Small doors

Anne Wilson Schaef

I’ve noticed that I’m slowing down. I’m consciously walking slower, I drive a little slower, pausing before responding and choosing not to have an opinion if I don’t need one. Which is far too often I’ve noticed. I’m paying more attention to the little things.

I am no longer concerned about my career, reputation, ambition, or success. My colleagues, clients, friends and family are all ‘so busy.’ Indeed, ‘busyness’ had also been my story for many years. I’m now at the point where I can finally let go of that tired and unhelpful story.

The frantic nature of life has, for many of us it seems, become a cultural myth that we feel we have to live up to. ‘If you’re not busy, you’re not productive.’ Bah ha ha. What a lie. A grand illusion. Ultimately, we are all responsible for our lives and how we structure and live them.

It’s taken me some time to understand that I instantly have more simply by wanting a lot less in my life. I am weary of the ruthless game our economic and political systems strongly encourages us to play. The egoic game of our eyes – where we want more, we pretend everything is great, feeling we must look good in the eyes of others, believing that external things will make us happy or validate us – be it people, jobs, children, pets, a new car, bigger house, more superannuation, greater security – blah blah.

That game of the eyes will never end. It can’t afford to. Capitalism and our Politics depend on it. The result is we horde, we blame, argue, criticise, resent, anger, fear, worry, ad nauseam.

I honestly feel that I’m ready to tap out. I’m done with this destructive game. It’s over. It’s been fun, it’s been painful, it’s been exhilarating, and it’s been soul-destroying. What else did I expect? To win? Whatever that even means. Ultimately, the system cannot allow people to win. That’s the whole point. It’s a sad realisation, and it’s also bloody funny, because I totally fell for it.

The truth was always hidden in plain sight, but I could not see it. And alcohol just made seeing that much harder.

I’m now working at living by three simple words: Silence, Simplicity and Service.

I intentionally find a little silence every day. No noise, no people, no distraction.
I now want less, so the family and I can live a simpler, less crowded and busy life. I’ve started praying again. Simple prayers to all things – for trees, people, peace, the planet, and the entire cosmos. Prayers for wisdom.
And finally, service to my clients and colleagues, my kids, my partner, my dog, my garden, to strangers. To be present in as many ordinary moments as possible. To slow down and not play the game any longer.

Let’s see how I go.



Moon tears

AA Daily Reflections

I like this. As Julian of Norwich once said: first the fall and then the recovery from the fall…and both are the mercy (and love) of the Divine.

Over the years, my greatest learnings have followed periods of darkness, confusion, anxiety, despair and brokenness. (Especially when I was drinking) Damn that total eclipse.

I wish as a species that we could learn life’s lessons another way, a less painful way, but ‘suffering’ seems a universal and ancient pattern. So who am I to argue.

Thankfully, those awful, bleak times make up only half the wheel of life. The other half of existence is truly wonderful – times of joy, love, laughter, music, nature, friends, dogs and cats, rainbows and unicorns. Maybe not unicorns, but you get the point. However, we can’t have one half of life without the other. We can’t have Death without life or love without loss. It’s simply part of the deal. Always has been.



No going back

In May of this year, I’ll be ten years sober…almost.

In August 2020, after losing much of my work due to the pandemic and going to some dark and unhelpful places in my head, I did the opposite of what is written above. I truly believed I could control my drinking.

Around 18 weeks later, I was hiding vodka about the house, lying to my partner, friends, my kids and myself. in 18 short weeks I went from seven years of sobriety to a manic, ungrounded, erratic force that scared the bejesus out of me.

I’m sure many people can drink responsibly following a long bout of sobriety, but I sure as hell was not one of them.

When we are under pressure, struggling, feeling isolated, fearful, it seems so easy to resort to old patterns of behaviour. To embrace what was once familiar and seemed to work. Although, as it mentions above, for a very long time, drinking never worked at all. Addiction of any type seems to make us delusional. Heed my experience folks. I was happy to be the bunny for the rest of you – the test case, the trial, the experiment.

Of course, if you wish to conduct your own experiment, then go for it. Just know we will all be here for you if the results go in a similar way to mine.



The One

Part of the Alice exhibit currently in town (over 150 years old that slide)

For only there, beyond ALL doing, thinking and feeling, can You know the one I am and can I know the one You are

Meister Eckhart

This seems to be a universal challenge at present – how do we carve out time, intentionally, to pause and reflect, to find a little shelter from our endless ‘doing, thinking and feeling.’

Every client I have worked with the past two years talks of ‘busyness.’ The pace of life seems frantic and unsustainable. Eventually, I suspect, we are all going to fall. Some of us will tumble into addiction (take ya pick – so many wondrous addictions wildly vying for our attention), or we fall into even more busyness, into distraction, into despair. Into whatever seems to help us in the moment. Only later, do we realise the ‘thing, the behaviour, the habit, the whatever’ was of little or no help at all.

Consciously creating space, some quiet, a little silence, seems to be what I crave more and more these days. It’s not simple to do while juggling parenting, relationships, work, domestic duties and so forth. Let’s face it, we are all busy. We all have the same amount of time given to us each day. It’s diligently prioritising time for reflection that is crucial. It may only be 10 or 20 minutes, but I know if I don’t take time out, I’ll crash and burn and God knows I’ve done that enough of that in my life. These days it’s frankly boring and a waste of my time and energy.

There are better things to do with the time I have remaining. Let’s be honest, none of us know how much time we have left on this little blue planet. It may be twenty or thirty years. It may be a month or two. We have no control over death, but I can control finding twenty minutes a day to stop, slow down and reflect on how I’m honestly showing up to life in this wee moment. That I can do – cause no one else is going to it for us.

Onward ho


The good and the bad

Meister Eckhart

The ole Meister strikes again. Isn’t that us? Deciding what our life should or shouldn’t be. Making judgements. Treating our opinions as if they are facts. Thinking that we alone know best. Oh It’s an endless game.

Instead, let us embrace the good and the bad. Let us allow some quiet and intentional periods of ‘not doing’ in our busy lives. Time to pause and rest, to be kind to ourselves, to ask, what can we do for others?

Endlessly pondering our own lives, our own flaws and struggles just becomes boring after a while. The sooner we can accept that we are not perfect the better. There is no such thing as perfection. It’s an awful word…in my opinion.

Yes, we screw up, we make mistakes, we relapse, we have poor moments…so what? I’m not saying ignore those moments or dismiss them lightly, but learn from them, forgive ourselves and go again.

Engage with the world, do small things for others, forgive people for being…well, people. That’s all we are…just ordinary people going about our business for both good and for bad. I truly don’t believe we all do ‘bad’ things intentionally…we just don’t know better in that fleeting moment. We do what we think is the right thing to do, only to realise later it was not helpful at all. We recovering addicts should appreciate that more than anyone.

Have a delightful week all.



Good ole Meister Eckhart

Eckhart swims in deep waters while I often flail about in puddles. Occasionally I catch a glimpse of him beckoning me, and sometimes I even manage to reach the shallows. Today is one of those days.

The tumble of fears and uncertainties. I reckon every recovering addict can relate to that phrase. We drink to avoid the tumble only to end up drowning in fear.

I still grapple with fear and uncertainty, but grappling life sober is far better than wrestling with life whilst pissed and ego centric.

Here’s to cleaning our respective slates and making room for the nothingness. (I doubt I’ll stay in a state of nothingness for long, but a minute here or there will adequately suffice.)


Kick your leg in the air

Lives don’t work the way most books do.
They can end suddenly,
as fast as you kick your leg in the air.
Lives are funny and sad,
scary and comforting,
beautiful and ugly,
but not when they’re supposed to be,
and sometimes all at the same time.
There are patterns in a life,
and patterns in a story,
but in real lives and good stories
the patterns are hard to see,
because the truth is never made of straight lines.
Lives are strange.

Mac Barnett

Yes indeed, our lives are strange and unpredictable. And aint that what makes them so fascinating.

May we all kick our legs in joy and hold on to the inevitable ups and downs that will befall us in 2023.

Happy, befuddling New Year one and all.



A few weeks ago

According to the chemist-turned-philosopher Michael Polanyi, great genius’s had something more than detached, cold objectivity.

They also had an ability to ‘dwell inside of things’ that was more art than science, more poetry than prose, more spirit than rational control of the data. And more letting go than holding on

Richard Rohr

Yes to all of that. More art, more poetry, more spirit, laughter, music and joy.

And let’s not forget the ‘letting go’ part. Us recovering boozehounds may have lots of old & unhelpful stories, emotions and memories we could do well to let go of.


Good or Horrible?

From Halloween (in my street)

If you can’t be a good example, then you have to be a horrible warning.

Catherine Sud

Some of our best teachers are those who have been a ‘horrible warning for us.’ All too often, these people have not been easy for us to be around or have caused us pain. They are a warning of how not to be.

They are important teachers, and we never know when and how they will appear. Let’s just hope we are ready for them when they do.

Anne Wilson Schaef

Ain’t that the truth. We, who have drunk too much, know this all too well. The delight of sobriety is recognising both the ‘horrible warnings’ of our past, while also celebrating (hopefully) out current good example to ourselves and others.

When I was drinking I would often, internally at least, feel like that tree. I knew I was being a horrible warning, but I couldn’t stop. That’s the nature of addiction.

My ‘horrible’ past now gives me great empathy and understanding for what others are currently going through. Let’s spread that kindness and forgiveness as far and wide as we can.

Finally, I still have moments each week when I look like that tree, but I’ve learned how to recover quickly. (Sometimes not as quick as I would like)

This self awareness/learning gig just never ends! Too funny.


We are never lost

Meister Eckhart

Master Eckhart’s wisdom is sometimes far too much for my little mind to comprehend. Thankfully, this reflection is one that speaks true to me.

We are never truly lost, even at our worst moments. It has been hard for me to fathom that realisation over the years, particularly when I was consumed by drinking. Alcohol made me feel aimless and chaotic much of the time. Drinking became the fog that I couldn’t escape, even when I desperately wanted to. I became my own worst enemy – alienated and anxious.

Occasionally I forget how debilitating my drinking was. Then I hear stories of people’s current struggles and my heart goes out to them. Their pain and anguish is all too familiar.

Admitting you have a problem, that your drinking has become unmanageable and that you need help, is never easy. At least it wasn’t for me. Sobriety seems so logical at one level. It makes sense in our clearer moments, but it’s a tough and narrow path. I couldn’t have done it without support.

Reaching out for whatever support you need requires letting go of control. It requires making oneself utterly vulnerable. I can see why many struggle for years, as I did, before they truly accept their fate.

The truly delightful news is, sobriety is so worth it. It has transformed my life. Do I still screw things up, piss people off, get frustrated most days? Absolutely. Life rumbles on as it always will, but I now deal with it far better than when I was drinking

Ultimately, any decision you make rests with you, but that’s where support makes sobriety far easier. Making the decision to stop drinking is hard enough without trying to do it alone.

Take the risks, lean into vulnerability and remember, we are all with you. And hey, it’s also bloody good fun. So don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is far too short for that.