Tag Archives: gratitude

Getting to the Soul of Gratitude Practice

Getting to the Soul of Gratitude Practice.

Day nine in this series on meditation. Gratitude, it crossed my mind last night.

I have a lot to be grateful for, even things that I would never have thought that I could be grateful for. Things that seemed like negatives in my life that if they never happened,  my eyes never would have opened up to what I really have

Enjoy

Mark


My Best Comeback Ever!

You know those conversations that come to an end, sometimes due to an awkward silence or from someone saying something that you do not agree with, or don’t have a good answer so you just stand there gazing at them, mouth open in defiance but nothing coming out, but then some time later the perfect response hits you…..but it is too late because the conversation has ended?

Happens to me too often to count, but usually I let it go after a little while of stewing while the other person has completely forgot about the conversation and has moved on with their life. But there is one conversation, OK, one set of conversations that happened in my lifetime that I never ever gave the right comeback, until now.

When I was growing up, I was the only son of four kids, worse yet I was in the middle so I wasn’t the oldest and wasn’t the baby. Today that doesn’t really matter, but it does when you are growing up, but that is not what this is about.

This is about being my Father’s only son. The one that he expected the most out of and pushed because he believed that I could achieve greatness if I “just applied myself”. That no matter how good I did at something, he never wanted me to rest on my laurels and accept that it was the best I could do. That there was always something better out there if I wanted it.

“You’re smart enough to do anything you want, if you just get off your ass and do it. Stop making excuses.” he would say, usually after I had just screwed something up. “Your mother and I believe in you, we are your biggest fans. Nobody can ever love you like your parents do, remember that!”

And I would sit there and listen, waiting for it to be over, usually nodding my head when he asked me a question, which usually evoked a “I can’t hear you, talk to us!”

So I would say something stupid like “OK” or “I understand” which was usually followed by a “I promise NEVER to do it again”, which we all knew was a flat out lie. I have heard the term “Foxhole prayers” used when people pray to God that if He just gets them out of this mess, that they would never put themselves in that position again. That is what I basically did with my Dad. He got me out of so many jams throughout my life, way more than I deserved. But I hated going to him to ask for help because of the way I felt after one of his “lectures”. How disappointing I was to him and how he knows I can do better if I wasn’t so lethargic. That if I lost weight I would feel better about myself and would not be so damn lazy, watching TV all day instead of being out playing like normal kids. Or how I didn’t apply myself in college and ended up dropping out because I had no ambition. Or how I had lost every job I ever had because I “took the easy way out” instead of going by the rules.

Well, you know what? It hit me this morning that I had the ability to give that man a comeback that I never thought to use. One that would have probably shut him up and know that I was a good person and that I was going to be OK eventually. Maybe because I never used it, I never got better until recently.

My Dad passed away a couple years ago and I miss him, we all miss him. He was a good man that worked hard to give his family everything they needed and most of what they wanted. He wasn’t perfect, but he did the best with what he knew. I am sad that I did not realize how much I would miss him until he was gone, but I know he is always watching over us and I know that he is still willing to hand out one of those dissertations any time I screw up.

But this time I am going to be ready with the greatest comeback ever. A “zinger” that would stop the world for a moment and that silence would not be an awkward one, it would be a proud one.

After he is done talking, even if it is only in my head, I would stand up, walk right up to him, look him right smack dab in the eyes and say . . . . .

 

 

Thank You Dad!


The Good Lump

If money were no object, would I still work.

I have asked myself that many, many times over the years and up until 6 months ago, my answer unequivocally would have been yes, without hesitation.

Ain’t it funny how things change? How lives change? How priorities change?

So asking me this question today my answer would be, no, I would not go back and work for someone else. In the past 6 months I have learned more about myself than I did in the first 49 years of my existence. I have learned that the life I was living was very destructive to both myself and to those around me. I worked to escape from reality. I don’t have to escape from reality any more, I don’t WANT to escape from reality any more.

What would I do with my free time? Well yesterday I wrote about the cause that I am passionate about, if you missed it, HERE is the link. I would spend time helping people that struggled like I did, people that had given up on life, on hope, on being able to love or feel loved. It is what I need to do in order for me to thrive and survive in this world. It is one of my passions now.

I would write, and write, and write. I would read, and read, and read.

But mostly I would be there for the people in my life that truly love me, and that I truly love. My family first and foremost, but also the handful of friends that have proven that they care about me and  want what is best for me and do not expect anything in return other than my friendship, which I am more than happy to give them now that I am learning how to be a friend. I would be there for all of the people that have helped me over the past 6 months in recovery from my addictions and that have freely given of themselves so that I can get better, and all they ask in return is that I be there for someone else that needs help. The lump in my chest is growing as I am typing these words, it is a good lump.

I enjoy the lump. I want the lump to stick around, and I know now that it can and will if I do what I have been taught and apply them to my life on a daily basis. I love my lump. I hope everyone reading finds their inner lump, or has already found it and is feeling it right now. It can be found right below the throat area, right above the bone in your chest.

Anyone else feeling lumpy today?

See Ya

Mark


My Personal Cause

The internet has recently been swept up by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Is there a cause — social, political, cultural, or other — you passionately believe in? Tell us how you got involved — or why you don’t get involved.

This was the question for the day. For me, there is really only one cause that I am passionate about. . . .Recovery. I am not ashamed that I am in recovery from an addiction. It was bound to happen. Either recover or die is how I look at it. I am not going to go into horror stories of my addiction or preach that there is only one way to recover, all I can really tell you is that I am very passionate about recovery and willing to go to any lengths to recover and to help others to recover.

To me, the only reason that addiction is a touchy subject is that most people do not understand, or even want to understand about it. That used to bother me, but there really is nothing I can do about those people, except pray for them. Pray for them that they get everything out of life that I want out of life. After all, don’t we ALL want the same thing? To find happiness in our lives? To wake up every day knowing that we serve a purpose? Knowing that there are people out there that do understand us and are willing to help us, with the only caveat being that we be willing to help those that come after us. “Passing it on” is what they call it I believe.

As I write, a lot of my thoughts are directed by what I have learned, and what I am learning every day in recovery and hope to learn the rest of my life. I am not any different than you or anyone else, am no longer terminally unique in thinking that no one else understands. Give them a chance to understand, eventually you will find people that do and that will love you with no strings attached. They ARE out there, just have to be willing to let them help. Sounds easy, harder than hell!

That’s all I got today.

See Ya

Mark


Joatmon’s Opus

This is Opus.

I bought a stuffed animal of Opus over 30 years ago and still have him, and do not plan on letting him go.

You see, Me and Opus have been through a lot together. Opus was there in my darkest hours and never left. He’d listen for as long as I needed to talk and still will. Now that is an amazing friend, wouldn’t you say?

Of course, he originally is from the comic strip “Bloom County”, but I found him in one of those thrift shops connected to one of those old time gas stations somewhere in Central Illinois along I-57. Not sure what made me buy him, just saw him on the shelf looking at me and figured that I had to have him.

After I bought him I went back to my car, having just revisited some people at college that I knew from the previous year. See, I had to drop out of college for personal reasons, which at the time I did not understand at all. Was not feeling too good about myself at the time and I guess I needed someone or something, and Opus was there for me.

We went out behind the gas station and watched the sun set over a farmer’s fields, no noises other than birds chirping or squawking or whatever they were doing, just a golden field that stretched out forever it seemed, sun sinking into the horizon leaving such magnificent shades of yellow and orange below a darkening blue sky, I just sat. And sat.

Little did I know that the peaceful feeling that I was feeling at the time was known as Serenity, and just how hard that feeling would be to find again for a long time. I have had glimpses of it over the past 30 years, on my wedding day, the days that my children were born, but it never lasted, through no fault of Opus or anyone else might I add.

I know now that serenity is not “out there”, it is in here (I am pointing at my chest). And it is achievable. I know that now, as long as I keep my way of thinking pointed in the right direction, as long as I am doing the next right indicated thing, as long as I am relying on My Higher Power who I choose to call God, it is achievable.

And I think Opus knew that and was there on the shelf just waiting for me to pick him up.


So Be It

Why do I like to write? Good question.

I feel energized when I write, I almost just wrote that it is a feeling that I can’t describe, but then that would make me a terrible writer and I would be wasting my time here, wouldn’t I?

My audience is not staring back at me when I write, no expectations on their faces or expressions of confusion, boredom or condemnation. I am alone, but in a good way. I know what it is like to feel alone and it is one of the worst feelings, I know what it feels like to feel alone in a stadium full of people. I know what it feels like to feel alone even knowing that people love and care about me.

When I am writing, I do not feel that way. I am physically alone, but I do not feel alone. The thoughts that create the words I write are running around in my head, just wanting to come out. I have a head full of them and sometimes this is one of the best ways I have found to get them to come out. I am not a babbling idiot when I write, or at least do not feel like one. I can write from the heart or from the mind and not worry about what people are thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling of getting that little star at the top of the page telling me that someone likes what I wrote, I especially love getting comments from people (hint hint), but that is not why I write. I write for me. Sorry if that sounds selfish, but that is how I feel.

The question posed this morning was “you can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions. Which do you choose?” My initial thought, believe it or not, was to be the author admired and studied by a select few. I think of music bands that have been together for 20+ years that have such a faithful following that they have been able to hold on to their ideals and continue to create wonderful music, even though they get zero radio play and are not all that well known to the general public. (I posted a song below as an example from my favorite band) They get it. It IS about the music. I would love to just be about the word.

But then my next thought is that being so popular to so many would sure make my bank account look a lot healthier, so it would be hard to pass that up as well, but is that a good reason to write? Some would say yes, some would say no.

OK, here is my offer. Let’s split the difference. Let me be an author who gives pleasure to, I don’t know, maybe half a million folks, but let me be able to write so that my work can be studied and admired by a select few for decades.

That seems more than fair to me…..

See Ya

As promised above, below is The Bigger Picture by Dream Theater, along with the lyrics below it in case you don’t want to listen, at least enjoy the poetry that is music lyrics

Long before the colors start to bleed
I can see the painting come alive
Clever like an angel in disguise
Moving in and out of reach

If the candle lights this crooked path
Like a lighthouse peering through the haze
I will find the river through the rain
And I’ll reach the water’s edge

[Chorus]
Shed your light on me
Be my eyes when I can’t see
Shed your light on me
Be my guide so I can see
The bigger picture

Like a moth burned by the fire
And driven to the flame
(Prophecies’ a blessing and a curse)
I must bare this cross alone
There’s no one else to blame
With each treasure found
Another shipwreck’s washed ashore
I am carried by the current
On a slow and steady course

[Chorus]
Shed your light on me
Be my eyes when I can’t see
Shed your light on me
Be my guide so I can see
The bigger picture

What If caught in a moment
I get lost and can’t find my way
What if all along I was wrong
In every turn, In every way

Would you talk me off the ledge
Or let me take the fall
Better to try and fail
Then to never try at all

You look but cannot see
Talk but never speak
You live but cannot breathe
See but don’t believe

Wounds that never heal
A heart that cannot feel
A dream that’s all too real
A stare as cold as steel

I’ve listened to the stories of resentment and disdain
I’ve looked into the empty eyes of anger, fear, and shame
I’ve taken blood from every stone
And traveled every road

When I see the distant lights illuminate the night
Then I will know I am home


Graduation Day

My son is graduating today. Wow, unbelievable! Images of him growing up are flashing continuously through my mind, from infancy to teen years, playing over and over….it is just an amazing feeling that I really do not deserve, but am ever so grateful to be feeling it. I could sit here and think about all the things I could have done differently, all the things that I wish I had learned so that I could have passed them on to him. All the times that I spent away from him because work was more important, or more to the point, I was more important. My selfish gains I can see now are my selfish losses, just wish I could have seen that sooner.

But hey, it is not too late, right? For God’s sake he is only 17 and I am ONLY 49, we still have a lot of living to do, but I need to make some changes in ME. Time to stop thinking about change and complaining that nothing ever changes and start MAKING changes. So many places that I could start and so many things that need to change, but the one thing that needs to change the most is my thinking, and I have already started on that, now I just need to LET IT HAPPEN

It is amazing how fast kids grow up, always sounded like a cliche but it is so damn true. Like I said, my son’s life is playing in my mind in a continuous loop, and it is a good feeling to see how he has grown and to think about all the good times we did have, instead of wallowing in the self-pity of the things that did not happen, the coulda-shoulda-wouldas that will drive you absolutely crazy in the end. Start looking at the good things in life, no matter how bad it seems, there is ALWAYS something good that can come out of it, and usually we will not see it for a long time, but it is there. Usually it is easier to see when you share your experiences with someone else, and to make a list of everything that you are grateful for. I recently made a list of 3-5 things that I was grateful for each day for 10 days without being able to repeat any of them, it sounds real easy but by day 5 or 6, it got tough. But it made me look hard at all the things I take for granted on a daily basis and it got me out of my pity pot for a little while. Give it a try, couldn’t hurt.

Anyway, enough rambling for the day. Going to go watch MY BOY graduate high school and try not to think about my baby girl who is just STARTING high school, don’t even get me started on that one or I’ll need one of those waterproof keyboards.

 

See Ya!

Mark