Stepping Out

Caution is natural, but fear is not. Do not give into fear, yet do not abandon caution. It is a balancing act. Caution is what causes you to look both ways before crossing the street. Fear is what keeps you frozen on the curb forever. You know the difference. You can feel it.          Neale Donald Walsch

I have wanted to write from a young age. I remember in my early twenties I wanted to write the great Canadian novel, be the next Mordecai Richler or Margaret Atwood. I did not and, therefore, am not. I made a few feeble attempts at writing over the years, but became involved in other things and pushed writing aside. Well over thirty years have passed and I am still standing on the side of the road looking longingly over to the other side.

I got my PhD in making up excuses. I can say the time isn’t right. I don’t have the time. I am waiting for the right inspiration or the muse to come to get me to write. Tomorrow I will start. And of course, I do nothing. And with the passing of years there is always another excuse for putting things off, to the point where it seems it was a youthful dream that was never to be fulfilled in the first place. Only it’s still there.

I am unmoved on one side of the street not because I am cautious but because I am fearful. I keep looking both ways and even if there is no traffic, I look again and don’t take the first step. What are those fears? Fear of failure, fear that I am not good enough, fear that people won’t like it or like me. There are so many fears that keep my from embarking on this journey including the fear that I may even be successful.

Over the past 18 months I have been pushing my fears aside and sharing myself, my thoughts and my feeling in this blog. It is a slow beginning but it is a step to crossing that road to the other side. This morning I sent out a submission of a short story I have been working on. Will it be accepted and published? I don’t know. I am coming to terms with my fears. I see fear as a bad habit that I want to overcome if I want to move forward.

I am learning to step forward in trust; trust in myself and my abilities. If blog writing has taught me anything it is that I do have a talent for putting words together that can touch people and that my experience and thoughts are those shared by many others. I don’t think that my life is by any means exemplary, I’m just another guy who is actively seeking my truth and looking for answers. And my answer this week is that I need to walk forward and cross the street.

I have committed myself to continue writing my blog for the next year. It helps to keep me grounded and working my recovery program. I believe in my own program of Search, Learn, Grow, Share and Repeat. I have a couple of creative writing projects to move forward on. Perhaps you have a few things that you are wishing to try but are have been standing at the side of the road for as many years as I have. We are not alone. I am beginning to cross the road. Why don’t we walk together.

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The Power to Carry It Out.

Last post I wrote about knowing what my Higher Power’s will is for me. This post will address the second thing we are told to pray for in the Eleventh Step:  the power to carry out that will.

Just where do I get that power? I’d like to say that there’s an automatic line from heaven to me that pumps energy into my to do the will of my HP. But I can’t. It just doesn’t work that way. My Higher Power only does for me what I cannot do for myself, so if I can do it – it’s up to me.

When I came into the program, I believe that HP removed my obsession to use. I sure couldn’t do it myself. I had been trying for years to stop without much success. Suddenly I no longer had the urges and for me, that was a miraculous power. I was told that faith in a Higher Power does move mountains, but to bring along a shovel and a wheelbarrow. In other words, there are things that I have to put the work into. It takes time and it takes an effort forge a life that is truly happy, joyous and free. So where did I find the power to keep trudging the path of happy destiny?

I found power to do HP’s in my own past. If I could stay sober yesterday, then I could use that as encouragement for me to stay sober today. Gradually the days added up. I can still find self esteem and courage in the small successes to keep me going through today. I have been through separation, death, and broken bones in recovery, and I didn’t fall apart so the small victories, one day at a time, gave me power to get through the traumatic times. I admit that my mind sometimes throws my failure at me with full force. However, by developing the habit of looking for successes, I can find power even in the smallest ones. They encourage me.

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I found power in my recovery fellowship. I listened: at meetings, before meetings and at the coffee shop after meetings. Here were people who were doing the same thing  as I was and they were finding a path through difficulties. They were showing me what to do and sometimes, what not to do, by their example. Their experience became my valuable experience; even though it didn’t happen to me I could learn from their lessons. I needed and still do need my recovery family to help me through the difficult times that pass through everyone’s life at sometime or another.

I found power in the assistance of mentors in recovery. Sponsorship helped me to see on a person to person level how to go through the Twelve Steps of recovery. It allowed me to share things I wasn’t ready talk about with a group or perhaps weren’t appropriate for a meeting share. Having a sponsor helped me to see and celebrate those small successes, as well as the major ones.

Past successes, recovery fellowship and sponsors are also there to challenge us. If I am the same as I was yesterday, then I’m not growing. I believe that this is a program that requires growth and constant learning. The power I need to step out of my comfort zone and into unknown territory comes from knowing that I can face fears and walk courageously forward because others have done so before me. I know that I have the power to carry out my Higher Power’s will for me today.

 

Limiting Distractions

As I was going over some of my writing from last week when I was away, I saw in the space at the top of one page I had written: “Most of what’s happening around me isn’t important, it’s a distraction. I can choose what’s important for me.” To be honest, I don’t remember writing it. It’s in the middle of five pages of script. I’ve been reading a lot of material lately with respect to self improvement, so it probably stems from there. And it has caught my attention over and over again in the past couple of days: “Most of what’s happening around me isn’t important, it’s a distraction.”

I was reminded of the 80-20 rule which basically says that 80 percent of the time I am involved in things that aren’t important to me and it’s only the things I do during about 20 percent of my time that help me move forward. The idea with eliminating distractions is to change the percentages more toward more of what is giving me results. Over the past couple of months I’ve been learning what my distractions are and changing my habits.

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Probably the biggest distraction and time waster for me is my cell phone. How many times a day do I pick that up to check on something? Sure it’s handy, but it is also a tool and not a master that must be attended to every time it beeps and chimes. I eliminated a bunch of apps that are a distraction. And in the morning I leave my cell on the night stand until I have finished my morning meditation, journal writing and walking the dogs. There is just so little that has to be dealt with right as soon as I get up.

Another distraction I have been whittling down: Facebook. I can waste hours going through stroking egos by giving likes to notifications and videos, and making comments. Again, Facebook or other social media isn’t the culprit, it’s the time and attention that I lavish on what is mostly a distraction. Netflix is another distraction for me, especially a series. No longer do I have to ‘tune in next week on the same channel’ to find out what happens next. I don’t even have to click; automatically it opens the next episode. Before I know it, I’m investing another 42 minutes into it. I’ve limited the amount of news I read daily. I choose the videos I watch on Youtube, I stay away from Instagram and Twitter. So what has happened as a result of my limiting my ‘screen time’?

I have written more in the last two months than I have ever written before. Little of it is publishable, nor would I want it to be. But, if I want to call myself a writer, then I have to write. I am reading some of the classics of literature that somehow I failed to read in the past. I am organizing my home to be more conducive to writing and my other goals, including moving my desk to a more pleasant place. I’ve joined the gym again and work out regularly. And I am organizing my priorities. I am working on increasing the 20 percent: focusing on the areas where I wish to grow. I’m creating large windows of time in my day by eliminating distractions and focusing on what is most important for me.

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