Early To Rise

I have been getting up at 5:30 AM for the past couple of months. That’s new for me. I hadn’t set an alarm clock except for when I was going to be travelling, for years. I would go to bed at 11 o’clock or so and wake up anywhere between 6:30 and 7:30, depending upon my dogs and the neighbourhood roosters. But honestly, I was finding the evenings long and it seemed to take me more time in the morning to pull myself together to face the day.

Five thirty seems early but here, close the equator, that’s when the sun rises slowly over the mountain behind my home. I find I really do enjoy sitting on my terrace sipping hot water with lemon and sort of meditating, sort of thinking, slowly waking up and greeting the day. By 8:00 AM I have written a 500 words or so in my journal, done ten minutes of Tai-Chi, fed and walked the dogs, and cooked myself a nutritious breakfast. Before, by that time, I had barely finished my first coffee. Now, I have accomplished a whole lot.

As I get older, I find that I like routine more. Contrary to what I thought before, I actually find it gives me more freedom. I don’t have to think about what I am going to do upon awakening. I know before I go to bed how I am going to spend the first couple of hours of the day and prepare for it. It is still a very relaxed routine. However, I feel like I have accomplished a great deal very early in the day. There aren’t the distractions of later on in the morning, it’s quiet and meditative.

Of course, getting up early means going to bed earlier. By 9:30 PM it is lights out. Before then I have usually been reading something for a half an hour, slowing down my pace of the day. Sometimes I finish the chapter but sometimes the Kindle slips out of my hand onto the bed and I know it’s time to turn out the light.

I find that I need a solid morning routine as well. I like having that sense of accomplishment very early in the day. I have done things that are important to me without seeing them as a chore or work. I want to have conscious contact with my Higher Power. It’s important for me to write. My body is enjoying the benefits of some morning stretching. In essence, this routine helps me to awaken my mind, body and spirit. I have accomplished a great deal and feel like I am ahead.

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Perhaps you don’t think you need a morning routine. Perhaps you think you’re not a morning person. But give it a try. Getting up even 15 or 20 minutes earlier and spending that time in some sort of silence, meditation or inspirational reading will give a you a jump start on your day, boost your sense of self worth, self confidence and accomplishment. Try it for a week and see how it changes your day, how you relate to others and to yourself. I know it works because I am seeing the benefits in myself. You will too.

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.

 

Promptly Admitted It

Before we leave off the tenth month and the Tenth Step reflections, I was reminded by a group member of a very important point in Step Ten: “…and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it”. It’s not just a case of offering an apology and moving on. I must offer amends to the person that I have offended. The difference between the two isn’t so subtle.

The Apology:

An apology is a heartfelt ‘I’m sorry’ for what I did or failed to do. A true apology doesn’t make excuses or explain circumstances. Rather, it is an admission of my failure to act as I should have acted. For all its heartfelt emotion, an apology end there. There is a hope for forgiveness, but it is not necessary. I’ve done my part; it’s up to the other person if he wishes to accept the apology or not.

The Compensation:

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There are three elements to making amends. First, an amends should begin with a sincere apology. Secondly, it should also includes some form of compensation to make up for what was done. The repentant thief asks for forgiveness for what he stole and offers to pay back what he stole plus some extra compensation, perhaps interest earned or some agreed upon terms of recompense to make up for what was taken.  It might include repair or replacement of broken or damaged items. It is a demonstration of remorse for what was done.

Perhaps when it’s something physically tangible it´s easier to make amends: return the money, give back the car, pay for a new window. When it’s something intangible then it is more difficult to make amends. How do I make amends for taking away someone’s peace of mind, abandoning them, or ruining a relationship? Reparation for damages isn’t quite as cut and dried here. Some discussion might be necessary to resolve the terms and nature of the amends.

The Commitment to Change:

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A beautiful bouquet offered after a heated argument might be enough the first time, but if the pattern continues, the person making the amends might just get a facefull of flowers after the third or fourth time. That because part of amends also includes the idea that one’s behaviour has been amended or changed so that it won’t happen again in the future. A boss might be willing to accept the amends of an employee who abuses his expense account the first couple of times, but no matter how sincere or honest the apology is after the third screw up, it’s likely not going to be accepted because it’s obvious the behaviour hasn’t changed. So the third element in amends has to be a commitment to change, that I won’t do the same thing in the future. Amends involves a change in life patterns and behaviours. This is ‘living’ your amends.

I have times when I am more successful than others with making amends. I sometimes slip back into old patterns of thinking and acting. I try not to focus on these times as much as I look to the times when I’ve earned a checkmark in life. I recently read that it’s better to: ‘look to the gains, not the gaps’. If I focus on my program I am going to make some incredible wins. One way of doing that is by getting over the screw-ups as quickly as possible: apologise, compensate and change are the three elements of this amends. Making amends is an incredible life win; I have done what is under my control to make up for the offence. And I can move on with my day, celebrating my gains and living my recovery.