Giving Up Excuses

Today is the first day of Lent, and my FaceBook newsfeed is filled with things people are giving up.  I have given up things for Lent in the past, and know how hard it can be, but that no longer works for me. I do not feel that giving up favorite foods or activities truly shows my love and devotion to God. Last year I committed to building a deeper spiritual relationship with God during Lent. It went well, for the most part, but I definitely could have done better.

This year I am making a commitment to myself, to be healthier physically and spiritually. So, for Lent I am giving up excuses. I am giving up all the excuses I have for not being in better shape physically, which means recommitting to my healthy journey, for the umptiseventh time. 😉

A woman in one of my walking groups posted this today:

“Today starts Lent so instead of giving something up I’m going to be more dedicated to clean eating and more intensity in my work outs. Weight loss would be good too but that’s not my focus for the next 40 days.”

I was inspired by her post and asked if I could join her. This group is always extremely supportive, but it is nice to know that for the next 40 days, I will have a partner to be accountable to. I am not sure what I weigh, because I have been avoiding the scale, but I will weigh myself (and do measurements) in the morning, just to have a gauge for my progress. Part of this commitment will be to walk at least one mile with Leslie Sansone each of the 40 days.

I am also giving up the excuses I have been using to not complete my Fourth Step Inventory. Thus far, I have completed 9 of the 26 sections in the Blueprint For Progress. I am making a commitment to myself, to finish the remaining 17 sections by the end of Lent. Some topics are harder than others, but I am confident I can do this. Thankfully, I have some wonderful family-of-choice in Al-Anon to help me, should I falter with this journey to become more spiritually healthy.

One Day At A Time, I am going to use this Lenten season to become a better, healthier me. At the end of Lent, I pray that I will be closer to being the person God knows I can be. ❤

This stands outside the door to the place where we have our Al-Anon Roundups every year. It is a source of comfort and strength for me.

This stands outside the door to the place where we have our Al-Anon Roundups every year. It is a source of comfort and strength for me.

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Sad, Not Mad

The girls learned (or more accurately relearned) a tough lesson today. They learned that Mommy follows through on her promises.

I have been very disturbed by the recent lack of respect, and diminishing kindness, with which they treat each other. The root of almost all of their issues are toys, books, dress-up clothes, etc.. The fact that my children cannot treat each other with respect and kindness because of material things, is extremely upsetting to me.

They have also started to speak to me with words and tones that are unacceptable. To be honest, they are often using the words or tone I previously used with them, and that is a BIG problem.  Often times my reaction is based on my expectations, not their actions. As we say in program: “Expectations are predetermined resentments.” Regardless of the situation, it is NEVER okay for me to talk to them without respect, and I know I have been remiss in this area; hence their new-found level of disrespect.

I sat them down the other day, and explained that yelling makes me sad. That I do NOT want to be a Mommy who has to yell, in order for them to listen, and behave with respect. I reminded them that we homeschool, so they are not bullied, but treated with kindness. I told them that since they are always fighting over objects, that any object they cannot share, will go in the garbage. I further explained that any object that seemed to be the root of any disrespect, or lack of kindness, would also go in the garbage. I reminded them that we must always use RESPECT and KINDNESS with our words, hands and actions.

Today, while down in the laundry room, I heard the screams and crying up here. I came up to find Anne sobbing and Beth very upset. I ordered them both to the table, where they had to put their heads down until they calmed down. Once they calmed down, I asked what happened, and why they were fighting instead of cleaning the room. The answer was basically that they were fighting over toys; Anne was teasing Beth, and she put her hands on Anne. They remained at the table (crying and screaming), while I “cleaned” their room.

I threw out almost a full garbage bag of items from the bins in their room. I chose things they no longer played with, things that were not working right, etc… I did not throw away any of their favorite items, but the point was made. After I went outside and put the bag in the dumpster, I came upstairs and cried with them. I now FULLY understand all those times my father told me he was sad (or disappointed) and not mad.

Although the rest of the day went very well, we rehashed the incident MANY times. Anne wanted me to promise not to throw out anymore dresses. Beth wanted to talk about the kids who don’t have food or toys. I explained to Anne that I could not promise her anything in regards to the dresses, because whether they stayed or went, was up to her and her sister. I explained to Beth that there are many children that can only dream of having what they have. I told her that countless children go to bed hungry and have no toys to play with. I told her that she and her sister need to start being more grateful for what they have, and acting the way God knows they can.

I felt horrible most of the day, in all honesty I still feel bad. THIS is not the mom I want to be either. I want to be a mom who inspires her children to act with respect and kindness, because they are following my example. I find that I am repeating patterns, which I had thought I was breaking. As I work my Fourth Step, I see deeper inside myself, and KNOW that I can do better (MUCH better).

Tomorrow is a new day, and although today was FAR from perfection, there was a bit of progress, and that is how the girls and I will continue to grow into the women God knows we can be.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Different NOT Less

The first time I read the words by Temple Grandin: “I am different, not less” they resonated with me on many levels. Her words have been turned into countless memes, usually in shortened version: “Different not Less.” Those words have become one of my mantras.

The majority of my friends live in my computer, so I tend to spend a good part of my free-time online. I am in several groups on FaceBook spanning weight loss to homeschool. On any given day, I can usually site several posts, in any one of the groups, that cause me immense sadness. Why do people feel the need to be so cruel to others who see the world differently than them?

I tell my girls almost every day:

Different is NOT Less, but it is not more either, it is simply different. God loves diversity and that is why He created such unique souls, to add more vibrant color to the world.”

I want them to know this with every fiber in their being. I pray for them to grow into women who accept everyone as they are. I pray for them to respect people, because they know every person and every thing has value in this world. I want them to be part of the change, I so desperately pray for in this world.

In Al-Anon one of our many tools are slogans, my favorite is THINK:

The “T” stands for Thoughtful! Truthful!
The “H” stands for HelpfulHonest!
The “I”  stands for Intelligent! Inspiring!
The “N” stands for Necessary!
The “K” stands for Kind!

I wish people would THINK, before they speak, or type online. We all have different pasts, which make our perceptions in the present extremely varied. Instead of attacking those who have different view points, perhaps we could embrace the diversity, and maybe even learn something. The bullying has to stop!!

Prior to finding Al-Anon, I could only feel good about myself when I “proved” that my way was better than others. I am deeply saddened when I think of all the people I belittled, just to make myself appear more confident and knowledgeable. All those years I wasted attacking others, because we didn’t agree on things, were missed opportunities to learn, and be the change I wanted to see in the world.

Today I know better, so I try to do better. I am not perfect and sometimes still say (or do) things that I am not proud of. Thankfully, when I am working my program, I can see where I am wrong, and make amends for my words or actions. Of the many things I pray for my children to learn, responsibility and accountability are at the top of the list. I want them to be able to admit when they behaved poorly, apologize and learn from it. We will never be perfect, but we can practice Respect and Kindness in all that we do. We can be the change we want to see in the world, just be treating others in the same manner we would like to be treated.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Al-Anon Family Visit

After almost three months of not being able to attend meetings, I was blessed to visit my Al-Anon family this evening. It was WONDERFUL to see them, and drink in their wisdom. Plus, nobody gives hugs like those lovely ladies. ❤

As usual the meeting was not only a great release for me, but I also walked away with much to ponder. One of the women talked about Kahlil Gibran’s words on children, so of course I had to look up the passage when I got home. It reads:

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you, but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may house their bodies, but not souls. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

She was right about it being a powerful, and humbling message.  I have read it several times since being home, and am filled with a new sense of purpose and hope. The one line that stands out the most is: “You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.” I find that almost everything I do, is to make Beth and Anne better than me. I want them to have a solid foundation, so they can make better choices than I did. I want them to know how special they are, so they do not suffer the low self-esteem, and lack of confidence, I have always (and sometimes still do) struggled with. I often wonder if in my efforts to make them better (or different), am I just repeating the well-meaning (but somewhat damaging) cycle?

Since we started homeschooling, the one message I receive repeatedly is to follow their lead. They are amazing little teachers, each with their own set of strengths. I think as we settle back into school, tonight’s meeting was just what I needed to start us off on the right foot. I realize now, that I must concentrate less on making them better than me; and more on simply helping them to be the best them they can be. Perhaps as I help them navigate their path, I may even become the person that God knows I can be. If at the end of my life, I can say that I was half the woman my girls are, than I will have lived a blessed life. ❤

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Disappointment

Today was Beth’s birthday party. I considered cancelling it due to Anne’s recent illness and hospitalization, but then decided to have it as scheduled. Henry is gone 17 hours a day, Monday thru Friday, between his two jobs, so I knew it was my job to prepare for the party.

He had told me to leave what I could for today, so he could help me. I do not do well with last minute preparation; I end up anxious, stressed and crabby. So I did as much as I could and was proud to have everything bought, except the food being picked up today, by Friday afternoon. All that was  left was the cleaning.

Disappointment #1, he woke up irritable. Upon returning from an errand, and having a very tense breakfast, I had to send him to bed, because his mood swings (due to unregulated glucose levels) were upsetting the girls. I had to get the house ready for company by myself, which meant Beth and Anne were ignored, because I was overwhelmed, while he was napping.

Disappointment #2, he was completely antisocial during the party, watching TV and only talking to his friend or father. The only interaction he had with the kids were negative ones, and my heart broke more, the longer the day went on.

Toward the end of the night the girls were struggling, Anne especially was melting down over everything and Beth was getting agitated. I was exhausted and really needed his help. Disappointment #3, he could not stop himself from being the crabby, nit-picking daddy; the daddy he hates to be, but nonetheless becomes when his glucose levels are not regulated. Needless to say, I was greatly relieved when he said he needed to go to bed.

Today is one of those days, when I am beyond grateful for Al-Anon. I kept my mouth shut (silence is better than angry words), worked my program and did not make the situation worse. In Al-Anon we are reminded that “expectations are predetermined resentments.” My expectations for the day, were that he would be the fun-time daddy they were longing for all week. He was not that man today, and so I find myself filled with anger, disappointment and resentment.

Tonight I will go to bed talking to God, and asking for help in reconciling my heart and mind. My mind knows that Henry had a VERY stressful week at both jobs, on top of Anne’s health concerns. My mind knows that he did not purposely upset us today. My mind knows he is working through his own stuff, and needs the space to do that. My heart, on the other hand, is hurt; which always brings the negative thoughts to the forefront. When that negativity gets a hold of me, all I do is sit on the “pity pot.”  My heart and mind will talk, so that I remember  all the reasons (and there are MANY) that I am blessed, and proud, to have Henry as my partner in this life. Tonight, as I converse with God, I will replace the negatives with positives; I will stop judging and start loving more, so tomorrow can be a better day.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Three Year Anniversary

Today marks my three anniversary in Al-Anon. ❤

alanon-1-year-bronze-coin

Three years ago, on this date, I re-committed to myself and my recovery. I have worked the first three steps of the program, as well as anyone can. Personally, I find that those steps almost need to be done daily. I have been on Step Four for two years now. The first year I would pick up the Blueprint For Success, thumb through it and put it back down. Finally in the Spring of 2014, I got a sponsor. The woman, is someone I admired greatly and always enjoyed speaking with. She knew that I may never ask, so one day, she hugged me and said: “You have a sponsor now.” I am blessed to call her a friend, and to have someone so wonderful helping me navigate my recovery. She is the one who gave me the courage to start writing in my book.

This is not how it is supposed to work, I should have asked her to be my sponsor; however, years ago I had a temporary sponsor, and when I stopped working my program, I stopped calling her. She did not push or hound me, but let me slip away, because we all know you cannot help someone who does not want to help themselves. My temporary sponsor was an extraordinary woman, whom was a wonderful friend. When I came back to the program, I knew I should get a sponsor, but I was afraid to ask anyone, because I still carried the guilt that I must have disappointed my other friend so much. Thankfully, God always has a way of getting us on the right path.

I went to Al-Anon looking for a way to prevent my girls from walking in my foot-steps. I went to Al-Anon to break the cycle of generations of Alcoholics and Adult Children of Alcoholics. I went to Al-Anon for my family; what I found was myself. The only way I can help my girls be healthier than I was, is to be healthy now. The only way I can attempt to steer them clear of the chaos, is to find (and maintain) my own serenity. I thank my Higher Power, whom I call God, every day for leading me to such an amazing fellowship, because without my Al-Anon family, I would not be the person I am today.

To celebrate my three year anniversary, I am working on my Fourth Step Inventory this evening.  As I work through each section, I realize how far I have come in the past three years; however, I also see the long road that I still need to travel. One Day At A Time, I am getting healthier and becoming a better me. One Day At A Time, by practicing Progress NOT Perfection, I am judging less and loving myself more. It is a beautiful thing to be able to look in the mirror and actually like the person you see (most days).

alp-91_6

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Why We Started Homeschooling

After our Healing Touch session, it occurred to me that I never really shared the reason why we homeschool. One thing I have learned in Al-Anon is that sharing your story, helps you to heal the wounds from it. Since our homeschool story is quite lengthy, I will share it in parts. This is the emotional part of Why our journey began.

Beth was being bullied by three typical boys, in her blended class, at our public school. At first we did not know the extent of the bullying. Thankfully, when we asked the school for assistance in helping her identify the correct emotions, and understand the difference between a friend and a bully (for lack of a better word), the response was unbelievable. The Director of Special Education cut off all our communication with the staff, and became VERY defensive. Her extreme overreaction, and attempt at “handling” us, was a HUGE red flag that there was much more to the story.

The director told us our daughter did not need to know what a bully was, because it could not happen at this age. She told us our daughter created issues where there were none; her examples only proved that she knew nothing about Autism and the literal thinker. She told us when we spent hours trying to console Beth during her meltdowns, we were telling her, that her issue was more important than it was. I could go on for pages, but I will spare you all the other inappropriate things this “professional” had to say, except this last one. Her ultimate solution to the problem was to teach Beth not to cry, so that the children with less control (aka the bullies) would not be as compelled to target her.

As I explained to the Director in our last communication, before we withdrew the girls, her solution did nothing to help our daughter, and only served to foster more bullies. To not reprimand the bullies, and teach them to behave with respect and kindness is wrong. To teach a victim to not cry, and just accept that they are less than their peers, is WRONG. Her way of “helping” special needs students, which is sadly the same almost everywhere in the USA, is one of the reasons so many of our children are abused and tortured every day at school.

Having taught preschool myself, I know this is the age that can set the tone for a child’s future. I was disappointed and outraged by the way this situation was handled. I was also horrified by how Anne was starting to behave, after only being in that school for a few months. She was becoming disrespectful and cruel. I knew exactly what was happening to Beth at school, because I was seeing it happen at home.

We knew our daughters deserved better, as a result we withdrew our children from the public school district, and began making plans to homeschool. The socialization the school had to offer, was nothing our children needed.

You may have caught the word thankfully above. It may be hard to believe, but we are thankful for this ugliness, because it led us to something wonderful. Also, please know that if it were not for Al-Anon, this story would be very different, and not in a good way.

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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