Things That Are Fun (While Sober)!

Picnic

Picnic (Photo credit: Carlos López Molina)

When I first got sober it was in late May of 2006.  I immediately found some meetings to go to and when a person goes to meetings, they find out about picnics.  My first thought was, “How the hell does a person go to a picnic and not drink?”

Turns out, there are a lot of ways to have fun that do not involve drinking or drugs. Here are some of the ways I have had tons of fun all while being sober:

  • going to a meeting
  • walking in the woods
  • walking on a main strip in a small town
  • going for a long drive (like… really long)
  • drawing
  • writing
  • listening to music
  • shooting pool at a pool hall (not a bar!)
  • cooking
  • exercising
  • making a craft
  • cleaning
  • napping
  • going to a book store
  • going to the library
  • going down to the river
  • antique shopping (or browsing)
  • going to lunch with a friend
  • going to lunch alone
  • starting a scrap-book
  • journaling (I wish I would have documented my first year of sobriety)
  • and yes…. sober picnics!

These are just a few of the things that I had (and still have) a ton of fun doing while trekking through sobriety.  Do you have any to add?  Please share!

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Life and Life Stuff

A copy photograph of the portrait painted by O...

A copy photograph of the portrait painted by Oscar Halling in the late 1860’s of Edgar Allan Poe.

God willing, I will have a 7th Anniversary of being clean and sober on May 26th of this year.  I haven’t been blogging consistently, and I am truly sorry for that.  I have so much stuff going on in terms of kids, other writing obligations and “life stuff.”

But for now, I am going to focus on the writing aspect of my life.  Pull up a chair and a cup of your favorite beverage if you wish.

I started writing around the age of nine or ten I guess.  I remember writing my first book report about “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe in grade school.  I fell in love with the story, and Poe, and looked forward to writing more book reports (yes I was a geeky child)!  I started keeping a diary and wrote silly little stories about my friends inside.

As I grew and matured (using that term loosely), I stopped writing unless it was a letter in school to one of my BFF’s or a boy.

In my early twenties, I actually wrote my first novel.  It is unpublished to this date and only a lone printed, bound copy remains.  Most of that novel was written while drunk because I inherently felt I could only write when I was chemically altered.

Fast forward about four years and I decided to go to college at night as an English Major and wound up switching my major to Behavioral Health with a focus on addiction for the rest of my term.  Ironic.

So I wrote off and on, off and on for a number of years.  I kept many journals and diaries both hard copy and internet bound.  I wrote a lot of poetry.  Dark disturbing words (again always drunk and angry) I wrote steady over the course of a week.  I wrote about 130 poems in those seven days.  That is floating around somewhere as well.

I even had one published in a local newspaper!

Here it is:

Reality and fantasy, truth and lies.

When I’m awake I forget real, and fantasize.

When I speak my mind, I speak it well.

When I talk back, I listen even better.

When I hear other voices, I try to ignore.

Don’t tell me what to say, don’t tell me what to do.

I’m done listening to you; all you speak is tainted.

I’m stained with lies, marked by deceit.

My eyes are wicked, my grin is cold.

You look at me, but you can’t look long.

You’re so weak.  Ha!

Try to tell me you’re strong.

I laugh so loud inside, you can’t hear me.

But I can.

Reality and fantasy, I like to fantasize.

Reality is too much for me, I like my peace.

I like to be alone whenever I can.

So no one hears my whispers as I answer myself…

Again and again.

That is my first official published piece of anything.  I remember how excited I felt.  My mom got a bunch of the papers and framed a copy of the poem for me.  That copy sits on my dresser today and I look at it sometimes because I get caught up in life stuff and my dreams slip away.

So that’s it for me… for now.  Hope everyone is doing well.. maybe you’d like to tell me what is going on in your neck of the woods?  I’d sure like to hear about you!

Coping In Sobriety

Clean and Sober

Clean and Sober (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I first got sober, it was pretty easy for me.  I’m not bragging, but I had hit such a low point that I figured getting clean and sober might well be worth a shot.  The one thing I hadn’t discovered in my new sobriety was ways to cope with life on life’s terms. This was definitely something I needed to figure out quickly.

See, life just kept on happening to me. It didn’t matter that I was clean and sober, or that I was trying to do the next right thing.  It didn’t matter that I was making a valiant effort to see my kids, to stay away from people, places and things or that I was working a rigorous twelve-step program.

My car still broke down, I still got yelled at by my boss and I still had (very) bad hair days.

Of course I would go into the “poor me” cloud.  “Hey, I’m doing the right thing… what’s this crap all about?” I had this grandiose sense of self (huge ego!) that since I finally started to do the right thing (after years of doing very wrong things) that I should get a reprieve of sorts and nothing bad should ever happen to me ever again.  Ever.

Reality check: shit happens. I had to deal with life on life’s terms and I had to find out pronto how to do that.

The only way I could do that was to go to meetings, be around other sober people who had serious clean time and work a good program.

I learned that drinking or drugging was not a coping tool.  It just added fuel to the already out of control fire that raged inside me.

I learned that I should start writing again and that I am a pretty good photographer.  I learned my triggers and how to avoid them most of the time.  Sometimes triggers still invaded my head space (usually when my mind was idle) and I learned that the best thing to do in that situation was to call another alcoholic in recovery. Maybe they could help me.  Turns out, I was helping them just as much as they were helping me.

I couldn’t wrap my head around that one.  How the hell could I possibly help someone with years of sobriety when I was so new? Now that I have over six years clean and sober, I know how.  Because when I talk to someone new in sobriety it puts things in perspective and reminds me of the way I used to think. I no longer think that way.

Some of the ways I learned to cope:

  • Go to a meeting. Talk to another alcoholic in recovery.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Write.
  • Go for a drive.
  • Listen to music.
  • Go to a park.

I can always come back to the problem later.  Obsessing and keeping the problem at the forefront of my mind will not help me.  And trust me, I am huge on obsession.  After all, I am an alcoholic and everything is about me.

If I had a dollar for every time I asked someone “What’s wrong?” with the presumption that it had to be something I did, I would be retired and living in my dream cabin in the mountains.

See, another HUGE thing I had to learn to cope with was myself.  I had to learn that people pleasing was not a coping tool, rather a way to mask whatever guilt or remorse I was feeling. I had to cope with that.  I had to learn how to recognize the difference between actually coping and sweeping the problem under the rug or enabling someone or using other poor methods:

  • drinking
  • drugging
  • silent scorn
  • blame
  • defensiveness
  • ignoring the feeling
  • manipulation

None of these ways worked!  These were not coping tools, these were character defects that I used to hurt people to get my way, pretending I was right (when I knew I was wrong).  Because as long as I was sure other people knew I was right, I felt better, if only for a short time.

How do you cope with day-to-day life or problems that come down your road?

Out With the Old – A Time to Reflect

Reflect

Reflect (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As 2012 comes to a close… I have looked through my Penzu journal, gone through old notebooks and basically stepped back and looked at the canvas of my life.  It hasn’t exactly been a spectacular year… but then it has been a spectacular year.  I fell down a cliff on a quad, I celebrated six years of sobriety in May, I started going to Al-Anon (which changed my life!) and I ended a six year, toxic relationship never dreaming that I’d enter into a new relationship with a man who I am pretty sure was made just for me.

I read somewhere that when we order up the life we want to exact specifications, we just might get it.  Well, I seem to be on my way.

The Old:

Procrastination – Insecurity – Self-loathing – Laziness – Self-doubt – feeling unworthy in most situations.  Ahhh.. those old ugly beliefs and bad thoughts that I wish I could beat with a hammer.  However, thoughts are not tangible so I have to beat them with positive thinking!

The New:

Get it done! I am beautiful! I can and will prevail! Successful author!  I have to fake it ’til I make it – and my advice to all of you is to do the same.  Faking it ’til we make it is like a mental affirmation of determination that only we know about.  It kinda goes along with that whole “The Secret” thing.  Trust me – it freaking works.

How about you? What is your out with the old, in with the new for the coming year?

Bridges & Starlings

Covered Bridge

Bridges. We build them.  We burn them. We travel across them to new destinations and we let them carry us home.  We stand on them to stare at the awesomeness of water or to watch fireworks in the sky. If we are superstitious, we hold our breath as we cross.

I love bridges.  I love to look at them, travel across them, stand on them and take pictures of them.  I’m not sure if there is any significance of bridges in my personal life.  I tend to look at things in-depth and over-analyze everything.

I had a rough morning, and for some reason, bridges popped in my head.  My desktop is a picture of a glorious black train bridge (aren’t most train bridges black?) printed in black and white.  Sometimes I honestly just sit and stare at my desktop for a good three minutes.

So after bridges popped in my head, I started thinking about why bridges popped in my head.  I had just spent the morning on the front step with my coffee and cigarettes watching about forty starlings communicate in their “squeaky swing” chirps and sounds and I thought about how they were behaving as a group. I had some old crackers so I crunched ’em up and scattered them on the ground.

Granted, before my time with the starlings, I had just had an argument with someone who insisted on bashing me.  This took me back to my computer to look up the starling animal totem, which is relevant to working in groups of people (starlings are rarely alone) and I started to wonder what the heck bridges and starlings had to do with one another (in my mind).

Starlings

Starlings (Photo credit: Sergey Yeliseev)

And then, it clicked.  “By learning starling’s behavior, I can live peacefully with my friends and family” is what it says on the totem site.  Clearly, if I keep insisting on being right and dwelling on the problem instead of working in the solution, I will burn bridges.  But my pride gets in the way and I stray away from the group (or person) because I’d rather sit in my crap than find a solution.  Thankfully I can see this relatively close to when the situation arises, instead of further down the line after the damage has been done.

The other interesting thing is that I just started reading “Drop the Rock” which is a phenomenal book about working Steps Six and Seven.  For those unfamiliar with AA literature:

Step Six: Were entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.

Step Seven: Humbly asked Him to remove out shortcomings.

Now, we all have character defects, and most (if not all) of us like to hold on to many of them.  I hold on to them more often than I  think I want to.  Which is why, when I am ready to have my defects removed, they will be, and not before.  I pray every day for my defects to be removed.  God, however, cannot live my life for me and I have this stinking thing called “free will” floating inside of me constantly. It takes awareness to be entirely ready to have my character defects removed.

I am now aware of the significance of the murmuration of starlings this morning.  I have to think before I speak.  As far as bridges go, I don’t have many left to burn.

Do you like bridges?

Do you have any character defects you don’t dig much?

Let’s talk about it! 😀

All About Perspective

What do you see?

Perspective.  We all have our own.  Some perspectives we learn over time while others we form on the drop of a dime.  I have said, in earlier posts, that I find people fascinating.  Their tastes, their mannerisms, and their idiosyncrasies.  But what I am really into is their perspective.

For example:  the glass to the left of this post.  Half full?  Half empty?  Too much?  Not enough?  Do you even care?

I was at a meeting last night and at the end, we all went outside.  A lot of us stand around and chitter chatter sometimes; getting to know each other and all that. I was talking to my old sponsor, and I spotted this huge bug on the wall to the right of me.  It was huge and beautiful, from my perspective.

I started to ease my hand under the bug (my mother had shown me how to do this just this past weekend) and my old sponsor started to become uncomfortable.

“Please, Darlene.  Don’t do that!” she begged me.

“Why?  It’s a harmless bug.  Look how cool he is,” I defended as I edged my hand under the left rear leg.

“Cool?  It’s ugly and it will hurt you,” she said.  I could hear her perspective from the fear in her voice.

I really wanted to hold this bug and get a better look at it.  From my perspective it was just a bug; a misunderstood bug judged solely on appearance.  My perspective saw beauty and uniqueness.

I decided to spare everyone (at this point more people were watching) the horror of me (gasp!) actually picking up a giant bug to revel in the beauty I saw in God’s little creature.  My old sponsor relaxed and so did a few other people after I moved my hand away from the bug.  I felt a little sad because I didn’t get to pick the bug up.

However, I am happy that I got to see it and that I didn’t cause mass hysteria! 😉

Life is all about perspective.

Have your perspectives ever changed?  How do you feel about bugs?

“Bound and Broken” Opening Scene

Below is the opening scene for my WIP.  I have gone over this scene the most as I revise my work.

WARNING: Language.

For the second time in three days, Celeste Murphy pretended the plaster pieces that fell on her face as she tried to sleep were snowflakes.  This time, inaudible shouts accompanied the stomping.  The intrusion on her ears and face took her from a snow-filled dreamland to reality.

Two squeaks came from the bed as she sat up; only one squeak yesterday.  The squeaks, shouts and stomps made her head swell as she reached for her cigarettes.

A mouse darted across the bedroom floor from under the bed and Celeste yanked her feet up.  She wondered if the squeaks were from the mattress itself or if the mouse had slept in the mattress at night along with her.  Her gag reflex kicked in as she pushed away thoughts of sleeping with mice.

She grabbed the pair of socks off the foot of the bed, put them on and stood up.  The blinds were up on the windows, which meant she came home DBR last night.  She blurted out “DBR” one night at work and after she explained it meant, “drunk beyond repair.”  Everyone thought she was a genius.  She guessed it was her “catch phrase” although she thought it was damn lame.

She flipped the light on when she entered the kitchen.  Cockroaches scattered and for a moment, she thought about cleaning the kitchen, but there were better things to do.  She rummaged in the bottom cabinet until she found a little pot and put water on for coffee.  Her favorite coffee mug was in the sink filled with a filmy liquid.  There was a foam cup on the table in the other room from two days ago.  She sighed as she grabbed it, rinsed it out and finished making her coffee.

The stomps upstairs had followed her into the kitchen. She grabbed the dust-covered broom wedged between the wall and the refrigerator and banged the ceiling.

“Just kill each other already,” she yelled as she banged the broom into the ceiling, and threw it on the floor.

Celeste opened the window to light rain as she sat in the chair next to the window with her instant coffee and morning cigarette.  The empty stand remained in the corner, which was once home to a television until last week when Celeste had come home drunk and knocked it over.

She needed a Valium or Percocet.  Her head hurt like hell and she had work again tonight.  Normally, she would not work back-to-back nights, but her habit was getting expensive.  Her purse was on the other chair.  She didn’t remember putting it there and rolled her eyes as she stuck her foot under the strap and brought it toward her.

After she got her head together, she went through her afternoon routine of ignoring the dirty dishes, counting her money from the night before and rummaging through her purse to see how many pills and bags of cocaine she had to get her by until she could get more.

After she dressed, she stumbled out of her apartment door into the smell of piss and body odor in the hallway.  She slammed the door while she held her breath. No way in hell could she hold her breath long enough to wait for the elevator today.

She counted the steps in her head as she descended; thirty not including the landings.  Counting helped her forget she held her breath as she went down the steps.  She exhaled when she got to the front door.

Her smile went flat when she saw the large figure at the bottom of the steps outside.

Row80: When Life Gets in the Way – Push It Aside

I thought life was supposed to get more simplistic as age came along… no? Not in my life.  I am sure there is still hope.

I digress.

My life is more amazing these days than it was this time last year and the year before that, and so on.  Who knows what is in store?  Only God knows.

Exciting.

In writing news, I started back up with my Friday Flash Fiction segments.  I posted the first one last Friday.  It kind of pales in comparison to some of my earlier work, but it turned out just the way I hoped.  If you want to check it out, you can do so by clicking here.

In sobriety news, I will be hooking back up with my sponsor at some point this week.  I hit a meeting last week and will hit one this week. My six-year anniversary is in two weeks.

In life news, I am really doing some soul-searching as to what this life holds for me and where I can tweak it to maximize my usefulness and potential.

I am faced with interesting dilemmas and decisions as far as living arrangements and mental health.  Funny how the two seem to be coinciding.

I was excited to finally get back into editing my WIP today.  I had the whole day to myself, Saturday!  It was great.

So… for this week:

  • continue to edit WIP.
  • walk 20-30 minutes a day.
  • get to an al-anon meeting.
  • continue to look for a reasonably priced car (my car is dying).
  • journal, journal, journal.  I have been doing this a lot and it is really helping me find out about who I am and what I want.

I hope everyone had a great week and that this coming week will be even better than the last.

ROW80 Update – ROW80 Overload!

Good day all my ROW80 friends! I hope everyone is having a great April so far… I will be happy when April 17th comes and goes because that means tax season will be over and I can resume life as normal.

I am staying steady with my goals.

A – Z Challenge

I am in on the A – Z Challenge which is a lot of fun writing and reading the other interesting ideas people come up with in terms of Alphabet Posts.

Script Frenzy

I am in on Script Frenzy which is nerve-racking, but I hate losing or admitting failure, so I am keeping with it.  The nerve-racking part was formatting the script, but I have since decided to just write the darn thing and work on the formatting later.

Bound and Broken Editing

I am about half way through.  I changed up a few things and will be looking to find some beta readers in a month or so.  Bound and Broken is a Crime Drama.  So if that be your thang, hit me up, yo.

750words.com

So I was writing on 75owords today and I was like, *ding* I can use 750 words to write up some of my A – Z posts as a rough draft!

Blogging

I have to say.. I stopped The Walking Dead posts until the new season rolls around.  There just isn’t much to talk about until then.  I skipped a Talk About It Tuesday last week because I have so much other stuff going on.  Like I said, April is just hectic with out all the writing.  In light of recent events (and my lack of meetings recently), I am thinking of doing a sort of AA/NA post a week.  I have to map it out first.

A – Z Challenge ~ F is for Fallible

Newsflash.  We are all human.  Yep!  I know, I know… I’ll give you a moment to let your human status resonate in your over-worked skull there.

You back now?  Awesome!

It seems humans (that’s you and me) seem to think we are infallible.   We want to do things our way.  We are right (almost always).

There is no one harder on me than I am.  Is there anyone harder on you that you?  If so, tell them to knock it off!  If you are the culprit, you need to cut yourself some much-needed slack.

In fact, I dare you to make a mistake on purpose! Nothing that will mess with the space/time continuum, but maybe like… oh, put on mismatched socks and go to the store.. make sure people see them!

Thought for the day: I am a fallible human. It is okay if I make a mistake.

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