I recently read a powerful story about how important it was to care about each other, especially on the job.  It struck me that putting someone else’s needs above our own is a powerful experience for everyone involved.

It reminded me also about why I believe in Coinci-Gods – the idea that sometimes what appears to be a coincidence is actually divine intervention.

In Feb 2012 I fell to the floor of my kitchen having seizures as the result of an aneurysm that was bleeding.  At my son’s insistence, I was taken to Northside Hospital where they performed an MRI, and then rushed me to Emory for emergency surgery – a surgery that saved my life. I spent over a month in ICU.

The way my coworkers came to the aid of my family was extraordinary. Jodi Ford dropped everything and came a running, providing much needed support for my 18 year old son as he struggled to understand the mound of paperwork he was being asked to sign. During that month in ICU I was visited by so many – Judy Ghea, Greg Satusky, Marcellus Duke, Scott Steele and his wife just to name a few. Their smiling faces kept me from slipping away into the dark place that threatened to swallow me.

It wasn’t until years later that I learned my father had met Greg. He said that knowing I worked with people like Greg gave him comfort. Many others reached out from across the miles which has led to deep and lasting friendships.

The support I was given during the 2 years it took to fully regain what was left and to come to terms with what was lost, was nothing short of miraculous. The patience and understanding given by so many. And the compassion…. a familiar voice asking “how are you doing?” in a way that says they really want to know. Many times it happened just when I needed it most – it was always such a comfort.

And those who asked “Do you need anything?” Having lost the ability to drive, the never ending round of medical appointments was truly a challenge. So many folks gifted me with rides when I needed them most. Betsy Oxford, Shanti Bacon and of course Jodi.

Unfortunately the story is yet to have an ending as I continue to grow aneurysms. Thanks to the quality medical care I am grateful to enjoy, I am able to see specialists who are able to find them before they rupture and we avoid the life threatening scenario of 2012. The latest repair performed this past July and once again, my coworkers stepped up and provided much needed support.

To those who step up and go that extra mile for others – THANK YOU!

You are saving the world, one person at a time


Why We Need to Establish & Regularly Use Our Recovery Support Networks

I had this exchange with a friend about why it’s so important to establish and regularly USE our Recovery Support networks. Posting it here so I can keep it handy….

The reason we need to regularly USE our Recovery Support network is because we’re not only building a support network we’re also doing something else. Something very cool, as in Bruce Lee cool.

We’re creating a new skill, a skill we need to have as a part of our arsenal, readily available during a moment of crisis.

And to create a new skill that resides at that level, we have to do something over and over until it becomes something that is innate – as in “belonging to the essential nature of something.”

Our disease is innate, but with a different definition “existing in, belonging to, or determined by factors present in an individual from birth” – in other words, we were born with it being a part of our DNA – passed on through generations.

We need to create a skill that resides at the same level – “fighting fire with fire” as they say.

When we’re used to reaching out in “normal times”, we’ll be able to do it in a time of crisis. Also folks get to know us and will become comfortable giving us feedback.

“Gee, you sound stressed. You okay?”

A simple question like that, if we answer it honestly, can save our lives.

Creating Ourselves Anew

I really love this author often resonating with their thoughts but this latest article was over the top.

It’s about creating yourself anew, something near and dear to my heart as I’ve struggled to do this repeatedly over the course of my life. First as a small person, then again as a young adult when my parent divorced, then again as a person living on my own, then again as a married woman, then again as a person in Recovery. This one was huge and continues to this day.

Then there was becoming a mama – another huge one that continues to evolve in ways that are alternatively thrilling and baffling. All in all, I count myself truly blessed with a beautiful young person who is honest, creative talented and has decided to avoid drugs and alcohol – to my great delight and eternal gratitude.

This most recent pass of creating myself anew including the extra challenge of creating a me that is happy and successful in spite of being disabled for the first time. Being that it’s one I can’t see, it’s often easy to try to overlook and expect myself to be “normal”, as if I ever really was “normal”, as if anyone is…

My disability is mental. I’m no longer able to wear heels (issue with balance), drive (issue with handling more than one issue at a time which also impacts work and personal relationships) and my mind can not be trusted. This second part is a challenge but over time I’ve gotten better at asking for assistance, avoiding situations where this is likely to occur and surrendering & leaving the area/situation when necessary.

The third is the most difficult to manage successfully. My inner traitor needs I a safety rail and must be closely supervised to limit collateral damage. When they “get off the leash” the results vary, ranking between minor annoyance (the dogs get treated twice on the same morning) and the shit hitting the fan (failure to deliver something important at work or at home and that yucky sinking feeling that can accompany the realization of same).

Back to the writing I wanted to share.…

There are many great ideas in this writing but these two resonate deeply, so much so I felt strongly that they were worth the time to share them.

1. … we are all born of frailty and error and if we are to share this world with one another, the first fucking rule of existence is that we must pardon reciprocally one another’s failings and seek wherever possible to treat one another with compassion.
Damn right. And when I try to be “perfect” -at any level, in any capacity, I end feeling miserable and stressed out. I also often acting like an asshole.

Recently finished reading the Spirituality of Imperfection which speaks to this over and over, teaching that imperfection is inherent to the human experience. If we are seeking perfection from ourselves or others, we are barking up the wrong tree. It’s like looking for swimming skills from a bird…

We are who we are, as we are – it is what it is. Those who don’t like it can kiss our derrieres (mischievous grin).

2. Become the best, most secure, most confident, most kind, most compassionate, most honest version of you. Do that, and love will follow in abundance.

This speaks to the same principle expressed in the Serenity Prayer, the 12 Step Recovery program and an ideal I hold near and dear.

My true sphere of influence is me – that is the only arena where I can create real change. If I am willing to do the work, over time I can change my actions, reactions, choices, priorities and the tenants by which I strive to live my life.

Equally important, is the willingness I have to show myself forgiveness when I inevitably fall short of them.

“We are forgiven as we forgive others…” When I withhold from others, I will also withhold it from myself.

Reflections on an AA Conference

The last time I went to a big AA Conference was 24 years ago at the San Jose Convention Center in California. At the time, I had 2 days sober having just lost 13 months of recovery to a relapse. The experience left me in a very dark place – I knew I couldn’t drink any more and I couldn’t stay sober – it felt helpless.

I was hiding in my house when some AA friends came by and took me to the conference. The speakers changed my life forever. Geraldine spoke to my heart while Cubby spoke to my Soul.

Geraldine O. Delaney, “first lady of AA” spoke of her magical AA Big Book. Every night she would throw it in the trash and the next morning it would reappear on her night table. She spoke about how our hopes and dreams are like “Broken Toys” that God will mend if we let Him. She said that when she is afraid, she asks God to take her hand – because she’s afraid she might let go, but she Knows that He never will.

Cubby Selby spoke of addiction with extraordinary honesty and whit. Though I sat towards the back of the large auditorium, it felt very intimate, like it was just the two of us. His Gift was a Clear Vision of the disease, the Dance that we (alcoholics) do with it and more importantly, a Clear and Simple Path out of the disease and Into Recovery.

Happily, I got tapes of both of these speakers which I have enjoyed and shared over the years.

As part of the celebration of 10 years In Recovery, I made copies of Geraldine’s tapes and passed them around at meetings. I heard that the tapes changed hands many times and one of them was credited with saving someone’s life. Though Geraldine died in 1998, in 2000 she was still spreading the message of Recovery and saving lives.

Here are some links to Geraldine’s talks:

Though Cubby passed away in 2004, his teaching continues to be the touchstone of a Recovery that has lasted 24 years, in spite of the many foolish choices I’ve made. From beyond the grave, he continues to be a blessing.

Here is a link to one of Cubby’s talks:

Broken Toys (the poem shared by Geraldine)
As children bring their broken toys, with tears, for me to mend
I brought my broken dreams to God because he was my friend.
But then, instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone
I hung around and tried to help . . . with ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried, “How can You be so slow?”
“My child,” He said. “What could I do? You never did let go.”
–By Ben Hildner–”

Cubby Thoughts
Here are some of the thoughts Cubby shares that make his message so special to me:

  • The most important thing is simply “I get drunk, We stay sober”.
  • It is not the event, but my interpretation, my perception that causes pain.
  • Self-centered fear and selfishness is the core of our problem.
  • The unconditional Love of the We of AA chips away at the “I” of our disease.
  • When I got here, you did not judge me by the appearance of my illness… You saw past the appearance to a sober being. Within that sober being, you saw Light and you saw Love. And you held that image of me in your mind as you nurtured me, loved me and allowed me to make every mistake I must make in order to learn what I need to learn to stay sober for the next 24 hours. And more and more, as I continue to come back to you, I am becoming the image of Light and Love that you have of me. As you are becoming the image that I have of you. And together We are becoming the image God has of Us.