Well Done!

“The ability to accept responsibility is the measure of the individual.” – Roy L. Smith

Congratulations! You are part of a very small percentage of the population that is willing to dig into life and grow. You have decided to analyze where you are in life, what you want out of life and make the changes necessary to achieve that change. And you have realized that any change has to come from within.

Most people go through life trying to control people, places and things to get what they want. They praise themselves when things go well, and cast blame upon the environment, circumstances and the people around them when they don’t. Self improvement, personal growth or stepping out of their comfort zone is not part of their daily lives except as these work to boost their ego and social position. But the idea of an honest look at themselves, who they are and where they are in life, never crosses their mind.

If you’re doing the ‘work’ in a twelve step program, you know that it requires a daily commitment. You realize that no one else is responsible for your happiness in life other than you, yourself. By that same realization, you know that you must also accept that the unhappiness in your life is also your responsibility. And you know that the seeds of any change in your life must first be must be planted within and nurtured with patience before they blossom into results.

Excuses and blame are replaced by honesty. I used to feed my addiction because of the circumstances of my life, my relationships and my broken dreams. But when I honestly looked at who I was, I was able to see that I was the one who created the circumstances that I was in or I allowed myself to go in a direction I didn’t want to go. My relationships with others were faltering because I had expectations of what I should be getting and not what I could give. And my dreams were not realized because I wasn’t committed to them.

Accepting responsibility for everything: my successes and my failures, is really hard. It’s so much easier to point to others, my parents, spouse or boss, and say they are the reason I am the way I am. But now I know they’re not to blame. It’s what I did or didn’t do, accepted or didn’t accept, dreamed or didn’t dream that has created the circumstances I find myself in. And if I am to make any changes in my life, that too is a responsibility I must accept.

Probably ninety percent of the people in this world never get to this point in life, never even pick up the shovel. And here you are: digging, analyzing, finding solutions and making the changes to implement those solutions in your life. You’re doing the work. That’s big! It’s worthy of giving yourself a pat on the back. And the results you get out of all of this will inspire you to keep moving forward. Congratulations!

Season of Change

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 1:1

My mother gave me the example each spring of this time of change by embarking on ‘spring cleaning’. After the long Ontario winter with all the windows sealed and doors barely cracked, the house was opened again to the spring breezes. Wall were washed, curtains and drapes laundered, floor received a deep scrubbing, carpets were cleaned and usually one room got new a wallpaper treatment. My father got out the tractor, cultivator and drill to prepare and sow the fields. And the cows literally jumped for joy after being let out onto a field after being cooped up in the barn for the cold winter months.

I have always loved the springtime. It’s a time of new birth, growth. Living close to the equator, there’s really only the dry and the rainy seasons. And right now we are transitioning into the rainy season. For me it is just like spring.  When the rains return after months of none it is as magical as spring. There are new sprouts on trees, a greening of the fields and the earth soaks in life-giving moisture to sprout the dried seeds of the jungle. Rebirth and new life abound.  It’s a time of changes and a time for change.

As I work through my recovery program, now is a good time for doing a thorough recap of my program and where I’m at in it. I may not do a Step Four inventory as meticulously as I did the first one, but once a year it’s not a bad idea to take the time to step back and see how I am living my life in recovery. Am I satisfied with certain aspects of my life? Are there areas where I need to do more work? What’s my relationship like with my Higher Power and with others? Where do I need to trim, plant and grow in my life of recovery? Is it time to do a review of all the steps with my sponsor?

Recovery isn’t something I get once and then I’ve got it. I have to tend to it and foster it to keep it alive and growing. A stagnant recovery is like a stagnant pond: eventually it won’t be as fresh and if left alone too long, things will start to smell. Fresh running water is the solution. And for me a renewed look at the state of my recovery is in order. I’m fortunate that the change of seasons, my birthday and my recovery anniversary all fall within this month. Each of these remind me that time moves on and I must flow along with it.

Now is the season to do the spring cleaning. Now is the time to prepare and sow. I cannot take my recovery for granted; it doesn’t work that way. It must be constantly renewed, tended and nurtured if I am to reap its promises. My recommitment keeps it fresh and keeps my spirit vigorous. I am grateful.


Falling Together


“Just when it looks like life is falling apart, it may be falling together for the first time.”                 …Neale Donald Walsch
     I was a little more than a year into recovery when I broke my leg. I remember thinking, while I was lying there waiting for the ambulance, ‘This is going to change a few things!’ I ran my own business (a Bed and Breakfast Inn) and did most of the work myself. A couple of weeks later my relationship that had been limping along for several years finally ended. I thought, ‘What the hell, is this going to continue?’  My ‘go to’ for keeping myself somewhat sane was going to about 12 meetings a week and driving my motorcycle to out of town meetings. That wasn’t going to be happening for a while. The final thing was that I had already started the process with my doctor of weaning myself off of anti depression medication so I was ‘phasing’ every once in a while
     For the first month or so I was pretty much confined to home. I hired two people who were also in recovery to help me do all the work at the B&B. My mother and my ex pitched in when they could as well. And it was all working out fine. My sponsor came to visit as did other program friends. We had meetings around my bed at first, and later in the living room. Friends lent me some recovery literature. And I survived.
     I also learned several things. I learned that I didn’t have to do anything alone if I didn’t want to. I learned again of the generosity of people. I learned that things didn’t have to be done ‘my way’ to be done ‘properly’. I learned that my ‘perfectionist’ ways could be a whole lot more flexible. I never heard one complaint that I didn’t make the muffins or that the bed was made wrong or the bathroom was dirty. Everything got done just fine.
     I learned that while I wasn’t all that happy with how my life was at this particular moment, I was learning in recovery to play the ‘long game’. I might not see exactly what was happening or why it was happening, but I could trust the process and know that all was happening as it should. And I learned that I could survive and stay clean and sober even when the wheels fell off of the cart, or in our case, the wagon. Finally, it was at this point in my life that I began my journey deeper into spirituality and awakening.
In the time since that epic month of August in 2012, everything that came apart, came back together. After a couple of operations, a hard cast, a soft cast, walkers, crutches and canes and a month of physiotherapy, my leg healed.  A year later the business sold and I moved full time to Costa Rica, which had been a dream of mine. I haven’t had the need to return to medication for depression and I am still in recovery. There was a lot of change in a short time and a new me emerged from the ashes.
     Other momentous things have happened since in recovery. I now tend to look at them as stepping stones on the path. Some I have liked and some I would have preferred to avoid, but if that’s the next right step, then I take it. I’ve learned to trust my Higher Power and the process. My life fell back together in a way I couldn’t have imagined. I am grateful.