Tag Archives: recovery

Surrounding Myself

Rose by Christina, my cousin, via Monet's Garden NY

Rose by Christina, my cousin, via Monet’s Garden NY

Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher- Oprah

It’s been almost a year since I left my full time job. Hard to believe but here I am, Spring rapidly approaching and life completely changed.

How I can go from being employed full time only a year ago, to my now current state of underemployment (yes, that’s what I’m calling it!), yet still have a full plate of activities, boggles my mind.

I have filled my time with all the things I always wanted to do but had to squeeze in the time for before. Time with my mom, grandson and my own kids, phone and real time with friends, lunch with Jim, working on my business. I pinch myself daily and then say a gratitude prayer.

My event business is slowly gaining speed. I receive phone calls, follow up and then meet people. I have a couple of exciting things on the horizon and really, my cup runneth over. God is blessing me in many ways.

I’ve never been good with uncertainties but lately, I am learning to accept each day as it unfolds. Everything I need is being provided to me. I sometimes miss my full time income but in the next moment, I realize I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s really about what I can do for others.

Remarkably, the friends I am spending time with are lifting me higher. They so believe in me that even I wonder myself what they see. I have felt for a long time that God sees things coming. Perhaps (S)He is sending me the people who will guide me down this constantly changing path of mine. I know this- I will honor the path by keeping the faith.

Is there someone in your life who lifts you higher?

 

 

Please follow and like us:
849

Moments of Pure Joy

DSC_0042“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

I bought myself the most beautiful bouquet of roses the other day.

It was shortly after Valentine’s Day when I happened to drop by to see my favorite florist. His shop can literally take my breath away. There is always so much to look at, beautifully displayed and seasonally inspirational. There were buckets of flowers everywhere, mainly roses, in many gorgeous colors and they were perfectly open.

Jim, the owner, is an old friend of mine. I asked him to make me a bouquet and it was a blend of white and pale pink roses. They were stunning and as soon as I got home, I searched for the perfect vase. A crystal decanter did the trick. The flowers changed my whole house and lifted it up a notch in cheeriness.

A few days later, it snowed like a blizzard and I began to wonder again, if winter would ever be over. But then the snow stopped, the sun came out and everything began to melt. The roses kept smiling at me from the table.

I can feel spring coming closer. The temperature is warming and I chuckle as I find Jordan’s hair in little clumps around the rug. She is shedding her winter coat- another sure sign of approaching spring. The heavy snow is melting in my yard and there are slippery spots. But thank goodness, it is melting.

I am feeling moments of pure joy. It is in the warmth of the sun and the smile on my husband’s face. It is in the smell of my morning coffee and the anticipation of the trip I am going on with some dear friends. It is in the emails from my west coast friend who by the way, sent me the most delicious fudge sauce I have ever tasted. I peeled a banana and spooned a little fudge on every bite. Yes, it was decadent.

I’m working on a June wedding and Cindy, my client met me today at the very same floral shop where I bought the roses. We were inspired by Jim’s ideas and his expertise was evident in the things he proposed. Afterwards, Cindy and I rode together to select linens to finish the tables. It was an amazing day!

I feel beautifully unencumbered tonight, as if the heaviness of this winter is slowly melting away, to reveal a new layer right below the surface. I can craft that layer anyway I want and as wonderful as I wish.

White roses

Please follow and like us:
849

Keeping My Spoon in My Own Bowl

Bowl Stack

Hence, in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very gradual progress, punctuated sometimes by heavy setbacks. Our oldtime attitude of all or nothing will have to be abandoned. Grapevine 1962

So as usual, God has an interesting way of teaching me a good lesson in humility.

Something I did recently, with no harm intended, triggered a domino effect of major proportions. This has served as a reminder to me that a desire for control will sometimes present itself in the most creative ways. And sadly, an issue that could have been solved in a quiet and kind way, ended up bruising my ego and yes I admit, my heart.

I am surviving this by remembering what an old friend taught me years ago. I need to keep my spoon in my own bowl. It is a hard thing to do but truly I think, therein lies the secret to serenity.

When I have my spoon in my own bowl, I cannot pay attention to what is going on in other people’s bowls. Minding my own business becomes easier. It helps me set boundaries and parameters that keep my head in line with my heart. I remind myself, “What other folks do, or think of me is really none of my business.” My own mental health becomes a number one priority.

Bowl SingleYears ago, I had a terrible falling out with a close friend. She was under a lot of stress and one day, called to read me the riot act for a good 5-10 minutes over something I did. During the course of the conversation, she continued to berate me even though I apologized several times. I almost hung up on her but out of respect for our long friendship, I held on until the end.

It took a week or two but I sent her a card. I thanked her for her honesty. I tried to think of that note as act of humility, not a humiliating act.

Our friendship suffered greatly because of this incident. Eventually, I let go of the pain. I didn’t spread any gossip nor did I try and get other friends to take sides. That would have been the easy road. I could have avoided our whole group of friends so I wouldn’t see her. But I was not about to give up my other friends because of what had happened. I continued to show up at get togethers. I just kept my distance from my old friend.

Years later, it was she who reached out to repair our relationship. I welcomed her with open arms. We are dear friends again and I would do just about anything for her.

While driving home today a thought crossed my mind. Could my own humility be a God lesson to someone else? Is it possible that in my own self centeredness, I fail to stop and consider what someone else might learn in a challenging situation? Who knows? I try not to really think about it because after all, my spoon is in my own bowl.

Bowl Multiples with Red Vase

(all photos by me and my lovely Android cell phone!)

How do you practice humility?

Please follow and like us:
849

Crimson Awareness

Morning Sun on my Trees

Crimon Kissed Trees

“The earth has music for those who listen.”
― George Santayana

I walked Miss Jordan outside the other morning just as the sun was starting to come up over the horizon. As the snow crunched beneath my feet, we made our way to her favorite spot.

Without thinking I turned around. And as I did, I caught a glimpse of barren trees at the other end of my yard, lit up like an orange flame. I clipped Jordan to her run and slowly looked up.

It was as if God lifted his paint brush and stroked those bare branches in the most beautiful shade of crimson. How long has this been going on, I wondered? How could I have never noticed this before? Was this the first time this ever happened in my presence? It is doubtful.

I ran back inside to get my camera and thankfully, the crimson light stayed long enough for me to capture a picture. It fascinated me, this snapshot of magestic color against the starkness of winter brown.

How many truly beautiful things do I miss because I am distracted or just not paying attention? I have to wonder. If I slowed down just a little more each day, became alittle less self centered, what would I notice?

There are of course, things I do notice. Slight things. My husband’s smile or the way his hair is slightly ruffled up in the morning. My grandson’s change in his voice lately, the deepening of it and the realization that he is no longer a kid but a young man.

DSC_0195The simplicity of the vibrant cardinals in my backyard, eating lunch at my birdfeeder. My mom’s healthy look as of late, compared to how sick she was last year.

What I am trying to be most aware of is the beauty that still abounds even in this frigid weather we are having. Like the crimson trees.

If I take the time to slow down and smell the winter, what else would I see? I think it’s time to find out.

What will you notice today?

Please follow and like us:
849

Rocky Mountain High

DSC_0304

I don’t know about you but sometimes I can really get a committee going in my head. The committee sometimes makes good sense or helps me through a problem in a loving and encouraging way. But sometimes the committee speaks too loudly and makes no sense.

It likes to go on and on about dumb stuff and I just follow along, wimp like, victim like while it chastises me for various things. I didn’t do this or that good enough, or wow, how could I have reacted in that situation like that. On and on it goes, just making me feel bad.

Until I got the bright idea one day that I could just change the station in my head. Just like turning the knob to another radio station, I can switch off the bad thoughts and tune into another station. I mentally try one station- soft music- and in my head suddenly I am singing an old familiar 70’s song like yep, Rocky Mountain High. I saw John Denver in person once, the year before he died, and he performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. That was the first song he walked out on stage singing and I still get chills just thinking about it.

DSC_0302

So now my head is filled with glorious music and a stunning mountain vista, instead of those pesky, bothersome committee members.

If the song ends in my head, I can again switch the station. This time, I switch to the spiritual station. In the background I can feel the warmth of soft candles. My Higher Power is there, s(he) is engaging me in loving thoughts and encouragement. I am again bathed in a wash of light and happiness, grateful to be alive and ready for my next destination.

This takes some practice, but I am getting pretty good at switching stations. The committee is learning that it can’t sit there and complain and give me a hard time or the door will close to its room. I’ll be off and in another direction, content to find another, more happier place in which to hang out.

Thanks to my daughter Michelene for her stunning photos!

Where do you go (in your head!) for a change of scenery?

Please follow and like us:
849

The Road to Happiness

0817091653

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

When my children were young, I really had no choice. My life revolved around my family and there was little time for much else. Between working part time, the house work, meals and playtime, I was focused on being the best mom I possibly could.

As my two children grew and became more independent, it occurred to me that I was not needed as much. They started to have their own lives, friends and activities and many times I ended up being just a taxi service and meal maker. Of course I reminded them to wear clean clothes, shower and brush their teeth, but they were good kids and I didn’t need to remind them all that much.

So what to do with myself? A mild depression in my late thirties and early forties caused me to seek the advice and wisdom of a good therapist. After much soul searching and aimless wandering, it became obvious to me that the best way to live life to its fullest was to find a cause I love- and volunteer for it.

So over the years I have learned from and worked with families affected by addiction. When I mention my recovery friends occasionally I am not sure you can feel it, but there is whole hearted love and respect there from me. There is no monetary reward for doing this work, no green carrot dangling at the end of the stick. No contract with a financial reward as possible gain, just plain and simple good deeds done for people who need help.

What do I get in return for this? Nothing financial but a priceless spiritual opportunity.

It fills me up inside with a feeling I cannot describe when I work with families in need. I give them unconditional love and they in return grow and flourish. It takes so little time really, and the rewards are amazingly great.

If you are looking to get a little more meaning and happiness out of life, consider picking a cause and then volunteering your time even in small and simple ways. It doesn’t take much to help make a difference. And you will absolutely love how it makes you feel.

Thanks to my daughter Michelene for her stunning sunflower photo!

Is there a cause you support? Tell us about it!

Please follow and like us:
849

Coming Into Grace

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Cook Forest 2Years ago I would have completely dismissed the above quote, thinking I didn’t have time to contemplate such nonsense.

Now, it sums up my journey of the past decade or so. Finding serenity, searching for grace, deciding what can be changed and what cannot.

My journey has led me over tall mountains, in deep valleys and down the road less traveled. It is not a physical journey but a spiritual one.

Occasionally I tire and stop to rest. But then I pick up my walking stick and begin again.

I remember what I have to be thankful for. My family, my friends, the moon, the stars, heaven and earth.

I remind myself what I have no control over– all of the above.

If I think I can control other things, living or otherwise, I am a fool. I can only control myself and my reaction to people, places and things. This is the secret of serenity- minding my own business.

The journey has been a difficult one at times and it is not over. It is continuous. If I remember every day to have gratitude for my life, my serenity will be easier to maintain.

Thank you to WordPress for an inspiring word today- Journey!

How do you find daily Grace?

Please follow and like us:
849

Spring and Renewal

DSC_0040

“Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again.” Sarah Ban Breathnach

Here in the Northeast USA, it is hard to tell it is Spring.

It has snowed every day this week- an amazing feat for Pittsburgh in late March. I can’t remember when it’s snowed so much, especially since the first day of spring has already passed.

I have been thinking about buds, new life and renewal. When spring arrives, we all have a chance to dust ourselves off, change up to more color and start anew. I’m feeling like a living testament to change…to spring….to new life.

DSC_0045Everything I have laid in place over the last two years is going to shift….again. My mother’s illness has been the catalyst. I am reminded of M. Scott Peck‘s ideals, documented in his famous book “The Road Less Traveled”. In it, he describes how we all have internal “maps” of where we go and what we do. Well, my “map” is about to change. I’m choosing a new path on my road of life.

Here’s the first change. I’ve put notice in at my job and am leaving in two weeks. Yes, I am trading my comfortable, secure, full time job for more time. Time I wish to spend with my mom, my family, friends and myself.

Change number two. I need some source of income so I signed up to be an independent sales consultant with a company that looks very…faithful. I am going to shamelessly self promote myself just this once. Check out www.faithco.net/joannecain to see my latest venture. (PS. That is not me at the bottom of the website!)

So whew! So much change. What inspired all this? Well, in addition to my mother’s long illness, time played a major factor in bringing me around . You have a lot of time to think when your loved one is in the hospital for an extended period. You have nothing to do but sit there, think, fill up glasses with ice water, think, watch mom sleep, think. It is life changing really; the shift that occurs in your thought process when you realize how precious, fragile and short life really is.

In all my pondering and all these precious blocks of time I’ve had lately, I’ve been wondering if God sometimes hits me over the head to get my attention. “What does it take” I imagine him saying, “to push you to your next level, to get on with it, for goodness sakes?”

Because I confess…I had been thinking for months about how to spend more time with my family and on the things I am passionate about (writing, non profit work). I had some ideas but I was holding back. I was hesitant to let go of the security within my life; a life comfortable and fulfilling, just not as deeply spiritual as I yearned it to be.

What does God have planned for me? Truly, I don’t know. My one friend likes to say, “God has a plan for us, but we are not on the planning committee.” If I am willing to turn my life over to a power greater than myself, I’m sure my purpose going forth will present itself to me.

DSC_0036Photos of “Snowdrops” by my daughter, Michelene Cain

Tell me…..Have you ever given something over completely to faith? What happened?

Please follow and like us:
849

Greece…and a Very Special Place

The Path to Faith

On Our Way Down – Photo by Mary Jamis

In an ever changing sequence of events, my mom’s recovery saga took yet another turn last week. After a few days in outpatient rehab mom was back in the hospital, tired and exhausted, and apparently in need of a good rest. At first we panicked, thinking it was a turn for the worse. Finally she woke up from snoring sleep sessions to tell us she was fine. She has a couple more hurdles to clear, but thankfully she is growing stronger every day.

When this latest challenge presented itself last week my mind and body had a few bad days. I was worrying constantly and having trouble sleeping; all the usual reactions to stress. In a moment of clarity, I remembered a special place from our trip to Greece five years ago. During that divine excursion my mom, sisters and I were privileged to witness something that still stays with me to this day.

We were all in a rental car with our native cousin Stavros. He took us for a ride up a mountainside, parking along the berm of a twisty road. I got out of the car and could only see trees, rocks and gorgeous sky. Stavros told us to follow him. My mom held onto us as we descended downward on a simple path of stones. I remember the dirt ground was littered with olive pits. I silently wondered if the birds ate lunch there.

Church in the Hillside-Photo by Cally Jamis Vennare

Church in the Hillside-
Photo by Cally Jamis Vennare

A small white washed church came into view at the bottom of the stone path. It was so beautifully unexpected, so hidden, so precious. We stood in awe while Starvros retrieved the key and opened the small wooden door.

Inside it was tiny, simple and just as special. There was a small altar with icons. We lit candles and Starvros said a prayer. We stayed awhile to bask in the glow of being in such a holy place.

Can you imagine how this memory grounds me? Perhaps it was the beauty, or maybe it was the sacred holiness of such a special place. All I know is it was a huge gift. In my mind, I can run back to that little church any time I want and light a candle for me, my mom, anyone.

I leaned on that little church last week when every last bone in my body was tired and weary. Having a special place where we can go, even if only in our mind, can sometimes make all the difference in the world.

Hear ye!

Beautiful Bell – Photo by Cally Jamis Vennare

Do you have a special memory or place that grounds you? Tell me about it!

Please follow and like us:
849

You Are Beloved

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

Raymond Carver

There were some beloved people in my life these past couple of weeks.

I haven’t let on but my mom has been recovering from a serious infection. It has been a stressful couple of weeks as my family and I walk down the path of recovery with her.

It is amazing how people have been placed in our path. You bump into them and they assist you. Is this coincidence? I think not. I have asked many people to help and/or pray for my mom. Their prayers are working. My mom is much better.

The first week of Mom’s illness, I wrote a post called The Joy of Simple Pleasures. A favorite blogger of mine mentioned it in her blog and wrote a post about what does and does not makes sense. That week NOTHING made sense. I read Heather’s blog and cried tears of sorrow.

The fact is…I needed to cry. I did not understand what was happening to my mom. I was filled with a terrible fear…of making wrong decisions, of not having enough faith, of losing my mom. I said to my dear friend Amy, What would I do without Jim to help me? She said, You would Listen. You would Decide. You would Trust.

So even though I had Jim, I remembered Amy’s words. I decided to listen to the doctors and the nurses. My sisters and I discussed issues as they came up. Thankfully, we reasoned things out and did not argue. We decided on courses of action. We trusted that we had made the right decisions.

Two weeks later, Mom is recovering. And I know….there were people who guided us and prayed on our behalf. 

I give humble and grateful thanks to Jim, my kids, my sisters and their partners, Father E., my cousins, my dearest friends, aunts and uncles, Angel Lynda, and the doctors and nurses who continue to watch over Mom and aid her recovery. You are truly beloved.

And most of all I wish to thank God for carrying me these past couple of weeks.

My Mom, Katherine and I

My Beloved Mom Katherine and I

Please say a prayer for my mom. Thank you!

Please follow and like us:
849