Don’t Leave it to Chance

“Choice, not chance, determines one’s destiny.” Author Unknown

I came across this quote in one of the recovery web pages that I follow. For many years I would have said it was chance that determines my fate in life. I would have said you’re dealt the cards your dealt and you just have to make the best of it. I didn’t really bother, let alone believe in setting goals because life is going to steer you to go through the rapids or the waterfalls whether you like it or not. Some people are winners because that’s how the universe wants it for them and others, well, you know, karma can be a real downer.

I’ve come to look at things differently now.

I see that in the short term, for example, when I am feeling depressed or down, I can sit and wallow in my self pity and sadness. Or I can do something about it. I can go for a walk, go to the gym, talk to someone. Yes, I have to accept it, but I know that I have a choice to stay in my depression or act. The exercise or a phone call are action and action is what is needed. I make a choice and act.

When I was in the bitter morass of my disease, I knew I was harming myself and that I couldn’t get out of this alone. I accepted that. Once I stopped fighting, I was able ask for help. The assistance of others, my Higher Power along with my own determination helped to raise me out of a pit of my own making. Continued work on myself with the help of my Higher Power and my friends in recovery help to ensure that I stay this way. Had I really believed in fate, I probably wouldn’t be here any more to write about it. My recovery is not the result of the flip of a coin. It is the result of my choosing to move forward and co-create this new me with the help of my Higher Power.

I continue to choose to work with my Higher Power to re-create a new me. I am not the same person as I was when I came to the program. Ask those who knew me then. They’ll tell you.  I know that I have made big changes in my life and I know that my choices and my efforts have done a great deal to ensure that I did, in fact, change. I continue to change. I am not content to let the status quo remain as it is. I believe that my destiny is to ask, learn, grow and share as I make my way down the river.

“I may not command the wind, but I can direct my sails.”

This applies to all aspects of life. Things happen. I can’t control other people, places or things. But I do have a choice: I can do nothing and things will stay the same, or I can make a change and shift where I am going in life. And yes, it is a great responsibility. I can no longer blame my family, where I live, my friends for me state. Part of becoming an adult it taking responsibility for the decisions, or failing to take them in the past. I do have control.

Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change.

The courage the change the people I can.

And the wisdom to know it’s me.

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Self Sabotage

Somehow addicts and alcoholics have a way of doing something very well, until a certain point. Then, just when they are about to have a great success, they go on a party spree that completely ruins their chances at success. In the movie “Flight” with Denzel Washington, just when his character was about to be free and clear of any charges, he has that fateful drink and drinks the complete mini bar in his hotel room. This is very typical of an addict before recovery and once in recovery as well.

Why is it that when I am about to make changes in my life that are going to be beneficial to it I suddenly stop doing those very things that will help to improve me or my life? Why do I give up just when it seems that most of the work has been done? Why do I sabotage my success?

It comes down to feelings of self esteem and self worth. I don’t feel that I deserve to reap the benefits of what I do. I don’t think I am good enough to be doing whatever I am wanting to do. I feel that I should accept my lot in life and not ‘tempt the gods’ or make notice of myself. These feelings of self esteem were planted in my in my early years by family, friends, community, religion, school and self. I do not blame anyone for how I feel today because I also know that I have the ability to make changes in how I think and feel.

Also wrapped up in this is a fear of success as well as fear of failure. If I fail I am sure I will feel depressed about it. And if it’s successful? Then that implies changes in my life and I’m not sure about what the changes will be and how that will affect me. I might have to step out of my comfort zone. I let myself focus on all of the negative aspects and fall into the vicious circle of lots of thought and no action.

I can change how I relate to the world and how I allow it to affect me. I have done that through my recovery and working the Twelve Steps. I know how to recognize when I am in my ‘moods’ and when I can change them. I can recognize when I am acting in a manner that is not in keeping with how I want to be acting. I can focus on the positive and stay away from the negative. Do I always do these things?

I wish the answer was yes, always.  But that’s not so. I fail to live up to my standards, too often. I know from listening at meetings that I am not alone in this spiral of negative thinking. So I focus on one thing a day. I don’t have to accomplish everything right now. Just one thing. Ask someone a question. Do the investigation. Write part of the report. Once I get down to the task I feel better about myself and realize that the fears I had really are unfounded. One small step today. Another small step tomorrow and in a week I can look back and measure how far I have come. I know there is still more to be done but I look at the gains I have made and those can help me to take today’s step forward.

It all starts with just a small action: mine.

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Perseverance

“How many books have you written, Leo?” I tell them. “That many! Wow.Writing obviously comes easy to you.” Actually it doesn’t come easy. I’ve really got to work at it. I’m writing this meditation at 4 AM-talk about perseverance! But most things that we achieve take perseverance: marriage, recovery, scholarship, sports, theatre, music . . . the list is endless. We should also consider that the people who say, “You definitely have a gift,” are possibly manipulating the compliment so that they can remain idle. Sloth can be tricky. “If I don’t have the gift, how can I be successful?” Not so fast! We all have gifts. Some of us choose to develop, nurture, and polish them. We can all learn to dance.              Say Yes to Your Spirit, Leo Booth

When I came into recovery I was told that it isn’t a difficult program but that it would take an effort on my part. Later I was told that faith in a Higher Power can move mountains, but I had to bring a shovel and a wheelbarrow. It goes along with the old adage that money doesn’t grow on trees, but it is made from trees. If I want anything, I will have to work for it. It takes perseverance.

In the past 18 months that I have been writing this blog I have posted almost 150 entries. It has not been easy. Sometimes the words come easier than others but they always come because I work for them. Sometimes the words are as much for me as they are for the readers. I use the blog to express ideas that I have about recovery and to explore the depth of the journey we are on as we go down Recovery River. And as I write, I am gaining valuable experience in writing and learning about myself. The blog is my way of working the shovel and wheelbarrow of my recovery.

There are still plenty of times outside of the blog writing where I procrastinate, (a fancy, five syllable word that means sloth). I say that I’m not in the mood, or not inspired, but the truth is, I am not writing other things that I want to be write because of fears and self doubt. If the recovery program has taught me anything it is that I have to do the work to get the result. And so, once again, I am telling on myself and sharing with my readers something that I know will urge me and pressure me to continue on with this journey of writing.

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I will be reaching a ‘biggie’ birthday this year. I wish to plan the next stage of my life to be a productive part of my life and part of that will be writing. I do not wish to exist. I want to “Live! Live! Live!” to quote Auntie Mame. I don’t wish to shuffle slowly to the grave. Rather I want to splash down into it enjoying and really living every part of what life has to offer. And whether that is a day, a year, or thirty years more, I challenge myself to persevere to keep moving forward, to live each day to the fullest, to take risks and to continually step out of my comfort zone. I can’t accomplish any of this sitting in my easy chair watching Netflix. I have to conquer my fears and my doubts if I want to move forward.

Do I have a great gift for writing? Not anymore than anyone else. But what I do have is passion for it and so I will continue to write. I am grateful to my recovery program and the people in my life for encouraging me and showing me by their own example that I can move forward and pursue my passions.

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