Monday, October 20, 2014

Busy

He was five years clean on this week, and the room was packed. Absolutely jammed full (over 100) of mostly young (20 - 35 year old) men and women (but mostly men/guys).

He wasn't the only one celebrating clean time. There were a 3 people that were new. So they had chalked up maybe a hour or two of clean time. Others were collecting their 30, 60, or 90 day fobs. Someone was at 180 days. And then there was Max's friend - with his 5 years.

I was amongst a group of happy, positive, grateful, recovering addicts.

The meeting opened with a passionate, emotional, personal share regarding Step 1.
Step 1 saved his life. Step 1 was the beginning of a journey that filled his life with joy and purpose. He looked directly at the new guys and begged them to start with Step 1. And to go to 90 meetings in 90 days. To copy down some of the phone numbers that were passed around. (Everyone at the meeting who has logged in some clean time, and who would be open to getting calls from someone needing help, writes their name and number on the list.) This guy? The one who was talking? Was giving me goosebumps with his earnest message and his professional delivery.

Seriously.
He could be a motivational speaker.
What the heck am I saying? HE IS A MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER.
With no training. And nothing to sell. Except a message of hope that he believes in with his entire being.

Next up was a girl (mid-20's) who was 9 months clean. She shared her story:
"I never make it this far. I only ever make it to 6 months. Because when I get to 6 months? I think I deserve a break. And then I relapse. And don't recover until I hit bottom again. And this time was no different. I bought a ticket for Thailand, planning to be there right after my 6 months milestone. I was planning on partying. Hard. 
And then, at the airport? I asked myself, why? Why was I going to blow it? What was I thinking? Did I really want to relapse? I'd worked so hard. And my family would be so disappointed. Again.  
So I decided to go. But not use. I was going to stay clean. 
I arrived on a Thursday morning and worked out and trained with the rest of the team who had also signed up for (some sort of sport) boot camp. In the evening they all went out to party but I said I had jet lag, so I was going to bed. I wasn't tired, but I didn't know what to say. Or do. So I just sat in my room.  
And then I prayed. And asked for help.
I could not do this alone. I needed someone to do this with me.
Someone who was also in recovery. 
 
The next morning, everyone else was hung over, but I wasn't, so I went for a run along the beach. When I got back, there was a new guy. He'd just arrived, so I helped him with his luggage. Know what? He was asking about NA meetings... he's 5 years clean and wanted to get involved in some meetings in Thailand!  
On Sunday we went to one together, and I shared. In English. And no one understood me, but I was up there, crying like crazy, because I'd prayed. And He answered. And I wanted to let people know that the Steps work. Surrender your life to your Higher Power and pray for His will to be done in your life.  
After the meeting, one of the guys invited me and my friend to join him. He didn't speak English, but we went along. In his truck. And he drove for like 3 hours to his village.
That village? Of maybe a couple hundred people? At least half of them were in recovery. And ALL of them were celebrating our clean time with us. They put on this huge spread of delicious foods and they were so happy that we were there and no one could understand us, but it didn't matter. It was exactly where we were supposed to be. 
 
And that's all I have to say."


Haha,
Oh my goodness, girl.
You said SO MUCH.

Everyone had a story.
Everyone shared what it felt like to hit bottom. What it looked it. What it meant to their families.
Everyone was acutely aware of the pain it caused to their loved ones.

And everyone's story ended with words of hope and healing. And happiness.


Max's friend, (the one celebrating 5 years clean) was the one who found the body of his murdered co-worker last month. He shared that being clean doesn't mean life is easy. It's still hard. But it's better. Way better. You always have the choice to celebrate or suffer. He is a firm believer in Step 11:

“We seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

His sister tearfully shared what it had been like for her, watching her favorite brother sink deeper and deeper in to addiction. And the peace she now has, knowing he is part of a recovery community.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


My favorite part of the evening?
Didn't even take place inside the building.

(When Max was in grade 9, our relationship changed. Prior to that it was pretty easy going and open. But in grade 9, it was different.

It was most noticeable when we were on the school trip together. He completely ignored me. Like totally and utterly. It was like I was invisible. And that lasted for the next 100 years. Seriously. Forever.

It wasn't until he had 90 days clean that he acknowledged me as his mom again. And he did it during a share at the meeting where he got his 90 day fob. I was overwhelmed. Totally came undone. This was the kid I remembered before the drugs and adolescence.

Months later, when he was about 6 months clean, I showed up at The Door with homemade birthday cakes and cupcakes for him to have with the 50 guys he lived with. He had just turned 21. He met me out front with a friend, and I handed all the baking over to him. They were taking all the desserts in, and I got in my truck to leave.
"No mom," he said. "Come in too."
"Nah, it's OK. You can do this with your friends."
"Please? Just come in, OK?"
"Are you sure? It's OK with me if you just want to do this with the guys..."
He put his arm around me and said, "No, I want you there."

So I went in with him, and he stood beside me as together we served all those appreciative young men some cake. He introduced me as his mom, and it was the best feeling in the world. No, really. You have no idea. The guys went on as if it was the best cake ever, which was nice. But the best part was having my kid back. I was with the boy I knew as a young teenager.)

ALL THAT TO SAY, my favorite part of an excellent evening, was just after I'd parked.
Phone ringing.
Me: Hi
Him: Where are you?
Me: Walking up the street.
Him: Can't see you.
Me: Behind a big guy.
Him: Where.
Me: I'm here.

And he gave me a hug.
On the street. With all his friends around.
I will never take that for granted. Ever.

And then we walked in together. With his hand on my back.
Seriously. Until you've been an untouchable, you don't know how good it feels to have that hand on your back.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning I woke up with a stiff neck.
I decided to work from home with a heating bag on my shoulder but it was not helping. Neither were the Advil. (This was about day 12 of having a stiff neck - one that started at my collar bone and extended up to my ear.)

So I stopped in at my neighbourhood spa to see if an RMT could see me on Saturday or Sunday. (I never do this, by the way. Ever. But I have extended benefits. And too many people had told me to go, so I was going to take their advice.)

They had no open appointments except for one exactly right then. Right at that moment.
Me: Um. I'm not sure if I'm mentally prepared for the touching.
Her, with stunned look on her face: Uh, I would advise you take it. It looks like you could use it.

So I did.
I was mostly naked a few minutes later with some stranger touching my collar bone. Counting the knots. And pressing down on them.

Her: Your back is one big knot. And this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this? All all knots along your collar bone. And this and this and this and this and this? Along your shoulder? Are all knots. I'm going to apply pressure. Let me know if it hurts.
Me: OK
Her: Does this hurt?
Me: Yes
Her: Should I stop?
Me: No

I was at work a short time later, in pain.
But more Advil, lots of water and time, healed me up abit, so by 4 pm, I was 50% better.

That night?
I sat in my girl cave and planned a trip to Palm Springs while I binge-watched movies on Netflix.
My body needed to heal. So I sat like a lump. It was glorious.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


On Saturday, I went to this house:





























To take pics of the people who lived inside it.
I won't share them until they've used them in their Christmas letter, but here's a sneak peek at one of my favorites:































It was an emotional shoot for me.
So of course the best thing to do immediately afterwards is see someone about threading my eyebrows.

Holy cow.
It hurts more every time I go.
Which, clearly, isn't often enough.
Because she was at it for an awfully long time.


From there?
With body and soul tender?
I went to church.

Where it was a celebration.
14 people got baptized.
So many stories. So much cheering. So much celebrating.
(Gotta tell ya, felt an awful lot like the NA meeting I'd been at earlier in the week.)
I didn't fight back the tears here.
I just let them drip right off my face.


I arrived at my friend's house an hour later.
Me: I'm weepy.
Her: Want some supper? I have noodles and chicken.
Me: Yes.
And then we sat at her kitchen table in relative silence while she knit and I edited the 600 photos I'd taken that afternoon.
Me: Perfect evening, yes?
Her: Yes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The temperature was 25 degrees today.
THAT? Is unseasonally warm. Like, beautifully, wonderfully awesomely warm.
I stayed inside and worked.

This is our busy season, and I need to be on top of things.
(Things being 45 projects involving about 890,000 pieces of print that need to be cared for.)
(None of that last statement was an exaggeration, by the way.)

So I sat at my desk, and watched the clouds go by ...





























... while I created 78 To Do lists for work.
It's amazing that I get paid to do something that I love.


































I had a couple invitations to go out walking, but I couldn't.
I absolutely couldn't.

































It pert near killed me to stay inside on such an amazing day, but I needed to work.
And do laundry.
And spend some time by myself.










































At least until 6.
Then I went to visit my dad.


Me: Dad? Move over. We're going to take a selfie.
Him: OK.
Me: See? That's us in my phone. Smile.
Him. OK


























Me: Are you sure you're smiling?
Him: Yes.























Me: I don't know, dad. I think we need to try that again.
Him: OK
Me: Really smile hard, OK?
Him: Yes






















Me: OK. That'll do.
Him: OK


And then I got stuck getting out of his tiny bed.
So I pulled on his knee. And he pushed on my backside.

Me: I'm such a cow.
Him: Imagine. Johnny Kuebler used to carry you on his shoulders.
Me: Imagine.

































He was so very much at peace this evening.
Which was a lovely way for me to end my week.



Dear God,

Thank you.
For everything.
All the highs and lows.
For the pain and the healing.
For the sick and the healthy.
For the strong and the weak.

Thank you for caring for them all.
Thank you for loving them all.

God I pray for those struggling with addiction.
Protect them. And guide them to a place where they can get help.
I pray for those in recovery. Please keep answering their prayers and revealing yourself to them.
God I pray for those new guys who showed up at the cake meeting. I pray they had the courage to reach out and ask someone for help. I pray you had someone in place even before they entered that room. I pray your blessing on them. Let them be celebrating one week clean next Thursday.

God, I pray for families who are dealing with illness or separation or dysfunction. Give them hope. Surround them with your angels, so evil can't attack. Provide them with friends to walk alongside and professionals to guide them through the process. Love them extravagantly. Hold them close.

God, I pray for the elderly. Flood them with your peace. Provide them with the gentle care they need. Equip their care-takers with extra measures of patience and understanding. God, I pray they would be comfortable and loved. Stir our hearts to shower love on those who are older and lonely. Help us to not forget.

God, I pray for those who need jobs. Meaningful work. Please swing open doors of opportunity. And give them the courage to walk through.

God, I pray for those who don't know you. Can you change that? Break down those barriers that have prevented them from seeing you. Just go on and smash through. And then love on them. Love on them in a profoundly personal way. Answer their prayers. Overwhelm them. Enable them to respond. And have friends in place who are prepared to come alongside in their faith journey.

And I pray for my work. May it be pleasing to you. And may it be enough. All those upcoming projects? Can you show me what I'm missing and what details still need to be sorted. I pray your blessing on the campaigns planned for the end of the year. And may your will be done.

Thank you for my family. Be with my kids this week. Protect them. Woo them. Lead them. Speak to them. Love them.

Amen.


Three things I'm thankful for:
1. NA Meetings
2. Church services
3. Friends who provide space for silence.
4. My dad and mom.
5. Windy, warm, fall days.
6. Answered prayer.
7. Miracles
8. Movies, books and music.
9. This desk.
10. This view.
11. This life.
12. Calendars



Shalom,
xo



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hi

Just sayin' hi.

Random things:

1. Did you ever read the book The Red Tent?



























Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood--the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers--Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah--the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women's society.


It's a made-for-TV, 2-part mini-series, being shown on Showcase in early December. Looking forward to watching it.




2. Have you ever read The Dovekeepers: 

In 70 CE, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain in the Judean, desert, Masada. Only two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman weaves a spellbinding tale of four extraordinary bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom comes to Masada by a different path.























It's being made into a two-part made-for-TV mini-series (by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey for CBS) to be aired in Spring 2015. I'm looking forward to this one too.



3. I tried to make an appointment to donate blood this month. (On my list of things to do this fall.) But because I was in Puerto Vallarta in February, I won't be eligible to give until one year has passed. Apparently PV is a malaria zone. They also asked if I'd been to the UK (yes, I had. In 2010), specifically in Wales, Northern Ireland or Northern England (no, I hadn't).



4. I was successful in getting an appointment to get my tooth extracted. NOT looking forward to that. Oct 30. 3 pm.

I'm probably going to be a baby about it.



5. Today? On Facebook and Twitter? National Geographic was promoting BC as a place to visit!
I was so proud. Haha.



The article was written by Heather. Who?
Heather Greenwood Davis and her family were recognized as Travelers of the Year by Traveler magazine in 2012. Watch highlights of their adventures on globetrottingmama.com. Follow Heather on Twitter @GreenwoodDavis

Travelers of the Year? What a great gig!
This is their story:

“More than a year ago, my husband and I yanked our two sons away from everything they knew and headed out to discover the planet,” says 40-year-old travel writer Heather Greenwood Davis. “The goal was to show our kids that their neighborhood wasn’t limited to their block, that the world has more to offer than PlayStation 3, and that people are way more interesting than they could imagine.”
From their home in Ontario, the Davis gang (father Ish, age 45, and boys Ethan, 10, and Cameron, 8) embarked on an epic adventure. They came face to face with blue-footed boobies in the Gal├ípagos, watched World Cup rugby in New Zealand, went tuk-tuk riding in Cambodia, and encountered revolutionary times inEgypt. All told, the Davis family spent 12 months on the road, visited 29 countries, and blogged about their round-the-world journey at globetrottingmama.com.
“Our kids came away with a sense that the planet is a kind place, that the world is accessible to them, and that they can befriend people everywhere they go,” says Davis. "It was an amazing year.”     


If I could do a do-over, I'd want to be a traveling family. 


6. A poster/infographic, explaining about introversion. Click to enlarge.






















Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Every day is a new one. 
2. Left overs
3. Lists


Shalom.
xo

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lists.

While preparing supper, I had my laptop open on the counter, listening to tunes, and randomly writing down things I was thankful for on Thanksgiving:
  1. Music. Even if it does sound tinny coming out of my laptop. 
  2. Kitchens that one can dance in. Even is the music is super quiet because you only get so much volume out of a laptop. 
  3. Costco.
  4. Reading glasses.
  5. Two ovens. 
  6. Frozen chocolate bars.
  7. Val’s turkey dinner yesterday.  Might be the last one I get til Christmas. Why did I not pick up that baton that moved Turkey Queen from one generation to the next?
  8. Twitter.
  9. Answered prayer. Even weird prayers. (Like, a year ago, I prayed that a certain actor would get a chance to work for a certain producer. Hahaha. WHAT? SERIOUSLY? One year later? They are working together. You just know that if God is answering those prayers, He's answering yours too.)
  10. Sons who enthusiastically show up for dinner. And eagerly take home All The Leftovers as if your meal was delicious or something. 
  11. Sons who set up their mom's TV so she can watch cable, DVD's, netflix ...and patiently explain, yet again, which buttons to press on the 4 remotes. 
  12. Four day work weeks.
  13. Clean sheets.
  14. Shaved legs. 
  15. Patient girls (Mandi and Danica) who are encouraging about my very poor eye-hand coordination. Man. I SUCK at Dutch Blitz. Need to practice WAY MORE.
  16. A hair appointment. This hair? Especially these bangs? Should have been trimmed BEFORE I went to Florida. So. They are three weeks longer than they should be is what I'm saying. There is only so much one can do with a curling iron:

     
  17. The flash (the big external one) is working again. Yay. I love that thing. 
  18. Slippers.
  19. Friends. So. Many. Good. Ones.
  20. I have a job I love.
  21. Thankful that I agree with the vision and mission statement of Focus. 
  22. E-readers. (Especially my Kindle.) One of the best inventions. Ever.
  23. Coil bound notebooks. I will never tire of writing in these.
  24. Refrigeration.
  25. Fresh, clean, safe, drinking water. 
  26. Freedom to share my beliefs. I believe that there is a God who created the earth and everything in it. And that He loves us. 
  27. Thankful that I have the opportunity to review that book about Apologetics as its being written. Each chapter has me thinkin' ...
  28. Thankful for my dad and mom. And the enchanted childhood I had.
  29. Thankful that I live in Canada. And more specifically, on the west coast. Best. Place. On. Earth.
  30. Thankful for second chances, forgiveness and grace. 
  31. Thankful for this list: Six Ways to Boost Happiness in Your Marriage:


  • Count your blessings. Nothing can increase happiness more quickly in a relationship than shared gratitude.
  • Try new things. Falling into a routine, or even a rut, is easy. But that is a killer to happiness, so you’ve got to shake it up.
  • Dream a dream. The moment a couple quits looking to the future together is the moment they become vulnerable to dissatisfaction.
  • Celebrate each other. We all applaud the big things, but it’s the little and unexpected celebrations that can make or break a couple’s happiness.
  • Attune your spirits. The soul of every husband and wife hungers for deeper connection and a greater sense of shared meaning, and when it’s found, happiness abounds. Married couples who attend church together tend to be happier than couples who rarely or never attend services.
  • Add value to others. When a husband and wife do good beyond their marriage, happiness envelops their relationship like never before.




  • And lastly. this list: Top Ten Regrets of the Dying:
    1.  I never pursued my dreams and aspirations. 
    2. I worked too much and never made time for my family. 
    3. I should have made more time for my friends. 
    4.  I should have said ‘I love you’ a lot more. 
    5.  I should have spoken my mind instead of holding back and resenting things. 
    6. I should have been the bigger person and resolved my problems. 
    7. I wish I had children. 
    8. I should have saved more money for my retirement. 
    9. Not having the courage to live truthfully. 
    10. Happiness is a Choice, I wish I knew that earlier. - See more at: 


    Monday, October 13, 2014

    Thankful for Three Things:


    1. My friend, Karm, recognized her 50th birthday on Thursday by celebrating the relationships she's had along the way. 

    Eighteen of us gathered, at her invitation at The Tasty Indian Bistro for dinner. Three of us were Indian food virgins (apparently my recent exposure to (and consequent love of) samosas doesn't count).























    This? Is an absolutely gorgeous restaurant. Not at all what I was expecting. And yes, sadly, I had a stereo-type in mind of what an Indian restaurant would look like.
























    We had a private party room, and the atmosphere was elegant and fun and modern.
    If you like Indian food, (and guess what? I do.) then I highly recommend this establishment. The private room (in the pic below, it's through the double glass doors on the left) was perfect. 





















    I was with a friend the night before this event and she predicted, "you're nervous about tomorrow night, aren't you? Not just the food, but also the guests, right? This is a big stretch for you, yes?" 

    Haha. Oh some people know me so well. 
    Yes. This was a stretch. 
    I would only know the birthday girl. And she was going to be busy with her other 16 guests. 

    Stretch was right. 

    Based on my experience earlier this summer with parties where I know very few people, I am uncomfortable during the event and completely exhausted after. I suck, absolutely SUCK at small talk. Especially about fashion, diets, TV shows and pets. My coping mechanism is often my camera. 

    Thank goodness the photos usually turn out half decent. 

    So.
    I grabbed my camera before I left.

    And discovered when I got there, that the battery was utterly dead. 
    I was going to have to be friendly and talk to strangers.

    Karm was handing out huge hugs to her friends as we arrived and made each of us feel like she was especially thankful that we came. Once we all got there, we were encouraged to sit at our predetermined spot, as indicated by place cards. And then, just before the food was brought out, she introduced us to each other and explained the seating arrangements.

    We were seated in the order that we had entered her life. A special aunt was at her immediate left, followed by a cousin. From there it was a few of her friends from when she was in her early 20's, all the way around the table to me, and the gals on either side of me, who came into her life as her kids went to school. Her and I met when our youngest sons started kindergarten.  

    And after that, the ice was broken. 
    And conversation just flowed.

    It turned out that the gal to my right and I have quite a few mutual friends. And it turns out I read her blog when she walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain a few years back. 

    Her and I both got divorced at roughly the same time, so our adventures, while vastly different, have also been a somewhat similar. 

    We were the last two to leave. So much to learn from someone who has been single and lived a fearless life. She's younger than me, has 4 kids, a boyfriend and is already a grandma. She travels. Takes up new challenges (like sailing, for example) and is self employed. 

    As each guest left, Karm handed them a goodie bag and a card:




















    The goodie bag contained a few of her favorite things... unscented, easy-on-the-nails-and-environment nail polish remover as well as clear mascara for eyebrows. And a sponge toffee. 

    And the card? Was personalized. And handwritten. It was a thank you card, re: our friendship. Why she values it, and how our friendship has enriched her life.

    All-in-all, it was an outstanding, inspiring, fun, affirming evening. 

    So thankful for friends who celebrate relationships in meaningful ways. 
    So honored to be have been invited to this amazing evening. 
    So appreciative of the women I was sitting beside. 

    2. The second thing I am thankful for is friends who STRETCH me to look past my immediate circumstances. Friends who are committed to helping those who have less. Friends who sacrifice a long weekend to host an event. Friends who have a global outlook on life. Friends who give.

    Heather and Laura (and their husbands) hosted a dinner and silent auction event on Saturday night. To raise money for pipelines to get clean drinking water to three particular villages in Ethiopia via Hope International Ministries. 

    I helped them set up on Friday night and was blown away by the effort that had gone into preparing for this event. And I attended it on Saturday. I knew 5 people out of 100. Anticipating this, I had recharged my camera. And put new batteries into the flash. 

    And took pics all night long. 







































































































































































    Thankful for the opportunity to help. Thankful that alot of money was raised. Thankful for the clean drinking water I talk for granted here.




    3. And the third thing I'm thankful for is my cousin Val. Actually. she's my mom's cousin. But whatever. I'm thankful that she shares her life with me. I'm thankful that she invites me to her family's celebrations. I'm thankful that she is a good cook. And is generous with her meals and her home. And I am thankful for all the babies in her world. 





























































































































































































































































    Dear God.

    Thank you.