What goes through your mind when you hear the word Leftovers? Yay or Nay?

Leftovers were a main staple in our household which was bursting at the seams through most of my childhood. Restaurant visits were a rarity and fast food was just coming over the horizon when I was in high school.

Leftovers can be a wonderful taste of what you enjoyed a day or two before, or it can stick in your mouth like prison mush if you didn't like it in the first place! Spaghetti, for instance, is always better the 2nd day around in my humble opinion but some may not agree at all with my standard of taste. As families have reduced in size or for the person flying solo, folks are learning to either prepare just enough for one meal (a great accomplishment in my book) or opt for dining out.  Times have surely changed!

What brings this topic to mind for me is that as I examine myself often through life (Step 4: We made a searching fearless moral inventory of our lives) and come upon some distasteful behaviors (Step 6: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character) I find that even still I am battling some ingrained reactions or impulses that aren't pleasing or attractive to be around.

As a red-headed girl I viewed myself as just being direct and feisty in my communications and responses. In fact, impulsiveness I mistook as fun and impromptu but one of these words is not like the other. Not that these characteristics are bad in themselves, but usually my reactions were exhibited when I was riled or upset about something and it would rear its ugly head in anger instead of direct communication being clear and reasonable. In other words, it wasn't necessarily the message but the delivery that was the big problem.  When people respond in such a way, their message isn't heard at all. Their behavior is what catches attention.

I'm sorry to say that I still struggle with this character defect. In the world of ugliness that we live in now, I could fit right into certain circles. But in the gang I hang with, this just isn't a good quality! I strive daily to be more like Jesus in all aspects of my life but severely miss the mark time and again. I'm very aware that God is merciful and chooses to forgive me for these crazy, unplanned outbursts or reactions but He also desires a change in me to look more like the person I claim to be and to be more like the Person I claim to be connected with.

I'm thankful all the more for this taking an inventory and asking God to remove these character defects. The beauty of the 12 Steps is that,  like faith, we aren't asked to be perfect nor will we know what we're to work on all at one time. We will never see the complete list of defects we have fighting for position in our world - the veil is lifted inch by inch to expose the next item on our list of defects. Otherwise, it would be too overwhelming and seem impossible.

Those leftovers still hanging on from my childhood need to be clipped and matured immediately but I'm not entirely convinced that all of these characteristics will be removed. Sometimes a little bit is left behind so we never forget that we are powerless over this thing and need Him to help us day by day. Not in my own strength but His.

Practice the Pause

Spring seems to be showing itself around here, unseasonably early. Most are welcoming the weather with great joy! I like it too, but am somewhat apprehensive that winter is over just yet. However, today is fabulous so I'll get out there and give my car some much needed attention. :) 

I claimed this year to be the year of de-clutter for me. When Cliff was in addiction, I probably really needed to do this mundane task but my mind couldn't make a solid decision on what to keep and what to toss. Some people are true taskmasters and relish the opportunity to dig in deep when their plate is loaded with family struggles. They find healing and clarity through the process ~ it's quite cathartic. Me? I was looking for love in all the wrong places - through food and a comfy chair with a blanket. I simply sank deeper into my personal world of woe and twisted my mind all around the challenge and life of my son. An unhealthy reality for me really had nothing to do with Cliff. I didn't have any skills in life care. And I didn't pursue them well. It was just easier for me to place the blame on everything else going on around me only I didn't notice that I was doing life that way. All of my statements began with "some day, I'm going to ..." or "some day, I'm going to be..." or "some day, my prince will come...".   You get the idea. 

Now, it's years later and thankfully Cliff is in a healthier place, but so am I. And my healthier choices are unrelated to Cliff's life choices. They are my own.  

The years can be helpful or hateful. I am happy to see that in my life, recovery has brought me to a place of well being and hopefully wisdom. I find that I've been able to learn to pause and listen to what God, my Higher Power, would like me to know. It comes slowly at times and often through prayer and meditation but sometimes through the affirmations of others in conversation. They don't even know they are being used by God to tell me something He wants me to know!

Learning to pause allows you to take a breath. Sit back and process what's really going on. Don't let others ever push you into something you aren't willing to say yes to.  The person that's trying to rush your decision  making process is usually out for one thing. Themselves.  

Pause often through the day. Let your spirit be at ease. Sometimes you have to practice the pause every hour just to get through the current reality.  Pause and pray.  

You've got nothing to lose but your own peace of mind. 

*Picture googled*

Valentine, Shmalentine


Are you cringing with the approaching celebration of Valentine's Day? You know, that day that makes many hearts knot up rather than cheer up.  Billions of dollars ($13,290,000,000 in 2016) is spent worldwide but most of the spending is done in the US. We love a reason to romance, it seems.  

Over the years I've known many couples who choose to NOT spend and celebrate Valentines Day in the traditional fashion, but rather show love in a personal way that requires some thought and planning. Perhaps one partner rising before the other to be sure the coffee is brewing nice and early.  A handwritten note of what makes your loved one special in your eyes, or celebrating with your favorite burgers as a splurge for the week. There may not be a lot of glamour with those options, but they are options that could make a memory to last a lifetime. 

As your family is facing a day of unwanted turmoil in the midst of crisis, how can you show love, especially for yourself?  The Codependent, Enabler or Caregiver is often passed over on days like this. It's a lonely day of feeling unloved, uncelebrated or more simply, unnoticed. 

What choices do we have? I hope you're still not hibernating through your chaos. I hope you've found a support group or recovery meeting to call home and a group that you can do some fun things with, too. We often get into groups and do nothing but hone in on all of our problems and worries. There's no help or healing in those types of groups. Find people that know how to celebrate each day despite the choices others are making and who urge you on to a brighter future for you. 

Learn to appreciate that you are a child of the Creator who longs to see you step into His plan for you. That plan wasn't to be torturous or sad.  So, what to do? 

Take a child to a movie or take yourself! There are plenty of good movies to choose from and they aren't all romantic comedies if that's your stumbling block. Here are a few other suggestions: 
  • Save your pennies through the year and splurge on a little something for yourself if you need to feel the extra love on Valentines day. 
  • Go to the salon, or get a pedicure or look for a sweet bracelet that means something to you. Too much money? Buy a new color of nail polish or download some of those coloring pages you like so well. 
  • Visit your local florist. A few roses in a vase can lift anyone's spirit and they don't cost an arm and a leg. Still too much? Choose my favorite: Carnations!
  • Get an Ice Cream Sundae - Go ahead!! 
You get the idea. I know several area groups that have had Stupid Cupid nights which involved singles and marrieds. Pot-Luck meals and games and tons of laughs which does a heart good.  The Bible Says "A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing. But a broken spirit dries up the bones."  When we allow our feelings and emotions to rule our day it shows all over us!! 

Remember, the 3C's.  You didn't Cause it, you can't Control it, you can't Cure it. 

Find your joy today!

Oh, and these are for you  =)

The Times They Are A-Changin

Happy New Year! 

2017 is here whether we like it or not. And the song by Bob Dylan from 1964 is as relevant as ever. "The times they are a-changin". I've made a lot of personal changes in the last few months as previously shared and so I was beginning to look forward to this year with great anticipation and excitement as to what might lay ahead. 

Of course, the pivotal political scene is looming large but I'm looking beyond it at my own place and my own pace and the part I play living in the here and now. Challenged a few weeks ago by a group I'm part of to come up with my personal word for this year, I pondered and noted and reasoned within to see what word would suit the year ahead.  At first I was entertaining the word Discipline as it's a lifestyle I earnestly seek in many facets of my life. So I noted Discipline as a contender for this year. Another word that I played with in my dance to and fro was Freedom. I preferred the sound of Freedom over Discipline as it just had such a "spin around in circles and twirl your dress" kind of feeling for me. Sort of a feeling that I would have wings and soar wherever I wanted to go as high as I wanted or dive down at a great rate of speed, only to pull up on my own wings and soar again. Or to merely float in an ethereal type of meandering through life causing everyone to wish they were me. Truly Freedom seems the opposite of Discipline and yet you really can't have Freedom without Discipline.  But all that changed last night. 

A few years back I designed a website entitled Enabling Love just like this blog page. But I noticed a while back that when I went to view my pages, they were nowhere to be found. Knowing that this would take some uninterrupted time on the phone with my provider, I didn't address it until last night. "Hmmm" they said, "let's have a look see."  Well, 65 minutes later (see? you need an open ended amount of time) it turns out that something disconnected from one part of the website to the other and needed to merely be corrected. It wasn't anything I would have known or would have done intentionally.  We tweaked a few more things over the phone and the provider told me that my page would come back as originally designed and be up and running shortly.  However, as you may have guessed, what should have happened and what actually happened are two different things.  It turns out that my website will have to be redesigned and that doesn't necessarily make me happy and yet it gives me a thought of a new direction for Enabling Love. A change of sorts. 

I had been contemplating making this change for some time as I began to realize that I have so much more to discuss with you then always my walk in recovery. Now, my recovery and the walk through the years of addiction within my family have certainly been a HUGE part of what shaped me but it isn't all I am. I began to feel last year that I wanted to take this blog up a little more. Breathe deeply and exhale slowly because we are so much more than what hardships have come our way.  We were created for more! 

Enabling has two meanings but most of our culture has come to relate it only to a negative action connected to addiction or alcohol abuse. In the negative aspect, enabling describes dysfunctional behavior and codependency patterns that makes any parent, spouse, child or sibling add another heap of guilt and shame onto their own sagging shoulders. 

Enabling is also referred to in a positive manner as an action that empowers someone to soar above the clouds (wear your wings!); the ability to accomplish something that takes work to finish. When one is empowered they are confident and capable of seizing opportunities that come along. Can't isn't on the radar screen.  

What a difference, eh? 

So, with that being said my new word for this year is Change and along with that my website and blog will be making changes too. It will still have references and resources to assist those desperately looking for help during the crisis and chaotic situations that come with addiction and alcohol. But hopefully, it will also offer some bright outlooks, good stories and wellness to soothe your soul, too. After all, if we only wear the gas mask we are limited by the reservoir of stale air in the tanks we wear until they are empty. We need to shed those gas masks and allow the air of good living and God's Wise direction change our thinking and change our lives for the better. 

Remember what they say on an air flight? Put on your own mask first then you can help others.  In other words, take care of you. 

"If you change the way you look at things, 
the things you look at change."  
Wayne Dyer

Ho, Ho, Hum

Ah, Christmas!  It always messes with my mind. In my imagination I see the day played out like a scene from It's a Wonderful Life, but in reality it's probably more like Roseanne.  This year it was kind of the same. 

Though it's been years since my son has been active in addiction, the world of addiction and recovery is wagging it's tail behind me. For just about all my years as an adult, I have been single and often alone. What happens is that I used to seclude myself from the world in order to not face the drama or the truth of what was going on. It was less painful for me to fret at home alone than to have to look into the faces of others and try to read their thoughts, which I was certain were all about me and my struggles with Cliff. Problem #1 is the deceiver is such a liar but when you're vulnerable you will believe anything that makes sense to ease the pain. Problem #2 is it's not my job to try to read any ones thoughts or non-verbal communications toward me.  Sheesh. 

Now, many years later I have to work hard at not slipping back into my seclusion. What used to be my insane asylum is slowly becoming my sanctuary again and I like it. This has taken MANY years and tears and LOTS of hard work. Addiction and chaos are not polite or sensitive to the family members at all. It will hold you hostage if you let it. Even years after, I must remain on guard of my thoughts and actions. 

As busy as I can be, however, I still find myself with a lot of time alone. No phone calls, no visitors, no outings. Facebook can fill my heart with angst as I see people I love living the lives I had hoped for.  Even at my age, most communication with family and friends is via text, which I HATE.  I repeat, I HATE, but phones don't get answered so I've joined the ranks of texting. I'm quite a distance from my circle of friends so meeting up for a quick anything is not too quick. It requires planning ahead. Who's got time?  40  minutes away makes nothing quick. One thing after another ticks off the list of why I'm alone. Who can change it? Only me. Therein lies the problem. 

Many changes have taken place this year in my life.  Son #1 and Lovely Espousa have been married 11-1/2 years now and have a sweet little family with two precious daughters;  Mini-chick turned 10. Whaaaaa??.  Oh, the joy those little girlies bring to my heart, I can't even begin to express.  I have since retired (semi) and am fumbling around to find my way. Not aimlessly, mind you, but unplanned  just yet.  Because I try to pray about everything, I talked with the Lord about retiring for quite a while before the decision was made. Pressing on my heart, was that my family is getting older and I've worked hard for many years and missed out on some important relationships. I didn't want to watch the remainder of my days and years nor the ones I love slip away without spending some valuable time with them. Lo and behold, just a short time after I retired, my brothers cancer moved to his brain.  He's going to need some assistance and I will make every effort to be available as often as I can. He's alone 90% of the time, too. My healthy father is 87 but can use a companion on occasion to accompany him to Florida, for instance. Poor me ;) 

Thankfully, my relationship with The Lord, my Higher Power, has strengthened over the years and He can step through and diffuse the little landmines in my thinking and bring truth and reality to me with haste. He sorts through the issues and says "Laura, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies."  (Phil 4:8-9 Msg.) He reminds me to draw close to Him, the Rock on which I stand and take my place with Him.  He encourages me greatly with my days ahead.  Look at this promise for our future in His Word: "But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I’m going to do!  For I’m going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it?" (Isaiah 43:18-19). 

Recovery is available to anyone who truly and earnestly wants it. Seek out the better way of life. You don't have to do this in your own strength and most likely it won't stick and stay if you do.  God, who made you and knows you intimately and better than you know yourself, is just a whisper away. Truly, He will never leave you to figure this out alone if you ask Him. 

Just like I have to work on not "hiding out" I encourage you to also find your place and your group. It could be in a church or synagogue and it could also be at 12 Step meetings. Support each other in a positive way. Step out of the muddy puddle you're standing in now and begin with one new habit. Tell yourself the whole truth about the situation in your life and surround yourself with friends who you can count on.  Lean into your Creator. Your life depends on it.