Gratitude for Another Day

Good morning and I hope your Christmas day was filled with gratitude – for the day’s blessings and for staying sober. One person searched for Christmas day, their first day sober. Today is their second and I hope it goes well for them.

Visions of Gratitude

Today I’m talking about gratitude for yet another day, and specifically, for my sobriety. I am very grateful for the day of sobriety on Christmas day. There were times in my life when staying sober on Christmas was very difficult, but I made it through by expressing gratitude throughout the day.

I keep my eye and heart on the abundance I am experiencing, rather than the scarcity. For example, my sister sent several gifts for me to put under the tree, and I am so grateful she did. It completed the feeling of Christmas. It led me to feel wanted, appreciated and I am grateful.

If I’d had no gifts, I could have been grateful for the tree and the joy it brings to the room. If I’d had no tree, I could have expressed gratitude for my home, my cat, food, and my health. The point is, there is always something to be grateful for, even if it is the smallest thing.

When I was first sober, I had difficulty showing gratitude for anything. I was too mired in the emotional pain I felt over my past. I went through a period of great anger and sadness over those feelings, those experiences.

It wasn’t until I’d done some healing work that I was able to write a gratitude list, listing out the basic things for which I was grateful. It included things like being grateful for my abilities at renovation. You saw the results of my renovation skills yesterday, in the picture of the van I rebuilt.

I am most grateful for those skills, as I am for other abilities I have. Today, I am grateful for my past, as it has made me into what and who I am today, with knowledge of what it’s like to be abused, so I can relate to others who have been or are being abused, so I can offer words of encouragement, support, so I can relay what happened to me to led me to be grateful for the abuse.

That story is another post. Today, I invite you to make a gratitude list, listing out the most simple and basic things for which you are grateful. When I made a gratitude list, I found that as I listed out those things, I was able to express gratitude for more and more things. It became a self-perpetuating situation, a little grew and grew until I was grateful for every little thing.

I wish for you gratitude for another day, another day of sobriety, if you are a sober person. If you practice gratitude, I hope it lifts your spirits. Have a pleasant day, filled with gratitude.

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Is Living Worthwhile?

I was taken aback by this search term this morning, and want to address it. The question searched for was “Is Living Worthless,” and I changed it to “worthwhile,” as it is easier to address for me. The an answer is, no, living is not worthless, and yes, living is worthwhile.

How do you discover your worth when you feel worthless? First, let’s define worthless a little bit. It creeps up on you when you feel there is no use in continuing, when you feel your life has no purpose, no worth to anyone. It is a feeling that accompanies hopelessness, and leaves you exhausted, depressed. So, how do you get out of this feeling?

It is helpful to find someone for whom you can be useful, even if you are just two steps ahead of them in the healing journey. That help comes in the form of you telling your story to someone in need and relaying how you got past your own feelings of worthlessness, focusing only on what you have gained, and not on the distance you have yet to go. You want to give from one to three points of things the person can do to work through those feelings.

For example, it might have worked, or be working, for you to journal. If this is the case, tell the person who is feeling worthless that they can journal and feel better. Recommend they write with their non-dominant hand, as all sorts of deep feelings will come out and they can get to the core faster than if they write with their dominant hand. This has been tested and found to be true and I found it to be true in the writing of the majority of verses in my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing.

Taking a brisk walk or engaging in some other form of exercise may have been, or is being, helpful to you. Therapy may have been helpful also, as has been, perhaps, any group’s support meetings. And, there is always prayer, asking for the willingness and strength to get through your feelings of worthlessness.

Remember, you are taking the strife you have experienced in your life, turning it positive, and then relaying what you did, to someone who is feeling worthless. You are trying to be of service to another. There is nothing quite like realizing you have been of use to a person who is hurting, that helps you get out of the feeling of being worthless, nothing quite like discovering the purpose of your life. For, you see, helping another is your purpose in life. It just depends upon HOW you are intended to help them.

Once you talk to another who is struggling, one who is in great emotional pain, you will feel that life is worth living. You will see the purpose of your life to be that of being of service. This will feel wonderful and it will change your thoughts about yourself when you think about being of service to another.

This does not mean that you forget about your own personal pain. No, you keep it off to the side while you’re helping the other person; you put it on hold. But you do not want to negate it or sweep it under the rug, because the pain will just show up in a different way in your life. At its best, your personal pain ignored will keep you stuck, unable to move forward.

When you are not helping another, and are considering your own feelings of worthlessness, try to write about these feelings and why you feel worthless. Get in writing all the old stories, the old injustices, that have led you to this point of not feeling worthwhile. Allow yourself to feel the feelings and look them squarely in the eye. Recognize the hurt, humiliation, and shame that are beneath the worthlessness. As you focus on these feelings, they will soon float away, replaced by other thoughts.

Look at the ways in which you can take action to fix or right things that are wrong in your life, or that are not the way you want them to be. Follow through with these actions, or you will feel like a failure. Start with just a few, or even one, manageable actions to begin with and grow from there if you’d like. But, be responsible and do your part to get to a place of feeling worthwhile.

Do you feel worthless? Do you think you can be of service to another so you begin to feel more worthwhile? Write down the answers to these questions, using your non-dominat hand. List out people you know that are struggling emotionally, and think how what you have learned or experienced could be of use to that person. Resolve to tell them your story and you will be spreading hope.

 

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Is Sobriety Worth It? Nine Reasons Why It Is

Good morning. I read this search term and had a resounding “Yes! Sobriety is worth it!” slip out of my mouth. That has been my experience anyway. Let me tell you more…

First, there is the absence of hangovers. If you’re like me, you had bad hangovers every day. Bad nausea, that eye-splitting headache. Well, once you get sobriety in your life, you won’t be experiencing them any more, and that’s glorious!! There is nothing that feels better than to wake up with another day of sobriety before you and having a clear mind with which to do it.

Second, you will notice you are being present for all areas and parts of your life. Where before you were foggy, even high somewhat, now in sobriety, you will experience a clearness that you have not experienced in years. It brings you an aliveness that you haven’t felt since you don’t remember when! It feels fantastic!

In sobriety, you will thirdly be able to express and feel your emotions. You will feel feelings along the whole continuum, from great joy and pleasure to the depths of despair or sadness. You may not be experiencing despair in sobriety and if this is the case, I am happy for you, as it is the pits to be sober and be in deep despair. The point is, you will be able to feel what comes up for you, ever-changing, and in sobriety, you are present for these changes and states of feeling.

Fourth, you are available to do projects, to go places with others or by yourself. This is great fun, as you get involved in those projects you have avoided for years. With the time you have freed up from not drinking, you have more time to do things and go places. You begin to feel connected to others again, less isolated. And you can drive anytime, anywhere!

Fifth, you have the ability to hear what others are saying, to realize you don’t know everything. You look at everything with a beginner’s mind and you are teachable. This will expand your world tremendously and you’ll feel great about being able to let someone be important for the brief time you have listened to them. This does not mean you have to take the advice that is given. That depends upon whether or not it will further you in your goals, your purpose in life.

The sixth thing you will experience in sobriety that makes it worth it is your new-found ability to care for others. I mean really caring for them deeply, and wanting to reach out to help in any way possible, with your gifts.

That brings us to the seventh thing that makes sobriety worth it… and that is the discovery, acceptance, and nurturing of your gifts. You realize you have a purpose in life, and you begin to get clear on what that purpose is. You begin to see the uniqueness and beauty that is you, and, when you are practicing humility, you get a deep sense of satisfaction from this.

There is the desire to share your gifts, your time, your energy, your love, and that brings us to the eighth thing that makes sobriety worth it. You feel so grounded in yourself, so good about who you are that you want to share of this with others. You are over-flowing with the desire to be of service to others and that comes from a strong sense of self.

Finally, the ninth and not final reason is because you will begin to practice spiritual principles like gratitude, willingness, humility, compassion, and it feels so good to feel these, to practice them.

Here are several reasons why sobriety is so well worth it. How has it been worth it for you? Share about the pleasures you have experienced in sobriety. Leave a comment and let us know.

 

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Opening the Gates of the Heart

The creation of my nationally-acclaimed, award-winning book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, is evidence of God at work in my life, as He, through me, created a lovely book of photographs of wrought-iron gates and inspirational verses that is a pathway to peace, a daily meditation or reflection.

You see, I had no idea I was creating the book for the first several years of its existence. This is a story that is so profound, as I discovered the verses for the book, written in my journals before I even photographed and titled the gates! It was nine months after shooting the gates that I realized verses from my journals gave words to the images far beyond the visual element, words that flowed upon the page, that emanated from deep within me as I journaled with my left, non-dominant hand. These are the verses that comprise, verbatim, seventy-five percent of the verses in the book.

As I reflected upon these words, I realized that I want to extend an offer to you for the book, for the holidays. I am offering my book, personally signed for you, a friend, or a loved one, for $20.00, from now until December 24th. This cost includes shipping via media mail.

To get this offer, you need to circumvent the current price of $25.00 on the website by calling me directly to place your order. 415-883-8325. I will send you the book with an invoice and you can send me a check, or you can pay by credit card over the phone.

I want to offer this special because I want you or your loved one to experience the hope, joy, and peace that you will experience when you read Opening the Gates of the Heart. And, I offer this because I want to thank you for your loyalty in following my blog, my work. It is what I have to offer to you. Whether you are trying to get or stay sober, recovering as a child of a alcoholic parent, or a veteran looking for solace, you will find magic in the book’s pages.

To see if Opening the Gates of the Heart is a match for you or as a gift for that someone special in your life, check out the endorsements, under the “About” tab above. You can also see some of the book’s pages on “About the Book,” under the “About” tab above. The book is a tribute to the resiliency and beauty of the human spirit, and will bring you more calm, more peace, in your life.

Spend some time checking out the book and then call to order your copy or copies today. I look forward to being of service to you through my book.

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A Day of Gratitude

“Good morning,” she says while it is still barely morning… and Happy Thanksgiving, a day of gratitude. It’s almost noon and I haven’t gotten around to blogging yet. Yikes! Today, let’s talk again about gratitude, seeing as this is the day of Thanksgiving. I’d like to share with you the things for which I am grateful.

First, my home. After having lived in a van for three years and often not knowing where I was going to park for the night, worried all the time about the police coming in the middle of the night, I am so grateful to have my own house. I am grateful for the way I have it decorated, for it feeds my soul.

I have much gratitude for my kitty, Izzy, for letting me pet her often. You see, she is a feral and is shy of me, even after seven or eight years. She will not allow me to hold her, nor does she come onto my lap, but she walks in front of me all the time for pets. I feel so grateful to be shown her affection and for me to have a being on whom I can bestow my overflowing affection.

My sobriety is a source of gratitude, hugely, if that is a word. Without my sobriety, I would be dead, most likely. And, if not, then I’d be out on the streets. I show gratitude every day for waking up without a hang-over, clear-headed… That gratitude stretches to the healing that has occurred in the past twelve years. Much of that occurred after the fifth and sixth years, and I am so grateful for that. I would like to express gratitude over the forgiveness I discovered, which has led me to great peace and freedom.

I have gratitude for my 91 Honda wagon with the purple interior and faded paint on the hood and roof, for it is a great car, still going strong with 190,000+ on it. It suits me so well and has lots of room to cart my books around, in addition to everything I need when I do a speaking gig.

I am grateful for my family and friends, that they have stuck by me through thick and thin. Again, I have so much gratitude for the forgiveness I accidentally discovered, and have been able to forgive my parents. That has set me free.

There are many more things for which I have gratitude… my clarity, my health, the ability to walk and talk, to reason, to feel my emotions, to feel both joy and disappointment, and more.

And how about you? For what do you have gratitude? Leave a comment and let us know. 🙂

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Gratitude for Waking Up Sober

“Gratitude for waking up sober” just jumped off the page for me, so I want to address that today. Boy, where to start? It is hard to know, because I am so overwhelmingly grateful for my sobriety. But for me, perhaps the most prevalent thing I am grateful for is that I do not have a hang over. I awaken clear-headed and I have so much gratitude for that!

I have gratitude that I can drive any time I want to, and I am not under the influence. I have gratitude that I can feel the range and host of feelings that I do. I have gratitude today for just about everything. But it wasn’t always this way. Oh, no, it wasn’t.

It used to be that early in sobriety, when I was going to 4-5 meetings a day, I would often meet my roommate either coming or going to the meeting. The one going would ask the one coming what the topic was, and that person often said “Gratitude,” to which the one going would say, “Oh, not again!”

You see, when I was early in sobriety, perhaps until the first few years were over, I was unable to be grateful. Well, with the exception of my gratitude for not having a hang over, that is. I saw nothing for which to express gratitude. I was still so mired in my hurt, confusion, and rage over my up-bringing, my past, so filled with grief over an unrequited love. It colored everything I did, everything I thought. Even writing gratitude lists as suggested didn’t work for me.

What did work was allowing time to pass and with that, healing occurred. As I began to heal, I began to have the ability to look around, to really see what was around me – the people, the love and support. A whole new world opened up when I became grateful and today, I am grateful for just about everything that occurs around me. And at the core of that, at the core of everything, is my sobriety. It is from this that everything flows.

How about you? For what are you grateful? As we move into Thanksgiving, the day of gratitude, what are your reflections, what do you see? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Feelings of Grace

“Feelings of Grace” was the search term many times over this morning, so I will write about grace. I invite you to look up the meaning of the word in the dictionary or in wikopedia, as the description is lengthy. Just to recap, though, it is a pleasing quality, a favor, or thanks. It is an attractive quality, feature, or manner.

For me, grace is something that comes to me, that is a gift. Here are the image and verse that are in my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing. 

Sweep of Grace

“Gently, quietly, an unearned favor of great beauty and pleasure is bestowed upon me.”

 It swoops down on me and does things like give me the ability to show true compassion for another’s plight, another’s sufferings. And I mean at a very deep level. And grace allows me to offer understanding to that other through my words of solace and comfort. Grace is that gift that came to me in the form of a book that has allowed me to even know what words of solace and comfort are actually comforting and which are not.

I got that information, btw, from The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Edition, by John W. James and Russell Friedman. This book is appropriate for any of us because they deal with all losses that we experience, such as the familiar – due to death or divorce – yet they expand the scope of the need for grieving by adding losses due to moving when we were children, or even adults, to moving or losing a job, or losing a pet. They define it as any loss and we all have endured many losses during the course of our lives which they contend we have not addressed and which continue to affect our feelings, and, thus, our actions and behaviors in the world.

Grace is that pleasing favor which descends upon me and allows me to write these blogs, to share about my past, my personal life in a desire to  be useful to you. It just quietly shows up. I feel knowingness deep within when it does, and that’s what part of being in grace is for me. Deep knowingness, abiding peace.

Grace is one of the multiple gifts I have received as a result of my sobriety. I’m sure I felt grace before getting sober, yet, I didn’t recognize what it was, probably thought it was my due right and something I caused through my efforts. Not that getting to grace doesn’t involve action on your part – it does – yet, I am referring to things that occur in my life due to the Universe’s grace, or God’s grace, that I set in motion the energy from which it evolved.

This is getting very deep for me and I will close by saying that grace is one of those things that brings a slow smile to you face, a deep contentment to your heart and soul, and I invite you to let it in by relaxing and seeing what flows into your life after you take action on a need, want, or dream.

May you have joy and peace on your journey.

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Rewards of Sobriety

Rewards of sobriety” is the search term I’d like to blog about today. I chose this term because there are so many rewards to sobriety which I would like to share with you in the hopes that you find it compelling enough to try sobriety.

I adore my sobriety. Right off the bat, I reveled in the lack of hangovers. You see, for the last seven years of my drinking, I drank myself into oblivion every night, and awakened with a horrific hangover every day. Every day for seven years I had trouble dragging my hurting head and sick stomach out of bed, so I would lie in bed watching movies on TVtill about noon. Then up I’d get and go to either Taco Bell or KFC for hot or greasy food to burn out or soak up the hangover.

It worked and I began to be able to function, even though still with a headache. I was extremely productive in those ensuing four or five hours until 5:00 pm, when I would start drinking all over again. A miserable existence, absolutely miserable…

I was always angry in an underlying sort-of-way. If I wasn’t grumbling about my dislike of something, how it wasn’t what I wanted or wasn’t good enough, then I was displaying full-blown tantrums, taking my anger out on others, usually my husband. I took it out on myself and it showed up as depression.

When you choose sobriety, you choose to awaken each day, awake and fully present and excited to greet the world, and greet it you will. You will delight in feeling physically fine, and especially get off on the clear-headedness you experience. Your attitude is one of gratitude, not anger, so your relationships with others are improved.

Then there’s the driving issue. Drunk, and even still while hung over, you are not all there to drive. In fact, you are dangerous to other drivers out there. I know, I know. You tell me you are just fine behind the wheel, a better driver drunk than sober. If you think about that for a minute while you are sober, you will hopefully see the falsehood in that belief.

When you choose sobriety, you can drive anywhere at any hour of the day and not have to worry about being pulled over for a DUI. You are TRULY a better driver, alert to what the other cars are doing around you, alert to where you are on the road in relation to them. Your reactions are quicker. But the best part of this reward is that you can drive at any time and feel safe behind the wheel.

Another reward of sobriety is the acute awareness you have for the world around you… the plants and vegetation, the architecture, other people. It is possible to focus-in intently on those things,  and because you are able to do this, you will experience awe and wonder. These are pretty exciting to feel, especially for the first time and especially when you realize what is causing that feeling of goodness. It’s hard to look around you in the world and not be inspired, awed.  So this is clearly another reward of sobriety.

Perhaps the biggest reward is your ability to see how your actions and behaviors have affected yourself and others. You begin to be able to see how you started a fight, for example, or are keeping a resentment going that was your doing in the first place. You also begin to be able to apologize to others for your harmful behaviors, your hurtful words. This reward will help your relationships to soar, as you discover a softer, more approachable side of others and yourself. You will be able to go down the road of forgiveness, both of others and of yourself. There are huge rewards and you will relish them once you learn how to practice them.

Ah, there is one bigger reward of sonority, and that is the ability to reach peace-of-mind and to live in grace and gratitude. This you will not want to miss…

What are the rewards of sobriety that you seek? Have I addressed them above? Leave a message and tell us what the rewards are for which you search.

 

 

 

 

 

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Quotes on Life with Images

This, “quotes on life with images,” was a search term that found my website this morning. I recall using that as a keyword phrase, perhaps… What I what to really focus on is the term, because what I have to offer you today is quotes on life with images. They are taken from my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Carolyn Jones

All Rights Reserved

Visions of Gratitude

When seen with eyes and heart that appreciate,

everything around and within me becomes more pleasing, more beautiful.

Moments of Wonder

 Do you suppose there has always been such richness, such beauty in the world?

Perhaps it has been there all along,

waiting to be noticed, to be seen, with the eyes of the heart.

If we as individuals cannot speak to each other,

how, then, can we as nations achieve peace?

Warmth of Humility

 Rather than take on everyone else’s dreams, desires, and expectations,

can I not look humbly at what has been placed before me?

We will grow through the barriers of our heart and

be able to fully experience the richness of life.

Promise of Peace

When I practice the principles of love for myself and others,

the gates of my heart melt into the glow of dusk,

and peace rises to greet me.

Balance of Serenity

I am serene, carried by the winds to places where

I am held in balance with great beauty and strength.

Burst of Joy

My heart bursts with joy!

 

 

 

 

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Honesty, Openness, and Willingness – Keys for Sobriety

Honesty, Openness, and Willingness, the three things that are key for sobriety. Without these, sobriety is nearly impossible. With these, you have a chance for success.

It used to really irk me that people claimed I was not honest. After all, I did not steal from others, I report my taxes to the best of my ability and knowledge… I was an honest person. But what they were actually referring to was the way in which I presented myself to others. Was I showing to them who I really am, what I really think and feel? Or, was I taking on another’s opinions and beliefs, merely to “keep the peace?”

Hmmm. I was taking on my husband’s characteristics of impatience, self-righteousness, etc., because it kept the peace. I was not letting shine my abilities and beliefs of tolerance, respect, and love toward others. In the eyes of sobriety minded people, I was not being honest.

So, I took this new definition of honesty and began to assess my abilities in that area. Hmmm. I was not being myself, was not showing my true nature of kindness. It took me several years of healing work in sobriety before I was able to be honest with others about who I really and truly was and am. It was a beautiful awakening…

Being open, for me, refers to openness of mind as well as heart. One day, my heart just opened. It came after some time of being openminded. That open-mindedness came from a belief that everything that was being presented to me in the way of books to read, or opportunities, etc., was a gift from God. And I got that belief from reading the book Conversations With God, by Neale Donald Walsch.

Armed with the belief that gifts were being presented to me, I was able to be open to get help from others, to accept medication and EMDR, for example, for my panic disorder, major depression, and PTSD. When I was openminded toward these things, and they turned out successfully, bringing me more and more lightness, that feeling invaded my heart. I could not help but open it, too, to the blessings and gifts I was experiencing.

Wow. What a whole different way this was to look at tinges and to live. A world of difference from the bitter and angry person I had been for some 35 years, blaming my parents for my emotional difficulties. I liked it, and I continue to like it. It took an open mind and an open heart to be able to look at things differently, to be able to be responsible for my own emotions, to be able to take action on my behalf.

But there is nothing that could or would have happened had I not been willing to see things differently. That’s why I believe willingness is the key to sobriety, to a changed life. I believe willingness opens the gate to your heart. It did mine, and that was a miracle, given how angry a person I was.

Once I opened the door and allowed willingness to express my heart more authentically to play out, things began to flow more smoothly for me. I became willing, for example, to consider forgiveness for my parents. This, of course, came after a lot of healing and pre-forgiveness work, a lot of therapy.  When I was in it, I could not see a way out, it was excruciating at times.

On the other side of it, I can see why events and learning situations happened as they did. I see why they, for example, were so painful, because I was clearing out years of pain and heartache. Years of shame and feelings of worthlessness. It was difficult to address my grief over the loss of trust I had in my parents, how badly that wounded me. With willingness, I became able to view things differently. It has made the entire difference in my life of sobriety.

How about you? How do you practice honesty, openness, and willingness in your life, in your sobriety? How does it manifest for you? Leave a comment and let me know.

 

 

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