The Architect

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Yesterday I was drawn to an open house in the hills not too far from where I live.  I’m not in the market to buy a home right now, but I love getting ideas for the home I’m eventually going to buy.  Walking into beautiful homes entices my imagination, and helps me to dream bigger.  If I can feel myself living there, then I know that it’s available to me.  Also, when I’m drawn to something, I follow the yearn within me.  I was drawn to this home.  I’ve seen it sitting on the market for quite some time and they’re always having open houses on Sundays.  It’s a several million dollar listing, but this does not stop me from dreaming, because the higher power I know, does not think in terms of dollar bills, nor does my higher power have limitations.  I’m open to receiving whatever the universe has to offer me and I’m not afraid to reach for the stars. 

I drove up the hill to this modern style house and was greeted by a woman whom I thought was the Realtor, so I went around with her, explaining that I was not in the market, but I was in the profession (real estate) and had been curious about this place.  There was another woman sitting at a table, and I just thought they were partners in the listing.  What fascinated me about the home, was that it was built and designed around a magnificent rock.  This rock’s base is on the bottom floor of the home, and protrudes through the main floor.  It felt so sacred being there, and with the suggestion from the woman, I placed both of my hands on the rock to get a sensation of oneness with nature; which is how the house was built.  I explained that I was a writer in recovery from alcoholism, and the woman had me sit down on a bench built next to the rock.  She told me to take a look at the fabulous view of the mountains and the valley, from a floor to ceiling window, while explaining that a former writer/tenant had completed a compelling manuscript in the very place where I sat.   I think she said the book is doing well.  I felt the power of that place, and raved about its incredible uniqueness.  I had no idea that I was talking to the architect who designed the home!

Wow.  So there I am simply in awe that this woman I’ve been talking to, has such a bond to this place.  She’s had offers from investors, and refuses to sell it to them because she sees an artist living there.  Everyone who has lived in the home has been an artist, from musicians to painters to writers. ( I agree with her.  A writer would be perfect for that home!)  Anyway, as I began to leave, she told me that she would like to read one of my books.  I just so happened to have my children’s novel, ‘Majestic Wonderbread’ in the car, so I offered it to her and told her to pass it along to any children in her life.  She was delighted, and then she mentioned the cover, which is designed with a painting of the milky way.  “I want you to come back inside.  I have something to show you,” she said.  I obliged.

The architect pulled out a folder, and there inside was the building design from start to finish, of a home built above the one we were in now.  The former tenants of this home loved the house, but it wasn’t for sale at the time, so they decided to build their own on the vacant lot above.  The page she wanted to show me, was not of the land or the homes; but of the sky.  She showed me a picture of the stars, the galaxy, and the constellations above the two homes.

“This is what inspired my designs,” she noted.  “This is the milky way, which you can see from Google when you type in the coordinates of this house.”  She looked at me with excitement.  “This is all right above this home… just like the cover of your book!”  I was moved beyond words, but not because of the coincidence.  I’m used to coincidences.  They occur all of the time when I’m in alignment with my path.  It’s just the universe’s way of letting me know that I’m on track.  What I was in awe about, is how she used the design of the stars to design the two homes.  She was a great artist, and there I was standing in her presence.  I couldn’t believe it.  “This is how the ancient architects designed the pyramids,” I said to her smiling.  “I know,” she replied, gleaming.

What a great honor, to follow the yearning of my soul, and to walk into such a dynamic experience without needing anything, or expecting much.  I just went there because I felt a yearning.  I met the Realtor too, who was sitting at the table.  While she was flipping through the pages of my novel, she opened up to us, and shared with us that she’d lost her son, and was certain that he was always near her.  She felt him.  I don’t know why she mentioned this, but I’m glad she did, because it wasn’t the usual sales pitch, which wouldn’t have done her, or me, any good.  She told us this because she felt she could, and because we were all there just being.  It was an amazing moment.  I’m so glad I went to that house yesterday. 

This doesn’t have a lot to do with recovery you say… Oh, but it does.  It truly does.  It was the surrendering to that yearning voice inside me that knows so much more than my limited mind knows.  My intuition understands that great forces are at work, and gives me little nudges here and there, so that I have the opportunity to be touched in a way that blows my mind.  If I had been drinking this weekend, I wouldn’t have felt anything, and I wouldn’t have had that precious experience.  I wouldn’t have touched the sacred rock, or felt the connectedness of the moment.  I wouldn’t have met those women, or handed someone my book, nor would I have been reminded that I’m loved beyond measure, because that’s what I felt in that home yesterday.  I’m connected, I’m loved, I’m supported and there is great power in my life now.  It’s because I’m sober, that I am open to receiving this power.  I am so eternally grateful that I can heed to the calling of my intuition now, which I used to drown out and ignore.  I’m so grateful for these precious moments in my life.  And what an amazing life it is!  Thank you Universe! And thank you, Creator, for designing my life in such a dynamic way!
Link to the house: http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/27-Indian-Rock-Rd-San-Anselmo-CA-94960/19300946_zpid/

Link to Majestic Wonderbread:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_20?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=majestic%20wonderbread&sprefix=majestic+wonderbread%2Caps%2C311

Surrender

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In recovery, isn’t it curious how our lives begin to fall right into place after so much drudging during our addiction?  Even in our wreckage, we receive clarity.  Endless possibility accompanies our restoration.  What we used to dread dealing with, we become open and willing to manage through now; and what we once deemed impossible, is very much possible today.  Life is not as difficult as we believed it was while we were twisted in our addiction.  Moving into serenity isn’t only plausible, it becomes a natural state of being.

I have pondered this phenomenon often.  It goes without saying that if one is struggling in their addiction, then the obvious solution is for them to get clean and remain sober.  What is so difficult about this course of action?  Why don’t more addicts become and remain sober?  During my addiction, many people suggested that I just stop drinking, or just don’t drink, as if I’m throwing a feather into the wind.  It should be a breeze, right?

The truth is, getting sober is not easy.  In fact, I’ve discovered for myself that remaining sober has been much easier than becoming sober.  I think of an addict getting sober as being equivalent to someone who has been running away from an impending train for quite some time.  The train is always right at their heels, but every time they take a hit or drink or pop a pill, the train seems to back off.  The speed of the train subsides.  The noise of the strain subsides, and the fear of the train hitting also subsides.  The drug or drink keeps that train at bay every time the addict uses.

Inadvertently in late addiction, the train has already hit the addict and caused a lot of wreckage, but the addict continues to run and hide from it.  As a result, the drug or drink no longer has the same effect as before.  The drug or drink no longer drowns out the noise or the speed of the train.  It doesn’t reduce the fear.  In fact, all of these things become amplified.  When we finally acknowledge that the train has wrecked, we have a choice to either face the train or to get buried in the wreckage.  When we face the train, it is called surrendering.  When we choose to get sucked into the wreckage by ignoring it all, it is called denial.

The train represents life.  A significant difference between an addict and a non-addict is that an addict, at some point in their existence, purposely jumps off the train and begins running away from it.  Ironically, the train is always moving and it’s never apart from the addict, who is completely delusional.  The addict truly believes he or she can forever run from himself, from emotion or from pain and sorrow.  All of the troublesome things arising from within the addict, is what the addict wants to hide from, completely.

When it finally occurs to the addict that his or her only alternatives are to surrender, or to die, we must make a choice.  When we choose to surrender, our guard is then eradicated; we become vulnerable and open.  We face the train wreck and then uncover what has always been there.  What has always been there is our emotional responses to our experiences.  What we discover in our moment of surrender, is the capacity to stand before the wreckage and admit that we have absolutely no control. 

You see, we were never the conductor of our life; we were simply a passenger on a journey.  When our experience of that journey became uncomfortable or unbearable, we heedlessly tried to take control.  We got off track and created a disaster, but in the spirit of surrender with minimal resistance, the train is eventually restored and we, the addicts, are restored.  We get back on the train, as wrecked as it may be, but this time we begin to accept everything along the way, in a state of constant surrender.

What exactly, are we surrendering to? 

We are surrendering our self-will and re-connecting to Spirit.  We are re-aligning ourselves with that gentle flow of life that always was and always is.  What happens when we surrender our self-will and decide to face the wreckage of the train, is that our perspective becomes much clearer.  We are raw and facing the truth.  Finally there is potential, because we are no longer running away.  We are no longer heading off track or headed in the wrong direction.  Although the train may seem un-restorable at the time, something within us has shifted because we are at least facing the train wreck.  This is the point where we begin trusting in a process which we know nothing about, and we begin walking along in blind direction.  Somehow we gain the ability to believe in something greater than ourselves, which we cannot clearly see.  Our understanding at this point is that a power greater than ourselves will restore us to sanity, as stated in Step 3 in the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

This is a difficult concept for many recovering addicts to wrap their minds around, which is okay.  We do not need to wrap our minds around anything.  We simply surrender and admit that our lives have become unmanageable.  This is the first step.  Once this step is courageously taken, we have deliberately re-aligned ourselves on the journey that we began at birth.

There is so much possibility when we surrender, because it is then that we become completely open to living within the wholeness and completeness of our lives.  We begin making space, without illusion or limitation, to be guided through our wreckage, in total clarity of each moment.  When we grasp how simple it is to live a life in sobriety, by taking just one day at a time (or one moment at a time as I like to do), we begin to experience gratitude for even the smallest of details that make up the whole.  The uncommon slowness of our lives becomes a vastness extending into completeness.  Everything we need at any given moment is granted to us without hassle.  We begin to realize that emotions and conflicts that arise are not only manageable; they are efficiently beneficial to our spiritual growth.  We experience harmony more often than not.

If a self-destructive, severe alcoholic like me can make these claims and have this understanding of life, anyone can.  I truly believe that recovery is the most significant gift to a suffering individual, especially when it is done with the intention to dive into life with the same earnestness we had in our addiction. 

Recovery is so simple, yet so opposite of what we know.  It’s very much about being responsible and aware of our experience at any given moment.  It’s about having kindness for ourselves, which extends out to others.  It’s about picking up on our emotional responses, as opposed to picking up a drink or a drug.  These are all things we are not accustomed to doing.  In recovery we are undoing many years of hardwired conditioning.  This takes willingness, awareness, practice, patience, and diligence. 

Acceptance Creates a Path of Laughter

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Sinking down into a place of complete acceptance, wherein all judgment ceases, feels as if my life is resting upon a down comforter.  I didn’t realize how judgmental I still am, until I intentionally observed it in myself.  I was accepting of many things, but not of others.  It all hit me as I felt judgment coming from people, which prodded me to look at my own self.  Trying to clear myself completely of judgment doesn’t exactly seem plausible, so instead of looking at the judgment, perhaps I can begin with acceptance.  We tend to unsuccessfully abandon the negative parts of ourselves, rather than opening up to our positive aspects.  The acceptance I have in my life, outweighs the judgment, so this is where I have decided to place my energy this week, and hopefully thereafter.

Acceptance is an incredible tool to use throughout the day.  To set an intention of acceptance, is to create yourself a path of laughter.  I know this from experience.  Imagine one of those Mondays where everything goes wrong, from the time you wake up and hit your toe against the dresser, to dropping the shampoo several times in the shower, and finally there is an accident on the way to work, when you were already running late.  Coffee spills, high volumes of phone calls, chronic problem solving at the office, you forget your lunch and your wallet; it’s just one of those days.  But what if on this particular day, you had made an intention of “acceptance.”  At some point, maybe between the coffee spilling and forgetting your wallet, wouldn’t you have to throw your head back and laugh? 

I imagine acceptance as an internal smile.  No matter what is occurring, you have this secret super hero power where nothing affects you negatively, because before it happens, you decide to be ok with it.  There is so much compassion in this, and it certainly feels better than being angry and cussing out the dresser for being in the way of your toe.  It also feels amazing to smile at the antics of the person at work who usually bugs you.  By accepting them today, you are able to take nothing personally. You are graciously allowing them the space to be who they are without being annoyed by them.  I would rather walk through my life with an attitude of acceptance, than feeling annoyed, angry, or frustrated.  It simply FEELS better.  

Human beings tend to think that life is better when everything is in place, exactly how they want it to be.  In actuality, how you feel, is what truly creates your experience.  If you can change the way you feel, your experience changes.  I used to drink to feel good.  This didn’t always pan out for me.  Now it’s simply a matter of me being open to my experiences and not placing expectations on anything, which creates a calm and joyful experience in everyday situations. 

I love it how gifts like acceptance are absolutely free. It’s a gift that continues giving, and it makes life so much more palatable.  I highly suggest a daily practice of absolute acceptance.