Posted in Family, Recovery

Shining a Light into the Dark Places

Brigid with the Imbolc lambs (and on my arm)

It’s Imbolc, a fire feast and a day that belongs to Brigid, Celtic goddess of fires, of home and hearth and healing, of smithcraft and wordcraft. (Or–for those more comfortable with a different version of her–Saint Bridget, patroness of those same things, as she has also been known since the Catholics co-opted her some centuries back…)  Imbolc celebrates the lambing, the new life of spring after the dark of winter, the coming of Light.

It’s a celebration of beginnings, of cleaning house both literally and figuratively, of lighting the dark corners and praying for continued blessings in the upcoming year. At this time last year, my husband Keoni and I had only just collected our 30-day Sobriety chips after our awful alcoholic relapse, and it was a time of intense spiritual house-cleaning.

the Imbolc broom & the prayer-beads Keoni made for me last year

Despite my Irish roots, last year was the first that I took Imbolc to heart, right down to the symbolic broom Keoni made for me from the dried lily-stalks in our yard, and the string of turquoise prayer-beads he strung for me, not in ‘catholic’ decades, but in thirteens…. (That’s a number signifying transition, resurrection, and ascension or enlightenment; and a gemstone esteemed in ancient cultures around the world for its putative healing properties… And which, on a more humorous note, matches my entire closet…) .

I think it was good ol’ Groucho Marx, whose humor sometimes hid his wisdom, who said:

Blessed are the Cracked, for they shall let in the Light.

We had quite thoroughly cracked ourselves…  And so… It has been a year of Light.  With its darknesses too, as my writing the other day no doubt illustrated. But there’s the Light shining through, too–in the prayers and virtual hugs and uplifting comments that all of you sent my way in response to that post.  My deepest, heartfelt thanks!

three faces of Brigid–poet, life-giver, healer

And–to highlight some darkness–in all fairness I have to observe that, although I don’t believe the ex-husband’s behavior (especially in front of the kids) was in any way excusable, his underlying mistrust of me is not unfounded.  If I thought he’d pretty well ridden his “High Horse” to death when I was 22 months sober–well, I handed him a brand new horse when I drank again.  Trust might heal with time, but I don’t have the right to expect it from anyone.

One of the many people whose trust I had train-wrecked was my sister… We each only have one sister, she and I–but I had been allowing myself the illusion that she wasn’t interested in having hers anymore, and I had been determinedly withdrawing for a good while now…  But, in the spirit of spiritual house-cleaning, that’s one of the functions of the A.A. Ninth Step of “making Amends” to those we’ve hurt. And this week I fumbled my way into the beginning of the Amends process with my sister.

with my sister six years ago–before my drinking drove a wedge

I say “fumbled” because (since we’re shining lights into dark corners here, I must be honest) I began by behaving very badly, and unloading a resentment of mine–which (I quickly realized in reading her thoughtful response) was a ridiculous thing to do when I hadn’t yet stepped up to my own damaging drinking behaviors that so severely impacted her.  With the wise guidance of my Sponsor (the “Jiminy Cricket” conscience who sits on my shoulder and suggests I get my head out of my ass when my head is getting ahead of my Recovery) and some heartfelt prayer, and the open heart of a sister who, in fact, doesn’t wish to be rid of me, that bad beginning actually drop-kicked me into an overdue beginning at Amends.

Making Amends is not a matter of apologizing.  As my Sponsor says, people have been hearing “I’m sorry” from us drunks too many times to make it a meaningful statement. Rather, it’s an accounting of the harms we’ve caused someone, followed by the question: “What can I do to make this right?” So today I’m in possession of a treasured answer to that question, and today is a life with my Sister in it once again. Talk about the Light shining through the Cracked Places of a Soul!

The prayer hand-written on the fly-leaf of my battered A.A. Book–the prayer I usually use when those prayer-beads are in hand–is one that was written to Brigid, although it could certainly be directed to a Higher Power in any form…

Make me strong in spirit,

courageous in action,

gentle at heart.

Help me act in wisdom,

conquer fear and doubt,

discover the hidden gifts within me,

meet others with compassion,

be a source of healing energy,

and greet each day with Hope and Joy.

So on that note…. Here’s wishing you a Blessed Imbolc, or Happy Candelmas, or Merry Groundhog Day, or…  simply a day of Blessings and Light.

Posted in Today's File

A Signature Quirk

“Are you done yet, Mom? Or do you have to write about your monochromatic closet now?”

My husband snapped this photo of my Writing “Helper” this evening–and aside from Her Royal Cuteness, what made me smile at this picture was the background view of my own closet.  Notice anything goofy about it?

I’ll give you a hint: if the lighting were better, everything in that closet would show up in some shade of teal or turquoise.

If I were a famous person, maybe fashion pages would refer to this as my “signature color.”  Since I’m NOT Somebody, it’s just this funny quirk I have. And hey, it makes life SO much easier!

The fun purse I found, with its sassy western/biker bling?  Deep turquoise, goes with everything in my closet.  No need to schlepp all my junk from one purse to another with each day’s outfit. Life is easier.

The wool dress-coat? Deep turquoise, goes with every suit, skirt, blouse, and sweater I own.  And I can leave my lipstick in the pocket because it’s the same coat I’ll be putting on next time.  Life is easier.

goes with everything…

The sassy turquoise beaded sandals?  Scarf, sweatshirt, earrings? Everything goes with everything. Makes it easier to shop, easier to get dressed in the morning, easier to plan and pack for a trip…  Everything I own is mix-and-match. Heck, even my tattoos and my reading-glasses match everything. Life is easier.

I’ve had the luxury (at least, back when I had a professional career that afforded luxuries) of spending more on an item than I might have done if I thought I’d wear it only occasionally–like the pair of turquoise and silver earrings I found at Yellowstone years ago, and still wear all the time.  I could invest in that one really nice dress coat, that one purse I love, a couple great pairs of shoes, the gorgeous pair of boots…  Knowing that I could wear them all the time.

And since I’m no longer in a position to buy anything new (or used, for that matter) I’m fortunate to have a ready-stocked wardrobe which will last me for a long, long time.  I’m still ready to dress for court, for jobs, for Idaho outdoors, for travel, for a spousal seduction, for a motorcycle ride…  And yes, it will always be in turquoise. (And yes, if anybody wondered, I even got married in turquoise.) For all its monochromatic scheme, my closet still has a lot of personalities.

My Writing-Helper has a few personalities too, but that’s a blog for another day.

always teal–down to the nose-stud and the reading glasses..
Posted in Travel

Packing Pro

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” ~Susan Heller

I’m supposed to be writing about Travel Destinations in Montana. Clearly I’m not. I promised myself I’d turn in my 17 Montana articles by the end of today–but hey, it’s only four in the afternoon, there’s still some of “today” left, and my mind is entirely (and agreeably) occupied with my own packing list for this week’s excursion into the Idaho mountains…

Arguably my favourite iPad app is the “Packing Pro,” with its enticing icon of a stickered suitcase and my customized packing lists for various types of trips (“day-trip on a writing assignment,” “travelling with the kids”)… My globe-trotting dad always said that anticipation and reminiscence are as important to the overall experience of a trip as the travelling itself—and the delicious sense of anticipation that accompanies the act of creating a new packing-list only confirms his observation. What does this journey call for when it calls to me? Fishing tackle. My turquoise prayer-beads. The A.A. “Big Book” (we’ll be in company of some other recovering alcoholics, and a Meeting in the Mountains is on my wish-list). Flannel shirts. Mountain maps. A picnic blanket.

My mother is the original packing pro. Before her Girl Scout trip to England when she was sixteen, her troop brought in an airline stewardess (yes, they were “stewardesses” then) to give the girls packing tips, and I’m here to vouch for the efficacy of the lesson; the woman can pack a suitcase no man can lift! For our six-month road-trip through Europe when I was ten, she managed to pack for all four of us (doll clothes, kitchen supplies, camping gear, and mix-and-match red-white-and-blue wardrobes for my sister and me) in just five suitcases. She sent ahead caches of English-language books for us, but aside from the reading material, four of us lived for six months out of those suitcases. Bravo, Mother! My own pinnacle of packing feats was for a two-month visit to the Philippines when my son was a year old—necessities for three people, baby paraphernalia, porta-crib, mosquito netting, more than 200 diapers, and a “first-aid kit” that could have rivalled a small pharmacy, all crammed into two medium-sized duffels. My mother and I are probably responsible for the weight-limits now imposed by airlines on checked luggage.

Tomorrow’s trip will be by car, though, so there’s no limit on the weight of my luggage, or on my imagination. Nor need we worry about Regina Nadelson’s observation that “Most travel is best of all in the anticipation or the remembering; the reality has more to do with losing your luggage.” :)

Ha, an amusing side-note… My spell-checker is currently set to “UK English” because my travel-destination articles are at the behest of a UK car-rental agency (or as they say, “car hire” agency)… I’ve only just noticed the automated fixes of words above like “favourite”—but I think I’ll leave them. A snapshot of today’s projects…

old suitcase