The Shift

Words come to me in dreams, through others in the rooms of AA, from books, blogs, social media feeds and the people in my life.  They float in and visit me temporarily and give me lots to think about - Perspective, Reflection, Miracles.  Today, those words woke me up at the ungodly hour of 4:28 a.m. and beckoned me to write about them.  They're kind of bossy, but I knew I needed what they were offering.

Oh, what a ride it's been!  Sometimes we don't look at the signs, but forge ahead together with nothing but blind faith.  Who knows?  Maybe we could have run into a wet t-shirt contest?  You never know...

Oh, what a ride it's been!  Sometimes we don't look at the signs, but forge ahead together with nothing but blind faith.  Who knows?  Maybe we could have run into a wet t-shirt contest?  You never know...


Upon hearing my friend's cancer had decided to go on an adventure of its own and travel up and into her brain, life has been put into a new perspective for me.  Within an instant of receiving the news, my priorities began to shift, my perspective on life was quickly reordered and all of the things that didn't really matter fell away.  The important stuff - my friend, her family, my family - came into sharp focus for me.

Yesterday in my drawing class, we were given the assignment to draw one-point perspectives.  It wasn't a hard task, but it could be confusing if you got your vantage points too close or too far apart.  Once you started adding the radiating lines, you had to use line weight to help differentiate the front from the back of the cube.  You definitely had to pay attention.

During the exercise, I had to stand up and move back from the paper in order to have the lines make sense.  And, it occurred  to me in that moment that perspective is like that, right?  If we can have the self-awareness to change the way we look at a person or situation, we can change everything.  I mean, it's not magic, but perspective can be a powerful tool to use in getting over oneself, don't you think?  Well, I do.  Kacy's cancer diagnosis is doing that for me.  I'm sloughing off some old stories I've been telling myself about myself, about others, about life in general and in doing so I'm changing the way I feel.  


The season is about to change and I've been working hard on Step 9, making amends to the people in my life that I love and care about.  Sitting with myself and reflecting on the past has been a powerful tool in my recovery.  The concept of looking at my side of the street has been life-altering, to say the least.  Taking the time to look back on people, places and things that I have resentments towards in Step 4 helped lay the groundwork for the work I'm now doing in Step 9.  

Seeing my part in things has been crucial to my recovery from alcohol.  When you can no longer blame others for your problems, your life is forever changed.  I can't un-know this information now, which will help me with my daily, living amends.  Taking ownership of my life at my age has been a transformative gift.  

We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it is a phrase uttered at the end of every AA meeting.  Over time, I've slowly come to understand what it means.  I need the past to help make me a better person.  If I shut the door on it, I would be in denial and my emotional and spiritual growth would be stunted.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.

This weekend I listened to Tommy Rosen's Recovery 2.0 Conference speakers and a lot of the messages kept saying the same thing to me - we have to go through the pain of this life to experience the beauty of it.  I'm beginning to think this is an absolute truth and it gave me a lot to think about - the past informing the present.  If life were just easy-peasy and I had no struggles, what would I possibly learn?

Me + Kacy circa 2000

Me + Kacy circa 2000


Nineteen months ago I would have told you that miracles are ridiculous and that I didn't believe in God or a Higher Power.  I probably would have also vehemently denied being an alcoholic or that I had a drinking problem.  I know I would never have taken the steps to go back to college, traverse a vertical ice field on Mt. Rainier or accepted an invitation to be a guest speaker and part of a panel discussion at an upcoming AA convention.  Nope.  Not me.

Miracles are happening, people. 

A miracle is just a shift in perception from fear to love.
— Marianne Williamson, author

I love Marianne Williamson's description of what a miracle is.  I used to think miracles were all magic and crazy talk.  Shifting my perception when looking at people, places and situations in my life from a place of fear to operating with love has caused a chain reaction in the way that I now think about things.  Shifting my perception has helped me to get unstuck when I'm spiraling into a negative cycle.  In moving away from fear-based decisions and moving towards more loving, safe, healthy relationships in my life, my fear has dissipated over time.  And the beauty of this way of thinking is that it's accessible to me every minute of every day.  

By shifting my perception, I can shake off fear and make better decisions.  Now fear may not totally leave me, but refocusing my energies on things that I can change and not being afraid to do the next right thing has lead me to where I am today - solid, happy, content, reliable.

So I pray for people who are hurting, that they be filled with air and light. Air and light heal; they somehow get into those dark, musty places, like spiritual antibiotics. We don’t have to figure out how this all works—“Figure it out” is not a good slogan. It’s enough to know it does.
— Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

I leave tomorrow to drive down to Southern California to spend 11 days with my best friend as she undergoes treatment for the cancer that has metastasized in her brain.  It will be just the two of us and her stupid cancer.  I've been filled with fear about her health, but hoping by shifting my fear to love that I can honor her life by staying present and being positive and helpful.  I feel so powerless over her disease and have switched into action mode and the 5 W's - Who can fix this? What can I do? When do you need me?  Where should we stay? Why not?  How can I help?

In shifting my perception from fear to love, I hope I can be of service and honor Kacy by doing the next right thing for her.  I'll pray for strength and for the doctors who will be treating her.  I won't worry that I don't really pray or know how.  I'll just do it and not overthink it and be grateful for this experience to teach me.

I'll be praying more in the coming days and shifting my perception about spiritual teachings, as well as changing my vantage point for a new perspective.  I'll wait for the tiny miracles to appear and be grateful for them if and when they do show up.  Normally, my ship wants to stay in the safety of my own port, but I know that's not what I'm truly built for.  I was built to love my people and that's exactly what I'm about to go and do.  There is a great comfort in knowing that the closer I get to facing my fears, the smaller they actually become.

If Kacy can show up and do this, well, so can I.