Gratitude list

29 08 2009

In January of 1977, I was struggling to break free from an alcohol and drug addiction. I began going to AA meetings and I asked a lady who had been sober for six years (consecutively!!!!) to be my AA sponsor. She was vital to my getting clean and sober. She had done it and her life looked pretty serene and functional to me. I, on the other hand, was living in a cottage that was so old and decrepit that the ground beneath it had settled and the foundation leaned. If you were to place a marble on the floor in one corner of the living room it would roll across the floor to the opposite side and land with a soft thump against the floor board. I discovered this by using a beer can. Apparently I had lost all my marbles by this time. My sink had dirty dishes piled high for weeks at a time and whenever I decided to wash a dish (usually because I was out of clean ones) I would find mold on them. I had no money for curtains and so I linked beer can pop tops together and hung them in strings from my windows. Wine bottles lined the walls because I thought they were pretty. Some how, I had acquired eight cats, all with fleas. This was a sad way to live but sadder still is the fact that I had a little girl living in this mess with me. I was on welfare and food stamps and my rent was paid with a section 8. My Mom had given me her car and it sat under the pine trees in my yard because I was too afraid to learn how to drive it.

The further away from a drink and a drug I was getting, the more observant I became of my surroundings. It was overwhelming to me when I realized how much of my life was completely upside down. I called my sponsor one morning when I was on the verge of hyper-ventilating with anxiety and I poured out all my frustration and fears to her amidst a sea of tears. At the end of my tirade she told me that she wanted me to make a list of things that I was grateful for. “What?? Has she been listening to me at all? She is either stupid or crazier than me!” That is what I was thinking but I managed just to say, “What do I have to be grateful for?” She started my thinking process off by naming two things. “How about the roof over your head? How about the fact that DSS has not taken your daughter away from you? Now, you finish the list. Get paper and a pen and start writing and call me back with your list when you are done.”

I was surprised to have a whole paper covered with things that I was grateful for. I have continued to make a gratitude list over the past 32 years. It always contains some of the same things that were on that first list. Somethings I am just constantly grateful for. Here is my “Top Ten” gratitude list today.

  1. I am clean and sober and reasonably sane.
  2. I have a conscious contact with my higher power. He knows my name.
  3. My daughters have grown into a women of faith and integrity.
  4. I am married to my soul mate and we have made a good life together.
  5. I have made amends to the people I have harmed and I continue to take my own inventory.
  6. I have everything I need in order to live comfortably.
  7. I have a few real friends today and I can recognize the ones who cannot be real.
  8. I am forgiven and I have forgiven.
  9. I like myself even though I am not perfect.
  10. I recognize self pity and deal with it swiftly by making a gratitude list.

For You have been my help and in the shadow of your wings I will rejoice. Psalm 63;7





Topping it off

26 08 2009

I just have to tell you:

At the end of our already blessed day yesterday, our next door neighbor called to ask me the question of the day!

“Have you guys had desert yet?”

It took me all of two seconds to come up with the prize winning answer.

“Why, no we have not.”

Within minutes our favorite neighbors were at the door with a pan of peach cobbler. Oh, not just any pan mind you. It was a hot, just out of the oven, pan of peach cobbler. Mary had just made it and she said I could take as much as I wanted. Alright, wipe the drool off your chin as I assure you that we had a fresh can of whipped cream to top it off with. A day just doesn’t get much better than that!

Today, I planned my day around an AA meeting. I am starting to know some of the folks in AA now and makes it easier to go to meetings.

I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to stay home and be able to take care of my husband during this stressful time for us. The time has flown by and now it is time for me to get back to work. We are not independently wealthy enough for me to stay home any longer. I know that God has the timing all worked out. All I need to do is keep my head straight one day at a time and God will do the rest.

There is a saying I heard a long time ago that I am often reminded of. “Ninety per cent of life is just showing up.” Well, Lord, I am doing my 90%. Here I am, whatcha gonna do with me now?





Joy of another day

25 08 2009

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The art of chillaxin.

We are blessed. The fact that these two mutts are so contented in this home is evidence of the peace and safety in my home. Ed and I are often reminded that God has blessed us with favor.

Today, we went out for a ride to Mayfaire. We decided to go to Atlanta Bread for lunch. As we ordered our food, the lady who took our order told us that she would deliver our food to our table since it wasn’t very busy. That was very sweet of her and we gratefully accepted her offer. While we sat at our booth, a friend of ours sneaked up on Ed and scooted in on his side of the booth. It was the first time we have seen Sherry and her daughter, Autumn, since Ed’s hospitalizations. She was surprised to see him with an oxygen tank and while they were chatting and catching up, a Mom and daughter came over to our table. I thought they were friends of Sherry but, they didn’t know any of us. The Mom said that as they watched us walk in, they felt impressed to pray for Ed. Her husband had just been through a catastrophic illness and was beginning to recover nicely so she had compassion for our current struggle. Favor, favor, favor. Sherry told the lady that Ed was a good man who needs to live for a long time. What a blessing to have people say such nice things about you.

After that blessing (and a great lunch) we headed across the street to one of the stores. We have to plan and maneuver things quite differently in order to do some simple things these days. It takes a lot of energy for Ed to have to walk back to the car, get in, get out again and walk into the store (all with a 10 lb. oxygen tank hanging off his shoulder). It was easier for him to walk across the street and for me to go get the car and park in front of the store. I had the car moved and parked already while he was still crossing the street so I got out and walked over to meet him and finish crossing with him. I noticed a gentleman crossing the street at the same time. He had slowed his pace way down and stayed behind, but near, Ed as they crossed the street together. He was unobtrusively, watching over Ed. It was very sweet and unspoken. As I approached them, this other man was watching me with a look of concern. I reached Ed and I turned so I could walk beside him then I turned and said a simple “thank you” to the man. He nodded and picked up his pace, crossing the street before us.

Now, this was not a very big deal and could easily have been overlooked. If I were not already aware of the way we have been walking in favor lately, I would have missed it myself. Today has been another day of favor. Thank You God.





Bucket List

20 08 2009

What do you do to prepare yourself for a change? I have this unsettled feeling. It is the feeling that usually indicates to me that there is a shaking up of my world on the horizon. If you asked me, I would tell you that I have been through enough changes in 2009. Thank you very  much but I think I shall pass on this one. Oy, what a year it has been.

I am shocked to stop and think that it is August already. Kids are heading back to school and summer is coming to an end. Time is speeding by.

Ed and I have started talking about a bucket list. We are thinking about the things we would like to do before we, you know, kick the bucket. If you saw the movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, you know what I am talking about. Don’t worry, we are not giving any coded messages. We just realize that everyone is going to have an end sometime and ours is closer now than it has ever been.

Ed has always had a wander lust. He loves to travel… anywhere. His days as a merchant seaman were some of the most fulfilling years of his life for that reason. I like to be with him when he travels, so that is high on our list. Our Christmas trip to Florence, Italy a couple of years ago was the best vacation ever!!

We both enjoy writing. We have co-written a children’s story. We would like to pursue getting it published. That may be a pretty lofty goal because we have no formal training and know very little about the publishing and distributing end of such things. For a certainty, self publishing is not the way we want to go. Without a distributor, we would be giving everyone we know children’s books for Christmas, christenings, Bar Mitzvahs, etc… for the next several years.

Ed is editing a novel he has been writing for, at least, 15 years. That is quite an accomplishment. I am so proud of him. I get to read it when he finishes editing. We will probably try to get that published as well.

These are just the beginning of the  ideas for our list. We have enjoyed a fabulous life together. God has been so amazingly good to us. Because of His grace and mercy, He has blessed us with much more than we deserve. If you had met me 35 years ago, you never would have seen me as the person I am now. God has truly transformed my life from the sad, angry, rejected, self-pitying mess of a drunken junky into the peaceful, contented, hopeful, faith filled, successful hairstylist for film and television that I am today.

My goal for the next little while is to work as much as I can so we can save the money to accomplish our bucket list. That is, unless Jack Nicholson wants to finance our bucket list like his character did in the movie. In that case, we can think of a few more things to put on the list.

Change is on the way. I am not sure what it will be but I am preparing myself by leaning on Proverbs 3 verses 5&6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.” The Message Bible puts it this way; “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure everything out on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume you know it all. Run to God.” The words in both translations are a little different from each other but the thought is the same; trust God.





1940s Rolls

18 08 2009

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This young lady walked into the trailer with straight, thick hair all the way down to her bra strap in the back. This is how she looked when I was done. Gotta love those rolls!





Safe place?

15 08 2009

Alcoholism has had a devastating impact on my life. Before I ever picked up my first drink I was tormented by my mother’s alcoholism.  I am so blessed to have the life I have now. Alcohol no longer rules my life. Unfortunately, it still has an impact on some of the decisions I have to make from time to time.

Some of the safe places in my life are changing. I am praying hard and trying to understand.

This I know:

  • Alcohol is a poison to my life.
  • It will always be a weakness that I must guard against.
  • Some people can drink in moderation.
  • I am not one of those people.
  • God did not deliver me from a life of addiction so I could drink responsibly.
  • AA meetings are a safe place for me.
  • God is always my refuge in time of trouble.
  • If I diligently seek Him, I will find Him.
  • He has my answers. He has the plan for my life.
  • I always land in the right place when I turn my life and my will over to His care.

For the record:

I have forgiven both of my parents for anything they may have done to affect my life in a negative manner. My father and I had it all sorted out before he passed away. He knew that I loved him.

My mother and I were best friends and she spent the last 12 years of her life sober. She was a great mother to me in her sobriety and I loved her very much.





Twenty seven years of wedded bliss?? Maybe.

15 08 2009

Sitting on the cold, metal chair and listening to the man who was speaking at the AA meeting, I looked up from my crocheting. He looks like a nice enough guy. I was still new at this sober living thing and, occasionally, my thoughts told me that I was different than these alcoholics. I felt that I didn’t quite belong in AA because of the trouble I had with heroin and other mind altering drugs. Then, he said it. This is not word for word but he said something about having been a heroin addict in his younger days and he almost let that be an excuse to convince him that he did not belong in AA. I put my yarn down and looked closer at this guy. Was he reading my mind? Thank God, he went on to say that the principles of the 12 step program worked just the same for alcohol addiction as it did for drug addiction and he had been clean and sober for about 2 years. I never felt like I didn’t belong in AA again.

I made a mental note of who this guy was and whenever he spoke at a meeting, I paid close attention. Eddie the Baker from the Stonehill group in Brockton Mass. Over the next several months, I heard him share at meetings that his alcoholism had destroyed his marriage. He wanted to work to repair it but, regretfully,  too much damage had been done. I listened to him and watched from a distance as he moved into a rooming house where some other sober alkies lived. He worked the 12 steps at an attempt to become a better person and he helped other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. I watched as he finally accepted that his marriage could not be restored and he began to date other women. I never spoke to him, just watched and listened.

In February of 1978 the worst blizzard I had ever been through hit south eastern Mass. My daughter and I were house bound for days. We lost electricity and spent a few days with my sister and her family who still had heat. I remember carrying Fawn out of the house on a piggy-back with her little boots dragging the top of the snow. This was the longest time I had been without an AA meeting in my 13 months of sobriety. Meetings had to be cancelled all over the South Shore. My sponsor and I spoke on the phone every day.

After a week or so, we started my meeting up. I was able to get out of the house and resume my job as the greeter at the Hanson Sunday night meeting. Only a handful of folks showed up so it was a pretty close knit meeting. Eddie the Baker was there and I actually spoke to him. After the meeting he said it was too bad we didn’t have each others phone numbers because we could have had meetings over the phone while we were house bound. I quickly scrawled my number on a piece of paper and shoved into his hand. “Call me.” I invited. Apparently, I invited him to call me three or four more times before he got out the door.

Eddie the Baker called me the next night and invited me to a Valentine’s dance. Our first date was February 13th, 1978.  A beautiful relationship was born that night. It has been severely tweaked over the past three decades but, today, we celebrate our 27th anniversary as husband and wife. We love each other more today than we did in 1978.

God is so good to us.