Sunday, November 16, 2008

Long Time No Blog

Why haven't I blogged in a few weeks?

  • My birthday - Last year my birthday was awful; I had some of the same feelings this year and didn't want to blog about them.

  • Schoolwork - Mondo amounts of homework and two presentations due last weekend

  • Depression - Blah blah blah

  • Illness - My husband gave me a cold (One of my AA buds said, "Don't say he never gave you anything!")

Things are looking up... The end of the semester is almost here, my presentations are complete, I made a dent in my backlog of homework, and the depression has lifted.

Right now I'm in a coffee shop near my therapist's office. I'm having a breakfast focaccia and just chilling. Not sure what has changed and going into another depression scares me. I don't like the feeling of slipping down; what's worse, the mean girl in my head starts disparaging me.

One of the presentation I did involved two other students... our group was well-prepared, our PowerPoint was beautiful, and we kept it short (especially in comparison to the other groups). In celebration, we went out for sushi on Saturday night. So much fun. All three of us are sober and going into the same field (Alcohol & Drug Counseling). I'm 40, "Ari" is in his 50s, and "Julie" is 27.

Julie and I have bonded. We have similar personalities and senses of humor... She is hilarious! And what a knockout. Slim, olive skin, and long, straight dark hair. Her face reminds me of Anime... She can get that doe-eyed sad look and the crazy wall-eyed look... I keep looking for an example of the wall-eyed look on the Internet. The look I'm describing is a tooth-clenching grimace with eyes going in two different directions... Does anyone know what I mean? I probably sound nuts. ::sigh::

Well, I gotta eat my focaccia. Hugs to everyone; especially those of you who wrote when I was absent.



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Topic Meeting, Funk, and Gratitude

Went to a 10:30 am topic meeting today; we talked about a story in the Grapevine about a guy who got sober behind bars. His message was that one need not be "free" in order to work the steps; that the program is available to all, no matter where they are.

I shared about how -- when I was in treatment -- there were rumors about someone using meth in the facility. I was so angry; I thought how dare she screw with my sobriety? I refrained from gossiping in treatment, so I kept these thoughts to myself. The following morning I woke up and realized that no one need "screw with my sobriety," that whether my drug of choice was sitting right in front of me, or 20 miles across town, I had to make the decision to stay sober. Alcohol is available everywhere -- even in jail, in the hospital, in treatment -- and the only way I could be completely cut off from my drug of choice would be if I were taped up inside a cardboard box. And if I were in that cardboard box, would I truly be sober? Nope. I have to have the choice.

I also shared about this funk I've been in... It went away for a few days, but it's back.

My fellow meeting-goers talked about going to more meetings, sponsoring women, taking a daily inventory, and increasing my conscious contact with my higher power.

I've been going to more meetings, but I have not been doing the rest. They sound like good ideas.

One day at a time.

Thanks to Jenn for reminding me to be grateful. I'm grateful...

  • ...that I allowed myself to be silly at the coffee shop today; they offered 10 cents off if you sung your favorite song. I sung Feel Like Makin' Love by Bad Company. They gave me 20 cents off.
  • ...that I told the truth at my 10:30 am meeting; I got some good suggestions.
  • ...that my husband is standing by me in my funk.
  • ...for my puppies.
  • ...for the blogosphere.
  • ...that I'm sober today.
  • ...for that tiny shred of hope that things will get better
  • ...that I have a medication appointment on Thursday.
  • ...that I have the opportunity to learn.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Late Meeting & Early Meeting

I went to a 10:30 p.m. meeting last night -- doing the 90 in 90 thing and needed an extra meeting to make up for missing one on Wednesday -- it was a candlelight meeting in downtown Minneapolis. I felt a little antsy at first, but ended up chilling out and enjoying the darkness. The topic was spirituality; I talked about the miracle I experienced earlier this week with 9th step amends and seeing an old friend at Best Buy.

This morning, I went to an early meeting at my favorite St. Paul spot. We read the story of Bill D. (AA #3). I saw an old AA friend and made tentative plans to take my sweet puppy (the 2 y.o. male) to her house to meet her kids. After the meeting, I met with my temporary sponsor and had coffee. She's really cool; we have a lot in common. She suggested mentioning to my med doc -- I'm meeting with a new one on Thursday -- getting tested for ADD. I'm not convinced, but she said some stuff that I agree with.


Friday, October 31, 2008


I learned this word when I was in high school. According to, it means: places diametrically opposite to each other on the globe.

My little ClustrMap (see the bottom of this page) got me thinking the antipodes of Minnesota. Click here for a close-up of my ClusterMap.

Anyway, it turns out that the antipodes of my spot on Earth is a spot in the Indian Ocean. Closest land is an island called "French Southern & Antarctic Lands." Even with the Google satellite version of the map, it doesn't look inhabited.

Click here to find the antipodes of your spot!


Today's Meeting & Temporary Sponsor

I went to a 12:15 meeting in St. Paul; it was a very small meeting (8 of us) and featured a speaker from Israel. He had a great story; it brought me to tears at one point. He talked about how his brother died when he was young and that started his drinking and drugging career. When he was in treatment, his first nephew was born and that event has been a marker of the beginning of his sober life.

While at the meeting, I asked a woman to be my temporary sponsor. She agreed. I'll be meeting her tomorrow morning at an 8:00 a.m. meeting in St. Paul and we'll go out for coffee afterward. She has 17 years of sobriety, she understands depression, and she is very straightforward. I'm looking forward to working with her!

I can play a song on my guitar! It's not perfect, but the time between chord changes is becoming smaller and smaller. Don't be jealous... I'm almost a master of "Kumbaya."

I'm playing an open mike lunch at a local kindergarten next week. ::rolling my eyes::


Yesterday's Meeting & Biting the Bullet

I didn't get to a meeting on Wednesday -- I'm going to get 2 in today. Yesterday I went to an 11:45 am meeting in my town. It was such a beautiful day -- mid-60s, sunny -- what a great day to be sober. And today's weather should be the same! Yesterday's meeting was a topic meeting. One of the members has 10 months of sobriety and wanted to talk about how to remain sober during the holidays.

For me, making sure that I have an "out" -- no matter where I go -- is number one. If my husband is likely to stay somewhere longer than I, I drive separately. When we visit my in-laws back east, we stay in a hotel and get a rental car. And whenever I am out of town, I hit meetings in the area.

Thanks to everyone for their kind suggestions about contacting my former friends. I had steeled myself for some not-so-kind comments and was pleasantly surprised to have such consistent support. You guys rock.

I wrote to both friends this morning, asking how they are doing. We'll see if they write back. ::crossing my fingers::

So it's time to look for a meeting... I'll post later about how that goes.

Thanks for listening - JO


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Saw my therapist today and caught her up on all the stuff that's been going on with me. We talked about something that's been.

I have a couple of friends with whom I have not talked since I was forced to resign from my job (they are both former co-workers). It is mostly about shame... I have felt so down on myself that I didn't want to talk with these friends because I would have to hear about my former workplace and would have to explain what happened that caused me to leave. It's painful and embarrassing to talk about it.

And growing up as a military brat, I got used to moving on. I think I've applied that old thinking to these relationships. Well, I f*cked up in that place, so I'll just turn the page and move on.

So I'm thinking about calling these friends up and renewing our relationships.

I'd like to hear what my sober and serene blog buds think.

Thanks for listening - JO


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Today's Meeting

I forgot to post about the meeting I attended today. Big meeting in one of our big clubs - the topic was Step 2. Great meeting... I talked about how "coming to believe" is all about optimism and faith that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.


HP Is Large and In Charge

So I have two amends to make that I've been putting off forever. First, I saw a therapist for a while and I still owe her for our last session. Second, I have two sets of West Wing DVDs that I borrowed a couple of years ago and have not returned to their owners (who now live in PA). Two weeks ago, my sponsor okayed the notes I wrote to go along with the check (to the therapist) and the DVDs (to my friends). Today, I finally got around to sending them both off.

I wanted to send a gift card to the people who I borrowed the DVDs from, so I went to Best Buy to get one. As I got in line, I recognized someone who was making a purchase at the register. It was the guy who I traded guitars with a few years ago. (I gave him my acoustic, he gave me his electric.) I haven't seen him since before I got sober -- over four years ago -- but I have made written amends to him and his wife (a couple of years ago). We were surprised to see each other. He caught me up on his life, I caught him up on ours and told him that I've begun playing guitar again (on his electric).

My higher power is large and in charge. Finally making those amends the week that I start playing guitar again, only to see the guy who gave me the guitar? Amazing.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Practice and Evening AA

I practiced on my electric guitar again today and it felt good! After just one day, my finger placement has improved. I had school tonight -- Human Services and Diversity -- and talked with a fellow student, a guy who plays blues guitar. I told him about how my elbow and wrist were sore, that I have a tough time keeping my pinky finger on string and perpendicular to the fretboard. He said that it's all normal and natural, and with practice, it will get better. That was great to hear.

I left class a little early and went to an evening AA meeting. It was at a club I've been to before, but not this particular meeting. It was a step meeting with about 50 attendees. The meeting started out well; I heard some good stuff. Sadly, about 45 minutes in, there was a guy who initially shared good stuff, but began rambling and got into vivid descriptions of picking up prostitutes and watching them smoke crack. It felt really weird and uncomfortable, so I left.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Growth, Optimism, Faith, and Home Group

Today's Each Day a New Beginning reading was on the subject of tough times and how they are always about growth:

We seldom have the foresight to understand the worth, the ultimate value of a particular circumstance at its beginning. But hindsight offers us clarity. It's good to reflect on the many circumstances that failed to thrill us; in all cases we can now see why we needed them. As our trust in God and the goodness of all experiences grow, we'll more quickly respond with gladness when the situations are fresh. No experience is meant for harm. We are coming to understand that, even though on occasion we forget.

Practicing gratitude will help us more fully appreciate what has been offered us. Being grateful influences our attitude; it softens our harsh exterior and takes the threat out of most new situations.

If I greet the day, glad to be alive, I will be gladdened by all the experiences in store for me. Each is making a necessary contribution to my wholeness.

This past year in a half has definitely "failed to thrill" me. This reading says that this difficult time in my sobriety has not been "meant for harm." Practicing gratitude will help me to see the experience that way.

I haven't felt any "growth" lately and I recognize that part of that is about me not wanting to feel it. I want to be down on myself because I am ashamed about being forced to resign from a job and about failing a class. I'm afraid that if I do feel optimistic, I will get complacent again. I don't want that to happen. I thought the experience of being asked to resign was awful enough to pop me out of my work patterns (laziness, self-centeredness, resignation to boredom). My experience working at the treatment center proved that it was not enough. And my experience during this hiatus from work has done the same. I still like to procrastinate and to do what I want to do when I want to do it.

I have always been an optimistic person. Being afraid to be hopeful is unnatural for me. And today I recognized that optimism is just another word for faith. When I suppress my optimism, I discard faith. It is important that I have faith that my higher power can do for me what I cannot do myself.

It feels like I should give myself permission to be optimistic about my ability to change. It's difficult to be supportive of others when I can't be supportive -- more accurately, I won't be supportive -- of myself.

Today I give myself permission to feel optimistic again. The difference is that I will not be irrationally optimistic; I will be cautiously optimistic, looking for ways to change my behavior to match my higher power's will for me.

I went to my home group this morning. Yesterday I wondered whether I should go at all, with all this stuff going on with my KindaSponsor™. But my higher power wanted me to go... so I went. I talked about the stuff above and was glad to see my friends and KindaSponsor™.

I just put a roast in our crock pot... My first time making a roast. Can't wait to try it in about 7.5 hours.

Thanks for listening -- JO


Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Jess" and Saturday Night Speaker Meeting

Several years ago, I bought an acoustic guitar on EBay and tried playing for a while. I bought "Guitar for Dummies," learned the names of the parts of the guitar, and plucked out a few chords. It didn't last long. The strings kept breaking and every time I restrung it and tried to tune it, they'd break again.

About a year before I got sober, I traded the acoustic for an electric (with amp) and played again for a while. Didn't get too far with that, either. First, restringing and tuning were still issues. Then something went wrong with the guitar's amp jack, so I quit again. (Besides, struggling with "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" at the age of 35 was pretty demoralizing.)

But the dream didn't die. Back in April, when I was still working at the treatment center, one of the clients had a guitar that she'd play every once in a while. One night, she played "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd and I sung along. That's when I decided. I'll be 40 in November and I want an acoustic guitar for my birthday. I bought a Gripmaster and began building some calluses.

Today it happened. I went to Music-Go-Round, accompanied by my husband and his co-worker who plays. We found the most beautiful used guitar. She's a Schecter acoustic electric and her name is Jess. (The photo shows a twelve-string version of Jess.) She came with a hard case and two free guitar lessons. I bought abalone picks (they match her) and a black leather strap.

I'm committed this time; I will be spending a lot of time during those free lessons learning how to tune her without breaking strings and I will follow a suggestion... I'll find a song that I want to learn to play instead of going back to "Row Row Row Your Boat."

My husband won't let me play her until my actual birthday. But he fixed my electric guitar, so I can practice on it until November 9, when Jess has her coming-out party. Yay!

(By the way, Jess is named after the girl from treatment who played Pink Floyd. I told her that since she inspired me to try playing again, I would name my guitar after her. She was so touched that she named her guitar after me! Pretty cool.)

Earlier this week, anticipating the guitar-buying experience, I suddenly realized that I am unconsciously following in my father's footsteps. When he was 40, he got out of the Army, remained unemployed for a year -- he refers to it as his "househusband" time -- and learned to play the banjo. I gotta remember to tell him about this.

After our adventure, my husband and I went and played pool (he beat me six games to one), then we ate chicken gyros for dinner, and watched a little TV. All day I had been thinking, "Hmmm... how am I going to get to a meeting today?" At 7:30 p.m. he told me he was exhausted and would be going to sleep soon, so I said, "Hey honey, if you're going to bed, I'm going to hit a meeting."

"You're doing 90 in 90, so you better get to a meeting!" he retorted.

So today's AA ended up being an 8:00 p.m. speaker meeting; it was my first attending this particular one. The speaker was a 20-year-old woman who has 2 1/2 years of sobriety. I heard a lot of similarities in her story, especially in some of the behaviors she chose, both drunk and sober. She talked about being chameleon-like as a kid, fitting in wherever there was a spot, and not knowing who she truly was until she got sober. She talked about how she still struggles with going to work every day, with going to school, and with doing her homework. She talked about listening to her sponsor.

Another woman at the meeting looked familiar -- turns out she was at the treatment center where I used to work. She was there when I told my story a couple of weeks ago and just got out on Monday. She asked me to be her temporary sponsor; I agreed.

Today was a great day. Thank you, higher power.

Good night, sweet blog buds. JO


Friday, October 24, 2008

Caution: HP at Work

I went to a 12:30 p.m. Big Book meeting and -- surprisingly -- my KindaSponsor™ was there! Very strange. Usually, the only meeting she attends is our home group on Sunday. We exchanged pleasantries and a hug.

We read the preface to the first edition and the beginning of There Is a Solution. I heard so much I needed to. The preface refers to the appendix about spirituality that has the William James quote at the end about "contempt prior to investigation." I shared about how I am scared to try to live according to my higher power's will. Someone said, "Progress not perfection." I haven't felt progress in quite a while. And I although I am afraid that going to meetings and listening will not help, there is a tiny shred of hope that they will.

Thanks for listening - JO

P.S. The comments form wasn't working before, for some reason, but it is now.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Suburban AA

I went to a 10 a.m. meeting in a suburb and talked about my Crappitude™, what's going on with my KindaSponsor™, and how I need to both work the steps and get a temporary sponsor.

The topic was Step 8 -- my KindaSponsor™ is on my list as of today -- and I heard a lot of stuff I needed to hear.

So! Gratitude.

  • I'm grateful for the idea of living one day at a time
  • I'm grateful that -- despite my best efforts to the contrary -- I have not had to take a drink since February 14, 2005
  • I'm grateful for a husband that puts up with my BullSheeyite
  • I'm grateful for the trademark symbol (™)

Now to get to some of the stuff my husband asked me to take care of today. On my list: Contact Netflix about the Pushing Daisies DVD (#2 of season 1) that my baby boy puppy punched through with one of his massive, pointy, white canine teeth.



Heading to a meeting...

Gwen posted a gratitude list. As soon as I return from today's AA meeting, I will post mine.

Thanks for listening - JO (formerly PP)


Up late... I mean early...

It's 4:15 am and I've stayed up way way way past my bedtime.

But my new blog is up & running and I'm ready to walk the talk.

Love, JO