/her, doing something that person enjoyed, or volunteering or donating time or money in their name.  Remember that your loved one did LIVE, he/she didn’t just die.  Honor the life.

Keep things simple. And be aware that the anticipation can be more difficult than the actual holiday.  If a little happiness tries to creep in, don’t shut it down.  Your loved one wants you to feel joy.

Above all, be gentle with yourself, and have a Blessed holiday.

Remembering Your Choices During the Holidays

If you find yourself getting more stressed as the season continues, here are a few things to keep in mind.

CHOOSE to stay in the present rather than dwelling on past experiences and traditions that place high expectations on you and others.

CHOOSE to keep a sense of humor about it all.

CHOOSE to take a break occasionally and do something different — like taking a walk, deep breathing, or calling a friend who will understand and not judge you.

CHOOSE to avoid major life changes during the holidays. If at all possible, this is not a good time to move, change jobs, or begin or end relationships.

CHOOSE to keep a running list of Gratitude — helps the attitude. There is much to be said about counting your blessings rather than stewing in your sorrows.

CHOOSE to start a new tradition this year. If your family isn’t healthy for you to be around, find something else to do that you enjoy — sleep in, take a short trip, read that book you haven’t been able to find time to get to — or just spend time with someone you enjoy being around. A change of scenery can be especially helpful – fewer reminders of the negative past experiences. And if you go somewhere you’ve never been, you have to be more in the moment just to find your way around.

CHOOSE to take one day – hour – minute at a time. We can get through anything for a short period of time, easier than thinking in terms of “forever”.

CHOOSE to remember that we have choices in how we look at things.

Best Wishes for a great Holiday Season!!