Life’s a Garden; Dig It

Ah, wise words from the great philosopher, Joe Dirt. I know, I know…that was a ridiculous movie with some seriously ridiculous hair, but hear me out! Ole Joe was actually on to something.

We are given this life to do great things. Now, you may not believe that, especially if you’re at the bad end of rock bottom (not sure if there is a good end to rock bottom), but I believe we all have a purpose.

Some of us are even lucky enough to figure out that purpose. (I am still waiting for a sticky note to arrive one day that says, “You are doing exactly what you’ve been called to do.” Sadly, it hasn’t arrived yet.) But either way, life is a gift. Life is a garden. We go through good seasons of harvest and bad seasons of drought. Sometimes we get infested with bugs that eat us (ew, that’s a terrible mental picture), and sometimes we reap the benefits of perfectly timed seeds. 

The garden analogy makes so much sense because we are always changing and evolving. We can either be on the right path or the wrong path, but either way we are sowing and reaping the benefits of our efforts or lack thereof. Whether we have a plentiful harvest depends on how we cultivate that garden (our life) and how we take care of it along the way.

Life’s a garden; dig it! 

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Get Fed Daily

I’ve heard from several people I know who regularly attend meetings say, “Man, it’s been too long. I need a meeting,” or, “I haven’t been to a meeting this week! No wonder I’m so irritatable!” 

I’m not sure if you go to meetings or if you know someone who goes to meetings regularly, but I can see a huge impact in my husband when he hasn’t gone for a while. We may not be able to pinpoint the issue until we reflect on the previous days of the week, but most irritations and impatient behaviors melt away when the problem is resolved. 

I know how important meetings are when you are first trying to achieve sobriety, but what about when you’ve hit a good stride (let’s say a year sober) and you no longer need the daily meeting? I suggest, and again I’m no addiction expert, getting fed daily in other ways. I know there are so many books, readings, and short prayers that are offered by AA. Taking the time to commit to even one minute of reading one of these a day can help a lot. 

Perspective is the key. These readings and other materials are designed to motivate you. To keep your head above water when you feel like something is trying to pull you back under. To give you that boost of confidence you need when you feel self-doubt starting to creep up on you.

Get fed something motivating daily. It doesn’t take long, but it can change your entire day! 

We All Struggle

We like to think that successful people or celebrities have it all figured out, right? They have figured out the secret magic formula: 

a + b = success and an easy life.

But the truth is, we all struggle. Even the greatest people in history who were the rulers of world powers struggled at some point. Maybe they didn’t have the same problems you and I have today. Maybe their problems were bigger. Maybe their problems aren’t relelvant in today’s world. But they were there.

I have to remind myself of this when I see a seemingly perfect family waking down the street, hand in hand, like they just stepped out of a freaking J-Crew catalog. Come on people, no family wears matching clothes all of the time and is still happy about it! 

I, on the other hand, am making sure I showered today (the ole arm pit smell trick works wonders) while counting my kids to make sure none have escaped! Some days I’m holding our life together with a really thin piece of hope and strength entwined together. I sometimes find myself getting jealous of those people who “have it all together.” But let’s be honest here…none of us have it all together!

There is some aspect of our lives where we fall short; where we need to lean on other people. I’m okay admitting my life is not perfect, but I’m done ignoring the fact that we all struggle in some way. Don’t let other people’s lives make you feel inferior. We all have faults and we all struggle…

Life as a Kid

Maybe you have kids. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re not too far removed from being a kid yourself. Maybe you have kids, grandkids, and even great-grandkids.

Regardless of your parenting status, you have been a kid yourself. You know what it’s like to have curiosity and wonderment, like exploring the woods by your house. You know how it feels to have new experiences and learn something knew, like going to school and meeting new friends. You know how hard it is to do something when you’re scared, like go down that really tall slide at the park.

We all have experiences as adults that we did as kids, but our perspective has changed. Our filter has been shrunken down to only include the “important” things in life, whether those are destructive behaviors or only people we care about. Seldom do we include our childlike thinking when it comes to what we experience in life.

We have either learned to or have been taught to only pursue certain things in life, whether that is a career, a family, a status among peers, or a high income. 

But what if we pursued everything with the curiosity and wonderment we had as children? What if we started looking at the world through the lense of our childlike mind? I’m not saying we should resort to childishness, but we should simply carry a different perspective around with us.

You’d be surprised how much your tiny world expands when you switch the lense to infinite possibilities…

Shame Ridden

Definition of shame

1a : a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety b : the susceptibility to such emotion <have you no shame?>

2: a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute : ignominy <the shame of being arrested>

3a : something that brings censure or reproach; also : something to be regretted : pity <it’s a shame you can’t go> b : a cause of feeling shame

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shame

Shame can be debilitating. Shame can be suffocating. Shame can be overwhelming. Shame can consume every facet of your life…if you let it.

There are 3 powerful things I’ve learned about shame.

  1. If you talk about shame, it loses its power over you.
  2. Everyone has it. (No one is exempt from feeling this basic human feeling.)
  3. Only you can control your feelings toward shame.

I believe I let shame take the steering wheel of my life for many years. I found myself just cruising along in a metaphorical semi truck that’s on fire, going over 100mph, about to lose one wheel, and we are being chased by fear, overwhelm, perfection, and anxiety. Does any of this sound familiar?

I hope it doesn’t because then that would mean you have little experience with shame and have therefore dodged a bullet. But if that picture of a burning 18-wheeler barreling down the freeway and you holding on for dear life sounds at all familiar, you are in the right place.

We have to talk about shame in order to defeat it. For example, I have lived for years with the guilt of my DWIs. I told myself, “You’re such a screw up. Not only did you do this once, when you could blame it on teenage hormones and being an idiot, but you did it again. Do you think anyone is ever going to hire you for a REAL job with a record like that?” 

That, people, is shame. Or at least that was my shame for a long time. Now, I no longer feel trapped by shame because I share it. I believe the power of an AA or AL-ANON meeting can overcome the shame factor. Telling your story frees you from the chains shame can have you shackled to for years.

I hope you can learn to identify shame, in every area of your life, and learn to control your feelings about it. When you feel that physical hot rush shudder through your entire body, or maybe even when you break out into a cold sweat for no reason, sometimes that’s shame showing up with his driving gloves on ready to ignite the flames on that huge truck. Don’t let him drive you off a cliff. Instead, throw his ass in the backseat and tell him he’s not in charge anymore.

A Bad Night of Sleep

I wish I could sugar coat this, or at least pretend these don’t happen, but every once in a while you’re going to have a bad day. Not just a bad day, but a really crappy one. Maybe you have a bad day every day and your good days are the rarity here.  I don’t know. But I do know that you can try your hardest to not repeat that bad day over and over again.

I’m so exhausted right now. I had a terrible night’s sleep and I feel like I was wrestling an alligator all night! My back hurts from awkward sleeping, my ear was all squished on my pillow when I woke up, and I feel like someone was contorting my body without my permission last night. I tossed and turned all night. But the only way I push past this and make today a better day is to have gratitude.

I can dwell on all of the reasons I had a crappy night of sleep last night, or I can be grateful that I’m alive, that I have a bed to sleep in, that I have a roof over my head, and that I’m not sleeping out in the cold with my children.

I’m not discrediting or ignoring my crummy night of sleep, because it was in fact really bad, but I am not going to dwell on it. So I need to make it a point to stand up and stretch more today. Maybe I’ll need to go to bed earlier tonight. I may even have to move some pillows around on the bed this evening. But I’m alive. I’m healthy. I’m able to stand on my own two feet to get me out of bed. I’m grateful for the ability to turn my crappy night of sleep into a day full of gratitude.

How Far We Have Come…

I’m not a person who likes to dwell on the past. Like I’ve said before, living in a state of denial was my thing for a long time so the past isn’t a clear picture that should dictate my life. However, I do look back at the past to see how far we have come.

Just a few years, we didn’t have any clear picture of where we were going in life. Basically, we were in survival mode. Doing the bare minimum to survive and not fall apart, or hit rock bottom. 

Now I feel like we have climbed up the other side of that mountainous monster doubt and have found a good plateau on the stable ground of contentment. We haven’t finished getting to where we want to go, my husband and I are annoyingly motivated people now, but we do have goals for where we want to be.

I look at our past and I look at our future. I know that together we have been destructive, but together we have also accomplished so much! I sit here today content with life. We aren’t perfect by any means, but I am proud of where we have landed in this journey. 

I hope you can look back on your life and see progress towards something greater than the darkest days of your past. Don’t dwell on the past, but use it as a stepping stone to propel into your best looking future. You can do it…