Sunday, January 13, 2013

Story Telling

During the first week of 2013, I visited with my close artist friend, that I have much in common with, and we were discussing art, over a cup of tea, as we often do. The topic of journaling came up, and she shared that presently, she is reading her many journals,  kept over several years.
I too, share with her, a love of regular journaling, that has been a profoundly healing, life changing, tool, that I have used as a way of telling my own story.
Looking back over my journals, I clearly see that, for probably more than thirty years, my life has been bracketed by story, and this fact continues to help me to creatively make sense of my world, through the language of story.  My own story and the stories of others shared, may not be the same, however they act like redeeming guideposts to help me find my way, and to discern the right path to follow.

I was uplifted and inspired by two people, writers that I found out about today, who have been greatly influenced by story telling. The first was journalist, Don Lattin who has written, Distilled Spirits, and the second was writer and mythographer Marina Warner who wrote Stranger Magic, and writes about Shīrazād, the fictional wife of the Sultan and narrator of The Arabian Nights.

 The Spirituality of Imperfection, Story Telling and The Search For Meaning, by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketchum I read several years back and this book greatly helped me to understand the power and importance of story telling.

Stories have become the primary subject matter for my art work and I am so grateful and happy to have this extended expression for my involvement in story telling.  I am very excited to read Marina Warner's and Don Lattin's books.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Resentment Versus Contentment

Many years ago, I heard it said, by a man in Alcoholics Anonymous, that giving a medallion to an alcoholic, is like giving a cowboy with hemorrhoids a medal, for not getting on his horse.

That said, I have several medallions from A.A. after 19 years of sobriety, one day at a time, this day January 2nd 2013. I am so grateful to be able to say this, because the 12 steps of recovery gave me back my life, and no doubt saved my life. I don't need a medallion nor do I have hemorrhoids. I do however, wish I had a horse!

I also heard yesterday, the singer/songwriter and musician Kenny Rogers say, it had been pointed out to him by a friend, that when ever he spoke of his father, the first thing he would say was, that his father was an alcoholic. After Kenny became a wiser and more insightful person, he finally came to appreciate and love his father later in life, for the person he was, looking beyond his alcoholism.
I would speak the same way of my own father. I did this until I learned to forgive myself for the mistakes I had made in my own life, and came to understand my own alcoholism. It was only when I had done this in recovery, I began to have compassion toward my father,  to accept him and love him for the beautiful human being he was. It wasn't easy, as he had been absent from my life for 26 years.

Long before I got into recovery a dear friend, who is a brilliant wordsmith of sorts, and a writer explained the word bitterness to me, or what she called bitter root. She said, if we hold onto our resentments we become bitter, and this bitter root grows and invades every part of our lives. At the time, I did not fully comprehend just what this meant or how pertinent it was and is to my life, to the relationship with myself, others and with the God of my own understanding. I learned in A.A. I can not afford resentment because it will get me drunk so I don't collect resentments any more in my gunny sack.

In recovery I have seen so many of my own personal dreams fulfilled, miracles happen in my life, wonderful friends I have met from all over the world and I am afraid I would have missed it all if I had never gotten into recovery. In 2005 I had the amazing opportunity of attending the International A.A. Convention in Toronto Ontario, where I experienced my own personal miracle.

When I take close look at these past nineteen years, I see what I have accomplished, things that I could never have imagined, had I not got honest with myself, clean and sober. I can't say it was all fun and light. I walked threw many dangers, storms and trials, and experienced the dark night of the soul, but I never had to drink. I learned through recovery to live life, on life's terms, found a strength greater than myself, and a fellowship that was second to none.

I have always followed my passions; working with  youth, art, horses and music/dance. 

In 1994 I joined A.A. left  youth care, after having had the opportunity to return to school, to fulfill a child hood dream, to be close to horses. I enrolled in an Equestrian Coaching Preparation Program. I got sober when I went riding horses, where living on a working horse farm for almost two years.  I even got the real estate award for covering so much ground! In other words, I fell off a lot! But more importantly, I always got back on that horse, and I went to a lot of A.A. meetings! I returned to Youth Care after I graduated from my Equestrian Coaching Program and became a Therapeutic Parent Counsellor in my own home.

At fifty, I took up Mediterranean dance, or what is more commonly known as Belly Dance. I had the privilege of teaching a small group of women in my village. What fun that was! It was a remarkable thing to watch how some women transformed their body image changing into confident women.

Finally at the age of  fifty six, I returned to University after thirty years, finishing my Bachelor of Fine Art Degree and graduating this past May, a month prior to my fifty ninth birthday, which was the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life.

I have to add a fifth passion, the 12th Step recovery program, and the Fellowship of A.A.
I know I would never have been able to achieve or been able to overcome much of any thing, had I not sobered up and I am so very grateful for every good day and  the crappy ones too. I usually learn the most from them. The worst day of contented sobriety is always a better day compared to the supposed best day drunk.