My Grown Up Christmas Gift

HopeIt’s with utmost respect and honor that I bring you today’s blog post.  I want to share one of the most valuable and precious Christmas gifts I have ever received.   It’s a poem written by one of my own.  My son gave me permission to share this with you today.  It wasn’t his intention to share this normally, very private, thing with the world, but it’s such a beautiful thing that, how can the world not get to experience it.  The back story to this, are years of addiction, many rehab programs, and several seasons of recovery followed by relapse.  Not that the journey is over, but this time feels different.  There is new life and hope that hasn’t been felt before.  I’m proud of my son and the positive steps that he is taking toward his new and wonderful future.  Together, we share this private moment in time today, not to exploit a man’s suffering, but to bring hope to other moms, dads, brothers, sisters and family members of addicts.  My son’s heart is much the same as mine, to help and love others.  Here is our gift to you.  May this season of hope live on in the New Year.  Merry Christmas!

 

For the Family

How can I even begin to express

About this time last year I was undoubtedly distraught, surely lost,

Senseless direction, heading nowhere, the trail had long since gone cold

Solid ground so ever elusive

The fear of death was becoming reality

I had abandoned all hope and lying to myself and everyone else in the process

Sick of pain and sobbing in a drunken stupor, I knew I couldn’t deny the truth

I was robbing myself of a life rich with meaning and warm hearted affairs

So I did what all good gangsters do and I called my parents, E.T. phone home

An answer, always an answer, as close as man can come, to divine love

They listened, always listened; I knew I had to get back to the desert

The place I once believed to be my problem, these people, these mountains, these

plastic possessions

Technology, pornography, dystrophy, all around me

But what I’m getting at ain’t so easily said, but seen out of your own two see’ers  instead

I got lost

The stupid story of the prodigal son haunts me like a rake does a garden gnome

And every time I was welcomed back, grace with a warm blanket of unconditional love

I am warm in my family’s arms

Fingers not so stiff and bleeding

I am charged with intense emotional uplift in the arms of my blood

Not so lethargic and glum, the fog lifts a little and I can finally breathe some

I am delighted to be born into such a solid rock of a household

Homesick and uprooted I am shaky and alone

I am blessed with a family who could never see me how I see myself

Distasteful, wasteful, hell in a bucket

The true meaning of the holidays is this

Family

I hope I’ve expressed in some way what I’m so desperately trying to say

I have the best family

From it stem the strongest roots

And I am so grateful and so floored to have made it back

If I’d had the choice to choose, I would have sold myself short

I am a man among angels

You see right through me

Thank you

 

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The Bumble’s Story

Wow!  I almost have no other words to say in light of all the tragedy that we’ve seen happening during what is supposed to be a joyful season.  We have indeed, seen unthinkable and horrific events unfold before our eyes.  I am not attempting to address what has happened, nor relate these events to my story today.  I just can’t help but express the heaviness in my heart for the families involved as I begin to write today.  My prayers for those who are hurting so deeply are united with yours and the prayers of this nation.

I will repeat, I “almost” have no words to say, but I do have a few.  It’s not that what I am going to say is easy or all that joyous, but it’s important to me, so pull up an ice block for a few minutes and lend an ear.

One of my favorite Christmas specials is “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”.  I grew up watching it every year.  I remember many years ago as an 18 year old, working “adult”, (well before the days of the DVR), I had a boss that let me have a long dinner break from work so I could go home and watch the show.  Yes, it was that important to me.  Even now, many years later, Rudolph has this special place in my home every Christmas.  photo

While the story of Rudolph offers many good life lessons, today I want to focus on the Bumble’s story.  In case you aren’t familiar, the Abominable Snow MonsterBumble was the Abominable Snow Monster of the North.  Everyone knew and feared the Abominable Snow Monster.  Rudolph’s father, Donner, taught Rudolph the dangers of this monster as a very young buck.  The prospector in the story, Yukon Cornelius, was always cautiously aware of the possibility of encountering the monster in his daily search for silver and gold.

Today I’m thinking of what the Bumble represents, but not in the cute, cartoonish way he is portrayed in the Christmas special.  There is no way that I would ever begin to make light of the situations that are on my mind today.  The fear that Rudolph was taught or that Cornelius had, can’t possibly even begin to touch the reality of what I’m talking about today.   Today, I’m talking about some other monsters, the monsters of addiction and alcoholism.  You see, these monsters have robbed some of my family and friends, people I love, of portions of their life.

This morning I walked out of my bedroom to find my husband already up, eating breakfast and browsing the web.  He informed me that our youngest son had posted a picture of our family on Facebook.  The picture was from about 18 years ago.  Oh my, the things your kids do while you’re sleeping!  My son had gotten all of the family albums out and apparently found this particular picture to be entertaining and posted it.  Entertaining, it was indeed!  Once I got past being horrified by the look of my enormous hair, I was brought to tears as I scanned the sweet faces of my four children.  They were so adorable!  I had a moment, so surreal.  How fast they grow up!  The picture had been taken before life had robbed them of the fun and innocence of childhood.

In the years since that picture was taken, I’ve gathered many stories to tell about how the abominable monster has reached out to grab those I love and attempt to snatch their very lives.  The battles waged against this monster have been bloody and fierce, neither are they over.  As many of you know, this is a lifelong battle that is fought everyday by millions of you.   Today isn’t the day to go into details on the specifics of my stories.  We’ve heard enough negative this season.  Today, I think we all need to be encouraged.

You see, the Bumble story has a happy ending.  Just as those who daily fight the monster of alcohol or addiction, Yukon Cornelius had more than one encounter with the Abominable Snow Monster.  One time he used the tool that he worked with on a daily basis, his pic, to make a “do it yourself iceberg”.  He was able to escape certain harm at the hands of the bumble and float away to safety, because Bumbles sink!  There finally came a time when Yukon could no longer run and hide from what he feared and he had to face his monster head on.

Remember Herbie, the elf whose dream was to be a dentist?  Yukon and Herbie devised a plan to save Clarice and Rudolph from being Abominable Snow Monster 2eaten alive by the Abominable Snow Monster.  Herbie made pig noises, because we all know that Bumbles will gladly turn down reindeer meat for a pork dinner.  He was able to lure the Bumble out of his cave and he and Yukon courageously faced that which they feared the most.  Yukon was spastically swinging his pic as Herbie oinked and they were able to bait the Bumble away from the cave so their friends could be safe.  Unfortunately, they backed the Bumble up to a point that appeared to be certain death for Herbie, the Bumble and Cornelius, as they all fell over the edge of a deep crevice.  The lives of Rudolph and Clarice were now safe, but at the cost of their friend’s lives.

The scene shifts to Rudolph and Clarice mourning the loss of their friends.  Were they ever surprised as the doors of Santa’s castle Toothless Bumbleswung open and in walked Cornelius and Herbie, followed by the Bumble!  Cornelius proclaimed that he had reformed the monster!  And Herbie the elf had started his new practice as the North Pole Dentist, by pulling the monster’s teeth.  The Bumble no longer had the power to eat reindeer or pork!  The reformed Bumble then helps to make the tree in Santa’s castle complete, as he places the star on the top.

Why do I like the Bumble story?  Because, it’s a story redemption and hope!  The Abominable Snow Monster that everyone feared was reformed.  No one imagined that he could ever be anyone different than what he was, but it did happen!  Yes, it’s just a make believe child’s Christmas story.  I know that, but “hope” is very real.

There is another Christmas story which is the basis of my hope.  Hope was sent in the form of that little babe lying in a manger.  I think that story is much better as it’s read by Charlie Brown in another childhood Christmas special.  That baby didn’t stay little and powerless.  That baby was sent by love to bring light to a dark world.  I believe that love has the power to overcome any monster we face and certainly, the evils of addiction and alcoholism!  That perfect love chases away that which makes me fearful.  Yes, the God of limitless love is my hope.

That hope is the gift that I use as a tool in my life, this life that I’ve learned to live just one day at a time.  That powerful hope is also the weapon that I use to fight the monsters that make me fearful.  It’s the one thing that I’ve been able to hang onto in the very dark days of this journey.  When all else has been ripped from my hands, hope is still there.  No, all of the struggles are still not over, nor all the battles won.

HopeI posted this picture last week.  The word “Hope” is written free hand in pencil by someone I love.  It was written on a piece of manila folder and was sent to me from a prison cell as a Christmas card several years ago.  The person who sent it had no idea how much it meant to me.  This person is still struggling to this day.  Though it breaks my heart, I still have hope.  This one hasn’t made it to the side of victory in this battle yet.  I said, not “yet”, but I know many others who have.  There is a victory side in the days to come.  I just know it.   As I posted, last week, hope is my gift.  “I’m a mom.  I will never give up my hope!”  For that reason, I can still have a joyous heart this Christmas season.  Merry Christmas!

 

 

Patience Makes Perfect

christmas-cactus“Tis the season!”  That’s been my response to people who wear “impatience” on their face this holiday season.  You’ve all seen it and I think all of us would freely admit that we’ve felt more than a little impatient already this season.  We have multiple opportunities to practice patience as we maneuver the obstacles in grocery store aisles, stand in the department store lines and practically risk our lives to find a parking spot.

I’ve got more than the holiday season to be impatient about right now.  If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you know that I’ve been trying to train to run a marathon for over a year now.  I’m frustrated and impatient about that, too.  It seems that as soon as I start to recover from one injury or issue with my body, a new one emerges.  I’ve had physical therapy for just about every body part from the waist down now over the last year and a half.  I’m beginning to wonder if I should ask for my name to be inscribed on one of the bricks in the wall at the physical therapy office.  Certainly, my Therapist must be tired of seeing me walk in that door, too, in spite of my financial contribution to his lively hood!

PHX HalfJust this past weekend, I was finally able to run six miles for the first time in a couple months because I’ve been recovering from a knee injury.  This morning I went out to run and within the first five minutes I had hip pain that felt similar to pain I experienced last spring.  That was a stress fracture that put me out of commission for a couple months.  I didn’t want to risk another couple months off, so I decided to give myself today off from running.  My coach schedules my workouts each day and he is trying to do all he can to keep me injury free.  I’m afraid to tell him about yet another pain.  Certainly, my Coach must be getting tired of all of this!  Could he be secretly wishing I would just give up???

I texted my husband and told him why I had to skip the run this morning.  No response…  I just picture him shaking his head and imagine him thinking, “Not again”!  If he isn’t getting tired of the injuries, he certainly had got to be getting tired of all the co-pays!  I know I am!

Maybe even you, my readers are getting impatient with me, thinking the same things that the rest might be…

Maybe you can’t relate to my reasons for feeling impatient, but you know what I’m talking about.  We get impatient over many things, most often; they’re situations beyond our control.  Things as trivial as another’s bad driving habits or waiting in rush hour traffic might make your blood boil.  Waiting on hold for customer service or to speak to a real person about your need can be terribly frustrating.  Worse yet, situations involving waiting for others to change or to act on something that will have an impact on your life, seem to drag on forever!  Have you noticed a pattern here?  These are all situations that we have no control over, but they require us to practice patience.

Frankly, I hate the fact that I have to practice patience!  How many times have our parents said the phrase to us, “practice makes perfect”.   I’ve had to be patient all my life and that represents years’ worth of practice!  Really now, how long should “perfect” take!  And besides, why should I have to be patient because something else or someone else is not doing whatever it is that they are supposed to be doing?  Why should I have to be affected by another’s action or inactions?  It just doesn’t seem fair!

The reality is that all my ranting, raving and rebelling will do nothing to change the fact that I will have many more opportunities ahead where my patience will be required.  My stress, frustration and anger will only be heightened by allowing my emotions to be involved in these situations that are beyond my control.  The fact is, the best way I know how to face these things is to roll through and keep smiling as I do it.   It’s not easy, that’s why it’s something we have to practice over and over and over…  It’s like a snowball that frostystarts out small.  As it rolls along, it gets bigger and bigger.  The more you practice patience, the bigger it gets.  Before you know it, you’ve made yourself a friend from your snow and you’ve named it Frosty.  Of course, me living in Arizona, we don’t have snow in our forecast, so the best I can do is make dust bunnies.  We have plenty of dust here!

No, you won’t ever reach perfect by practicing patience in this life, but you will arrive at the end of your run, a lot less stressed and you will be the bigger, better person because of it.  This life is much like a marathon.  It’s not easy and involves much training, many setbacks, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears.  It requires patient endurance, persistence and a “never give up” attitude to make it through.  I may not be running on the road today, which makes me sad, but the ultimate goal is to complete the marathon.  The only way I can do that is by being patient.  I need to let my body heal.  I have to trust that patience makes perfect and that I will be when I cross that big finish line!