Recovery in Troubled Times

So many folks in my recovery community are having a hard time with current political events. How do we stay sober while the world seems to be falling apart? The answer is simple, and complicated. The simple part is to keep doing the things that keep you sober in good times: keeping it in the day, giving the worry to your Higher Power, and making copious gratitude lists.

Harder right now, perhaps for those of us in recovery, the  more complicated part is not giving in to the societal disease of power and indifference that we see around us.

It helps me, as a scholar of people, war, and human rights (and, weirdly, alcohol), to remember that countless people went through terrible times before in human history. The AA Big Book talks about World War II soldiers who went through the war in recovery; their stories can be inspirational. But on a more macro level, human history has always been full of troubled times: wars, famines, plagues—and we’ve made it through.

Celebrate small victories; I can’t do much about foreign policy right now other than educate those in my circle on how it relates to the USA’s history, and write. So at times like these, its important to celebrate small victories. I managed, after weeks of working at it, to take our household garbage down to just one can (bin for my Brits!); a lot of work on compost, traditional recycling, and my recycled paper art made that happen. Calling wiser friends who may be able to offer perspective, staying tight with your sober people, and being grateful for the things we can do, even if it’s just raise awareness, stay sober, or donate a few dollars (or pounds) to a cause we love. Hold the hand (or paw!) of someone you love. These things matter.

In fact, the simple act of being grateful for what we do have, saying a prayer, making a gratitude list, calling an old friend, or spending some time in nature, is itself a form of resistance. It is looking the darkness in the eye and saying, as Arya Stark said to Death: NOT TODAY!

I was listening to the Tom Waits song “Hold On” just now, and sometimes, just holding on is enough.

We’ll get through this together. One day at a time.

May you be peaceful, may you love, and may you find grace today.

Namaste, Darlings.

—Maggie

On Rumination and retrospective

The Anxiety Toolkit says that anxious people are more likely than folks without anxiety to ruminate on past events and worry about future ones. Well, let’s triple that for the anxious alcoholic…

Guilty. I wonder, sometimes too much, about the what-might-have-beens. Perhaps I should take the easy way out and blame the classical cover of Adele that came up in a piano mix in listening to. But it’s honestly not that simple. And Adele bloody rocks.

For me, Rumination is the state of dwelling in the dark shadow of memory; it’s the negative side of the retrospective. Now the positives can be amazing. Beautiful memories and nostalgia, taking stock of how far we have come–these things rock. But worry, not so much. Worry can control my day if I let it. But today, I’m not going to.

Whatever may or may not have been, I’m here now. I can’t control yesterday, or tomorrow. What we can all do, though, is take the action available in this present moment, the one that will help accomplish our dreams. Even if that action is as simple as noticing the anxiety thoughts and queuing up a Netflix comedy to drown them out. It’s science—laughter really can be the best medicine.

For me, sometimes the right action is to drink a cup of coffee and relax while I read morning meditations. It’s not building the Eiffel Tower, or landing on the moon. But coffee, a smoothie in a Harry Potter glass, and sitting down to write is enough for me, right here, right now.

Namaste, darlings!

When the Vet Prescribed More Yoga for the Hooman

My computer, the one that works because of tech support and mindful breathing, has just reminded me that I need to do a yoga video. Funny thing about that: I was just going to blog about how I need to do more yoga. Okay, universe. I get it. I’ll do it after my coffee break with my friend, who is a hooman nurse.

Mentioning excellent medical care, my dog’s veterinarian, Dr. Zen-Fabulous (literally nothing fazes this woman) is awesome. I love her, her staff, and the world map of doggies in Mister Winnie’s favorite examining room. This is the only place in the whole world where my little fur-diva will allow his toenails to be clipped. She’s just the best vet ever.

So when Mister Winnie developed anxiety, he got a fancy new pheromone collar that makes him feel happy. But she also prescribed yoga. Not yoga for him, but more yoga for ME.

Now, I should mention that my dog’s vet is also my friend, and I consider her to be quite wise, (even though she consistently refuses to vote for MY favorite candidates for office…the NERVE…haha! ;). Dr. Zen-Fabulous knows I do yoga, and that it helps my anxiety.

And my dog, in all his fluffy empathetic adorableness, will apparently benefit from my doing more yoga too.

Meds AND mindfulness: a winning combo.

Namaste, Darlings!

And fellow hoomans, our fur babies have super-powers of emotional empathy—so take advantage of good advice from the vet.

🐾💜 🧘‍♀️

Maggie Yancey Happy Winnie

Think of Your Happy Place

Andrew Harrell Beach PhotographyPhoto Credit: Andrew Harrell

One of my besties sends me beach pictures most days. He lives in sunny Florida, and he knows I love the sea and sand and sun. So sometimes, if I’m stressed, I just look at the pictures, imagine the waves, and zen out. It’s like meditation for dummies, without the mala beads and the mantra. But the affect is the same: space, light, stillness. A slowing of the breath, and an easing of my soul.

So go to your happy place today, even if it’s just a mini mental vacation.

Namaste, Darlings!

Self Care, Self Love

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I believe, so, so much in self-care. In the past, perhaps I didn’t even know what that meant. But I understand now that it means treating myself as I would a beloved friend. It’s more than flossing, though. This is deeper: we have to accept ourselves as we are, do our best from this present moment, and trust that our higher power will see us through. And we, along with HP, are enough. Just as we are, with all our glorious flaws. The hard thing about self-care, taking the time to do the things that restore your soul, mind, and body, is believing that we deserve it. But you do. I do.

We do.

Namaste, Darlings!

Sobriety is hard– But Recovery is Soooo Much Gentler Than Oblivion

Maggie Yancey Spring Garden Flowers

Today, I noticed that I have not slit a hole in any of my contacts since getting sober. My fingernails are the same–simply manicured by ME–but my hands don’t shake, so I don’t poke the contacts accidentally. And, I clean the contacts better, exactly as my eye doctor taught me, every night. 

I floss daily, so I don’t have the nicotine and coffee stains along my gemlike that used to be so embarrassing—I thought it was because I had entered my thirties. It wasn’t that; it was the passing out after all the Malbec, because the day was too much for me to handle. 

Now, the things that used to cause huge emotional overwhelm can be handled. I may still feel anxious about them, but I have the courage and confidence to push forward. Five hours with apple support, and my computer is like new. In the past, that would have brought on a meltdown, tears, frustration, fears of the end of the world as I know it, and panic followed by days in bed.

But this time, my computer crashed. I let it go when I couldn’t fix it myself, turned it off, and went to sleep, knowing that I couldn’t do anything about it when it happened, because what I had thought would be a simple operating system update had turned into a total computer failure. It had to be erased, and rebooted from the cloud.

But thank God for the cloud, and the serenity to know that whatever came with the computer, I could handle it. And handle it I did—with the help of three brilliant and affirming women in tech support, and a lot of prayer. And okay, some coffee and nicotine.

I’m not perfect. But I’m making progress. And that’s the whole point: I can see clearly through the eyes of recovery, and not just because I’m no longer slicing my contacts in half with my nails and dropping them in the toilet by accident. Recovery allows me to access the peaceful, serene space within that says: this is okay. God’s got this. 

I breathe through it, ask for help, and tech support and my higher power save the day. Recovery makes that possible. Doing the work of recovery makes that possible.

And the flossed, bright white smile at the perfectly working computer, too, was brought by the miracles of recovery.

Namaste, Darlings!