Banish Worry and Anxiety in Five Easy Steps!

Gotcha.

I hate to say it, but worry doesn’t go down that easy. It doesn’t do “steps.” Sometimes, it doesn’t even do logical.

And it doesn’t play fair. Does it?

Some of you know my whole story – the one that digs back behind the funny parenting posts and tells you that I am an alcoholic, in recovery. And here is the rub:

Worry was my THING.

And sometimes, it still is. The holidays are a time of festivity and lights and our Savior’s birth, but did you also know? For a lot of us, the holidays are fraught with fear, anxious thoughts, worry. Sadness. Depression. A whole cocktail of tangled thinking stirred with a cute little swizzle stick of “We SHOULD be totally happy right now! It’s Christmas! NO ONE can be sad at Christmas! It’s un-American!”

In some ways, worry is an addiction all its own. It can be picked up and put on, like one of those big puffy coats that make you look like the Michelin Man – it buffers you from all else. It wraps and constricts and, at the same time? It might just be what we think keeps us warm and safe. If we worry, that means we just might have a shot at fixing whatever worries us.

We think we can fix, with worry.

Instead? We only damage more.

Lately I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this:

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Here is a bit of wisdom (in the form of a list! You KNOW how I love lists!) from the author, D. C. Berkel, CPA:

Worrying has never:

  • Paid a bill
  • Turned around a failing relationship
  • Made a sick person well
  • Improved anyone’s physique
  • Changed anyone’s mood to one more positive
  • Made a job more fun or secure
  • Taken out the trash
  • Mowed the grass
  • Painted the house
  • Or kept the mother-in-law away

Now, not all mother in laws are worry-inducing. But, this list? It makes sense. We worry. We worry about all sorts of things. And Christmas? Sometimes, in all this joy and celebration, it crashes up against us and makes the worry hit back. This workbook? It has a lot of help to offer. It defines anxiety, and worry, and tells us why we sink under it. It gives us some very practical advice, in a written workbook format, step by step. It takes it slow.

And that’s how we deal. We need to take a breath, do some writing, some thinking about our past, some work. Maybe because we owe it to our future.

I still worry. But, I don’t let it control me. And I don’t suffer from it, like I used to. It doesn’t cloak me, and my life, like it once did.

Did you know? About six years ago, every time I got in a car with my family to go on a road trip, I would envision our little vehicle ending up in a terrible crash. I would see it, the metal on the road, the ambulances, the terror. I would breathe deep and clench my fists and pray like crazy, but that, my friends, is some palpable, evil anxiety to deal with. So, today? I do every thing I can to work on it. I gather my tools and I keep them close. God asks us pursue wisdom, and knowledge, and live right.

This book is one of those tools to live right. I highly recommend it.

If you are interested in getting a copy, click here.

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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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My Time Was Running Wild

Hooking up with Kate Motaung today on Five Minute Friday. The theme is:

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I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
And every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test…

Time may change me
But I can’t trace time.

Changes – David Bowie

I have changed a lot. Time has changed me. God has changed me. I have allowed it to happen, and I have worked at it too. Some of the work has been relentless. Painful. My heart would break. I would sew up the rest of me and try again the next day, and time marches on.

When I finally turned to face me, the real me, the sober me, I also saw the faker. She had survived for a long time, and really, sometimes I miss her. The wild girl had a lot going for her. She always had to win, after all. And she did, a lot of the time. But her soul?

Oh, it always comes back to the soul. Isn’t that just the way?

I miss the sweet toast of champagne, sometimes, on a late Friday night, with my husband. A small celebration of a long week, parenting on, the mighty momma soldier keeping my house afloat, my children fed, the life rolling along. The champagne just kept me moving. But also, it put me to sleep. A long sleep. Like, for twenty years.

The taste of life is so much sharper now. The soul of this girl is intact, a little battered, and often times very, very tired.

But I am still standing. I can look at myself in the mirror. I know who she is now, that girl that stares back at me, battle worn, but alive.Very much alive.

No more dead-end streets.

Change is good. Scary as heck, but good. I cannot go back and trace the path I took, it is a tangled mess. But God got me here and I am forever grateful.

 

“Maybe we have to exist and live on the idea that we have one day at a time to live—and can we do that? Because if we could do that, we may be serving some really great thing.”[David Bowie interview with Guillaume Durand, 2002]

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Tiny Humans.

So, I don’t want to write today. I don’t. I have a living room that has decided its decor theme is “Random Piles and Despair” and I have a cold, and there’s that last episode of the Great British Bake Off that is just yearning to be cuddled up to. Oh, and these. I have a bag of these:

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if I’m going to watch a bunch of Brits make the most tantalizing desserts this side of Great Ben, I might as well pair it with nature’s candy. Corn syrup and red dye #40. What’s not to love?

So, in lieu of writing something fantastic and utterly life-changing for you, my dear readers, I will instead relate the latest from my children.

I like to call this:

Backseat Conversations with Two Small Children.
Or:

Driving Miss Crazy.

Blonde: We need to buckle up.

Red: Yes.

(Bear with me. It gets better.)

Red: I’m all buckled.

Blonde: Yes.

(Well. Sorry. I know. It’s been a slow week.)

Red: Fork is da strongest guy out there?

Blonde: What?

Red: Yep. Da strongest. He has his hammer, you know.

Blonde: Wat?

Red: And then WHAM! He just has to, you know, like HAMMER at the things! All the things! And they do it!

Blonde: What do it?

Red: The things! All of them! Except Spiderman. He has a web. Webs are stronger than hammers.

Blonde: THOR.

Red: No, Spiderman.

Momsie: I think he meant- (and then I stop myself. Because this is better entertainment than I have had in a while. And yes, I know, that statement right there pretty much sums up the level of funtastic at my house.)

Red: Webs are SUPER STRONG. And there is the flying!

Blonde: His web only can shoot out two feet. I know.

Red: Yes, he CAN. He can too fly. But you’re right. Only two feet.

Blonde: THOR. T-H-O-R. It’s THORRRRR.

Red: Four what? (Could also be “for” – we will never really know. But I am gonna hazard a guess that it truly DOES NOT MATTER.)

Blonde: THOR!

Red: I KNOW! And his hammer. He’s the best A- … Av-… What is he?

Blonde: He is a super hero. He’s with Captain Merica. A plunger.

Red: Captain Merica is just from here. He is not from a whole nother planet. If you come from another planet then you are way cooler.

Momsie: Thor. He an Avenger. And he is really cute.

Both: …

Red: He is not cute. He is not. HE HAS.  A HAMMER.

Blonde: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!

(“Scuze me. Sorry. Let me just quickly interject to tell you we’re passing a store with an “Open” sign that is lit up. That’s all. Now you may go back to reading this post.)

Red: Yep. Der they are!

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The end.

I know. It’s not an episode of Seinfeld, but it’s all I’ve got. So, let me also leave you with a picture of a Corgi dressed up like Thor. Because the internet:

funny-dog-dressed-up-costume-corgi-thorgi-picsBut wait! There’s more. I am gonna offer you this bit of knowledge:

Cars are the best way to really listen to your kids. They will ask you questions and talk to you about stuff in the car when they won’t elsewhere. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because there is no eye contact. Maybe because there is all that stuff going on outside the windows and it can make the stuff you’re talking about seem not quite so FULL of stuff.

Containment is key. They are strapped in. They cannot escape. We can end up talking about deep things – things like why we need to be nice to that one kid that keeps saying all the bad words at school and shoves a lot, and why mommy and daddy need to go out on a date tonight, and why mommy goes to meetings on Sunday nights.

And why the Royals are the most wonderful team ever in existence of the whole world forever and ever, amen.

But NOT IN THIS POST. No sirree!

No deep stuff today. Just Fork’s Hammer!

Gotcha.

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Life Sentence.

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Something lately has been really really really bugging me.

No. It’s not the coffee cup thing. Don’t leave the post.

Here is my issue: Lately I had a review of The Book (I wrote a book. Did you know?) in a local paper. The review was really nice and well written and we had a great interview prior. It was, all in all, great press and great information about the book.

But.

The final paragraph or so was about my brother. This was a fitting place to end because his story intertwined with mine is really important. He died from alcoholism. I didn’t.

Well, there’s a lot more to it than that – but that’s not the problem. The problem is the final line of the article. It says something like: “After what happened to my brother, I was cured forever.”

No. Just. No.

I don’t think I said it, but to give proper credit to the writer who did a good job (I am not trouncing him – interviews are tough and he did a great job of fact checking and making sure most was copacetic prior to print.)

But, no. I am not cured forever. Chris would certainly understand that.

I understand this: I am an alcoholic. After all this press and marketing and “Wow, I read your book” from my small town peeps, I still have a hard time saying that, ‘out loud’ here for you. After all this time. Still bugs me to say it. Still kinda bugs me to have people say, “Yea you! Good job! You’re awesome! You are in recovery! Woo hoo!” I know. That isn’t quite the way they say it, and I KNOW it’s not quite the way they mean it, but humility is really important in my program, and sometimes all the pats on the back can be a way to forget.

That I’m an alcoholic.

Forever. It is a life sentence. It can be a death sentence if I forget. And it’s a sentence that has given me more freedom than I ever thought possible.

So. Nope. Not cured.

But, forever grateful.

Thus is the essential paradox of my situation. If I think about it too long, I get a big wonky, so most of the time, I just mutter the Serenity Prayer and get a coffee and do the next right thing.

Thank you for listening, readers. Does it sound mushy to say I am grateful for you? Well. I am.

And now, I’m gonna go get a Starbucks and while I stand in line I’m going to lay hands on the barista and speak and pray to Jesus to save her soul.

This should go well.

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Conference Calls Make Me Twerk

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today!

The theme?

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So, there are moments in my life where I am astounded by the simple fact that I have made all the way here. For all this time. For this long. I mean, I’m not gonna get all mushy or fatalistic or weird on you (insert obligatory eye roll from the lawyer here), but here is the deal:

GOOD GRAVY I AM AN ADULT. IT IS TOTALLY SHOCKING.

Here’s what I mean for all you poor slobs out there who are reading this thinking, “Well… uh… yea. She’s surprised by aging? By how the days go by and then, uh, birthdays? This blog. I give up.”

No, I mean it. I really am surprised sometimes that I am not still 18.

And I am also very VERY grateful I am not really 18.

It’s a strange paradox. Being me.

Anyhow, I KNOW there are some of you out there who get this, right? For example:

  1. You get the mail. Inside the mail is a letter from the IRS.

Adult self: Opens letter, maybe even with silver letter opener thingie like they use in soap operas, reads contents, and goes on with your day.

Surprised That I’m Not 18 Self: Gasps, sets letter down as if there is a spider on it, looks around. The IRS is hunting you down. By MAIL. You are in trouble. Walks away quickly to eat a Snickers.

2. The phone rings.

Adult Self: You answer it.

Surprised by… you know: Gasps. Looks around. You are probably in trouble OR someone has died. Walks away quickly to eat a Snickers.

3. Someone is at the door.

Adult Self: You answer the door. LIKE A BOSS.

Surprised Loser Self: Runs and hides with Snickers.

For some reason my lack of adulting always reverts back to chocolate? This is good and bad.

Anyhow. Lately, I have had to do a number of things called: Conference Calls with The Big Kahunas At Central Recovery Press.

These people are wonderful and lovely. They are smart, and really good at what they do, and also, I think, super cute.

But they keep making me do CONFERENCE CALLS. THESE ARE HARD.

You have to listen to others, and not interrupt too much or breathe too heavily or snicker at them (laughing, not eating) because no one really gets why they are all talking business stuff and you’re over there chortling at something someone said like two minutes ago.

Also: they use words like “marketing” and “talking points” and “live radio interviews” and all this makes you feel rather jangly.

Oh, and there is a teensy bit of time delay with conference calls. So things like this happen:

Boss at CRP: Let’s talk again soon.

Me: I’m fine, and how are you?

So last week I had another conference call with my publisher about The Book*** (I wrote a book.Did you know?) and it went rather well, actually. And here is why:

I twerked before it. While waiting for my other conference callers to get on the line, I stood, in my pajamas in the kitchen, with my dog and some coffee (I had the coffee) and listened to the Muzak version of “Hips Don’t Lie” and my hips, they just could NOT lie. They had to get down. So, I walked around my house, rumping up against things and confusing the hell out of the dog, but it was HOT, I tell you. I was on FIRE.

No, not really, but it was good for my 18 year old soul to shake what my momma gave me (thanks, Mom!*) and get over myself for two minutes before Big Important Business.

Sometimes? You better twerk.

And then, totally slip on the linoleum because fuzzy slippers, and spill coffee on the dog** but you know, you managed to recover with hair flip and no groin pulls.

*My mom is mortified by this thought.

** No sweet pweshum doggies were harmed by the making of this post. At least physically. I did catch him on the phone with his therapist later asking if he could get in for an “emergency appointment.” The twerking. It’s gonna cost him.

*** Yes, I wrote a book. Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery.

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Want to order? Click here or here!

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The twerking. The horror.

Wrapper’s Delight. Plus a whole lot of pictures and not much train of thought.

Brace yourselves. This is a long post about wrapping paper. I know, right? This blog, y’all. It’s on FIRE.

Long ago, like a long, LONG time ago, like back before cell phones*, I had a job as a bookseller at Border’s Books.

You remember Borders, right?

Coffee shop. Angst-filled workers, classical music. I do believe there was a guy at my Borders whose name was Indiana. Or, was it Idaho? NO. Illinois! That’s IT! He was so cool. His name preceded him. In fact, it’s entirely possible that Illinois is now living in his parents’ basement, playing online chess and working at Quickiemart, but STILL, his name will make it work.

Also: I worked with a guy who used the word “shedule” in his daily vernacular. As in, “I don’t know if I can work for you Thursday night, let me check my SHEDULE.”

“Shedule.” Not, “SCHEDULE” LIKE EVERYONE ELSE SAYS IT.  And yes, he was from Overland Park, Kansas. NOT over the pond with Big Ben and a lot of tea and cool accents! Nope. KANSASS.

Anyhow. It’s a bit evident that this guy really ticked me off. It’s been twenty years and every time I hear “shedule” when watching my beloved Masterpiece Theatre (pronounced ‘Theatah’ because they CAN, they’re BRITISH) I cringe. He ruined shedules for me. Or schedules. Or both.

ANYHOW, I digress! I will get to my point! Maybe! Soon!

Back when I worked at Borders, I had (still do – she’s a keeper) a best best friend there who was the Jedi master book seller of all, and she could Christmas wrap a book in like ten seconds. Bethany would SLAP the book down and then SLAP the paper around it, ZIP the tape on, THWACK it over.. and VOILA! Done.

Evidently, wrapping books is a rather violent event for my friend. But she was FAST, I tell you. And good. The book, all gleaming, with perfectly crisp papered corners, was a one holly sprig shy of Christmas wrapping perfection. Or, maybe I should say, “Happy Holidays” wrapping perfection.

Sigh.

ANYHOW. My wrapping skills… were not quite at Bethany’s level. If Bethany was in the Olympics of present wrapping, she would have ended up on the podium. I would be watching from home. On my couch. Shoveling popcorn and, thus, getting the metaphorical paper all greasy. You get the point.

Sooooo, fast forward a jillion years (cell phones!) and my living room floor looks like… THIS:

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Wrapping paper. Wrapping paper everywhere.

And, I just noticed… what looks like a picture of a devil with a pitchfork**… Whaaaaaat? I have no idea how that go there. But it’s fitting, because:

I HATE ALL THE WRAPPING OF THINGS! HELP! HELLLLLLP! Crying and gnashing of teeth!!!!!!

Ok, I do realize that comparing wrapping a few books to frying up in the fiery pits of hell is a bit of an overstatement, but I never promised you that I’d take it easy on the hyperbole, people. Hyperbole is MY LIFE.

I have been wrapping up a few extra books from the book signing and sending them away to lucky ducks (suckers) who wanted an actual signature on the book. Why? I am not sure. My signature (and sweet sentiment too) looks like THIS:

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And… my wrapping tends to look like THIS:

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So… all these folks are gonna get a package in the mail from a Real, Official, Semi-famous Author! … and it looks like a chimpanzee had a crack at it.

And that, I realize, kind of is an insult to the primate family. Sorry.

In fact… at one point I thought I might just attach a note that says: “Wrapped with love by my sons!”

Because, desperate times! It’s okay to throw your children under the bus to save ones pride, right? Right?

(NO. NO, it’s NOT, says EVERYONE. And I might add that the whole “under the bus” idiom is awful. So I am doubly wrong. Oh, this post is just a mess.)

Well, I got the packages mailed. If you are one of the lucky recipients – I WRAPPED ‘EM. Not a five year old cherub of sweetness and light. Nope. All me.

But, they are filled with lots of love, so there’s that.

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And all the while, as I was muttering under my breath and tackling all that difficult brown paper with venom, Hoz the Great looked on like THIS:

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Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

I find it troubling that even the smallest tasks can sometimes make me feel like I’ve been in the bouncy castle of life just a tad too long… but if you don’t realize:

I HAVE been in the bouncy castle of life a tad too long. THAT’S WHY I WROTE THE BOOK.

This is literature at its best, people! #Pulitzer.

You’re welcome.

The end.

 

 

*Yes, children. There was a time, back long ago, when cell phones did not exist. We barely survived. It was rough. Most of the time we communicated by setting things on fire (like brown paper!) and signaling, or just thumping the ground real hard to let our family know when predators were close. It’s quite a story.

Maybe I should write a book about it. I will call it:

The Eighties. I Drank Because of Them.

Kidding! Just kidding.

Thank you, my readers, for getting through the squirelliest post ever. Also: THANK YOU for making my book such a hit. I am so very grateful!  If you are interested, you can click here to take a look at Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery.

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** I REMEMBER! It’s an OWL. Not Satan! With the word “W-I-S-E next to it. Of course it is! Some leftover handout from Sunday school. I dunno why it made it into the shot, but, as always, I am gonna take it as a sign from God. Life is so much more exciting that way.

Bonus:

“Would you like it.. gift wrapped?”