Back From Retreat


I just spent three days and nights off the grid, and coming back is a rush. I won’t go into too much about what the retreat was, except that it was all about being alone with me. No phone, no podcasts, no book, no music, certainly no computer. The idea was just to remove as many distractions as possible so I would be left only with the internal ones: my thoughts, in other words. And man, there’s a lot of thoughts. So it was about observing those as deeply as I could.

The other idea was to try to let myself settle into feelings, to feel the stuff I normally distract myself from. And to simply be quiet and slow. And to practice self-love and nurturing. To just be with me, in a supportive and observant way, without any judgment.

I was at the coast, in stormy weather, the only person staying in about 10 houses on the road, with the beach at the end, the wind howling, rain pelting … magnificent.

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Moving Through Fear

A while back I had a funny story that I’ve shared in meetings here and there.

I had recently broken up with Woman A. At the same time I first met her, I had met Woman B, and I had a crush on her. A knew this … hell, B knew this. I asked her out when we first met, and she said no. Then I dated A, and B was still around sometimes as a chum. (Still with me?) So then A and I broke up, and I met C, whom I also wanted to date. We had been on a date or two when the following happened.

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On Resolutions and Retreats

I’m out at the coast the last few nights, on a working retreat.

In theory, this meant putting my head down and writing a big chunk of the Peaceful Places book. But do these things ever go like we plan? I spent three nights here, and maybe four hours on that book. So one of the passengers on my internal bus is yelling that this whole thing has been a failure. He’s also bitching that I haven’t taken a proper walk on the beach.

But watch how that internal game goes: set up a “right” way to do things, then don’t do them, then call it (and yourself) a failure. What the hell is that?

How about “My friends Betsy and Mike, who own a super cool motel, invited me out for a few days, in exchange for some work, and it’s nice to get away for a while?” I got a lot of stuff done, including some on the book, and now I’m headed back.

How about “Thank you, Universe, for this opportunity”?

And how about “I don’t know what the ‘right’ way to do this is, so I’m just trying to be true to myself and do what feels right”?

Some of the stuff I got done, like financial planning and asking for help where it’s needed, was very helpful. And the book ¬†will get written. And I have this new website. And it’s too damned windy and cold to walk on the beach.

But mainly I had a nice little retreat, got some things done, saw my friend Betsy and her two lovely daughters, and got to help them out, too.

So thank you, Universe!

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A Few Words to a Sponsee

Had some more thoughts on the way home, maybe more about myself than about you, figured I’d share anyway.
So we say things like “I don’t have time to do (step work, meditation, exercise, whatever) because of all this stuff I have to do. And all the stuff I have to do is driving me crazy.” An objective view would be, “Then what is the purpose of all ‘the stuff’?” And we might be able to step back and say, I get busy with all the stuff (or I get loaded, or codependent, or whatever) so that I don’t have to face what is there for me in the spiritual work, exercise, whatever. Because that leads to change, which can hurt or be scary. But staying super busy or loaded or whatever, while stressful, is familiar. We think we can handle it — even as it burns us out and gets in the way of growth.

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Thoughts on the Third Step

My experience with the Third Step started with a decision to take the advice of my sponsor and the people in the group. They were in touch with a higher power than I was, since they were sober and I wasn’t. So in those days it was a matter of going to meetings, sharing, hanging out afterwards, going to social events, getting a sponsor, working the steps, and so on — in short, following the suggestions of the program. Continue reading “Thoughts on the Third Step”

Why can’t we let go?

Written to a sponsee:

“The reason you can’t let go of your behaviors and resentments is that they serve a purpose and give you apparent, short-term relief, coupled with a type and level of pain that you are used to, can manage to some extent, and which you have begun to think of as your birthright. Or birthwrong. In the long term you know this isn’t working, but in the short term you have no idea how you can change from a familiar pain to something unknown. That’s where faith comes in; it can act as the bridge beyond all the “yeah-buts” that your mind puts up in defense of the ego — which, ironically, is the source of all your pain.

I say this because it’s true of every human being, not you in particular. Maybe not the Dalai Lama or Jesus.”

That Whole “Contact” Thing

I am occasionally exposed to the smell of weed, and often to the sight and smell of booze. And usually there’s a little voice in my head that says, “Let’s get some of that!”

To that voice, I say, “It makes sense that you would want that, and I understand, but for right now I’m going to choose not to.” And I accept that I will hear from that little voice again.

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