October 11, 2005

This Too Shall Pass

If I can endure for this minute
Whatever is happening to me,
No matter how heavy my heart is
Or how dark the moment may be-
If I can remain calm and quiet
With all the world crashing about me,
Secure in the knowledge God loves me
When everyone else seems to doubt me-
If I can but keep on believing
What I know in my heart to be true,
That darkness will fade with the morning
And that this will pass away, too-
Then nothing in life can defeat me
For as long as this knowledge remains
I can suffer whatever is happening
For I know God will break all of the chains
That are binding me tight in the darkness
And trying to fill me with fear-
For there is no night without dawning
And I know that my morning is near.

Helen Steiner Rice

Memorable Marital Advice

Long, long ago, when I was a young, young married man, I called a friend to get some informal marital counseling. My friend was Del Fehsenfeld, the founder of Life Actions Ministries in Buchanan, Michigan. I was on staff at a church nearby. As always he immediately made time for me. We met for breakfast.

Del was in intense man with a choleric temperament. After talking for a while he looked me directly in the eye and said, “Can I ask you a question? Do you love Lois?”

“O, Yes,” I said. “I do.”

Without breaking stride he said, “Do you tell her regularly that you love her?”

“Yes, I do,” I said, confidently. I felt a little smug because I know it is hard for some men to express their love. I have never had that problem.

“Good,” Del said and then, eyes on mine, he asked, “If I were to ask her today, “Do you feel loved right now? What would she say?”

After a while I said, “I don’t know.”

Del said, “It’s not just your job to love her or even to tell her regularly that you love her. It is your job to make her feel loved every day.

It’s been about twenty years and Del has long since gone to be with the Lord, but he took time one morning to give me advice that I have never forgotten. I am still working to make my wife feel loved every day. I make a study of each person in my family to discover their love language, the spiritual gifts, how God made them, and what makes them feel loved. One of the things that makes life interesting is to try different things all the time to help those you love feel loved.

It is tragic for people in this world to feel unloved, but millions do. I consider it my personal responsibility to see to it that none of them are in my family. --Ken Pierpont

Opening Ourselves to Love

Allowing ourselves to receive love is one of the greatest challenges we face in recovery.

Many of us have blocked ourselves from receiving love. We may have lived with people who used love to control us. They would be there for us, but at the high price of our freedom. Love was given, or withheld, to control us and have power over us. It was not safe for us to receive love from these people. We may have gotten accustomed to not receiving love, not acknowledging our need for love, because we lived with people who had no real love to give.

At some point in recovery, we acknowledge that we, too, want and need to be loved. We may feel awkward with this need. Where do we go with it? What do we do? Who can give us love? How can we determine who is safe and who isn't? How can we let others care for us without feeling trapped, abused, frightened, and unable to care for ourselves?

We will learn. The starting point is surrender -- to our desire to be loved, our need to be nurtured and loved. We will grow confident in our ability to take care of ourselves with people. We will feel safe enough to let people care for us; we will grow to trust our ability to choose people who are safe and who can give us love.

We may need to get angry first -- angry that our needs have not been met. Later, we can become grateful to those people who have shown us what we don't want, the ones who have assisted us in the process of believing we deserve love, and the ones who come into our life to love us.

We are opening up like flowers. Sometimes it hurts as the petals push open. Be glad. Our heart is opening up to the love that is and will continue to be there for us.

Surrender to the love that is there for us, to the love that people, the Universe, and our Higher Power send our way.

Surrender to love, without allowing people to control us or keep us from caring for ourselves. Start by surrendering to love for yourself.

Today, I will open myself to the love that is here for me. I will let myself receive love that is safe, knowing I can take care of myself with people. I will be grateful to all the people from my past who have assisted me in my process of opening up to love. I claim, accept, and am grateful for the love that is coming to me.

You are reading from the book:
The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie

October 10, 2005

Live the Life You Desire

A time comes when we finally awaken and start finding the "Pearls" in our life. When in the midst of all our fears and insanity, we stop dead in our tracks, and realize that it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. We awaken to the fact that we are not perfect, that not everyone will always love, appreciate, or approve of who or what we are, and that's okay. (They're entitled to their own views and opinions.) And we learn the importance of loving and championing ourselves; and in the process a sense of new-found confidence is born of self-approval.

We learn that people don't always say what they mean or mean what they say, and sometimes they don't even know themselves. We also learn that not everyone will always be there for us; and that it's not always about us. So, we learn to stand on our own, and to take care of ourselves, and in the process, a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.

We stop judging and pointing fingers and we begin to accept people as they are, and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties; and in the process, a sense of peace and contentment is born. We realize that much of the way we view ourselves and the world around us, is as a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into our psyche.

We begin to sift through all that we've been fed about how we should behave, how we should look, and how much we should weigh; what we should wear and where we should shop, and what we should drive; how and where we should live, and what we should do for a living; who we should sleep with, who we should marry, and what we should expect of a marriage; the importance of having and raising children, or what we owe our parents. We learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And we begin reassessing and redefining who we are and what we really stand for.

We learn that we don't know everything, it's not our job to save the world and that we can't teach a cat to sing. We learn to distinguish between guilt, and responsibility, and the importance of setting boundaries, and learning to say NO. We learn that the only cross to bear is the one we choose to carry. We learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as we would have them be. We stop trying to control people, situations, and outcomes.

We look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that we will never be a perfect size, and we stop trying to compete with the image inside our head and agonizing over how we "stack up." We stop working so hard at putting our feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring our needs; and we come to the realization that we deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity, and respect.

We learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear. So we take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul,and crying cleans our hurts. Suppressing our hurt makes us weak. It's OK to cry; it's a form of releasing our hurt, after we feel the fullness of our hurt, we will grow strong again.

So we take more time to laugh and to play. We learn that for the most part, in life we get what we believe we deserve and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for, and that wishing for something to happen is different from working toward making it happen. More importantly, we learn that in order to achieve success we need direction, discipline, and perseverance.

We also learn that no one can do it all alone and that it's OK to risk asking for help. We learn that the only thing we must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time, fear itself. We learn to step right into and through our fears because we know that whatever happens we can handle it, and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on our terms.

And we learn to fight for our life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom. We learn that life isn't always fair, we don't always get what we think we deserve; and that sometimes-bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions, we learn not to personalize things.

We begin to take responsibility for our actions. And we learn to deal with evil in its most primal state - the ego. We learn negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected, or they will suffocate the life out of us, and poison the universe that surrounds us. We learn to admit when we are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

We learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower. Slowly, we begin to take responsibility for ourselves; and we make ourselves a promise to never betray ourselves and to never settle for less than our heart's desire.

And we hang a wind chime outside our window so we can listen to the wind. And we make it a point to keep smiling, keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

Finally, with courage in our heart and with Spirit by our side, we take a stand, for we have found one of life's most important "Pearls" ... we take a deep breath and ... we begin to design the life that WE want to live.

Author Unknown
Contributed by Denys in Santa Fe, New Mexico

October 09, 2005

Father Leo's Daily Meditation: UNDERSTANDING

"Intelligence is proved not by
ease of learning but by
understanding what we learn."
-- Joseph Whitney

For years I learned things without understanding what the words, or the meaning behind the words, really meant. An example was alcoholism. Then a man said, "My name is Bill, and I am an alcoholic and a recovering human being!" Then it struck me; recovery from a drug --- alcohol --- was not simply about putting down the glass but about changing and developing a positive lifestyle as a human being.

The same is true with spirituality. It is not about being religious, going to church or accepting dogma. It is about finding God in my life, discovering God in the decisions and actions I take and seeing Him in the world around me. Today I understand spirituality tO be the link that unites all peoples and is centered on what is true and real.

May I continue to search for the meaning within the word and the harmony of communication.

October 05, 2005

Laughter is the Noise of Optimism

Father Leo's Daily Meditation


"We are all here for a spell, get all the good laughs you can."
-- Will Rogers

When I first heard recovering alcoholics laughing, I thought I was in the wrong place. I was angry that they treated the disease so lightly. Then slowly I began to see that laughter is part of joy --- a deep joy that comes from personal healing. Laughter is spiritual because it is a positive response to life. It is the noise of optimism.

And there is so much in life to laugh about --- not only the funny things we did, but also the "humor" that abounds in living. How funny is our self-righteousness! How amusing we are in courtship. How ridiculous we appear when we pretend to be serious and "in charge".

Laughter is the conversation of angels.

Let me see the miracle of humor in the gift of life --- and let me be prepared to share it.

Seeking Peace by Johann Christoph Arnold

"Everyone's seeking peace, but few seem to find it. Why? Arnold says most people are looking in the wrong direction.

For anyone sick of the spiritual soup filling so many bookstore shelves these days, Seeking Peace is sure to satisfy a deep hunger. Arnold offers no easy solutions, but also no unrealistic promises. He spells out what peace demands. 'There is a peace greater than self-fulfillment,' he writes. But you won't find it if you go looking for it. It is waiting for everyone ready to sacrifice the search for individual peace, everyone ready to 'die to self.'"

Download the book, Seeking Peace by Johann Christoph Arnold here.

Surrender and All Will Be Well

"Difficulties should not depress or divert us. The cause that has gripped us is so great that the small weaknesses of individuals cannot destroy it. Therefore I ask you only one thing: do not be so worried about yourself. Free yourself from all your plans and aims. They occupy you far too much. Surrender yourself to the sun, the rain, and the wind, as do the flowers and the birds. Surrender yourself to God. Wish for nothing but one thing: that his will be done, that his kingdom come, and that his nature be revealed. Then all will be well."

Read more in this article by Johann Christoph Arnold.

October 04, 2005

Positive Thoughts

When you give of yourself, you receive more than you give.
--Antoine De Saint-Exupery

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
--Melody Beattie

"The more you recognize and express gratitude for the things you have, the more things you will have to express gratitude for."
--Zig Ziglar

When a person habitually thinks optimistically and hopefully, they activate life around them positively and thereby attract positive results. Positive Thinking sets in motion positive and creative forces and success flows toward you!
--Norman Vincent Peale

October 03, 2005

Living in Harmony with the World

Just For Today
October 3 Losing self-will

"Our egos, once so large and dominant, now take a back seat because we are in harmony with a loving God. We find that we lead richer, happier, and much fuller lives when we lose self-will"
Basic Text p.101

Addiction and self-will go hand in hand. The unmanageability that we admitted to in Step One was as much a product of our self-will as it was of our chronic drug abuse. And today, living on self-will can make our lives just as unmanageable as they were when we were using. When our ideas, our desires, our demands take first place in our lives, we find ourselves in constant conflict with everyone and everything around us.

Self-will reflects our reliance on ego. The only thing that will free us from self-will and the conflict it generates in our lives is to break our reliance on ego, coming to rely instead on the guidance and power offered us by a loving God.

We are taught to consult spiritual principles, not our selfish desires, in making our decisions. We are taught to seek guidance from a Higher Power, one with a larger vision of things than our own. In doing this, we find our lives meshing more and more easily with the order of things around us. No longer do we exclude ourselves from the flow of life; we become a part of it, and discover the fullness of what recovery has to offer.

Just for today:

I seek freedom from ego and the conflicts generated by self-will. I will try to improve my conscious contact with the God of my understanding, seeking the guidance and power I need to live in harmony with my world.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

Higher Power is a Flexible Concept

As Bill Sees It
A Higher Power for Atheists

I have had many experiences with atheists, mostly good. Everybody in A.A. has the right to his own opinion. It is much better to maintain an open and tolerant society than it is to suppress any small disturbances their opinions might occasion. Actually, 1 don't know of anybody who went off and died of alcoholism because of some atheist's opinions on the cosmos.

"But I do always entreat these folks to look to a 'Higher Power' -namely, their own group. When they come in, most of their A.A. group is sober, and they are drunk. Therefore, the group is a 'Higher Power.' That's a good enough start, and most of them do progress from there. I know how they feel, because I was once that way myself."

LETTER, 1962

Be Not Afraid of Life

"Men and women who use alcohol as an escape are not the only ones who are afraid of life, hostile to the world, fleeing from it into loneliness. Millions who are not alcoholics are living today in illusory worlds, nurturing the basic anxieties and insecurities of human existence rather than face themselves with courage and humility.

To these people, AA can offer as a cure no magic potion, no chemical formula, no powerful drug. But it can demonstrate to them how to use the tools of humility, honesty, devotion, and love, which indeed are the heart of the Twelve Steps of our recovery."

c.1957AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, p. 279

Healthy vs. Reactive States of Mind

Dancing with Life
by Richard Carlson

Human beings have essentially two modes or mind-sets that we operate or live in, with, of course, some shades of gray in between. We have what you might call a healthy mode, and another, which you can think of as reactive.

When we are in our healthiest state of mind, we "dance" with life. We're in the flow of things. We're patient, wise, thoughtful, and kind. We make good, sound decisions. We treat others with respect and compassion -- and we treat ourselves that way too. We make adjustments when necessary, and are flexible in our thinking. Reflect, for a moment, on your own life. Can you recall times when you have remained -- even for a moment -- in a healthy, calm state of mind, despite difficult circumstances?

Our reactive state of mind is quite different. In fact, if you're anything like me, there are probably times when you wonder how the same person can respond (or react) so differently to a remarkably similar set of facts. One moment we can handle something really well, even when it's "big." But the next moment we fly off the handle! In a reactive state of mind, we are less patient. Instead of being effortless, our thinking is difficult. We churn and struggle. We are quick-tempered and judgmental. We are frustrated and hard on ourselves and others. Our problem-solving skills are limited, as are our perspective and vision.

It's helpful to notice and acknowledge the difference between these two ways of being (or states of mind) because it gives you a "home base" and a starting point; it gives you something to work with. It's very comforting to know the power of your own state of mind because, unlike so many other factors, it comes from within you. You have some capacity to control it.

Sometimes it's hard to believe, but ultimately we are the source of our own love. In the beautiful audiotape course To Love and Be Loved by Stephen and Ondrea Levine (published by Sounds True), the Levines spoke of a woman who said, "My mother can't allow me to love her." They pointed out something that took me some time to digest. In a very compassionate tone they pointed out that, "Actually, she can't stop you from loving her."

Our healthiest state of mind is that strong. It's a state of mind filled with love. When we are in it, we feel secure and at peace -- to some extent regardless of what's going on around us. This is our most natural state of mind.

Everyone gets reactive, and at times it seems we're always that way. And there's nothing wrong with this, nor am I aware of any way to completely eliminate it. But if you've ever felt the peace of your mental well-being, then you know it's in you and can be found again. Simply knowing that it's there is half the battle. By acknowledging the existence of a healthy state of mind, you can learn to trust it, and access it, more often. And this is key: When you're in a healthy state of mind, you'll know who to turn to, who your friends are, and what to do. That's not a pep talk, it's the truth.

Ironically, the way to access your inner health and strength is not by "trying," but by letting go. The idea is to clear our minds and let go of our analytical thinking when it's getting the best of us. When we do, and as we quiet down, a natural, orderly flow of thoughts will begin to emerge, including insights on what to do next. It's this quieter place where our deepest wisdom exists.

You'll notice that when you are in your healthiest state of mind, life will seem pretty manageable and effortless. The decisions and actions you need to make will flow, as if you are dancing. You will see right to the heart of the matter and you will act accordingly. On the other hand, when you slip into a more reactive state, you'll feel overwhelmed and stressed. The key is, you'll feel the difference.

My dear friend and coauthor of Slowing Down to the Speed of Life, Joe Bailey, equates our thinking to a walkie-talkie. He says we are either on "talk" or "listen." The metaphor suggests that we are either in a healthy state or a reactive one. And just like a walkie-talkie, in order to shift from talk to listen, it's necessary to know which mode you're in. But once you do, all that's necessary is to let go of the button, and the shift occurs automatically.

So it is when we're thinking. When we're reactive, churning, and trying too hard to figure everything out, the key is to recognize that we're doing so. Then, like silt settling in a pond, we do nothing except ease off and wait. Relax and trust that your wisdom will kick into gear. It requires no effort, but it does require faith, humility, and patience. It requires faith because you must trust that your wisdom and healthy mind-set do in fact exist. It requires humility because it's often hard to admit that effort is not the answer. Finally, it requires patience because even though the process is simple, it's not as easy as it sounds.

One thing is certain, however. If you can dance with it, making the necessary adjustments along the way, you can and will get through it. Give yourself plenty of time and space, and remain compassionate toward yourself. There is a part of you that is stronger than any of your problems.

This article is excerpted from What About the Big Stuff?, ©2002, by Richard Carlson, Ph.D. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Hyperion. www.hyperionbooks.com

About the Author
RICHARD CARLSON is the bestselling author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff,
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work; Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens;
and Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Men, among other titles. He lectures
around the country and internationally, and lives with his wife and children
in Northern California.