Day 84 – When is the best time to plant a tree?

A couple weeks ago, a guest pastor preached at our church.  He talked about seeing things (change, growth, vision) in 50 year chunks of time — seeing the big picture so to speak.  He asked, “When is the best time to plant a tree?…50 years ago!”  He then continued, “When is the second best time to plant a tree?…today.”

I walked away inspired…but I started to frame the question for my life as today is the best time to plant the tree…that somehow I missed the first time 20 years ago.  But, I’ve also shared before with others that everything in my life happened for a reason and got me to where I am today.  The life experiences, the training, the insights.  So I now more fully appreciate the wisdom Pastor Phil shared that morning in the context of my life.  A tree was planted 20 years ago…nay, even 41 years ago!   And now with a strong, deep root system of life experiences, the tree is coming into full bloom…into what I was truly meant to be, at this moment, in preparing for this next chapter of life.  And for that I am grateful.


Day 81 – Embracing my feelings as a human being

Today, I met with my realtor about putting the house on the market.  I also talked through my financial situation with an accountability partner – sizing up the reality that is facing me.  I got through everything fine.  Oh wait – what does FINE stand for?  Fucked up, insecure, neurotic and emotional.  Or something like that…  I wasn’t that bad!  It’s just that fine is about as descriptive as interesting, or good or nice.

This evening, I had plans to go to a meeting.  But after cooking dinner and singing/dancing to some fun music, I laid down on the bed to rest.  My mind started wandering…and soon I was throwing myself a small pity party. It was slowly creeping up on me.  I started to feel it…funk funk…  Next thing I know, I didn’t want to get out for my planned meeting!

I text’d a brother “MS” from the program and got my fix. He reminded me that when we don’t feel like going is exactly when we need to go!  For me, it’s the equivalent of my insulin shot…hitting a meeting. And where I am now…getting through my changes and losses…I need it daily!!!  If I skipped an insulin shot or two as a diabetic, I could die.  If a skip a meeting or two right now, I could die.

My accountability partner caught me getting too wrapped up in making money – in having a job – in having a plan.  Until my first court date in April, there’s not much point in making too many plans.  In order to become a “productive member of society” as the text tells us, I must work on my recovery.  He rightfully challenged me to stop worrying about not working.  Like many, I place too much of my identity in my work – on what I do, or how much I make.  That’s changing – for the better.  I’m learning to value me for who I am – and others for who they are.  But, change is uncomfortable – unsettling – unfamiliar!  Recognize it…and work through it.  It will take time – and practice.  Now’s my time to practice!  What a gift!

Not so long ago (!) I talked about recognizing the desire and need to be a human being rather than a human doing.  What does that really look like?  Well, right now – it means being grateful that for awhile, I have the means to not have to focus on getting a job.  With some savings and equity in my home, he helped me figure out about how long that could be.  That provides some relief — some space to “be.”  I need to focus on my recovery – strengthening my foundation through meetings, workshops/working the steps and hanging out with people in recovery.  On the financial side, I need to sell me house.  It’s a cash flow thing…and right now, my outflow is hurting me more than my lack of inflow!  I figured out today that the savings I will realize by moving to an apartment translates to the equivalent of a job that would pay me about $15/hour for a normal work week.  So, that’s my job now – and it “pays!” It slows the bleeding financially.

Nothing else matters right now than getting more sobriety under my belt and selling my house.  That gets me through the next five weeks until court.  And when I know a bit more, then I can focus on my “B game” or “C game” – to get me into a basic living situation and job that will allow me to spend the good 12-18 months it’s going to take to solidify this recovery.  So, slow down, CT…stop trying to figure out, discern, listen to what’s next…stay in the moment. I’m right where I need to be.  I just need to do the right next thing…and not get too far ahead of myself.  Be real and easy does it!

As for my feelings, this “chat” sums things up best…how I ended my evening after a good meeting, some time of reflection, and a walk in my old neighborhood downtown!

MS: Glad you made it to the meeting  You ok?
Me: Yea. Just sad
MS: Why u sad?
Me: Feelings just catching up with my reality. Grieving losses.
MS: Just keep positive, your head held high. This to shall pass. Everything will be ok

Me: Yea I know. My heart knows it will be. And the good news is I can feel and it’s ok. I don’t have to run from them or be controlled by them. So my heart knows it will be ok and I can still be sad. That’s an odd combination for me, “Mr. Intellectualize and Ignore My Feelings” 
MS: U r so funny. Its good u r feeling the emotions. It’s a healing process
Me: Amen.  Gonna go home and throw on loud arias and deep blues songs and have a cleansing and healthy cry

Day 79 – Opportunity Parkway

There is a new office complex opening 4 miles from my home…the house where I’ve lived for 4+ years that will be listed as “FOR SALE” this weekend because my employer of 20 years chose to fire me three days ago after learning of my arrest (see Day 75).  Ironically, the first and primary tenant of the office complex is one of five business units within that company! This business unit is relocating its world headquarters to the town in which I live, situated 30 miles from the parent company’s world headquarters…where I worked until Friday of last week.  

This morning, a new traffic light and street sign were hung over the intersection leading into the complex.  The name of the main road of the new complex…”Opportunity Parkway.”  How fitting for my life circumstances.  Sunday, at church, when the minister asked for any celebrations, I offered up a thanksgiving for “new possibilities” — for new opportunities.  And, through the work my higher power is doing in my heart, I am honestly able to see this as “Opportunity Parkway.”  He’s slowly giving me glimpses and insights in my heart to seeds he has planted…to ways in which I believe He is calling me to use my gifts and skills in a new way.  Ironically, many of these gifts — diversity awareness, leadership development, coaching & mentoring, compassionate communication, effective listening — were taught or honed during my 20 years of employment.  

So, rather than seeing this decision as a loss, a regret…I choose to see it as a gift, as an opportunity to now take my experiences & skills and use them to more directly help people.  Where and how, I don’t know — I must continue to work on my recovery — but I can already see possibilities.  It may start with company and community leaders struggling with how to better understand & support addicts out of ignorance — much like corporate america 50 years ago with the alcoholic (Pope & Associate – Consulting Pairs).  It may be connecting addicts with employment opportunities — addicts whose consequences led them into a compounding spiral in a system that works against us at times.  It may be working with groups people leaving incarceration to reintegrate into community (Choices Team – Faith in Community Ministries).  It may be helping equip addicts in recovery or ex-offenders with compassionate communication tools (Center for Non-Violent Communication – Freedom Project).  God only knows…for now, I know simply I’m where I need to be.  If I continue to focus on my recovery, on being clean and sober just for Today, then and only will Opportunity Parkway open for business.

Opportunity Knocks?  How might these fit together…