When I Align I’m Fine

When I Align I’m Fine

“When things are the darkest, say thank you. Because God has put a rainbow in every cloud. And though you can’t see it yet, it’s coming.” – Oprah recounting advice from Maya Angelou

If you’re like me, and have actually chosen to believe the everything in life happens for a reason. If you have actually chosen to trust the your personal higher power has your back. If you have actually chosen that, no matter what happens, your feelings won’t be a hostage to it, but that instead you’ll insist on being grateful, then you’ve discovered one of the secrets to ALWAYS loving your life.

When I align my will with my higher powers, aka want exactly what’s happening right here and now… ILML!

Program Based Direction

Program Based Direction

“Faith without works is dead.” AA, p.76

Surrendering, turning it over, trusting our higher power, having faith, letting go. These actions are fundamental in my desire to love life. Seeking the spiritual solution always leads me to greater abundance.

But there’s a balance between giving it to God and getting up off my ass and taking some action.

Too often, especially prior to thoroughly working a program, when things got difficult and I felt overwhelmed I’d give it to God and let it go, when in fact, some action (aka works) was required. God isn’t EVER going to do for me what I can do for myself.

So the question is, how do I know if there’s something I should be “doing,” and if there is, how do I know what “it” is?

By first asking my Higher Power, “Hey God, is there something I should be doing? And, if so, what is it?”

If I don’t intuitively know what to do, and am unsure if I should be doing nothing, I call my sponsor.

A good sponsor will provide clarity in moments if confusion. Mine helps me to distinguish when I’m giving it to God versus evading responsibilities or being lazy. By following my sponsor’s program based direction when I’m not sure what, if anything, I should be doing… ILML!

— JamieQ

A 16 Second Pause

A 16 Second Pause

“… we usually have at least a moment to breathe deeply and restore our serenity and peace.” – The Language of Letting Go

I have a friend of mine who seems to keep a calm composure far frequently than most. Though I’ve seen him get upset, it’s rare.

One day I noticed that he seems to take these long, big breaths often times when asked a question, and before answering. Once I actually timed it in my mind. Including the word “well…,” spoken slowly after the breath and before he spoke any other words, it was a 16 second pause!

So I finally got the nerve up and asked him,”What’s that all about?”

As I suspected, he told me that was his way of giving himself enough time to appropriately respond rather than react. Basically, he’s gracing the space between the impulse to say something he may regret, and instead speak while practicing equanimity.

More and more I’ve been practicing this little trick, and each time I do, I’m improving my chances that… ILML!

— JamesQ

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

Return on Investment

Return on Investment

Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.” — Malvina Reynolds from the book In God’s Care

The program has shown me that the best gifts in life are the ones we give away. Why? Because the act of giving has the absolutely highest return on investment of any kind.

When I give of myself, what I get in return is vastly greater than what I have given.

If I give my time to listen to someone struggling—without judging them, I feel compassion and empathy, which opens up my heart. And this is what intimacy is all about.

The same thing happens when I love or express kindness without expecting it in return. Once I get out of the “me” and “mine” mentality and into the “how can I help those who need my help and have asked for it” frame of mind, I evolve into a better person. Those actions allow me to be proud of the man I’m becoming, allowing me to look in the mirror and begin believing it when I say “I love you James.”

And when I love who I am through the action of loving others… ILML!

— JamieQ

Two Types of Acceptance

Two Types of Acceptance

Knowing what’s acceptable and what’s not, when we should practice it and when we shouldn’t, isn’t always easy.

We’ve all heard of Dr. Paul’s “Acceptance is the Answer” in the book Alcoholics Anonymous (aka The Big Book). In fact, it’s one of my very favorites, and something I’ve arrived to live by in my life. But does it always apply? Even when someone’s behavior, or some thing, is unacceptable?

In my attempt to gain useful understanding around the idea of acceptance, I sought out, and found, a couple of explanations that provided clarity to my question:

Acceptance in human psychology is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation.

Acceptance, as defined in a dictionary, is the willingness to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation.

Based upon those two disparate meanings, I came to the conclusion that there are two forms of acceptance, one that’s helpful to practice in every situation, and one that may not be helpful to practice, depending upon the situation.

I apply the first type of acceptance to everything, provided I’m spiritually fit enough to do so. And when I’m not, I usually pay the price by fighting reality. After all, let’s face it: what is, is, regardless of whether I accept it or not. Being angry or hurt or frustrated by it does no good at all. In fact, it usually prevents us from moving past it, meaning we stay in it, even when it’s unhealthy to do so.

But by accepting the situation for what it is, we are now able to ask ourselves “Am I ok with this, as is, on a continuing basis?” If, the answer is no, then we can now move out of the problem, and into the solution. And here’s how I do it…

1. INVENTORY I write about the situation, identifying what’s happening, honestly looking at my part, how I’ve contributed to the problem, as well as theirs, or how the situation is affecting me if it’s not a person.

2. GUIDANCE I ask for some time with my my trusted advisor (sponsor).

3. RESPONSIBILITY I read to them what I’ve written and discuss it, asking for help to dig deeper in finding my part, adding any new awareness to what I’ve already written. I then lightly cross out everything I’ve written except my part, in order to get to step 4 below.

4. DETERMINATION With my advisor, we determine if I should stay in, or detach from, the person and/or situation. We do this by asking the following questions:

(A) If I continue accepting this situation is there a good chance it may be dangerous to me or others? If so, then it’s time to detach.

(B) Have I discovered that I really have no part in this (for example, a young child being physically abused by a parent). If we honestly have no part, again, it’s time to detach. If neither of these apply, we move to (C).

(C) Is there a possibility that my actions, or inactions, have contributed to this unacceptable situation. If the answer is yes, then with the help of my advisor I create and write out a plan of action that includes changes I can make in my behavior, that may effect a change for the better in my relationship or situation.

5. ACTION I then practice my plan of action for a period of one month, keeping a daily checklist in my journal to see if I’m actually practicing my plan of action. For example (A) Send a loving text to my parter each day – Yes [X] No [ ].

6. FOLLOWUP After the month is over, with my advisor, I review my checklist to see how well I’ve followed through with my plan of action, if things are now acceptable, (or moving towards acceptable), and what, if any, changes in my plan of action should be taken.

In the past when I struggled with acceptance, I would blame myself or someone else, and either fight my way through it, causing more destruction, or run the other way out of fear, even when there was no danger.

Today, instead of struggling to accept situations that are uncomfortable, I embrace them, applying concrete actions aimed at solution. In this way I invite awareness, growth, love and abundance into my problems, turning them into opportunities for growth. And when I do that, not only do I build more respect and love for myself, but as an added bonus… ILML!

— JamieQ

How a Group Conscious got me Back to the Right Size

How a Group Conscious got me Back to the Right Size

“Tradition Two talks about bleeding deacon and elder statesman… a bleeding deacon, sits in the problem.. a “it’s my way or the highway” type… (while) an elder statesman sits in the solution… open-minded, willing to listen and accepting for change… (as) an elder statesman, I have a better chance of staying away from selfishness and self- centeredness…the root of my problem in the first place.” – Working the Traditions in your Daily Life, ca.org

This morning I was talking to a member in the program about this tradition and how easy it is to feel like I’m running the show, and I should be, whether it be at work, with my family or in a meeting. But that attitude always ends up keeping me imprisoned in my own misery. Here’s a quick example.

Years ago I started an AlAnon meeting and was quite proud of myself. I decided on the format, how it ran, and most other details. I loved it. But after leaving on a trip I returned to find that when I came back it had changed. Some of my favorite parts of the meeting were changed around. I was told a group conscious had been taken and the group decided to change a few things.

“How dare they!!!” Although I didn’t say it out loud at that moment, later while talking with a friend I complained that it’s wasn’t fair. “That’s my meeting. I started it!” He reminded me that I am just a trusted servant in the program. So as punishment to them all, I chose not to go back to the meeting for over a year. By depriving them of my supreme leadership and contribution, they’d be sorry.

Guess what happened? They did just fine without me. The only one missing out was me.

Today, 15 years later, the meeting now barely resembles the meeting I had started. The time of the meeting has changed. The format is different. It’s even at a new location. About the only thing that’s the same is the day of the week. But you know what? It’s one of the best meetings on Maui, and one of my favorites, hands down. Without me the meeting actually got better. Can you believe that?

Thanks to that lesson and others, I’ve gained a bit more humility along with a deeper appreciation of Tradition 2. I really do want the best for everyone, and I really don’t always know what that is. But through a group conscious, by having the majority decide together what’s best for all of us, the decision that reflects what most of us want is made. And today, thank God, I’m ok if that decision is not the one I agree with.

I’m grateful that learning to be teachable and open to learning is something that will go on for the rest of my life. Because the more willing I am to grow, evolve and change for the better, the more ILML!

– JamieQ