Discipline v. Freedom?

Today, it feels great to be sitting back in the office/studio, Lexie in her chair, music on, (Listening to Rick Tiger, fyi), and planning what to say here again. There is never a total loss of what to say, there are so many things to discuss. Today, I saw these two topics:

“A life without discipline is a life without joy.” Muriel B

“Today, I will remember that self-discipline is in my self-interest.”

By moving back into the office/studio, I am practicing discipline. From probably Thanksgiving until yesterday, I’d lounge with the Chromebook, writing the blog while watching Rachael Ray. I had a great old time. It was relaxing (which I needed), it gave me time to focus on making our Christmas season special for us (and gave me time to refocus on my sadness about the season, from the kids being gone to not getting to see our youngest grandkids very often), and to force myself to focus on what we have, not what we don’t have. The have’s so outnumber the have not’s when you analyze it, I feel a little foolish to dwell on what’s slipped through my fingers instead of what’s in my hand right now. My hands are overflowing!

In life as well as in my author/creator/quilter/crafter/artist world, I need the discipline to enter the room where the magic happens in order for it to “happen.” Magic happens when I’m fully engaged. I cannot be fully engaged when I’m listening to how to make Rachael Ray’s Eggplant Parmesan with part of my brain while trying to write with what little is left to use at that moment.

Discipline has been a word with both a good and a bad definition. As kids, we grew up equating discipline with a spanking. Some kids defined it as a beating at home. Yes, there were many homes like that. While I was raising my kids, I started out with what we all learned, a mild swat on the bottom. Sometimes you had to get their attention. Most of the time, mine would be quiet, and well-behaved. Discipline meant something different to my kids, and was usually grounding, never a beating!

Discipline now may mean loss of screen time (which may trigger a tantrum), losing a special snack, or taking a time out. Discipline is also what we need to keep ourselves on any path; whether it is the Keto Diet, watching a video class for your craft, reading your idols latest publication, it takes discipline to get to a task and perform as you need to.

You will never reach whatever goal you have; losing weight, finishing your novel, learning to paint, producing ribbon earning quilts, or whatever. It sometimes takes more energy to get off the couch and open the laptop than to actually sit in the chair and write 500 – 1000 words. Done and Done!

Discipline no longer is a burden we have to do but hate doing. Doing what needs to be done is the only thing that will get us where we need to go. It’s the only way we can measure our progress, which happens to be my “word of the year.” I get joyful when I see I’ve made progress. I get joyful when I end another post for blogging. I get joyful when I put dinner in the crockpot by 9 a.m. Dinner’s done and I have more time to write, read, and learn. Bonus!

Let’s all celebrate progress by remembering discipline is the best friend we can have; it’s the vehicle that is equipped to get us where we’re going. It doesn’t matter if you’re an alcoholic in recovery, a PTSD or other trauma survivor, a person losing weight for health reasons, or an author writing a book. You soon discover self-discipline is in your self-interest. The trick is not becoming obsessive or compulsive about it, which is a topic for another blog.

Have a beautiful Monday! It’s a clear but cold day here, and at Noon or so, the Babe and I are going to pick up our granddog from the kennel where she stayed while her family was at the Dance Team competition in Minnesota. They’ll be home late this afternoon after the kennel closes. Josie needs to greet her people when they arrive home! Let’s greet self-discipline like a 50 pound lab mix greets her people; you’ll get where you’re going for sure. See you tomorrow!

Let’s Be Joyful!

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Excuses Vs. Reasons

Jonathan Swift said, “An excuse is a lie guarded.” That is not far from the truth. We often delude ourselves as we delay work we need to do on ourselves, on our bad habits, on our addictions and on our silly excuses we don’t live our best lives. We all do it, you know. Me, too.

I know people who dwell on the wrongs done them as excuses why they don’t get something done, why they never found love, why after 50 years they didn’t do something differently. I’m serious. Some folks have excuses they blurt out like a litany in the Catholic Church services. It’s sad, but it’s also hilarious. Blame is placed on someone else. It becomes the excuse they use to stay frozen in place, where they think they’re safe. But they’re not. They’re unhappy, negative, and live a stagnant life.

Life wasn’t meant to be an existence that is static. As humans, we are created to experience growth and change. Our bodies are constantly changing, growing new cells, working to live, and craving more energy to keep alive. Our brains need new experiences, new challenges, new creations. Art, music, and reading feed our souls, minds, and beings.

Yes, it’s risky trying something we’ve never done before. But why not? It doesn’t hurt to try. Better yet, how about doing? Some folks have lied so much to themselves they believe their own excuses. I believe excuses are just that. Reasons, however, are valid. They are obstacles placed in your way; like I can’t do the 50 Mile Walk because I broke my ankle. That is a valid reason. An excuse is, “It might rain, (take an umbrella), I have to work, (you could take vacation).

Alcoholics and addicts have the best excuses ever. “Someone was driving at me the wrong way on the street.” Ha! You were the one that crossed the center line; it’s on you, not someone else.” “I lost track of time.” Sure, you were passed out somewhere and missed your surprise birthday party. When dealing with these folks, we have to keep track of their records.

Delusions may crop up in our minds about those negative, toxic relationships. They are no good for us. They are no good for the addicts or addicts either. The delusion continues when we let them back into our lives and they continue with their excuses without skipping a beat. “Maybe I was too hard on him.” No, you weren’t. An adult keeps their promises. An adult shows up. An adult doesn’t run scared. Another chance? Enter at your own risk. You may likely be the only one hurt. Don’t risk it again, unless you are certain the alcoholic quit drinking for good, the addict is clean. And they haven’t switched one bad habit/addiction for something else. You are worth more than that.

The more you practice making healthy decisions, the better off you will be. The only risks you may be taking are those on doing something you’ve always wanted to do. You. For yourself. We have a friend who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Coast Trail. In between, he had a double knee replacement. This may be a bit extreme, but he loved it. Do something and conquer it. You’ll stretch your world. You’ll become bolder, brighter, and a whole lot happier. Dwelling on the past and your excuses is counter productive.

Using myself as an example, I’ve snacked needlessly the past week or so. I’m horrified at how easily my resolve to eat healthy has gone out the window. The Babe is done with eating healthy. He’ll do what he does. I’m not fond of it, but it’s his decision. I refuse to make our time together miserable because I want him to be healthier. Why become a nag, making our life together unbearable? Not how I want him to remember me. Not how I want to be, either. I could use the excuse, “He brought home cookies, donuts, ice cream, chips and popcorn.” It’s not the Babe’s fault I caved on my own resolve. I need to step up, be responsible, and not blame someone else.

I will lose the 5+ pounds I’ve gained being naughty. I will be happier with myself and feel less sluggish. Keto friends, stay tuned! I’m loving putting on an outfit and the Babe telling me, “It’s too big.” What?? I haven’t heard that for a long, long time, if ever. It’s nice. And my knees don’t hurt like they did. I was close to asking for a replacement. Yes, I have a lot of arthritis in them, they’re bone on bone. But, the squats I did all summer must have strengthened a part of the knees so they don’t hurt. I’m amazed at what a 45 pound weight loss can do. You can do it to.

Once I stopped accepting bad treatment by others, I gained respect, love, and realization what I deserved vs. what I received. I gained the Babe. I gained self respect. I gained a new view of life. I am amazed at the last twenty five years of my life. I’m also amazed that at the age of nearly 70, I’m living a great story. I’m starting to share my story. It’s a story that could help others. I believe I’m being called to do just that. Stories about kids for kids; as Grandma Kathy, and stories about women for women; as Kathy Raabe, Author. What I’m learning, what I’ve experienced, and the risks taken aren’t so scary now. Time for some more big risks. Yes! I can hardly wait.

Thanks for reading today. More minor decluttering today. Getting stuff done. And some novel writing, too. Have a wonderful Wednesday. See you tomorrow!

Really? Elvis Said THAT?

I picked up my copy of Silver Disobedience Playbook this morning and read an article titled, “Seek The Silver Lining.” Sure, I’d like to think I do. Some days are harder than others. Dian Griesel talks about learning from life when things don’t go as well as we’d like. “The bend in the road is not the end of the road.” Yes, I agree.

The next line blew my mind. As Elvis Presley said: “When things go wrong, don’t go with them.” I immediately googled the comment, and several sources confirmed he did. The terribly bad ending his life had is so sad. Yes, he became addicted to prescription drugs. That was wrong. Too many of the innocent, talented people fell in with bad ones. His Memphis Mafia were not the best to have around him. Pills to make you wake. Pills to make you sleep. God only knows what else he partook in.

Addictions are tricky. You can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, electronics, sex, and just about everything. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Pain killers are good for actual pain, under a doctor’s care, and can be abused. Alcohol is another crafty substance. It can sneak up on you. With my Apple ID being locked, I’ve realized how much time we all waste on our phones. Yet, the next twelve days will still find me wanting to catch up on Facebook, playing my Word Search games, and of course, Solitaire. Who doesn’t love a rousing game of Solitaire?

People handle their pain differently. Many choose to ignore it. Then it festers and gets ugly. However it rears it’s ugly head, chaos reigns. Chaos replaces order. We might not like the feelings of chaos in our lives, but we are powerless to rid ourselves of it. The time, money, and company we spend pushes us further from order. We repeat the cycle. There is always hope for folks who are addicted. They need to be on board. If someone is making them go to recovery, it won’t work. It’s pure and simple.

My heart has been broken by several people addicted to one thing or another. I’ve believed too many lies, defended people who didn’t deserve it, and felt I could fix their hurts. I was an enabler. I didn’t realize it. I have learned that painful lesson. I’ve made changes in my life. I’ve set boundaries. Not just for them. For myself. Late-bloomer that I am, I’ve learned to deflect character asassination and undeserved criticism. Their weapons no longer work on me. My armour is strong. My heart is strong. You’re never too old to learn.

I’ve taken the hairpin curves life throws at all us. I’ve endured a lot. So has the Babe. That is why it’s important for both of us to have as little conflict as possible between us. We’re seasoned in what’s important and what’s not. Peace and Quiet are important. Disruption and Noise are not.

I hope this weekend finds you in a good place. We are in one. Take a look at things. If something feels wrong, figure it out. Don’t ignore it. It’ll fester. And you won’t like the outcome. Take care out there. See you tomorrow.

Sunny Sunday

The morning looks beautiful today. The temperature here at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska should reach 60 + degrees today! Holy smokes! We have Gavin for the day and look forward to having a fun day with him. Goldie will have a partner to play fetch all day long! They’ll tire out tonight. Bonus!

Every year since about 1983, I’ve read one of 365 meditations for Adult Children of Alcoholics. I’ve said before, Mom was the alcoholic, and two brothers had varying degrees of the same illness. Dad and I weren’t. The behaviors and disappointments affected us. Today’s reading affected me just as hard as the first time I read it.

People have the right not to recover. – Lauren B.

What? People have the right not to recover. Yes, I know they have asked you for help, either directly or indirectly. You pitched in with all the solutions and what you would do if (no one ever gives us bystanders a to do or don’t do list). But you’re not him or her. You are applying a hopefully sound mind to the situation. They don’t have a sound mind. They are an addict or alcoholic or both. Prescription drugs can be involved. You clean their packed house and they hide their thoughts behind a false smile. You chauffeur them and do favors for them. You think they are with the program, whichever one it is. Months go by. You assume they are getting better, yet they still mistreat you.

It would be great if recovery were that easy. By simply showing a person needed help, it could make him or her whole. They could recover if we only offered enough, prayed enough, or upended our lives enough to help them. No. Not unless they really, truly, want it and do their own work.

There is a fallacy in the thought process of “I’m not drinking, so I’m doing good.” Not if you’re still rude to people. Not if you take your foul mood out on them. Not if you belittle your children. Not if you are still argumentative. Not if you’re still addicted to porn. Not if you still say demeaning things to women. Drinking is only a symptom of what’s really wrong.

We can’t force someone to change. Getting inside someone’s head and making choices for them to ensure their success isn’t the way. Their own free will, dictating what their choices are, is what guides their paths. Painful as it is sometimes, our loved ones do not recover. They do not want to. Their thinking still stinks. Their moods are still swinging back and forth. They believe they are ok and they recovered. Then all it takes is one beer, one shot, one cocktail, and there goes the roller coaster again.

All we can do is distance ourselves from them. Yes, we can love them from afar. We can pray to God to keep them safe. And we need to love ourselves first. No more secrets. No more lies. Just total honesty. We owe it to ourselves and to them to tell the truth. Our truth. Our part of their truth. They tell their own truth. And their part of our truth.

It’s painful to see someone you love hit bottom. It’s painful to see someone you love refuse help. Break the law. Engage in horrible behavior. They are sick. The sickness is all they know. The sickness is their obsession. We can’t change it. We don’t have to take part in it. Distance saves our sanity, always. We need to take our comfort in the fact God will care for them when they won’t care for themselves.

As we go forward, those of us in the situation of being bystanders, we need to promise ourselves to stay on the sidelines. Work on understanding their situations and choices. I know, but we have to let go and let them make their own mistakes even where we are concerned. It’s just not worth wasting our precious energy on anymore. Step back and replace that negativity in our lives with something beautiful and positive. And don’t take it personally. They don’t like themselves either. Sad, yet true. Continue your journey. Wait no longer for them. They aren’t ready to find their way yet.

Let’s take stock in our relationships. Keep the thriving ones. Keep the new ones that are promising. Back burner the ones where you’re always the one to keep in touch. Back burner the ones where you always have to plan contacts or get cancelled at the last minute. You’re not a priority to them. Make yourself a priority and see how things change. Tolerate only that which respects you as a person, and honors you as a friend.

Thank you for reading. We’re enjoying Gavin today and even took a cheat day to have our first ice cream of the season. Lucky us! Be Safe. Be Kind. Be Courteous. See you tomorrow! My heart is full!