Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015 Resolutions & Mantra::Serenity::January 8

Word: Serenity
Fortune Cookie: "Sing and rejoice, fortune is smiling on you."

Steve and I went out for Chinese on New Year's Day the same way that we have for many years now. Why Chinese? I guess because I love how the table is already set to reflect a new year's ebb and flow; the placemat has the Chinese New Year's symbols. As an aside, I thought for years I was a dog, since I was born Jan of 1970 - but alas, I am a cock. The Chinese New Year, in 1970, was in February. A small, inconsequential detail, but it was an aha moment for me, since I fit so much more of the rooster's qualities than the dog. Anyway.....

As I sat and pondered, my word came easily: Serenity. It is something I've been working on for most of 2014 as well. The Serenity Prayer is one I repeat often: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

I'm trying to figure out if there is a difference between "peace" and "serenity". In any case, I'd love to learn to truly be serene. At peace with all around me, even if in the midst of chaos.

I've been going to Al Anon for a while now. All that is required for Al Anon is that you have been affected by alcohol (or drugs) in some way. At first, I thought I knew who my "qualifier" was (the person whose use or abuse has brought you to Al Anon), but as I attended longer, I realize that I have several, which makes me wonder: if we were all totally honest, wouldn't everyone be in an Al Anon group? ;)

The purpose of Al Anon is to learn serenity, so that if life with your alcoholic qualifier is chaos, you can still be at peace inside yourself.

It reminds me a lot of Buddhism, in fact, many of the principles are the same: detachment, no expectations, no violence in word or action. They are not easy concepts, but they are very simple.

Al Anon is a lot like AA and you pick a sponsor to help you work out your own recovery. For an Al Anon member, typically our stories look very similar: life has been chaotic and we have been the ones to pick up the pieces often. We tend to be controlling - trying to organize the chaos has been our goal, yet at some point along the way we realize that "control" is an illusion. There is a great clip about this very issue on youtube from the movie "Instinct":

While Al Anon teaches the lessons in a much safer and less stressful environment than on that movie clip ;), I think we all go through our own trials that make us realize that control is not up to us. It is in our Higher Power's (for me, God) hands only, and the sooner that we realize that, the sooner that we can have serenity. The first three steps are repeated over and over and over. In short, the first 3 Steps look very much like: 1) I can't 2) He/She can 3) I will let Him/Her, and all of us in group will admit that we go back to those first 3 steps several times a day.

Al Anon might be specifically for the effects of alcohol & drug use/abuse that has affected us, but the principles that are learned apply to all of life: our children, especially teenagers and young adults, disease, job loss, depression, etc etc etc. Every single issue in life is out of our control. Buddhism/Al Anon concepts and principles help us to see and deal with those and realize that we never had control in the first place.

Back to sponsors. Mine exudes serenity; it is why I chose her. I'm very grateful that God has put her in my life. She helps me put things in perspective.

Anyway, so "Serenity". I think it is a worthwhile goal, even though as I've been angry about something (that I don't have control over ;) ) and I think "Serenity" in one thought and "shut up about serenity already!" in the next. I hope that someday I can have the serenity that my sponsor does - she's had a decade longer to work on it than I have, though, so I'll cut myself some slack ;)

My other goals are:
~ to build core strength and flexibility, and to work on endurance during aerobic activity.

In work:
~ to find joy in photography by taking more of my own pictures - macros, landscapes, and portraits of non-paying individuals (usually my family members)
~ to play with lighting more: incorporate reflected light bouncing off of surfaces like the ground, side of a building, the side of the rocks on a mountain, etc that makes portraits more interesting
~ learn more photoshop skills, especially with making portraits the exact colors I want (there's that control thing popping in LOL ;) )

~ learning and living Al Anon/Buddhism principles
~ faith, hope, charity
~ go wherever my Higher Power (God/The Holy Spirit) leads me
~ read and study
~ relax and enjoy where I'm at (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually)

~ continue going to book club & reading book club's book choices (as well as my own preferred genres/books)
~ read church group's book

Those are the things I've written and thought of. I'm sure that as the year winds through, I'll adjust them and modify them to fit my situation at the moment. Flexibility in all things is very important.

I hope that you have a wonderful 2015, and even if it doesn't look exactly like you'd hoped and planned, that you will find joy and peace in it.
♥ Melody

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