we fight

Sometimes we float soft on the pink cloud of the joy of recovery. Other times, it’s a battle. We fight. We win–one moment, one breath, one day at a time.

Music is one of my favorite forms of self-care. Listen, soothe, heal, repeat. So, here’s a little musical inspiration for your journey–the latest from one of my old favorites, Dashboard Confessional.

We Fight

feet on the earth

The sea. The mountains. The grass in the park. There is something primal about having our feet on the earth, barefoot.

In yoga, we focus a lot on grounding. Grounding into ourselves, the earth, the ultimate source. Our higher power.

Whenever I’m stressed, I have to stop. Take a breather. Take care of myself. And ground. Let go of what is hurting, binding, release it down. Dig my toes in–never mind the imperfection of the messy pedicure and flip-flop toe stub from the subway–and pull deep from the source. Feel the life in the ground beneath us, the promise in the earth itself.

Wherever you are today, I hope there’s a nice patch of land you can sink your toes in.

I wish you: Peace. Serenity. Joy.

Namaste, darlings!

-Maggie

we can only change ourselves

“In spite of our desires, changing others will never be an option, whereas changing ourselves takes only a decision and is a choice always available.” ― Each Day a New Beginning: Daily Meditations for Women Hazelden) 

We can only change ourselves! This is good news, though, because it frees us from the overwhelming burden of having to fix ALL THE THINGS for EVERYONE–as if we actually could…

HV4.gif

I love my 90s kid cultural references (and if you haven’t seen Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, you should, because it’s my favorite adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, like, ever).

But on a serious note, part of recovery is recognizing that the only part of our mental health equation we can control is ourselves. Our reactions, our choices, our outlook. We got this. God’s got this. And daily meditations like the one from THIS FABULOUS BOOK (quoted at the top of the post) help immensely.

May you find joy, and grace, and life today.

Namaste, Darlings!

-Maggie

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

Anxiety and Mindful Self-Care

I have an anxiety disorder.

“I take a problem and chew on it until all the flavor’s gone. Then I stick it in my hair.” -Rebecca Wells, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

“Cast all your cares upon the Lord.”

“Instead of worrying, pray.”

I have an anxiety disorder. This means that I am extremely likely to follow neurological ruts of worry. It means that my body can respond to everyday worries with a reaction that would be more appropriate if my ice-age ancestors were being attacked by a sabertooth tiger. This is not healthy.

I work on it. I actively practice observing my thoughts and shifting them to different topics when I notice anxiety rising up. This book helps.

But one of the best things for me to do is stop and pray. Ask for help. Make a gratitude list. Check out some funny cat videos. Think happy thoughts—on purpose. Make an anxiety busting Pinterest board! And do what makes you feel cared for. For me, I love alone time with books. Or the ritual fun of crafting a new mocktail in a sparkly glass (recipes here!).

Sometimes it feels like like I’m tackling a calculus problem (actually, calculus was a lot easier for me than dealing with anxiety)… But it’s worth it. Because winning small battles against anxiety adds up to winning the war. But a little humor and prayer go a long way.

And the books and mocktails, of course.

Namaste, Darlings! 💜

“Everything Waiting to Grow”

I sat in my back yard looking and actually took the time to STOP and LOOK. What had just been a green space to step outside and take a breather from work became so much more when I let go and let myself become fully present in my garden moment.

I reflected on the changes from the cold winter, when I sat under the February Stars and watched the cold, naked tree limbs extent toward the inky blue sky. The world–my world–had transformed.

Now there are green leaves everywhere, wildflowers, grasses, soft moss. A squirrel was working in my favorite tree. A butterfly flitted by me, and a hummingbird hovered. A red robin looked for worms. Even the insects had come alive! But the winter didn’t show it.

One of my favorite songs is Catie Curtis’ “Everything Waiting to Grow,” about the beauty underneath the surface. In season, over time, after we work on it, our lives will sprout new growth.

It has been waiting, under the surface, for the spring to come.

Whatever season you are in, keep working, keep waiting. You will bloom in time.

Namaste, Darlings!💜

Self-care Isn’t Selfish

Protect your alone time.

I have a hard time with this, sometimes, because I want to be there for everyone alllllll the time. To be the friend who says YES instead of no. And when I keep a realistic view of my timetables and my boundaries intact, that’s okay. But sometimes, I get really tired.

That’s when I have to remember, repeat like a mantra: self-care isn’t selfish.

So I turn off the ringer. Enter Airplane mode. Soak up some sun, read a book, have a cup of tea, and just chill. Or put on some cute shoes. Whatever it takes!

Recharge.

Relax.

I consider it a duty—to myself, my higher power, and even my community. Because no one can pour from an empty cup. So fill it! Self care isn’t selfish, it’s critical to our own health and well-being.

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!