Sharing Gratitude

Sharing Gratitude

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” — Maryanne Williamson

Have you ever known someone who seems to always be complaining about someone or something in life? Have you ever found yourself doing the same thing?

The truth is, that we we tend to get really good and what we practice. If we’re practicing tennis, we become a better tennis player. If we practice painting, we become a better painter. And if we practice focusing on what’s making us unhappy, we become better at being unhappy.

So it stands to reason that if we want to be really happy, to have peace and serenity, and to really love our lives, we should practice being grateful for all that we have. Luckily, this is something that’s very easy to do.

Me and many of my life-loving friends practice being grateful each day by writing gratitude lists to each other. The simple practice of writing out a text with the good things going on in our life, and sending it out to others who share their lists with us, shifts our perception from one of lack, to one of abundance.

And for those of you who want to start this practice but don’t have someone to share your list with, share it with me and I’ll send you mine! By sharing my gratitude with others, I manifest more things to be grateful for, which is one if the principle reasons why… ILML!

— JamieQ

“It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do… What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.” — Alcoholic Anonymous p.85

Did you ever wonder where the phrase resting on our laurels came from? Well, here’s the answer. During the 6th century BC in Ancient Greece, winners competing in arts and dance in the Pythian Games received a wreath made from bay laurel leaves, sacred to Apollo.

Resting on your laurels means to be satisfied with one’s past success and to consider further effort unnecessary. This is a dangerous proposition for those of us seeking enhanced spiritual growth, an increase in the joy of living, and better relationships with others.

Frequently we see individuals come into the rooms of 12 step program seeking recovery from their situation and feelings. At first they hunger with willingness and determination, going to any length to improve the way the feel and their circumstances. But as life gets better, a good job comes along, some money starts rolling in, they get a new place to live, or fall in love and eventually these new responsibilities and enjoyable activities begin to pull them away from the program and fellowship.

Often they think, “Life is great now, I don’t need to go to as many meetings, or journal regularly, or read from those books, or meditate, or call my sponsor so often, or have service commitments, or sponsor others, or do my daily affirmations.”

We’ve all seen what happens next. It’s just a matter of time until the hammer falls, and their world cracks open, and they come hobbling back in, broken, devastated, and seeking help. Or worse, they don’t make it back. Ever.

As Eleanor Roosevelt so wisely once said, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” With regard to spiritual action, I’m taking her advice. When I stick close to my program of action, instead of resting on my laurels… ILML!

— JamieQ

Solution Consciousness

Solution Consciousness

“Inspiration comes from solution consciousness.” — Ananda Sangha

Here’s what happens when I’m thinking about the problem for more than 5 seconds:

  1. I get upset about the problem.
  2. I blame myself or someone else.
  3. I feel frustrated.
  4. I play the victim.
  5. I feel self-pity.
  6. I want to escape from my situation.
  7. I attempt to control, dominate and manipulate people to get them to change.
  8. I whine and complain to others.
  9. Feeling upset, I may take action that inevitable hurts me or others.
  10. I never find the solution because I’m focused on the problem.
  11. Lacking faith, I feel hopeless & angry.

Here’s what happens when I’m thinking about the solution:

  1. I get hopeful that this can be solve.
  2. I get creative about how to solve it.
  3. I open my mind to new ideas.
  4. I ask for help from others.
  5. I get excited that I can solve this.
  6. I turn it over to God if I can’t figure it out, which is a great solution, until such time as I’m inspired with another solution.
  7. Naturally, I invite abundance in.

So the question is, “How do we live in the solution, so that whenever an obstacle arises, we perceive it as an opportunity, never getting upset or frustrated?

My solution is simple, and works every time when I’m consistent in practicing the following actions:

  1. Sleep 8 hours.
  2. Get to bed before 10pm.
  3. Awake before 6am.
  4. Listen to inspiration words on arising.
  5. Meditate.
  6. Stretch/do some yoga first thing.
  7. Connect with source.
  8. Affirm ILML and am excited for the day.
  9. Make my bed.
  10. Do some light exercises.
  11. Turn on some fun music – dance and sing while getting ready for the day.
  12. Shower, brush my teeth, hang up my towel nicely on the rack, use mouthwash, shave, get my hair looking good.
  13. Have a conversation with myself, talking to both “Big Me” and “Little Me” telling them I love them and they are awesome.
  14. Straighten up the bathroom.
  15. Straighten up the bedroom.
  16. Straighten up the house.
  17. Smile and laugh. A lot.
  18. Compliment others. Often.
  19. Keep my mouth shut, unless I have something nice to say.
  20. Dress nicely in unwrinkled, clean clothes that match and reflect the very best me I can be as I go out in the day.
  21. Engage in hobby at least once a day (play guitar, surf, do some art, write some poetry, knit, garden, play with kitty, etc).
  22. Reach out to others to see how they are and let them know I love them.
  23. Bring my spiritual backpack to the coffee shop. Read out of the books, highlighting things that resonate. Journal about how things are going and what’s happening in life. This infuses my mind with great ideas and let’s me take an inventory of the great stuff in life and the areas I can improve in.
  24. Engage in my responsibilities to the best of my abilities to reflect the fact that I’m self-supporting through my own contributions.
  25. Eat healthy throughout the day, but not late at night.
  26. Encourage others to be their best.
  27. Don’t offer unsolicited advice.
  28. Don’t help others if they can do it themselves, unless they ask and it seems like you’re not enabling them.
  29. Eliminate caffeine after 3pm.
  30. Yell out ILML! throughout my day.
  31. Drink plenty of water.
  32. Get to, and participate in, a 12 step meeting where I can hang out with my tribe and share intimacy (into me you see), and gain life wisdom.
  33. At home, take a bath before bed, letting the day wash away and soaking in the hot water to calm my mind.
  34. Be thankful for another great day of life.
  35. Read in bed until I fall asleep, remembering that today well lived creates a life of wonderful yesterdays.

That list may seem long, but the truth is, we already have a long list of things we do each day. The more that list is comprised of items which invite solution into my life, the more ILML! — JamieQ

The Lucky Ones

“Recently I reacted to a situation. I started to get angry – really angry. I felt like a victim.” — Hope for Today

One of the greatest things I’ve learned about in recovery is the intrinsic relationship between anger and victimhood. This was reinforced by the enlightening book “You Can’t Make Me Angry”, written by one of our members.

Basically, I’ve discovered that it’s impossible for me to be angry without being a victim. Even in situations where nobody did something hurtful to me directly, the fact that they’ve stolen away my serenity, even temporarily, makes me their victim, empowering the person or institution that I resented in the first place!

When I’m in a state of expansive awareness, and I recognize this, I can apply that wonderful AlAnon slogan “I am responsible for my own serenity.” Remember that, I then start applying tools for serenity to my life. Deep breathing. Gratitude lists. Funny videos. Petting my dog or cat. Yoga. Meditation. Reading from my spiritual backpack. Journaling out my feelings and solutions.

I’m so lucky to have been touched by alcoholism. Without this disease, along with the affects it’s had on my life, I wouldn’t qualify to be a member in AA and AlAnon. How odd is it that? In order to be invited into the greatest program in the world, I had to be caught in the crossfire? Hopefully, one day, everyone can gain membership into a 12 step program, and benefit from our collective experiences, without necessarily having been devastated by this disease.

But until then, I’ll count myself as one of the lucky ones. Because of AA, AlAnon, the people in the programs, and having found a higher power… ILML!

JamieQ

Change = Abundance

Change = Abundance

“Change is the one constant in our life and yet it causes us the most unrest.” – In God’s Care

Why is change so scary and uncomfortable sometimes? Even when we’re firmly walking on this spiritual path of recovery, knowing abundance is shining upon us?

I can only speak for myself, but I’m a man of creature comforts. I order the same drink everyday at Starbucks – Venti Chai Latte, 6 pumps, extra hot, no water, no foam, with cinnamon and whipped cream. Always a Belgium waffle at Izzy’s deli. Always a James salad at Penne Pasta Cafe (yeah, they make it special for me :-).

So when things change, I’m naturally throw off. No chai today? Out of syrup? No tomatoes for the salad? The sky is falling!!!

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get what I’m talking about. So when there’s bigger changes and challenges, like illness, death, loss of income, and relationship changes, it can get dicey for a guy like me.

Luckily, at 56 years of age I’ve had a ton of experience with change. I’ve seen how handling change with an openness in my heart is so much more peaceful and comfortable than reacting to it. So I’ve come up with a way to limit my reactions to unexpected, typically alarming changes and respond to them with open arms, welcoming in a different, perhaps even more wonderful, experience.

I’ve used this exercise to great success, but I’ll warn you in advance that many people , in hearing about it, have told me they feel it’s pessimistic, negative, catastrophizing and unnecessarily creates fear. Regardless, that’s not the case for me, so here it is.

I envision the worst case scenarios in my life. The changes that might occur, which I have no power over, that I think would feel devastating, paralyzing and may throw me into a deep depression. The worst things I could imagine happening. Death of loved ones, loss of my job or home, blindness, divorce, etc.

Then I look at how I might react in fear, pain and hurt. This reaction would most often be considered “normal” by others. Then I ask myself to imagine responding completely differently, from a place of acceptance, love and belief that everything will be just fine. I walk through the experience and feelings of loss, letting go of the fear and sadness and choosing to handle it with grace and optimism.

This isn’t an easy exercise, but it’s been a great one for me. It’s empowered me to live life feeling that I can handle any change that happens, knowing my life won’t fall apart.

I still get thrown off my guard. I had never imagined one of my children might be paralyzed for life, and recently that almost happened. My son came down with Guillain-Barre Syndrome and was paralyzed. Gratefully he recovered in only 3 weeks. But even in that situation I was able to respond in love, faith and the knowledge that somehow things would be ok. The doctors were awesome and he’s running 5 miles a day and found his calling through the process – he’s now in school to be a doctor.

When I live in faith and am open to change, I invite even more abundance and love into myself and others, things end up working out great, and… ILML!

— JamieQ

A Heightened State of Awareness

A Heightened State of Awareness

“I am space, I am the sun, I am the directions, above and below, I am all things, I am the earth, I am the ocean, the world exists in me, I am the fragrance in flowers, I am the very essence in all things in the universe.” – Excerpts from a Deepak Chopra Meditation

I love the idea that we are totally connected with everything, not only on the planet, but throughout the multiverses. That we are inseparable from all that exists. When I tap into this feeling, allowing myself to feel connected to everything and everyone, a peace settles over me, bringing a gentle smile to my face.

When I hurt someone or something, I’m hurting myself. Whether it’s another person or a small spider. And when I’m aware that I am everything and everything is me, I can’t avoid feeling what I am doing to them or the world around me. It’s a law. The law of reciprocity.

When I love, I feel love. When I’m mean, I feel hurt. When I’m compassionate, I feel understood. When I am punishing, I feel shut off from the sunlight of the spirit. What I give, I receive. That’s why the gift of being of service in the program has been such a wonderful experience – as I connect and love others, I instantly feel connected and loved in return.

Today I’ll remember that everything came from, and ultimately goes back to, source. I am, at my very essence, source, as is the sun, moon, rain, trees, animals, and every person on this planet.

Through being loving, compassionate and helpful to others, I end up feeling loved, understood and valued in return. And when I live in that heightened state of awareness and understanding, whereby I am connected to all things, my ego mind slips away, I am liberated, and… ILML!

– JamieQ

Struggled with Meditation

Struggled with Meditation

“… in meditation… Our mind will gradually quiet down… take time today to be still…” — In God’s Care

Why is is so darn hard for some of us to meditate? It takes no real special talents. No experience is necessary. It only requires a few minutes, at the very least, out of our day. Then why so much resistance?

I believe I’m sort of an expert when it comes to avoiding meditation. I managed to not do that particular part of step 11 for the first 33 years in the program. For whatever reason I just couldn’t make time for, or get into, meditation. Maybe it’s my ADD. Maybe it’s my ADHD. Whatever the reason, I just couldn’t get into consistently meditating on a daily basis.

My first real attempt to meditate was by using an app called Simply Being in 2016. I set it up for 5 minutes, picked the voice and background music I liked, got quiet and listened. I usually did this while sitting at Starbucks, just before doing my rituals, and once I had my Chai Latte in my hands.

If I were to guess, I probably meditated with this app about 50 days out of the year. Still, not bad for a newbie with only 34 years in program.

But several months back, while on a trip to Florida, a sponsee told me about a 21 day free Oprah/Deepak meditation challenge. I love challenges, so I downloaded the app and did it.

That experience ushered meditation into my life in a completely new way. Closing my eyes, breathing, and listening to ways in which I can invite peace, abundance, acceptance, love, kindness, and optimistic abundance into my life is having a profound affect on my life. In those 21 days, the words spoken, both by Oprah and Deepak, were inspirational and, when listened to first thing each morning, helped me start my day off feeling open to all the joyous possibilities life can offer me.

So I began searching YouTube for other inspirational morning meditations (usually 10 minutes or less, lol). These days I have a few favorites that I’m listening to every morning in bed. Sometimes I even play them after I get out of bed, on my Bluetooth speaker when I’m in the shower and getting ready for the day. Hearing messages about how amazing life is and how much love is coming my direction is an awesome way to get going each day.

So I guess you could say that I’ve gone from a guy that never meditated, who had a real difficult time inviting meditation into my life, to a guy that loves starting his day off in meditation. It’s probably because that this trope of inspirational meditation fills me up with a sense of gratitude and the belief that today will be a wonderful day. And when I feel like that… ILML!

— JamieQ

Pure Love

Pure Love

“Today Pure Love will be the center of all my activities.” -— Adapted from In God’s Care

What if we thought of God as Pure Love? 100% Pure Love? Nothing but Pure Love? What if we then substituted the word “Pure Love” every time we saw the word “God” in our literature or anywhere else? And when anyone else mentioned the word “God” we translated it to “Pure Love“?

It might sound something like this…

Came to believe that Pure Love could restore us to sanity.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of Pure Love.

Admitted to Pure Love, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Were entirely ready to have Pure Love remove all these defects of character.

Humbly asked Pure Love to remove our shortcomings.

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with Pure Love, praying only for knowledge of Pure Love’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

Having had a Pure Loving awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

It appears, at least to me, that the abscess of Pure Love was, and still is, the root of my disease. Whether it’s an inability to completely love myself or others, it’s this lack of trusting in the power of Pure Love, and instead thinking, acting, and speaking from a place other than Pure Love, that seems to create all my problems.

When I’m living life from a place of Pure Love, no matter what happens around me, chances are much greater that… ILML!

—JamieQ

No Longer a Dry Drunk

Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.” —Alcoholics Anonymous p.64

A symptom, as described by Miriam Webster, is “subjective evidence of disease or physical disturbance.” Therefore, our drinking and using was evidence of an underlying dis-ease. Without getting to the root of that illness, and treating it, we never really heal.

In AA we call this a dry drunk. I know all about it—I was one for many years. Some people believe that eliminating alcohol and drugs is enough. I personally don’t think it’s possible to really love our lives, or play well with others, unless we dig deeper.

Over the last three decades, I’ve begun to discover the source of my personal dis-ease—the one I used alcohol and drugs to treat. But to do so has taken hundred of hours in self-examination, reading and writing in recovery books, and working one-on-one with my sponsor. Slowly I began to see why I struggled in life, particularly in relation to others, and how my reactions to them frequently made my problems worse.

Through the program I’ve discovered how to completely reverse both my dis-ease and the effect it had on me and those around me. And making amends is at the very top of my list of solutions. By taking responsibility for my actions, and sincerely attempting to stop engaging in behaviors that hurt myself and others, I’ve learned how to become a better man. I’ve gained some self-respect, and being proud (instead of ashamed) of my behavior, definitely makes me happy.

The other tools of the program, namely prayer, meditation, affirmations, service work, meetings, fellowship, sponsorship, journaling, gratitude lists, self supporting behaviors, hobbies, and self-care all contribute to a building and maintaining a strong immunity against my dis-ease. Through self-discipline and consistency in these daily actions, I get to stay in the middle of the lifeboat, where I’m safe, protected and… ILML!

—JamieQ

Awaken with Abundance

Awaken with Abundance

“There are some who live day to day concerned about not having enough for happiness and security. This causes anxiety, worry and stress. But this doesn’t have to be. Instead, if we trust the intelligence of the universe, and practice living carefree, we can live fearlessly, without worry or focusing on lack.” — Living Carefree, A Meditation with Deepak Chopra

Wow. Can you imagine never having to fear lacking anything? I felt like that way as a child, but since having my own children, the overwhelming sense of responsibility has put (and kept) me in financial fear.

The voices of fear and faith can have an overwhelming effect in my life. Faith says “Everything’s going to be great!” When I believe this, I feel so good. But Fear says “This is going to be terrible. Your in big trouble.” And when I’m listening and believing it, I feel scared, exhausted and upset.

Deepak’s meditation suggests that we encourage the kinder, more loving message to dominate our thoughts by repeating this: “I move through my day lighthearted and carefree, knowing all is well.”

I’ve been listening to this meditation on YouTube everyday lately, along with his meditations on Overcoming Obstacles and Gratitude, and I must tell you that its awesome! I’ve been more optimistic, efficient and have had more energy since I began doing this. I start off listening in bed, and eventually take it into the bathroom while getting ready for my day. I awaken and fill my mind up with good thoughts, before the bad ones can even start up.

When take the time, first thing in the morning, to intentionally focus on positive messages that reaffirm the boundless abundance and love in, and all around me, I awaken with the belief that it’s going to be a great day, and ILML!

— JamieQ