Best Laid Plans

There´s a Chinese saying that goes something like: “Man plans and God laughs.” We all can think of times when everything that we planned went so far from the direction that we had planned that even we had to laugh at the disparity between our intentions and the results. I’m learning that my circle of control extends, if I’m lucky, to the end of my reach. After that? Well, it’s up to my Higher Power.

Monday, a couple of weeks ago I was going to pick up a friend at the airport, a two and a half hour drive away. I got a call from him a several hours before I was to leave saying that he had been bumped from his flight and wouldn’t be arriving until Tuesday at the same time. Could I pick him up then? Yes, of course.

For a moment I thought I had a free morning. Then my neighbour Amy came over. Her dog was very ill. She was to fly out the next day to visit her mother and she was worried about her dog and that she’d have to cancel her flight. Fortunately I had my friend’s car so I told her I would drive her to the vet with her dog: a happy circumstance. On the way to the vet, we discovered that her flight time the next day would allow me to drive her to the airport when I was picking up my friend whose flight was changed. Perfect.

While Amy and her dog were with the vet I received a message from another friend Nick. A mutual friend of all three of us had passed away in the US. He was from Nick’s hometown and Nick decided to fly up to go to the funeral and visit family at the same time. He was flying out very early Wednesday morning so he had booked a hotel near the airport. Would he like a ride up on Tuesday?  Sure thing.  The vet was able to diagnose the dog’s ailment, gave him a couple of shots, prescribed some other medications and he would be fine. Amy was very relieved.

Tuesday morning we all loaded into my friend’s car and headed up to the airport. Along the way we were able to discuss how we were feeling about our friend who had passed. Amy was able to talk about her visit with her mother whom she hadn’t seen in seven years. It was one of those impromptu recovery meetings.

I dropped them off, did a bit of shopping, swung back around to the airport to pick up my friend who had been bumped the day before and headed back home. The lesson of the past two days rattled around in my head  as I drove. I could not have put together a more perfect plan for drop offs and pick ups. It was so obvious to me that I wasn’t the one who had executed such a perfect plan.

I’d like to alter the saying that I started with: “Man trusts and God provides.” This was a powerful lesson to me in letting go of the joystick and letting my Higher Power take the lead in arranging things. Yes, I make plans, I recently commented to a friend, but I don’t live in them. I awaken in the morning these days with a sense of “here I am, ready for what is put before me.” Slowly I’m learning that if I keep myself out of the way, doors open and incredible things unfold.

I am grateful.

ancient arch architecture artwork

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I am Grateful, Thank-you

I remember being at meetings early in recovery and people said that they were grateful to be there, grateful for their disease, grateful that they got to be in recovery. I didn’t get it. I wanted to slap them up the side of the head to knock some sense into them. I sure couldn’t find anything to be grateful about! I had basically sentenced myself to a life of boredom and gloom. Yes, the party was over. But I really didn’t want it to stop.

Flash forward a year and my group asked me what I would like engraved on my first year medallion. Without hesitating, I said ‘Gratitude’. Now I was the face that some new guy wanted to slap. So what changed?

My attitude.

The process of going through the twelve steps of recovery changed me. I saw that everything in my past was just part of a larger puzzle that ended with me finding myself and resetting my personality to someone that I could look in the mirror and say that I liked. It was my disease that brought me to the point where I was finally able to learn some tough lessons about life. By doing the inventory and making amends, I now had a base; I knew who I was and could work from there. After all, when you hit bottom, things can only get better.

One of the best things that my sponsor shared with me is this:

“There is no room for resentment, anger or fear in a heart that is full of gratitude.”

If I live with gratitude I am out of myself. I see what has been done by others. I know that alone, I couldn’t have risen above that lowest sense of self where I found myself the morning before my first meeting. At first I was grateful that I could make it 24 hours without, then I was grateful that I could make it for 24 hours without thinking about it. Gradually I became grateful for what I still had and for what I was being given. Like the heart of the Grinch at Christmas, my sense of thankfulness grew to where I could say I am grateful that I have the disease of addiction because it has brought me to where i am today.

I speak gratitude daily. I write it in my journal. When I am feeling low, I make gratitude lists.  I even make them when I am feeling wonderful! I like going to gratitude meetings. I like to find things to be grateful for when I am alone and with friends. I do it because it really works for me. When my heart is in that place, the troubles I think I have vanish. My need to be ‘right’ doesn’t seem as important. And I know that tomorrow will work out fine because I can look in the mirror and see that in spite of everything I did in the past, I am still here, carefully looked over by my Higher Power.

To my friend from the USA and everyone, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving Day. Gratitude isn’t for the month of November or a single day; it is too wonderful for just a day. I give thanks everyday!  Gracias, Amén!

Mother's Day Bird Gratitude Twitter Luck Thank You

Mother’s Day Bird Gratitude Twitter Luck Thank You

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.

photo of four persons uniting hands

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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.