Honesty. It’s such a lovely word.

Everyone is so untrue.

Honesty is hardly ever heard.

And mostly what I need from you.

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I think I’m just going to have to hand this to Billy Joel today. He said it better than I ever could.

But, not “everyone,” Mr. Joel. Not at all.

Linking up tonight with Five Minute Friday. And the theme? truth-600x600.jpg

Here is what I have learned about honesty in the Life of Dana (which is sooooo super interesting, I know):

Life of Not Sober Dana:

I’m totally honest because I would hate to ever make anyone mad at me, and people get mad when they are lied to. I know this because I have watched a lot of gritty cop dramas and those bad people on there LIE, I tell you. And everyone is always so MAD about it. And gritty.

Also? The ‘truth’ is a completely relative term because to make sure that people like me all the time I might lie to you at some point after completely manipulating and controlling every eensy, meensy, single tiny dusty corner of this situation.

Did you know? Controlling every single eensy meensy tiny dusty corner of the situations? It just makes you dusty. And mad.

So…

Life of Sober Dana:

*taps mic* Ahem? I’m all about Rigorous Honesty in All My Affairs.

*silence*

This sounds SO impossible but honestly? It’s not so bad. Did you know? If you are just honest in the beginning there is NO DUSTING. I SO LOVE THIS.

DUSTING IS FOR MAIDS AND BUNNIES, NOT ME.

Ok, I don’t even know what that means.

But, I do know THIS:

To be honest, this honesty thing is SO MUCH EASIER. Why doesn’t everyone do this? Why? Don’t they know? We need to alert the media. And Congress. And small children. All of them.  

Perhaps I have such a handle on honesty because I am just so much more spiritual than most, and have my stuff together more. That’s totally it. *

What? I’m just being honest.

*Disclaimer: Sarcasm often takes honesty and dresses it up in costume. Usually something rather silly. I am not spiritual. I am a recovering alcoholic. This just means I used up all my lies in my 20’s through my 40’s, and so if I say any more dishonest things I will be smited and sent straight to H-E-double hockey sticks.

Disclaimer to the disclaimer: I don’t think God smites in that fashion, with actual bolts of lightening and immediate passage to that hockey sticks place. That kind of thing only happens in the movies. Or Congress.

But there would be smiting in my head and heart and that, as we all know, is much, much worse.

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Embrace the addict

Linking up with my favorite people again today for Five Minute Friday. The theme?

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I know. Writing about addiction again today.

Where, Momsie? Where is your funny self? Where are the cat pictures and endless throwing of children under the proverbial bus because they are maddening and adorable? Where ARE you?

Oh, don’t worry. I’m here. Hanging out with my inner addict.

We all have one. We do. You can argue with me all you want, but then I might say, very annoyingly, “Well, perhaps your addiction is control. Or being right. Or, God help you, some combination of both which we all know WORKS SO WELL.”

I wouldn’t say that to you because it would be rather self-righteous and, as I said, annoying, and we are friends. But you better believe I’d be thinking it.

I have an inner addict. I named her Esmerelda, and she likes to speak up at times when I am Hungry. Or Angry. Or Lonely. Or Tired.*

Sadly, I am any combination of these at about forty majillion times a day because life is not fair. Life is hard. Sing it with me folks. Oh blah dee, oh blah da… life goes on.

Yesterday Red had a total conniption because Blonde did not help him clean up EXACTLY EQUAL TO HIS CLEANING UP after lunch. If you have kids, you know. Anyhow, if I could have split the dirt and crumbs and smears of peanut butter down the middle with yellow crimezone tape, it would have helped, but … dare we go back to that wonderfulness that is:

LIFE IS NOT FAIR.

It was day four of our spring break together. Red was underslept and oversugared and basically? He lost his sh%T. Sorry. It’s a bad word but in this case – nothing else really suffices. I, as Mother In Charge of All the Things, had a few choices on how to deal:

  1. Smiting
  2. Timeouts with the Smiting
  3. #2 paired with a lecture, possibly a powerpoint presentation on Life Really is So Unfair.
  4. Run away.

I did none of these. I don’t know why. I was just… tired myself. So, I sat down on the floor, dusted away some crumbs to make room, and patted the floor for Red to come sit with me.

He eyed me, suspiciously. This was a different tactic. Perhaps I was gonna hog tie him when he approached and take him away to Military Unfairness School?

Nope. I just patted the floor, and when he came over, I grabbed him and held on. Then, I smushed his little fact in my hands (not too hard, but the good, Mom smushing) and I looked in his eyes and said, “Breathe. Just breathe in. Breathe out. I love you. It’s ok.”

The kid slowed down and looked at me, and remembered who he was.

And stopped freaking out.

I know. Perhaps he needed a timeout or some sort of discipline, but right then? I needed to hug him.

We behave badly sometimes. We grip onto things that are wrong. We rail and rant. We do things that are awful and unfair and shameful.

We want and want and want some more.

And… repeat.

It’s the whole bashing up against our sinfulness that is life, and did I mention? Not very fair.

But He is fair. And right then, He told me to hug my boy. Amidst his mess.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is be kind to the one who grips onto something too hard. He might just be falling apart with all the unfairness of it. Embrace him. Embrace yourself, if that’s who we’re talking about here. You better believe, I’m who we’re talking about here. (It’s my favorite topic, you know. Me.)

Embrace the addict. She knows it’s not fair. She needs a lot of love.

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*HALT. One of those acronym thingies I learned in recovery. If you start to fizzle out on your day? Are you HALT-ing? Or, if you’re me, are you SHALT-ing (sarcastic, hungry angry… etc)

Recovery has all sorts of those thingies. Like, One Day at a Time. And …Keep it Simple.

And, Be still and know that you are so not God.

I kinda made that last one up. But I did kinda steal it from a higher authority.

I’m Mad.

I found out yesterday that a friend in recovery died. He relapsed, and was found in his car, covered in vomit, in the fetal position. Dead.

I know this is not how you start a blog post. I guess. But I don’t really care.

He was young, and he had boys, and he had a smile that lit up the room.

And he’s dead.

Last Sunday I was helping in the yard, and it was hot. I had been working with the hubs and the boys for hours. The sound of the lawnmower hummed in the background as I pruned and weeded and raked. It was a glorious spring day.

And I was mad. I was mad at the grass and the fact that it made me itchy and that we had run out of bags and that my rose bushes had the audacity to have thorns.

I was mad at our blackberry vine because it needed to be cut back and I was mad at it for that. I was mad at my boys for giggling.

I was mad at the sun for being so hot.

As it happens, others around me felt the madness. This is always the way. Mad doesn’t like to be quiet or sit by itself, so, logically, I got mad at Brian.

I think it was because of the way he asked me about lunch. His tone was wrong and I got mad about that. And he blinked at me a bit which also made me mad and then I stomped inside because I was also mad, it seems, at the ground.

And then I did this:

I said, through gritted teeth: “God I don’t know why, but I am TICKED OFF. Please. Help. Grant me the serenity, Ok? Oh, I don’t even WANT to say the rest of it! I’m SO MAD.”

And then I stood there and waited for some sort of God miracle of goodness and light to come fix it. No such miracle. My dog circled my feet a few times but I felt no better. Still mad.

“Fine. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the FREAKING DIFFERENCE I AM STILL MAD.”

And, as usually happens after the serenity prayer, I stood still with my feelings, and turned them over in my hands, just for a moment. And as I turned them, I saw what I was mad about.

I wanted to take my husband a beer.

Back in the olden days, when I drank, on hot summer days I used to always take the hard working yard husband a beer. This meant, I was a good wife.

It also meant I was ok with beer- it was a harbinger of good will and slaking thirst after hard work in the sun. It was like all those Bud Light commercials with hikers enjoying a beer at the summit because beer is the next thing to Gatorade. It’s got wheat in it. IT’S GOOD FOR YOU.

And that beer that I brought to the husband also meant, evidently this past Sunday, that I was still very much an alcoholic. Because? It had taken up a whole lot of head space and had drug along with it a whole lot of negativity and emotions that don’t really belong anywhere near me anymore.

So, I realized all that in the kitchen on a hot Sunday. And I had to smile because every once in a while I try to tell myself that I am really ok. That surely I’m not an alcoholic. That I’m probably just fine… And that memory of that beer made it all very clear.

I walked out to the husband who was now trying to fix something broken in the garage. I stood in front of him, and said, “I’m sorry.”

He tilted his head to side, all labrador retriever-ish, and said, “Why? What did you break?” And I thought, he doesn’t even realize I was being a putz earlier. I should leave now.

But instead I said this:

I wanted to bring you a beer. I remember how I used to do that. And a part of me wishes I could still do it. We used to do fun things like that.

And he said,

Well,  I miss it too, a little. But not all that much. And we do lots of other fun things now, that we never could have done before. So that’s better.

I totally don’t deserve him. Also, he will make me mad again and he won’t nearly be as cool about it as he was in this post, I promise you. But for now, he said the perfect thing.

I hugged him, and spoke into his sweaty tshirt that smelled like cut grass, “I am so an alcoholic.”

He didn’t answer because I think he was realizing this was one of those Dana moments where it is very very much about my self-therapy, but I’m pretty sure he was thinking,

DAMN STRAIGHT YOU ARE.

So there was all that therapy last Sunday. Because of the sound of a lawn mower and some sun rays.

And then my friend, Jesse dies.

And I guess? I am still mad. Not mad anymore at the wrong people or the memories of long ago, or my own tangled brain.

I know who I’m mad at now. And today my anger feels like a loaded gun.

I hate you, alcohol.

That’s all. Thanks for listening.

Resolutions are not useless and here’s why:

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Ok, so I write for a fabulous magazine called The Cov. It’s a good gig. I get to talk about Jesus and often, they allow funny.  At the same time. I have a good relationship with the editors. I know this because I can send them kitty memes about procrastination and they seem to appreciate them.

Like:

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And this one, which neatly sums up the process of trying to edit:

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And this one:

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Which really has nothing to do with writing but it cracks me up. Also this:

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I know. I need to stop. So, the other day we were talking about a January column and I was all:

“HEY RESOLUTIONS! NO ONE HAS EVER DONE THAT BEFORE, RIGHT?”

And my editor, who I shall call Larry, said,
“Resolutions are hokey.”

Oh, it was on.

Actually, no. It was not on. I was all, “Oh, sure… right Larry, I totally agree.” I didn’t argue because he is kind of my boss, but NOT without muttering under my breath, all passive aggressive:

“You will rue the day, Larry.”

Not really sure where we’re going here, but I made MY OWN RESOLUTIONS ANYHOW ON MY BLOG! WHO’S THE BOSS NOW LARRY? HUH?

I know. I have to assert control somewhere.

MOMSIE’S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2017:

  1. Maintain a good working relationship with Larry.
  2. Stop putting my coffee in the microwave, zapping it for twenty seconds, and then leaving it there to ponder its uselessness until forty-eight hours later.
  3. I’m going to use this book on my children. 51MF3u-JPAL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_-1.jpgI will hold them each in my hands, ponder them for a minute, and ask them, “Tell me, small Red who has once again left a swath jelly behind in the kitchen like its own sticky Exxon Valdez oil slick, DO YOU SPARK JOY? DO YA, PUNK? DO YOU FEEL LUCKY?
  4. I will figure out how to number things on my blog.
  1. I will not actually donate my children, I promise. But you gotta know, MARIE KONDO DOES NOT HAVE CHILDREN. One day, if she does, she will grab some sort of useless plastic toy in her hands and start pondering it, and ask, “Small useless piece of plastic from The McDonalds, do you spar-” and her wee child will start crying and Kondo will just roll her eyes and toss it at the baby. You know she will.
  2. I will brush and floss every day.
  3. Freaked you out with that one, didn’t I? You were wondering… “Wait. She DOESN’T brush every day? Why am I even reading this?
  4. I will stop overusing “skin fixing illuminating age defying serum that costs shackamillion dollars.” I figured since the packaging said it erases fine lines I should just, you know, slather it all over. And now I head out for my day every morning looking like I’m J Lo.maxresdefault.jpg
  5. Actually? Scratch that. If I want to look like J Lo I can. Say hello to my glowy little friend:

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10. I will also try to get a handle on this:6a7c885b9a3b9476370d6de5a1b7c0ebd4d3d0359d90b8c1d9693788f25a6482_1.jpg

Betcha can’t guess what type of personality I am? I’ll give you a hint: I often have slanty eyebrows and I rhyme with “SLAY.

11. I WILL STOP SAYING ‘BOYS, ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?’ CUZ EVERYTIME I DO THAT A TREE FALLS IN THE FOREST AND EVERYONE HEARS IT.

12. And finally, as God is my witness, I will stop buying the bargain toilet paper. Life is just too short, people.

Here’s the thing (YOU KNOW I can’t write a post without some sort of “Here’s the moral to the story” moment? Right? Larry tells me I do this. It’s my thing. Alas, I often have no idea what I’m talking about in terms of morals, but I WILL CARRY ON.)

Anyhow, here’s the thing. I think this year I want to stop trying to lose things. I want to not try to lose weight or lose wrinkles or lose the clutter or lose my mind or whatevs.

I want more. I want enough piled on enough.

More, please!

More: Jesus. Family. Special Locked Door Husband time (yes, that’s code for nookie). Laughter. Small children who have impossibly long lashes and a total inability to eat without making the kitchen look like a crime scene.

More cuddling with this huge fat furry fluff of goodness:IMG_6138.jpg

This picture illustrates that Steve is two things:

  •      A bit of a risk taker.
  •      Really doesn’t mind pencils. EduCATed. Har har har.

I will take more naps:IMG_6131.jpg

I don’t have a picture of ME napping so these are stand-in, blurry nappers. Look carefully for the dog, he’s at the end of the couch and is basically really really hurt because Steve has his spot.

Also, we’re so healthy! V-8!

I will take my kids sledding, even when there’s only about 2 inches of snow. We will still attempt it. IMG_6222 3.jpg

I will stay up a little later, act a little sillier, and hug even tighter.

Also, I’ll listen to the Xanadu soundtrack more often.

Oh, and I won’t drink. There’s always that. That’s one minus I will happily keep adding to my life.

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And, I will write. I’ll even pen some resolutions. I will always, always love the re-set button that is January 1.

Happy New Year to you. May God richly bless you. You have been a HUGE blessing to me.

Even you, Larry.

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That’s not actually Larry. Love you, Larry!

While Dreams of Martinis Danced in My Head.

Y’all. Christmas used to mean drinking.

It meant Bailey’s Irish Cream. And mulled wine (totally gross, and it involves the extra step of actually heating up the alcohol, which, if you think about it… why not just throw that stuff in the microwave if you must, but without the cinnamon sticks). It meant eggnog and rum. I think this is perhaps the most heinous of Christmassy drinks, but it was all “’tis the season” this and “let’s raise our glasses” that and I usually had my one cup of tricked-out eggnog and then just headed for the wine, like normal people do.

Anyhow.

I forget if I have told you…. have we had that whole uncomfortable, hey, did you know this little tidbit about me thing where I unload my personal history and tragedy, but in a totally “it’s all cool” kind of way – like if you came bopping up to me and said “Hey! Hi! Cute shoes! Did you know I used to steal cars?”

What I’m trying to say is: My name is Dana, and I’m an alcoholic.

I don’t drink anymore. But Christmas? Christmas is a time that I really remember it all. The insanity. The lying. The situation that somehow I had gotten myself into, me, an intelligent, “had it together” mom of two. Me. Hiding vodka in my closet, tucked away amongst all those cute shoes.

Christmas is for a lot of things. But for me, drinking is no longer one of them. Tonight, Christmas is for sneaking around with wrapping and tape and a La Croix, and lots of whispering and staying up way too late. It’s for eating yummy things and crying while I watch It’s a Wonderful Life. I always cry. It’s the law.

Christmas is all about second chances, after all. George Bailey understands that, I think. So does Christ. It’s his birthday and He is so happy celebrate it with all of us. Christmas is for playing endless board games and making candy and hoping the roads aren’t icy and splurging at the store to buy your kid a ridiculous Pikachu shirt because that odd yellow creature speaks my kid’s love language. I dunno. I don’t get it. But when I was a kid I went nutball for the Superfriends, so perhaps we’re just repeating ourselves.

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Christmas is for seeing how a baby gave us the colossal reset. It’s for taking a breath and realizing goodness and right is still in charge. Still good. Still right.

And still right here.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Mine will be spent playing bingo and eating cookies and probably forty thousand other things, all with family. For those with family far away or an empty chair at the table, I know. And I know for some, hanging up that one thing that plagues you so is still not part of the plan for Christmas. Do yourself a favor. Give yourself the gift of freedom. Set down the glass or the pill or the shopping or the comparing of the gambling or whatever it is that keeps you stuck.

Set it down and enjoy the best gift. Life.

Love you and Merry Sober Christmas.

 

 

Good Meetings. And Good Hair.

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Me, this morning, driving to a very needed hair  appointment.

Me: Hi God. I have my Jesus music on. Let me turn it down. Good stuff. Do you think you might have a little time?

God: Really? Have we not gone over this before? Yes, my girl. Go on.

Me: Ok. So… Um. Ok, here goes. There is all this awfulness going on. Have you SEEN all of this? Like, watch the news for about three minutes. And don’t even get me started on the facebook.

God: Ah yes. The Facebook.

Me: YES. Facebook. You know it? IT’S A HOT MESS. I mean, it has cat videos. Those help. And people post about their anniversaries. Those help too. But lately. Hot mess for the win.

God: Hmm. I can see how it might seem that way.

Me: I have two little boys. They’re little. Small, right? Like, they have all this growing up to do.

God: Yes. I know them dear. We were just talking last night.

Me: Well.   DO SOMETHING.

And then, I pulled into the parking lot. My friend, who is also in recovery, is my hair dresser. She makes my hair look great. She also makes my heart great, because whenever we get together, it’s a meeting. For those of you who don’t know – I am an alcoholic, and I attend 12 step meetings. But sometimes those meetings don’t have to take place in church basements with the bad coffee.

Sometimes, they take place while you are getting flappy foils put in your hair. You look ridiculous, but the meeting is ON.

So then, I unloaded. She gave me highlights and I gave her my guts. Every worry and fear. My little boys. All the anger around us. All the people, falling apart. Falling down. Every prayer. All of it.

And then she reminded me:

“God has the mountains. Even when they seem to crumble. He is still in charge.”

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You know this verse? It’s kind of a good one. The bible works that way – it’s got a lot of good ones. Sometimes I slap a bible verse on things, like a Jesus version of a Spiderman band-aid and hope it will feel better, but this verse? It’s bigger than a band aid. Bigger than a mountain.* I know this. But there is something about hearing it from another messenger, you know?

God and my hairdresser. A good morning. Meetings happen everywhere, as long as we are willing to listen.

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*Actually – I would have to add, all of the bible? ALL of it: Bigger than mountains. Every letter.

Happy, Joyous, Free.

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Sometimes life walks right up to you and hands you a glass of lemonade. You don’t have to deal with the lemons at all, just straight up lemonade. Lotsa ice. Maybe even a sprig of mint.

In less than a month I will be flying off to Florida to speak at the Intervention Project for Nurses. There, I get to talk about my story, and be funny, and make people laugh, and share some tears, all stuff that is totally up my alley. My Floridian alley. Which also includes a beach.

Also, in the fall I am doing a reading at The Writers’ Place:

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I used to walk by this amazing house when I was in my twenties, wistfully thinking, “Maybe one day I’ll go to a reading there. Maybe.” Now, I’m read-ING there.

And then there is this big HUGE sprig of mint:

 

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2016 Higher Goals Awards

Presented during EPA’s 2016 convention, the 2016 Higher Goals awards honor the best work done in specific categories during the 2015 calendar year.

Devotional:

First Place: The Covenant Companion, “Broken” — Dana Bowman

First Person Article:

Fourth Place: The Covenant Companion, “Jesus, Take This Cup From Me” — Dana Bowman

Humorous:

Second Place: The Covenant Companion, “Confessions of a Not So Cheerful Giver” — Dana Bowman

Personality Article:

Fourth Place: The Covenant Companion Online, “Breaking Through the Sound of Silence” — Dana Bowman

To read more about the awards and articles, click here.

All of this is a huge honor. Just huge. Awards are always an opportunity to take a breath and allow yourself to feel right in place. The Evangelical Press Association had perused all Christian publications, from Christianity Today to In Touch magazine, and more. I think this all just makes me smile at how my relationship with Covenant Companion Magazine came to be: it was a short blurb in their magazine honoring my pastor, Jeff Waugh, and his wife Julie for their care taking and help when I battled post-partum depression. That two paragraph entry showed up in their magazine over six years ago.

Sometimes, life is all about lemons. Bitterness. Soured dreams. Sadness.

And other times?  Life reminds you that when you travel with God’s travel plan clutched tightly in your fist, sometimes everything is so very, very sweet.

 

“We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word
serenity and we will know peace…
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us
-sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”
     Reprinted from the book Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book) with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc
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