Surprise.

The other day while painting the fence in our backyard, this thought popped into my mind: Do the Kardashians have babies so that they have job security? I laughed out loud at the notion, not that I care about the Kardashians, but because it was one of the few ridiculous thoughts I’ve had recently. In twelve weeks, to be exact. That’s how long my family’s “new normal” has been in effect. 

While the whole series of events leading up to it are still somewhat incomprehensible, the fact is that it is what it is and somehow life goes on. We’re left to wonder about so many things, and the truth is that we’ll never know the truth. What is true is that nearly half of my daughter’s life–and a good part of ours, too–has been undermined by lies, and that is only part of the damage she is contending with these days. It’s enough to bring anyone down. 

But not everyone. 

I am more proud of her today than I’ve ever been. Whereas some may have stayed down for the count, I’ve seen the reemergence of the stubbornness, strength, and determination she had as a rebellious teenager channeled in order to keep things running. 

Having the rug pulled out from under her was shocking, heartbreaking, and humiliating, and having to deal with another’s issues and actions on an ongoing basis continues to be emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. Ironically though, the series of onslaughts opened her up to the idea of spiritual help. Unbeknownst to her, she had come to the point of surrender. The pump was primed. 

It is a testament to the spiritual program of Alcoholics Anonymous that she is “how” she is today, and that is to say that she is okay, all things considered. The only way I know how to support her these days comes straight from what I’ve learned in the program. It’s amazing that the right words come at the right time, and that she is receptive. I’ve even thought as they left my mouth, “Where are these words coming from? They are not mine.” That’s how active God’s grace has been throughout the past twelve weeks. Well, in this particular case, anyway; God’s grace is always present, though we’re not always of it. 

She’s not only survived literally, but she’s learning so much. The growth will continue, and it won’t be easy. It never is. But it is worthwhile. After all, life goes on. 

There are, and there will always be, things that we don’t understand the “why” of. And that’s okay. We don’t have to. Philip Yancey said that “faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” I guess that’s so, because reflecting on the past twelve weeks makes me grateful for this unforeseen fork in the journey. I predict that someday she will, too. I have faith!

The Climb


Last Tuesday my family and I experienced the most fun day we’ve had in a long time when we went to The Climb Adventure Lagoon, http://www.survivetheclimb.com/, in Russellville, about 40 miles east of here.  I happened to stumble upon its website while looking for climbing opportunities for my grandson, Bobby, who’s always had a passion for it. Gauging by the photos, it looked to be a lot of fun even though it wasn’t the rock-climbing experience I was originally looking for. Nevertheless, that’s where we decided to celebrate his 11th birthday. 

No one I asked had ever heard of the Climb, so I depended on the website and Trip Advisor reviews for information. Words like ‘old-fashioned swimming hole’ and ‘quarry’ jumped out at me and made me think back to when I was about 9 and the quarry near my house where my cousins and I often played. That was such a fun time in my life, and I think I was the most excited one about going. As for the others, they didn’t know what to expect. 

It took two vehicles to transport all the stuff we thought we (three adults and four kids) might need for the day: food, drink, towels, floats, foam noodles, lawn chairs, canopy. Our daughter had the four kids, ages 9-11, and we had everything else. 

As we turned into the entrance, I immediately thought of my 9-year-old granddaughter and chuckled…first impressions of public places mean everything to her and will either seal the deal or break it. Her first experience of public transportation (the tour bus at Mammoth Cave National Park) was not a pleasant one because “she didn’t know any of those people.” So now she says she’ll never ride a bus ever again.  I laughed when I thought of what must have gone through her mind when all she could see was a wide open, rocky expanse leading to who-knows-what? After all, “adventure” was part of its name. 

A check-in shack stood alone in an enormous parking lot, as though it were an oasis in the desert.  We paid the admission fee of $20 each for everyone older than 10, and signed waivers if they hadn’t already been signed online. Once those formalities were taken care of, we were given paid-admission bracelets and the lowdown of what to expect once we drove to the quarry. 

It turned out that there is so much to do here that it’s hard to take it all in initially because everything is literally right there. The quarry is that big. Swimming, zip-lining, waterslide, paddle boards, kayaking (life jackets provided), fishing, walking the suspension line crossing the quarry, just floating in the water. No frills at all, no lifeguards, and not many rules. (No facilities either–well, there is the dilapidated trailer, aka “The Clubhouse,” in which there’s a toilet–but remember, this is a quarry. You’ve been warned.)


I took a lot more videos than photos, simply because there was so much activity and memories to record! There wasn’t a whole lot of sitting and relaxing. Since there weren’t that many people this midweek afternoon, and we had much of the place to ourselves. Though I wish we had thought to bring old tennis shoes to make walking the rocky paths from one activity to another easier, carefully taking one step at a time eventually got everyone to wherever they wanted to go. After more than six hours of fun in the sun, everyone was exhausted and ready to go home, but already talking about “next time.”

Finding this western Kentucky gem was an eye opener for all of us. Bobby said it was the best birthday party ever. Ever?! That says a lot. My daughter commented that it was the most redneck thing she’d ever done, and that she’d had a blast. For me, it was the no-frills, simple, old-fashioned summer kind of fun. Three generations having fun together. I’d say it was a perfect day. 

Life…it’s what we make it

It’s the last day of the month of May, and I still haven’t posted a blog. My goal is at least one per month. It doesn’t sound like much, and it really isn’t, because once I get going, my fingers fly. Particularly when I’m on the bandwagon about something like I was when I quit Facebook for more than a year and felt all righteous. 

But Life happens and we have been adjusting to our new-normal, taking each day one day at a time. The month flew by faster than usual, but maybe it just seems that way because I’m getting older. It’s kind of funny that this last minute essay is exactly how I approached school assignments as a kid: waiting until the last minute to do it, no matter how much lead time was given. 

In spite of being a procrastinator, I’m both goal oriented and stubborn, so here I am, writing feverishly. I have about two and a half hours before I meet with a sponsee (recovery-talk for “person I’m working with”) and then it’s the weekly women-in-recovery meeting, followed by going to a funeral home to pay last respects to an acquaintance who died last week much too soon. She was only 50. 

She and I shared the same disease and she tried time and time again to stop drinking. I went to her house once when she begged for some women in the program to come over and help her. She cried and said she wanted to get sober, but I don’t think she really wanted to do what was necessary to get there. Talking to her was futile. Multiple hospital/rehab stays were of no use. 

She is the sixth person I’ve known from the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous to die in the last eleven months. Only two were known to be sober when they died. I wonder if one-in-three people who want to recover and succeed in doing so is about average, or if two people have to die in order for one to live.

The message couldn’t be clearer: Just don’t take the first drink! Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying that serves as a warning against taking that first one–which can lead to the second, and the third: “It’s the engine, not the caboose, that kills you.” I have learned what just one drink will do. I have a choice when it comes to taking that first drink. 

One of my sponsors told me that I can do anything I want, as long as I’m willing to pay the price, but I really don’t want to pay that price anymore. I must be on guard if I want to remain happy, joyous, and free. My life’s never been better. 

It’s taken awhile to learn how to live one day at a time, to become disciplined in applying the Steps to my life, and to practice daily gratitude. I reap the benefits every day, though! This is not to say that life is grand. It definitely is not! In fact, what’s happening in my world currently is the third time in a year that both faith and sobriety have been put to the test. But somehow through each situation I’ve experienced a peace and serenity that I would not have experienced if not for the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I don’t have to understand why certain things in life happen. I don’t have to like what happens.  I just have to accept that everything will eventually be alright, and that all of this is working towards the accomplishment of God’s will.

The artist, Grandma Moses, said that “Life is what we make it. Always has been. Always will be.” So do what you have to do to MAKE it a good one! It’s your choice.

Those black puzzle pieces of life


Sometimes when I try to understand why some things in life happen the way they do, I think of those grotesquely shaped, black pieces found in many puzzles, and somehow that seems to help. 

Viewed individually, each piece seems totally unnecessary and doesn’t seem to fit anywhere. One is left to wonder how something so bizarre could possibly have a place in the big picture. But somehow it does…eventually. Perfectly. And ironically without it, the puzzle wouldn’t be complete. 

My family is dealing with one of those dark puzzle pieces now. It’s an unexpected, unfortunate game-changer whose ramifications and backlash will probably be felt for a very long time. 

Initially the shock evoked raw emotions and physical reactions that included a lot of tears, nausea, and very little sleep. This, plus disbelief and denial, made the first few days of the new-normal really hard to get through. It made me grateful that I’m learning to live in 24-hour chunks. 

As the days have passed, stark reality has begun to be revealed. Life is different. Something is missing. It seems incomplete. Even so, the days go by. 

They go by slowly, and at the same time quickly if that’s even possible. Or is it that I’ve lost track of time and each day melds into the next? It doesn’t matter. There are a lot of things that must be done now and in the days to come, which is a good thing. Being busy will pull us off the pity pot, if we so choose. Each of us has to decide if we want to be a part of the problem or part of the solution. 

Just remembering to breathe–breathe slowly and deeply–helps. That simple act alone somehow settles my non-stop mind that’s trying to separate ‘moving on’ with the emotional ties that would keep me stuck, if I allow. 

I’m grateful to have learned certain coping skills to help me deal with life on life’s terms. I call it my “spiritual toolkit” and mine is quite sizable. It includes, among other things, a morning ritual of readings (devotionals and the Bible, etc.), guided meditation, and journaling my gratitude daily (twice actually–written and electronically on social media). Every morning I get out my spiritual toolkit before doing anything else. Well, almost. I get a cup of coffee first. 

I really have to work on my connection to a higher power because my natural inclination is to run on self-will. I have to practice letting go of control. My morning routine reminds me that I’m really not in charge of anything, and I have to remember that. 

There are other tools as well, like physical activity, either work or play–going for a walk, mowing the grass, washing the dishes, doing the laundy, making one’s bed, playing catch with my grandson… Just doing the next right thing, whatever it may be, helps getting through each 24-hour chunk doable. Most importantly, it gets me out of myself. 

At the same time, I have to know when to stop doing so much and just relax. It’s important to keep a balance. Easy does it. Though I want to let go of my self (centerness), I don’t want to lose it!

Living in 24-hour chunks and staying in today takes a lot of vigilance and discipline, but the benefits are worthwhile. There are things in life that are so hard to bear and get through, so learning how to live one day at a time is a godsend. After all, this too shall pass.

Regretting what has happened or worrying about what might happen in the future are of no use, since I can’t do anything about either. Really, if I could, I would. But I can affect what happens today by my attitude–and I know it–so I’m trying react better…more thoughtfully, anyway. As a friend once told me, “We can do anything we want, as long as we’re willing to pay the consequences.”

Life is too short to let those black puzzle pieces stymie us. The world really is beautiful if we are willing to look beyond the limitations of our own humanness and whatever is happening now. It takes a little effort, but I have to believe that those black puzzle pieces fit somewhere. 

Philip Yancey said, “I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” I find this attitude both liberating and assuring; liberating in that it releases me from worry, and assuring in the knowledge that everything will be okay.  

It’s only through times like this that I realize what “serenity” truly is: peace in the midst of chaos. It’s true that the sun is always behind the clouds, even on rainy days. Sometimes it’s just hard to remember. 

Days go by…


Surprise. A little bit of pride. A lot of gratitude.

These are some of the feelings I had the other day when one of my phone apps congratulated me on my 2,000th day of sobriety.

Part of me (ego) thought, “Wow…damn!!” And while the string of days seems impressive (that IS a lot of days, after all), in my heart and (much more importantly) in my mind I now realize that the secret of such a feat lies in living each 24-hour chunk well. One day at a time.

I’ve accumulated 2,000 days before, so there’s a bit of wariness about the milestone. Maybe it’s a healthy fear. I’d gotten got a little cocky about my ability–or inability, as it were–to resist my demon and ‘thought I had this.’

After a lengthy relapse, I eventually reached my bottom again and this time it hurt even worse. It took what it took; after all, we humans can be very stubborn. It took being cut off at the knees to get me to surrender to my powerlessness over alcohol. I had no one else to turn to and nowhere else to go.

So I came back into the rooms a lot more bruised, a lot more humble, and a lot more willing to do whatever it took to get out of the hole I’d dug myself into. Or die.

Writing this has made me realize that I’d been thinking of ‘2,000 days’ as being a milestone. Instead, I think I’ll simply consider it a mile marker since it really is just part of the road I’m presently on…one that becomes a bit smoother and less congested as time goes by.

Naturally, there have been delays and detours along the way, and I know there’ll be some ahead. I’m just learning how to live life today. I’m learning how to be…here…now. One day at a time…

I said I’d be there. 

A local church in my town is sponsoring a five-week study of “The Shack,” a best selling book-turned-movie about change and forgiveness, and the first session was this past Tuesday. I’m not even sure about how I learned of it, to tell you the truth; I used to attend service there, but not anymore. Still, I have friends that attend, and the pastor, Rev. Paige, holds a special place in my heart, and I dare say that her heart has a special place for me. 

At any rate, one of my friends strongly encouraged me to come to the study (over a series of several days, whick I took to be ‘a sign’) so I said I would, just to end the conversation. And immediately regretted it. That’s how I am about making commitments these days. It’s not that I don’t want to follow through; it’s just that ‘commitment’ seems to contradict living ‘one day at a time.’ But I’m working on it. 

Prior to learning about this opportunity, I’d gone to see the movie one evening with nearly twenty female friends in recovery. Though my turning-away-from-God was not for the same reason as the main character’s, his confusion and conflict about God were feelings that resonated with me. I think everyone, at some time or another, experiences hard times or situations that challenge one’s faith and trust in a higher power. Add grief and sadness and depression to the mix and the result is one confused and extremely angry individual. 


So, basically, the study will be one of theodicy and possibly answer the question of why God permits tragedy, evil, hard times, sickness, pain, extreme sadness, call it what you will–if He wants only the best for us. I have wondered about that. The subject matter is worth pondering and exploring, and Paige will be the perfect facilitator. 

Even though I didn’t feel like going to the study when the time came–it was raining and cold and staying home was much more appealing–I’m glad I went. It was good to see Paige again; our worlds intersect at just the right times, it seems. And in retrospect , I’m grateful my friend insisted I attend the study. It’s true that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. 

At any rate, it will be a learning experience…no doubt in more ways than one, from what I can already tell. It’s undoubtedly speculation on my part, but to have this coincide with spring and Easter–traditional times of regrowth and regeneration–is just icing on the cake.  It’s during the dark times in our lives that we question God’s existence, and need to have the faith, trust, and assurance that in the end, all will be well. And it will. Somehow, someway…

Transformations

It’s been a week since coming back from vacation and normalcy returned all too quickly. We’re back to taking care of our grandkids whilst their dad works and their mom runs the brewery. Spring cleaning projects have been identified and begun. I even cut the grass in the backyard for the first time this season.

Still, I can’t help but reflect on certain things that I either saw or heard while on vacation, which happened to be the best one we’ve ever had, by the way. Ever. I’m more aware of things these days, and I’m remembering them, too, which I find remarkable since I still have the hardest time remembering what I did with my glasses or my keys. For one reason or another, certain things make an impression.

Take, for instance, the precious luna moth laying on the asphalt ground at the gas station we stopped at in Georgia on our way back from the beach. I’m surprised I didn’t step on her and smush her as soon as I got out of the truck. There she stayed all the while I cleaned the windshield, which took some time. Fueling up the truck took much longer, and yet, she stayed.

I read that such daytime encounters are indeed fortunate since moths are nocturnal creatures. What I felt most grateful about was that she was patient enough to let me take quite a few photos of her.

Refueling completed, we prepared to leave, but I was concerned for her safety, and shooed her out of the fueling bay.  Of course, where she went after that was not up to me. That’s another thing that’s changed in me–letting go of situations over which I have no control. It’s becoming easier. If I had tried to catch her or force her to go where I thought she should go, I might’ve killed her. Now I know that letting go is a choice, and when practiced (however reluctantly), can be very, very liberating.

I’d nearly forgotten about the beautiful and dainty creature until yesterday. Part of my daily routine is listening to podcasts, and one of my favorites is The Recovery Show. When I brought it up to listen to the other day, I put 2 and 2 together: I knew I had seen that moth before…it’s part of the show’s logo! Immediately I thought, “This is a God-wink.” And then when I pulled up the website to take a screen shot for this post, I saw that Spencer (the host) had put my photo up! Another God wink. 😉


Years ago, a friend who’s part Native American Indian got me interested in animal totems, and ever since then I’ve been sensitive to repeated appearances of animals in my life.

The transformation a moth goes through before reaching adulthood takes it through some harrowing changes: egg, then caterpillar, then chrysalis. It can’t be easy or comfortable.

There’s a lot of symbolism attached to moths, like optimism, good listening skills, and motivation, things I strive towards. They also symbolize the attraction to lighter things–and I think of how much humor and laughter play an integral part of my recovery and general well-being.

Luna moths live but only a week, and their sole  purpose is to reproduce in that short amount of time. In the big scheme of things, my journey is just as brief, and I can see how all those qualities would grately enhance it. The awakening continues the wider I open my eyes.

Winter Escape

Last month I wrote about seeing a therapist for the first time because I felt unusually sad, and the feeling was lasting longer than I cared for it to. I also wasn’t sleeping well, and the interesting thing is that a year ago, I wasn’t sleeping well either. (I know, because I had documented it in my journal.)

I wondered if there really was something to this SAD-thing–seasonal affective disorder. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about; I bet I’m not the only one who starts feeling down come mid-winter. I’d even be willing to bet that it reaches untold epidemic proportions.

One thing that’s always pulled me out of a funk like that is having something to look forward to. So when Dave suggested I plan a trip, I knew immediately where I wanted to go: the beach. It was January, after all.

I wanted to go to Florida’s Panhandle, a place we called “home” at one point. It’s the closest beach coast to Kentucky, anyway. There was so much of it we hadn’t explored when we lived here in the mid-80s, not to mention that things have changed a lot since then.

February/March is typically Mardi Gras-time along the Gulf Coast. Plus spring break. So, making reservations was challenging, to say the least. I used the National Park Service and Florida State Parks websites to plan the Florida-part of the trip; we’d play getting there and back by ear

Three nights was the most I was able to reserve at the Gulf Islands National Seashore at the western tip of Pensacola Beach. This is a stone’s throw from Gulf Breeze, where we lived when our now-adult kids had just started going to school.

IMG_6567 IMG_6568An annual pass to the National Parks sliced the cost of our stay in half, to $39 for three nights starting Tuesday. Our site had 30/50 amp electricity and water, and was paved. We were steps away from a path to the beach.

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Besides miles of pristine, sugar-white beach laced with shells, there was Fort Pickens, which was fun to explore even if you’re not a military history buff.

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We’ve seen sunset at the beach every night we’ve been here. I never tire of them…how could I when each one is a different spectacle?

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I’d never heard of where I made reservations next, Grayton Beach State Park, only that it was midway between Destin and Panama City. Were we beyond pleasantly surprised! Our site is not only wide, level, nicely graveled and comes complete with a fire ring, picnic table, and clothesline…it has ‘full hook-ups,’ meaning we have sewer, meaning I can do laundry. Ours was piling up, so I was happy. Our site costs $30/night, and we’re here until Monday. So, $90 for a weekend on Florida’s “Emerald Coast.”

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Though you wouldn’t know it because of its seclusion, GPS pinpoints our location to be just west of Seaside, one of the (too) many trendy beachside communities that have popped up along beach highway 30A. For $800,000, you can get a fixer-upper condo. We made the mistake of turning right instead of left out of the park on Saturday and got all caught up in the traffic that is probably there on a continual basis, given how closely together the houses are built. It was terrible. And to think that some people pay big bucks for this.

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Back in Grayton Beach, we played tourists for a couple hours, eating lunch at a place suggested by the park ranger, Chanticleer Eatery. She said to go for the cookies, but I say go for the shrimp and grits. I have no idea how much cheese was used in the recipe, but it was fabulous and I ate every single bit. Licking the plate would have been rude, but the thought did cross my mind. Kudos to our Mississippi-friend, George Eyrich (who definitely knew how to cook) who used to say about recipes calling for loads of cheese/butter/cream, “Relax! Just don’t eat this every day.”

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Though we thought it might be fun to go to Destin to see the Mardi Gras parades, the thought of bumper to bumper traffic wasn’t appealing. And that was given, since there’s only one way there and back, Highway 98.

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There was a time when I didn’t mind being in the thick of crowds, but it just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. For all the beauty and tranquility that is the beach, I know that this too shall pass, and soon throngs of visitors will descend here. In the six days we’ve been in Florida, not once have I wished to live here again, though the weather and abundance of seafood are great temptations. If Saturday’s unexpected foray through the Seaside community was any indication, claustrophobia would certainly consume me within days.

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It occurred to me on this trip that, at one time or another in the 38 years we’ve been married, we’ve lived in places that are really expensive today: Key West, San Diego, Washington, DC, Gulf Breeze and North Palm Beach, FL. Even when we lived on a boat, diesel and dockage were somewhat reasonable, whereas I doubt we could afford to do it today. It made me feel very grateful and appreciative for the opportunities to see and experience so much.

I’m glad we took chances over the years. As crazy as some of them were, we always figured that things would end up alright. Today we’re packing up and heading eastward to Mexico Beach, on the other side of Panama City. We’ve never been there, either. We’ve probably seen it at a distance when we passed by on the boat making our way to D.C. by way of the Intracoastal Waterway, but you miss so much when you can’t get close enough to shore to see anything. I love being in old Florida again.

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The Therapist 


I never thought I’d openly admit what I’m about to admit let alone blog about it, but by doing so I’m supporting my long-held conviction that the topic of mental health and wellness not be taboo. It’s important to walk the talk.

At the age of 62, I recently saw a therapist/shrink/counselor for the first time. Up until it was time to leave the house to go to the appointment though, I questioned my motive. I really didn’t know if I needed to go. How does one even know if one should see a therapist? Did what I was feeling at the time warrant such a measure? What did I expect to happen? I figured that the mere fact that I had even thought about seeing a therapist and had gone so far as to make an appointment was a pretty good indicator that I needed to see one.

If I were to rate my present life on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give it a 6 at least, so things are okay for the most part. The holidays weren’t particularly easy but then again, they aren’t easy for a lot of people. In fact, several of my friends had it much worse than me. Fact: Misery really does love company. I didn’t feel alone.

Generally speaking, though, I felt something was missing in life–but I had no idea ‘what’–and felt I could be happier than I was–though I had no idea ‘how.’ I wondered if I was having a mid-life crisis twenty years too late. Or maybe seasonal affective disorder (SAD) because I was.

I needed to vent to someone, to hear myself verbalize the thoughts that had been running in my head. The person I’d see couldn’t be just anyone though. I needed to be able to be completely honest and know I wouldn’t be judged, which eliminated most everyone I knew. I needed a trust-worthy, disinterested third party.

I contacted a connection I’d made while working at the community college who made a couple of suggestions, and I settled on the one whose name I’d heard a time or two previously. Probably the fact that I called the day after Christmas signaled some kind of urgency, for my appointment was booked for the first week of January.

As the appointment day approached I found myself anxious (in a good way) to unload. I would be honest because I could be. She didn’t know me from Adam, and I liked that she wasn’t from this area either. In retrospect, I verbally regurgitated for an hour because she made it so easy by asking good questions. The takeaway of the experience was a mix of “ah-ha!” and a determination to answer her question, “What’s stopping you from …” I’ve been exploring and working on that ever since.

So why write about it? Because mental health and wellbeing has been an extremely important subject to me for most of my life, ever since a much loved family member descended into a deep, dark depression that lasted much, much too long, nearly two decades. That, plus my own ongoing recovery from alcoholism has taught me a lot about the importance of communication. It’s something I’m working on and probably always will.

I’m grateful for learning and growth, even when it’s uncomfortable. Even when I have to surrender to a nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right. Even when I have to ask for help and find a therapist…maybe that’s surrendering to the solution. I don’t mind admitting it. It helped, and I’m feeling much better!

Reality Check 

I’m a horse’s ass. 

Well, not exactly. Actually, worse. 

Whilst scrolling through Facebook the other morning, I noticed that a friend had posted the result of a quiz that supposedly analyzed her profile to determine what percentage was a-hole. She was 14%. I’d taken quizzes from this analytical site quite a few times in the past and always marveled at how right-on the results seemed to be. I clicked “analyze me” without a second thought.

 
Moments later I sat in disbelief. I couldn’t believe it was saying 74%!

Internally, I went ballistic. How could that be right? Denial. Shock. Anger. From 0 – 100 in a few seconds. I quickly realized that I hadn’t blown a gasket like this in a long, long time, and it actually scared me. Thank God the emotion didn’t last too long. Almost as quickly came the antidote: divine intervention in the form of acceptance. It was like a bolt of lightning. 

I had to be honest with myself and admit that I could be an a-hole. Hard as it was to admit at first, it turned out to be the first step toward freedom. The floodgates opened. The blinders were off. I saw more instances than I cared to admit of me acting in the same negative ways as my mother did. Even though she’s been long deceased, I still have resentments. All the things I hated about about her and swore I’d never be, I had become. I finally understood that what we dislike in others are the very things we dislike in ourselves. 

I couldn’t swear to it, but I think I had a catharsis last week. I surprised myself when I thought, “I need to change. I don’t want to be like this anymore.” 

This all happened in the days between Christmas and New Years. 1/1. What better time to turn over a new leaf! One day at a time I can choose to use any one of a number of spiritual tools–prayer, meditation, service, gratitude, boundaries–to help get me through each 24-hour-chunk. I’m powerless over everything except how I’ll react in any given situation. I can pro-act instead of re-act. 

Now I know why I had always liked the results of personality quizzes in the past: they were usually positive. Unexpected negative results can be so painful! Seeing the honest truth about our self takes guts, but that’s what it takes to catapult some of us into action that ultimately makes for a better human being. 

Somewhere along this unmarked journey lies our purpose. “Be renewed in the spirit of your minds,” the disciple Paul told the Ephesians (4:23.) What better time than today to make changes for the better? This is, after all, the first day of the rest of our lives.