Living In Abundance

“Life holds so much—so much to be happy about always. Most people ask for happiness on conditions. Happiness can only be felt if you don’t set conditions.” ~Arthur Rubenstein

And another of my favorite quotes: ~Jennie Jerome Churchill: “Life may not be everything we want it to be. But to make the best of things as they are is the only way to be happy.”

All of us in these rooms have experienced addiction in one form or another: in ourselves or in a loved one. It’s a cruel illness because unlike many serious illnesses that are incurable, drug addiction is often conquered by the sufferer. Many addicts recognize that they have the power to change if they are committed to recovery. Different people have different ways of dealing with it: some use 12-Step recovery, some use prayer, or yoga, or running, or writing things down. No one way is better than another. Whatever works for you.

The point is that dealing with addiction is painful and messy. My life was derailed because of it. But I found a way to recover—from my own addictions as well as my addiction to saving my daughter, Angie—and I got my life back.

I’m filled with gratitude everyday for that. And I wish us all the same peace and joy for that freedom.

I learned to be happy. I learned “to make the best of things as they are.” And that’s quite a lot!

Learning From Repetition

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle

I remember when my daughter Angie was in early recovery, a doctor we knew told her to replace the using habit with something else, something healthful. Any habit, good or bad, takes up time in our lives. When we want to rid ourselves of bad habits, according to this doctor, we need to replace them with something else that is pleasurable.

Easier said than done, of course, when drugs are surrendered in favor of something else. But creating good habits takes commitment, determination and time. Many addicts give up drugs and rebuild their lives. They just have to stay committed to sobriety.

My wish for all of us caught one way or another in the hellish world of addiction is that we find a better way to live—a way to live well and be happy.

Awareness, Acceptance, Action

“The universe is run exactly on the lines of a cafeteria. Unless you claim—mentally—what you want, you may sit and wait forever.” ~Emmet Fox

Fear has always kept me from asking for what I want. But the older I get, the less I care about rejection. Living fully means facing that on a regular basis. And I always learn something. Maybe I learn that my request was ill-timed or inappropriate. Other times I might learn that I asked for just the right thing, but it was denied. I can spend hours ruminating on why it was denied, driving myself batty. Or I can accept that things worked out differently, and let it go. My energy is better spent on other things I have control over now.

That’s important. Because wasting my energy on things I can’t do anything about saps my strength—strength I need to stay in recovery.

“What Goes Around…

“One receives only that which one is given. The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds, and words, return to us sooner or later, with astounding accuracy.” ~Florence Skovel Shin

It gives me pause to remember that. On a bad day, when I’m mean or resentful, I can count on those feelings hitting me on the back of my head. And that makes me think twice about it. But, being only human, I don’t; I just react. Now I’m learning to slow down and think before I act because I know there will be consequences. The wonderful thing about my recovery program is that I’ve learned how to make amends on a regular basis. When I give in to my worst impulses and turn mean toward my partner, for example, the awareness God has given me lets me stop in my tracks, turn around and tell him I’m sorry. It’s such a simple act of kindness, but before recovery I didn’t have the awareness it takes to recognize when I mess up. Now I try harder in all of my relationships.

I’ve heard it said that ours is a disease of relationships, and that truth is so clear to me as I see mine improve, one by one, when I apply the tools of the program to my life. Al-Anon’s Tenth Step, “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it,” has been a lifesaver for me. I’ve been humbled and joyful to be part of a community of equals. We’re all in the same boat, struggling to survive on the same stormy sea. And often I need help when it’s my turn to steer the ship. When I humbly accept that help, and when I open my mind and accept that being wrong—and rectifying it—might teach me a valuable lesson, my boat moves ahead on smooth waters.