Amazing 20 Years

Today I celebrate the most important day of my life.

It was on Saturday, March 10, 1990, at 10:15am, on the upper side of Manhattan (NYC) that I first walked into the rooms of a 12 Step program. It is there where I found Home, my family of choice, and commenced my conscious spiritual journey. It was the beginning of transforming my entire way of living via changing my world view.

This day 20 years ago was the start of my coming to believe in a God of my understanding. And, having been a ‘devout’ atheist, that was no small feat! After all, I’d known about The Program for five years but had declined attending a meeting because I knew the word “God” was going to be uttered.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into and how much my life was going to change by finally taking that fateful step of going to my first meeting – I actually landed up attending three that very first day!. But I had reached bottom, knew that something was ‘wrong’ with me, and also knew that psychotherapy, while helpful with other issues, was not sufficient to address this issue of my eating disorder.

I am grateful to the 12 Step program in more ways and for more things than I could ever recount. My life and relationships would not be what they are today if I had not adopted the 12 Step way of life and had a personality shift of huge proportion. Over the years of practicing the principles and relying on a Power greater than myself, my life has become rich in a myriad of ways and my journey of awakening has become more adventurous.

Today I celebrate: having conscious contact with the Great Mystery who I know is my Source; the love of other spirits having a human experience; knowing peace and serenity are mine any time I choose despite what’s going on in the outer world; knowing my life has a purpose and being of service – the list goes on, and on, and on.

It’s an extra special day of grace and blessing! Thanks be to Spirit, and to all of you friends of Bill W. whose paths have crossed mine, where together we are living in the solution.  God bless.

Beyond the World

“Care not what the world thinks, and allow God to protect and nurture you in ways the world cannot comprehend.” – The Voice for Love, September 12.

Ah… what a soothing idea.

My ‘handle’ on match.com when I was seeking Roger 5+ years was “Unusual Woman”. Yep, unusual, that’s me. It’s not always an attractive term to others, but thank heaven it was to Rog!

It also means that oftimes I felt like I did not fit in.

I wasn’t comfortable in my family of origin and couldn’t wait to move out on my own.  Being an educated woman didn’t always endear me to my lesser-educated male colleagues when I worked at AMTRAK (the railroad), especially when I excelled and became their supervisor. The New York banking world was not a good fit either. Socially, I often felt uncomfortable, not feeling able to connect to people, perhaps because of age, gender, values, whatever.

But of course, the lack of comfort was with myself, not the outer world. Still, to some extent, maverick that I was (not always out of choice it seems), I did care about what others thought of me.

It wasn’t until I joined a 12 Step program that I felt like I fit in. I fit it with others who had eating disorders, understood my crazy behaviors because they’d been there too, and were honestly look for a better way of life. I fit in because there was mutual respect, love, and concern.

I did not fit in initially from the ‘God thing” perspective as I was a devout atheist when I first entered the rooms.  That of course changed, and when I came to believe in a Power greater than myself, I started fitting in at other venues too. For now, Spirit was with me, I no longer felt alone. It no longer mattered what others thought of me. It just came down to me and God.

I am glad to be reminded that it does not matter what the world thinks as I march to the tune of a different drum. Spirit is always with me, and there is where I find comfort, love, joy, and peace beyond the world’s understanding.

With Spirit

“…Everything is possible for him who believes.” – Mark 9:23-24

The person who has a certain great truth in his mind can never be defeated by anything and will ultimately win victories, though he may have to go through deep waters now and then. That great truth is the belief – the obsessive belief – that God is always with us. When you believe this, you are not alone, never, under any circumstances. When you live with this belief, you are never rejected, you are never forsaken, you never walk by yourself. God is with you – this is the greatest source of strength a human being can have.

Positive Living Day by Day, P. 344
Norman Vincent Peale

In my pre-God days, I used to feel so alone. Since coming to believe, I have taken much comfort in knowing that God is with me always. It truly is a strength that when human beings may not be available or I feel disappointed with them, that I can always count on Spirit to be with me, to love me, to provide wisdom and guidance. Likewise, when I am exuding happiness, bursting with excitement, I can consciously be with God and feel even more positive. No matter the circumstance, God is with me, in me, running through me. God is my Source.

It can still be easy to get lost in this physical world and forget who I truly am and what power I have been imbued with. When I remember that I am first and foremost a spiritual being (having a human experience) and, my Source, I cannot feel alone – I feel inspired!

About Gratitude

When I was a devout atheist, I felt there was no one to be thankful to. That changed as soon as I came to believe in a power greater than myself. I’m grateful for that, for walking into the rooms of a 12 Step program, which led me to the most important thing in my life: God, as I understand God.

This week is one that I particularly pause to give thought to gratitude.

So it was no surprise (at least not to me, the facilitator 🙂 ) that at last night’s meeting of the Gilbert Spirituality Meetup group, the topic was Gratitude. The shared stories were “inspirational” as one member put it. Yes, indeed.

When a father can get down on his knees after his son has died and the first words out of his mouth are “I am grateful…for the time You gave me with my child” that is inspiring. Recalling that this man, in his darkest hour, offered thanks to God and not venom, will get me back on track when I’m feeling less than grateful because of some minor occurrence that threw me into a tizzy.

Another member made a point of saying that even if you do have negative thoughts but have a semblance of gratitude, your energy vibrates at a higher frequency. That will get the spiral headed upward towards positivity.

I was reminded that every moment is a moment in which I can choose to be grateful. Every moment is unique, will not be repeated ever again, and hence is a sole/soul(!) opportunity to be seized and savored. The expression “Wake up and smell the roses” came to mind.

When I feel gratitude, my heart is full and I am oftimes moved to tears, tears of joy. When Rog expressed a connection between gratitude and joy, I realized he was right. He expounds upon this in his book Choosing Joy at Work.

Speaking of work, we can sometimes be self-conscious about expressing appreciation of others to those folks, especially in a business setting. What a stark indicator of our increased separation from our fellows with whom we are One. This group member was going to go ahead anyway and be her authentic, expressive, appreciative self. Yes!

When I surround myself with people who not only feel grateful, but express it – like at last night’s meeting – I feel uplifted. And, for that I am grateful.

The Spiritual Waters of Life

I am driving my 2003 silver Camry with Rog in the front passenger seat and an unknown male in the seat behind the driver. I make a right-hand turn to head toward the ocean and I see there is a wall, so I need to redirect. I go back and then make another right-hand turn. The beach and the ocean are visible but I will have to drive through a brief distance of about 2-feet of deep water before I can reach dry land. There are people on the other side of the water who want to cross it, but they are uncertain that they can make it through.

I feel calm. I ask my passengers to help me raise the car off the ground (like Fred Flintstone used to) so that the water won’t ruin the car. They readily respond and we easily make it to the beach to drive along the shoreline, parallel to the ocean. The people who were waiting to see if we could succeed are reassured by our demonstration and feel that now they can do what we have done.

Rog and I sorted out my dream during this morning’s coffee time.

As the driver of the car, I was independent, self confident, and responsible for the direction of my life. Because water can take any shape or move in many ways, how we relate to it indicates how we are meeting our emotions and moods. In the dream, I felt calm when I encountered obstacles. I recognized I needed help, and I easily asked for and accepted it.

I had the sense that the unknown male passenger was God. So it was God and Rog (my beloved husband and twin flame), the two closest beings in my life, that I asked for help. I asked and I received, and all flowed easily.

Throughout my adult life, due to childhood experiences, it has been difficult for me to ask for help. As a child, if I actually did ask for help, I oftimes felt let down. I had also been a devout atheist for about 1/3 of my life, feeling that I could rely only on me. In this dream, my facing obstacles in a calm way and easily asking people and God for help indicates that I’ve made the shift most importantly on the subconscious level.

Thinking of being a demonstration to others in the dream makes me smile. Since coming to believe in God, I have endeavored to be of service. I see that my life purpose to help empower other people is being realized in both the dream and waking states.

I appreciate the confirmation that all is well in the spiritual waters of my life. Thank You, Spirit!

My Story Continues…

[Continued from yesterday’s blog]

The day I departed for my first trip to Europe with six weeks of sobriety and 12 Step recovery under my belt, I had planned to work a good portion of the day and then leave directly for the airport from my office. I was delayed (ya know, just one more thing…), and rushed out of the World Financial Center in lower Manhattan hoping I would not miss my flight; I did not.

The plane was boarded, an older gentleman sat down next to me, and then he started making a fuss about the luggage under our seats. Nonetheless we settled in, the plane took flight, and before I knew it, my fellow traveler was placing a copy of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous into the pouch in front of him! Excited and feeling an instant connection with him, I turned to him and told him I had a copy of the Big Book with me too. Thus a dreaded 7-hour flight to Rome sped by as we talked in the same language about the Program, our feelings, and our experiences.

This was synchronicity at work for numerous reasons and I chuckled that:
. In this plane with 300 or so passenger seats, a member of a 12 Step Fellowship was assigned to a seat next to me
. His unmistakable membership in this anonymous association was revealed to me (and early in the trip)
. Peter was an American (like me) from the northeastern United States (like me) in a planeload mostly full of Italian-speaking Romans
. Last, but certainly not least, Peter was a Christian missionary stationed in Rome!

The significance here for me was strong. I was not left alone, new in my sobriety and new in my traveling to Europe. I got to enjoy the company of a ‘man of the cloth’ whereas up until this time, I had looked askance at ‘such people.’ Also, this came at a time when I was actively searching for a higher power. I walked off that plane onto another continent with a new attitude, my perspective shifted.

Upon hearing this story, my dear friend Jay (a member of the AA Fellowship) said to me “Even you, Joyce, have to admit this had to be more than a coincidence…” Indeed, even I. I chuckled, knowing (and glad) that my evolving conception of a higher power had a sense of humor.

My Story Begins…

The Gilbert Spirituality MeetUp Group met the other night and the topic was God Stories. We mostly focused on sharing incidents in which events happened which could not be a coincidence – or at least the person involved thought so, which is all that matters.

The idea of synchronicity was developed by Carl Jung and has special meaning for me. It was the way in which I came to believe in God. One of my first conscious “encounters” – after all God is always making Its Presence known but I often am not paying attention – occurred when I was newly on my path.

I walked into the rooms of a 12 Step program of recovery for eating disorders in March 1990 in New York City, bringing with me 19 years of ‘hard core’ atheism. I held a strong belief and daily practice based on Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism where reason and logic were the answer to everything and self-sufficiency, along with perfectionism, was extreme. I had a great disdain for organized religion, and would barely give a member of the clergy the time of day if asked to. But, I considered myself a ‘free thinker’!

Six weeks later, abstinent (sober) for that period, I was on my way to Europe for the first time. Being so new to the program and traveling into unfamiliar territory, I was concerned about my ability to remain abstinent. I endeavored to get a copy of the Big Book, the ‘bible’ of the program Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) on which my particular program was based, and secured a copy in the nick of time. Reading this, indeed just having it with me, was to help ‘protect’ me from my disease of compulsive overeating. I had not yet developed a conception of a higher power to help me. I was about to get a clear demonstration of Higher Power at work.

[Continued tomorrow…]