Category Archives: My Sunny Side

My Sunny Side: Being Content

I love nature! I grew up in New Hampshire, a mostly rural state with plenty of majestic woods, ponds, lakes, and the White Mountains.
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Today I celebrate 8 months of sobriety!  It has been an interesting ride so far.  I became sober on May 12, the day I was put in jail.

sobriety

Some would say that I am not undergoing the real “test” until I resume my “normal” life.  I would say that, although that may be somewhat true, I still choose everyday not to pick up.

I have had certain events occur this week that have sorely challenged my sobriety.  And yet, I choose not to pick up.  As a matter of fact, I have hardly given these situations the energy that I might have normally when I was drinking; that’s tremendous progress!

Although there will always be forces in life testing my resolve, I am coming to understand the true nature of life and my mantras are acceptance and gratitude.  When I accept what life is dishing out, when I accept that I have to deal with life on life’s terms, I maintain control of my emotions.

recovery on justruminating men's blog

Similarly, when I go through my day mindful of all that I have to be grateful for, life’s problems shrink and become so much more manageable.  There will always be people, places, and things that will challenge me.  I used to think that life owed me happiness.  I used to think life owed me inordinate measures of peace and tranquility.

Alas, not so any more.  I now realize–yes, it’s taken me nearly 57 years–that the times of peace and tranquility are but fleeting and should be relished.  The rest of the time life is going to be life, people will be people.  I can’t change people.  I can’t change situations.  I can’t change life.

What I can change, however, is how I respond to them.  I can change how I think about them.  I can choose to relinquish my power or I can choose to not let them tap my inner resources.  I choose acceptance and gratitude.

Today, I am grateful for 8 months of recovery!  And nothing, and NOBODY, will ever take that away from me.  It’s not available.  It’s not an option.

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My Sunny Side: Being Content

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4 years ago at this time I was in a loveless alcoholic and abusive relationship.  My life was pure misery and chaos.  And, although I had all kinds of things:  a kickass car (repossessed), beautiful watches (sold for booze), furnishings (sold by the ex), etc. I was far from content.

In these days of rushing and getting and spending, look to contentment, in whatever form that can take for you!  I have previously written about gratitude, but gratitude differs greatly from contentment:

“While gratitude is a measure of our perspective on the things we already have, contentment is a measure of our perspective on the things we don’t have. It’s being able to say we want nothing more no matter how much or little we have.”

Look to your lives and be content.  There is always someone worse off than you, but I know that this attitude doesn’t come easy; Lord knows I’ve struggled to feel it.  I know it can be difficult, but if you try you will see that you probably have much more to be content about what you do have.  Or at least find peace with what you don’t have.  When I lost everything I was devastated. 

But as I progress in my healing I have found everything I truly need.  I can only wear so many clothes at once.  I only need a few toiletries to stay beautiful (hahaha).   “Stuff” are just trappings we surround ourselves with to convince ourselves we are doing well, feeling well.

I used to complain a lot.  A lot.  Now, I find my attitude filling with grace and humility little by slow.  And, although sometimes I get lonely, I know that friends are never far when I come into this wonderful community.  I am content with the friendships I have made and the wonderful love and support you show me here each and everyday.

Please, take a moment today and reflect on your contentment.  You will be amazed at how much of it you can feel if you just stop feeling like you don’t have, and focus on what you do have!

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My Sunny Side: Me and Nature

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Many of my very few happy childhood memories of our small family spending the day at the lake.  We were very poor, so we did that a lot.  I took to water like a frog!  I love swimming to this day.

Crystal Lake From My Childhood

Crystal Lake From My Childhood

When I was a little older, say 10-13, I would leave on early summer mornings and explore all day by myself.  Even in the winter I would escape my family misery to go sledding or to build snow forts.  I often wouldn’t return until the lights came on; my signal I had to get my ass in the house.

Exploring the woods provided me an outlet for my angst and pain.  I felt connected to everything.  I always found the woods to be so serene, so worthy of all kinds of adventures.

Old Man Of The Mountain

Old Man Of The Mountain

I loved those times!  It was the first time in my life that I was challenged on arduous hikes, and then rewarded with the most majestic views from atop mountains in the White Mountains.

My college, Plymouth State College in Plymouth New Hampshire, was just minutes from Tenney Mountain. 

I learned how to ski there and learned to love it!  I never progressed past the beginner slopes, but my love for nature was even more solidified.

Plymouth State College

When my children were old enough, and I mean I am talking Nick was 5 and Matt 3, I would take them into the woods for long hikes and snacks.

Plymouth State College

As a matter of fact, for the majority of the time I had them–until my ex and her parents brainwashed them into hating me, and so I haven’t seen them in 10 years–we spent almost all of our visitation time in nature.

I am proud of the fact that I instilled in my boys a true passion, appreciation, and respect for nature.  I taught them to fish, hike, build fires, hunt frogs. 

When they were only 7 and 5 I took them on a very challenging hike in the White Mountains; they did incredibly well.  I hope that they still have that profound love of nature that I do.

White Mountain Range N.H.

Even in my worst days of alcoholism, I always took walks in the woods.  I did a lot of fishing.  For me, spending time in nature, is like spending time with my inner self.

White Mountain Range N.H.

Every time I explore the woods, go swimming, go fishing, I feel like I am truly home.  I can’t get enough of the sights, the smells, the sounds.

We are going on a skiing trip on January 28th, I can’t wait!  Next time you are feeling blue, get out into nature!  I don’t mean a park.  I mean, if you have the access, deep into the woods!  Leave your phone at home.  Go find yourself.  You’ll be waiting there, I guarantee it.

(just a side note:  I do not condone hunting unless it is a controlled hunt for thinning a herd, or for true survival.  I shot a squirrel with my BB Gun at age 12 and felt so bad about it, I gave it a formal funeral and never killed another creature again.  Well, I might have skinned a few frogs…anyway.)

My Sunny Side: Golden Words

Most people might look at my life and think “Wow, he must be miserable.”  On the contrary, my life couldn’t be better!
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Just a quick recap for folks who may be joining the regularly scheduled broadcast already in progress:

I’ve been an alcoholic for over 35 years.  In May of 2016 I got sober; by going to jail.  I resided a VA inpatient treatment facility for just over 1 year.

I had the option of going anywhere in the country!  That’s because my Probation Officer knew I was doing the right things.  She had removed ALL obstacles to my being able to go anywhere I wanted to continue with my new life.

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Although I was destitute, homeless, and without many friends or family, I was more rich than I have been in years!  I no longer drink and live in chaos.

I no longer spend all my paycheck on boozing–and sometimes illicit drugs.  I no longer have to worry if my co-workers and customers can smell booze on my breath.

I am no longer in a terribly abusive relationship.  I am no longer filled with anxiety and dread.  I am no longer hungover everyday, anxious to begin drinking again later on.  I am no longer sad, worried, angry, frustrated.  I am no longer in the grips of the legal system.

No, today I can actually use the words “I’m happy!”  Wow!  I can’t remember when I have used those two words to describe my state!  Would I like to be out on my own doing my own thing?  Of course I would.

acceptance2

However, today I have ACCEPTANCE in my life.  I am learning to accept the things I cannot change.  I am learning to accept life on life’s terms.

As a result, I am much more peaceful and contented than I have been in many, many years.  Although there are many approaches to sobriety, for me there are two GOLDEN WORDS that have made all the difference as I transition through this recovery:  ACCEPTANCE and GRATITUDE.

I can’t really describe what these two simple words have meant to me in this journey.  They have made all the difference in the world.

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My Sunny Side: Compliments

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In the thesaurus the antonym of criticism is compliment:

Compliment:

noun
1. an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration:
A sincere compliment boosts one’s morale.
2.
a formal act or expression of civility, respect, or regard
3.
compliments, a courteous greeting; good wishes; regards:

compliment1

As you can see, paying a compliment does wonders for the recipient. Not to mention it does wonders for the giver. And that is my point today: why don’t we all give more compliments, or more importantly, encouragement?

Lately, I have noticed compliments becoming a part of my normal day. And something amazing has been happening: I feel happier and the people around me feel happier.

Imagine my surprise yesterday when the Director of the program pulled me in his office. He then spent 10 minutes complimenting me! He said everyone here was amazed at how well I was doing.

That they recognized all the hard work I have been doing in recovery. Of course, I left the office feeling damn good! He made me feel that I was important. We all need recognition, and his recognition gave me more momentum to keep doing what I am doing.

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Similarly, I have noticed that I have been offering up compliments without any thought at all! This is completely different than my old “inward thinking” that I used to do. I used to be focused on three people: me, myself, and I. Giving out a genuine compliment makes other people feel good. I feel good just seeing their face light up. Dare I say, lately I have been, well, happy!

People have been responding to me in a different way! I’m not suggesting all of a sudden you have to start spitting out compliments like you’re a machine gun kiss ass. ’m suggesting to incorporate maybe one or two a day. I smile a lot more. A lot more. This is completely off the charts for me. I was never one to overly criticize people, but I certainly wasn’t tossing around compliments either.

It’s easy to criticize, but it’s much more difficult to step out of our selves and offer up “an expression of praise.” So, dear readers, I challenge you: can you find the time today, and everyday, to tell someone you love how much you appreciate them? Not “I love you,” but a genuine compliment? Can you give the guy or gal who serves your coffee a genuine compliment? Can you take two minutes and pat an employee on the back?

I promise you this: start giving “a formal act or expression of civility, respect, or regard,” daily for 30 days, and see if your life isn’t transformed. Who would like to take a 30 day challenge for March, and see if you can compliment someone the entire month? I’m going to start today! Less disdain and criticism, more compliments and love!

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