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Noticing the Joy

‘When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,’ said Piglet at last, ‘what’s the first thing you say to yourself?’

‘What’s for breakfast?’ said Pooh. ‘What do you say, Piglet?’

‘I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?’ said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. ‘It’s the same thing,’ he said.”

                                                                                  — A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

 

I have fond memories of reading Winnie the Pooh stories when I was young. What I love about Pooh, and the Hundred Acre Wood stories, is the childlike honesty they possess. There is no pretense except by Rabbit ~ but then, he represents adult behavior with all of its constraints. Eeyore, with his absolute lack of enthusiasm, is accepted by the others exactly as he is. I love that Tigger, as a newcomer and a troublemaker, is folded in with all of his faults and included as well.

Winnie the Pooh and his friends speak to the happiness, greatness, and especially the enthusiasm that we come to appreciate through our acceptance of Statements 3, 6, and 11. 

All of the (WFS) Acceptance Statements spoke to me in some way when I first found Women for Sobriety, but Statements 3, 6, and 11 were the least accessible for me as a newcomer. I did NOT feel happy, enthusiastic, or that life could be great again. I was at the bottom of a black hole. Frankly, the only statements I could easily grasp were Statements 1 and 2.  I clearly had a life threatening problem and negativity was rampant in my thinking. Whenever Statement 11 was discussed, I put on my sarcasm hat and participated with my tongue-in-cheek: “I will enthusiastically try to survive my cravings.” “I am enthusiastically trying to fix my failing marriage.”

My inner cynic was strong… and it took a long time to soften to the happiness/joy statements enough to begin to work on them. Even then, I had to focus on the very small. I found joy in a sunrise or the smell of the desert after rain. I found enthusiasm for Earth on walks with my dogs and in the silence and beauty of my surroundings. I’ll come back to the smell of freshly baked bread and how a beautiful loaf could put a smile on my face like nothing else. Waking up without shame ~ yes, I could embrace that enthusiastically, but I could not face the rest of my sober days with the same level of joy and acceptance until I finally turned the corner on what, how, and why I was doing this. 

My “sober firsts” were a mixed bag. I was in a good place on my birthday and on the 4th of July.  I did my first Wimbledon finals and birthday weekend without alcohol. It was just lovely. My first vacation was a nonstop struggle ~ I could see the beauty of the coastal Carolinas, but I could not feel it. My first sober holidays were filled with fear, but ultimately became full of pride for devising a plan and sticking to it. 

The first time I realized that someone didn’t like me, and I neither needed to change nor feel badly about it, was eye opening. I recall feeling like I was going to lose my mind around my one year mark, but then SO MANY people told me that was absolutely normal. I recall the day that I realized that I didn’t know how many sober days I had accumulated… I actually had to count. I cried for the joy of that ~ it was my new normal and that day I knew I had found my New Life!

The big events are easy to treasure. Who would argue with the birth of a first grandchild? But the small ones ~ the little stuff ~ well they are the yeast. They fill my life and lift it to voluminous proportions. I simply have to take the time to notice. 

I had an epiphany at about six months. I was walking my dogs in the desert where the sunrise is almost always glorious. I noticed that day that I was walking under pink clouds. I had been focused on the ground ~ rattlesnakes are real and some focus on the path in front of me is always necessary ~ but I had stopped to look around and take in the clouds. Sobriety is like that. The pink cloud is always there. I just have to pause and appreciate it. That is Statement 11 in a nutshell for me… noticing the joy.


Statement 11: Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.
I treasure the moments of my New Life.


Emily K.

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Monday Thoughts 9/10/2018

Monday Thoughts

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”  ~~Frances Hodgson Burnett

“Perspective is the way we see things when we look at them from a certain distance and it allows us to appreciate their true value.”  ~~Rafael E. Pino

“It’s not only moving that creates new starting points.  Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities.”  ~~Kristin Armstrong


Statement 11
Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.
I treasure the moments of my New Life.


In our face-to-face group, I like to share how I ‘get’ to do some of those “unremarkable” things in sobriety and recovery.  In the past it was easy to overlook those small moments, but with the practice of Statement #11, it becomes easier to treasure moments that we may once have taken for granted.

A beautiful example of Statement #11 in action happened at our annual WFS Conference a few years ago.  In one of the workshops, Nancy Cross (who lovingly established the WFS Online Forum) brought a small glass or possibly marble rabbit and sent it around the circle that we were sitting in so that each woman present could hold and touch this tiny treasure. As this little rabbit went from hand to hand, Nancy shared with the group that she wanted to re-energize this little bunny and take each of us home with her.  Each of us had quickly become treasures.

Instead of dreading an activity or task, it is possible to feel content or even grateful for the experience.  Fresh perspective encourages embracing the treasures all around us, and Statement #11 leads the way. Friendships, family, experiences can become filled with awe and wonder.  This Statement can also help cement sobriety and recovery, and like all exercises, invigorates and strengthens.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Karen’s perspective regarding Statement #11 came at just the right time for me.  In preparation for a family wedding, I was fluctuating between enthusiasm in seeing the whole family, including my son, and the thought of driving 15 hours.  Enthusiasm and a bit of dread all caught in one moment’s thoughts!  So how to stick with the enthusiastic part of gratefulness, as Karen suggested, is the question.  If there is any Statement that helps to bring focus to such a situation, it surely is Statement #11.  It guides us to consider how our thoughts have a huge impact on the outcome of a specific situation/event/interaction with people in our lives.   Do we automatically respond with dread or do we shift our focus to the possibilities of adventure, learning new skills, the joy of spontaneity or unexpected positive benefits from taking a risk, overcoming a fear by facing the unknown?

I’ve been reflecting on just that.  Thinking about my decision to quit drinking certainly did not initially bring about a feeling of enthusiasm or considering how much I would treasure the moments of my New Life.  Yet, I took that risk and wow, how much my life has changed, how I learned that fear can be faced with full force and surviving becomes thriving.  The woman who automatically said no was now saying yes and became filled with wonderful surprises, unexpected and treasured adventures and relationships.  What surprised me the most is my confidence began to take hold as I relished the feeling of enthusiasm.  There are still situations I struggle with yet I am not fearful that I will remain stuck.  It’s part of living and years ago, I finally learned and understood that life is change, growth is possible and it’s important to choose wisely.  I will make mistakes along the way yet I do know that I want more enthusiasm than dread when new situations arise and I have the tools given to me by WFS to reflect and choose wisely.

  • How do you experience enthusiasm?
  • What tools do you have to face your fears and be spontaneous, to thrive in your New Life?
  • What is the last spontaneous moment you experienced?
  • What ordinary moments do you treasure?
  • What does “being in the moment” feel like to you?

For some, creating a grateful journey keeps the focus of enthusiasm fresh and current.  Consider writing down at least 2 experiences each day for a week that highlight your gratefulness for your New Life in recovery.  Treasure these moments.

Bonded in treasuring the moments of your New Life,
4C WFS Member