A Recipe for Lemonade

A Recipe for Lemonade

“To truly have a zest for life, you must squeeze all the juice out of it… especially the lemons. Believe it or not, they make life even more delicious. The lessons you get out of them make you strong, resilient, and amazing.” – Jenny G. Perry

I’m not gonna lie to you, my life is incredible. I’m 56 years old, 36 years sober, and I’m a Double Winner—in both programs, Alcoholics Anonymous and AlAnon. My family life is fantastic! I have a successful business, I love to go to work every day, I get plenty of sleep, and I’m in peak health. I have more close friends than I could’ve ever dreamed of, many of whom I would lay down my life for. And I awake eaxh morning and yell out “I love my life!” Sound like I’m bragging? I’m not.

My life is great because I’ve mastered the art of making lemonade from lemons (as Jenny Perry would say—making zest from the lemons I encounter.)

In other words, I’ve learned how to find gratitude in everything. My brother Robbie, when describing the way he approaches life, kisses his fingertips, thrusts them into the sky above his head, and simply says “Thank You.” The secret, I’ve found, is to do this for everything—especially those things that I don’t particularly care for.

About 50% of the time, events in my life do NOT go the way I would like them to. In other words, I don’t get MY WAY half the time. Half the time! I believe this is the reason why I drank and took drugs. When I didn’t like something, when I felt bad, or when I didn’t know how to handle uncomfortable feelings, I self medicated.

And here’s the thing, just because I love my life and things are great, doesn’t mean things always go according to my plan. I’m still batting around 50% in terms of things going my way, versus things not going my way.

Luckily, the program and doing the daily deal has given me the tools to handle it, without reacting or needing to numb out my feelings when I’m not at ease.

But I won’t kid you, the process I use for loving my life takes a lot of consistency, a tremendous amount of dedication, and a significant amount of time invested daily. In other words, loving life doesn’t come without a sacrifice. I could be doing lots of other, really important, things while I’m spending hours getting and keeping myself in the attitude of gratitude, recalibrating my expectometer, and loving life.

The 12&12 says, “… these minutes and sometimes hours spent in self-examination are bound to make all the other hours of our day better and happier.”

I’m not the kind of person that believes everything I see, hear or read. But in this case, I’ve put it to the test and found those words to be true for me. When I invest the time to make my daily recovery rituals the #1 priority each day, my problems get resolved, my relationships get healthier, my finances improve, I physically feel better, and… ILML!

—JamieQ

“When I focus on what’s good today, I have a good day, and when I focus on what’s bad, I have a bad day. If I focus on a problem, the problem increases; if I focus on the answer, the answer increases…I must keep my magic magnifying mind on my acceptance and off my expectations, for my serenity is directly proportional to my level of acceptance. When I remember this, I can see I’ve never had it so good.”  – Doctor, Addict, Alcoholic” by Dr. Paul O. in Alcoholics Anonymous

I live by these words. In fact, they are some of the most powerful words (for me) in the Big Book. And they’re not really new or unique. Philosophers and scientists have researched, studied, debated and proven how powerful the mind is (what we think) in manifesting not only positive experiences and relationships in life, but also positive physical health. I sponsor lots of men, both in AA and AlAnon. The ones that stuggle the most are those that have trouble accepting that our perceptions and attitudes are 99% responsible for how we feel and the quality of our lives. Not our circumstances, our past, or other people. And by studying, working and living the program in a very systematic, diligent and consistent way, I alter my perceptions and attitudes, so that no matter what’s happening on the outside …ILML! 

Loving The Best

From page 19 in The Best of Bill it says “Let us always love the best in others – and never fear their worst”.

When I focus on what’s wrong with other people, they look worse, and I’m more miserable. The next time I do that, I’ll stop. Then I’ll focus on the good stuff. When I do that, everything gets better. That’s what I love about recovery, I don’t need to be upset for more than a few minutes each day when I use the tools. ILML

This is a great reminder that when I’m thinking other than loving thoughts about people, it means I’m in fear about something (usually fearing I’m not getting treated how I want to be).

Just because they did something that I disapprove of, doesn’t mean I need to focus on it, or fear it will happen again, or that the consequences of their behavior will hurt me. I’ve found for every character defect, there’s an opposite and opposing wonderful character trait. In fact, as my step-mom, a faithful Alanon always said, “Our defects are simply our assets out of balance”. So, rather than focusing on the defect, let me realize that they are just like me – a little out of balance every once in awhile. This allows me to move from resentment to compassion, opening up the door to see the good in everything. And when I do that, I realize once again, that indeed, ILML.