Serenity

For those who do not know, I am about to go on a new journey. I’m about to write a new chapter in my life. By next week, I will have moved to a new home, in a new town, in a very small town in central New York State. I’ve been waiting for this moment for some time now and it’s almost here. This is my last weekend in this God forsaken town I call home – Binghamton, New York.

Since the beginning of my sobriety, in Dec 2007, I have forged new memories as a sober human being, some good and some bad. Sobriety is not all happiness all the time. Life throws us curve balls. We just have to be ready to hit them for a home run! I’ve managed to survive difficult times through the years but not without some bruises and scrapes.

This whole experience feels like it was written in the stars for me. My connection through the years with my Higher Power is much stronger. Without question, I feel my Higher Power believes its time for me to write a new chapter in my life. A new job, currently miles away, and an opportunity to live in a small community in the countryside, another dream of mine. People told me, “Mike, you’re ready for this. Take a leap of faith.”

Here I am, sitting on my couch with nothing packed, yet I am completely calm. My head is not filled with anxiety, worries or even a slight feeling of doubt this is all going to work out. Everything will happen precisely as it’s suppose to in due time. It’s as if time is not a issue. The way it should be.

 

Ready to Take a Hike

For those who are active readers here – NO, this does NOT relate to my sobriety. My sobriety, despite the constant “issues” at work, is quite intact. What I’m feeling is the greatest pull toward something new I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m ready to take a hike, move on with my life.

My lease was signed for my new place where I’m moving on June 6, 2017. I recently received a copy in the mail. I got a little nervous because it took so long but those nerves subsided when the landlord said his secretary was on vacation. Looking at this signed lease in front of me just makes me want to pack up and go!

Basically, I’m starting over. Like I said before, I have a couple goals in mind. One is that of a minimalistic lifestyle. Removing all the material things in my life causing clutter is already working. I’m more peaceful and content.

On the other hand, my brain wants to compound itself with projects upon projects of new things to do (and possibly buy). Right now I have to remind myself the “One Day at a Time ” methodology; I haven’t even moved into the new place, so why worry about what I may need, will I be able to afford it, etc. Worrying about something not happening yet can put me on a path I’d rather not go down.

I’m only moving some personal items. For instance, my computers will all go with me. I still have to figure out which monitors work. Once that’s done, I have to visit the city landfill to properly dispose of them. Once at the new residence, I’m planning on backing up information to an external drive and starting over on all my machines.

Since I’m working most of the time (wearing scrubs), there is no need to bring all my clothes but a select few of outfits. Typically when I’m at home, I’m in sweats and a t-shirt. I do have to remember to bring some seasonal clothing too! Perhaps an outfit or two, a jacket for winter, gloves and such. Besides, I won’t be smoking at the new place. My current selection looks and smells disgusting, so I’ll be glad to either throw it away or donate to my favorite charity, the Salvation Army (bad sarcasm).

Currently, I don’t really cook for myself. Fast-food dining is my life blood. Once I move, I will have to cook much more often, thus a new experience. Already, I have worried friends, “Michael, you’re going to starve yourself. Let me know if I can help you . . .”

I will be moving no furniture. I’ll be sleeping on a blow-up mattress until such time I can afford a real bed again. Bedroom furniture and living room furniture will come in its own time. Honestly, a beanbag or cushion on the floor is good for me!

Seriously, that’s it. A couple road trips back and forth, then it’s done.

It reminds me of my youth when I moved out of my parent’s house back in the late 1980’s. I didn’t have anything. yet over the years, I accumulated what I needed, when I needed it and more. This is something I’m going to strive to change.

What I want to change is my perception of “what I need”. With a steady job, a car for transportation, a roof over my head and food on the table, there isn’t much more. It’s going to be a struggle, like any new experience. I will have battles within myself when the compulsion comes over to buy something when I really don’t need it. That is the challenge and I accept it.

I guess I can’t explain my (overly?) excitement of this new adventure. Everything happening right now feels right. It feels fresh, new and exciting. I can’t wait to go, go, go. Perhaps

Perhaps this does relate to my sobriety in that I’m fulfilling a promise. The most important of them all:

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

 

 

Adopting the Minimalist Lifestyle

minimalism-min

Most of my life, both in active addiction and recovery, I have stockpiled crap. During my active addiction, it was like another obsession, “I could always use this later . . . ” However, during my sobriety, its more on the lines of, “I don’t want to lose this . . .” With my pending move to a new home, I’ve decided to adopt a new minimalist lifestyle. As Step 12 suggests, “. . . , practicing these principles in all our affairs.”

First, I put a twist on the most common slogan, “One Day at a Time”. In this case, taking the monumental task of just one section of the current home. After reading hundreds of articles on a minimalist lifestyle, I finally got my arse up away from the computer to tackle the walk in closet.

I took a tape measure out from a toolset (one I’ve never opened) measuring the space to be approximately 5 feet deep by 7.5 feet tall. It was stacked with stuff about 4 feet. Bags of JUNK from front to back. There are old computer parts (printers, screens, misc., etc.) and bags of unknown origins. So I took the most difficult step for me – throwing it all away. While some of it sits in the front room, a quarter of it sits in my car ready to be hauled to a willing commercial trash can.

It was a difficult task. Part of me, the new me, didn’t want to bother looking into the bag. If I didn’t know what it was – trash pile. On the other hand, there were strong impulses to go through each bag, “Just in case, you may need something . . .” It reminded me of my early days of sobriety. So, I adopted the same principles like I do in my sobriety:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol the compulsion to save things –that our lives had become unmanageable.

Like in sobriety, I admit complete defeat. My Gods, I’ve buried my Self in a pile of JUNK over 4 feet high! Why? Because of my fear of losing things in my life again. I’m accepting the truth of the situation. I don’t and can’t live this way anymore. There is no need. I’m attempting to hold on to material things which, in reality, have no meaning in my life anymore. They are just things. I should no longer fear losing everything. I have to let it go!

Already, I have a sense of relief and sadness. I’m relieved the task if over. It’s been years, day after day, I told myself I would get rid of everything. Now the junk is out on the floor and ready to go! It’s like writing Step 1 on paper. Yet, part of me feels sad I’m throwing a part of my life away. Am I? Perhaps I’m not “throwing a part of my life” but simply “closing another chapter in my life, getting ready to write a new one”!

I made a promise to myself of change. I”m moving to a brand new place with the absolute minimum. It’s like writing a new chapter in my life on a blank page. I’m actually excited. I don’t know what the future holds, as it has yet to be written. But I do know this, We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.” That is the goal and I’m just one Step, closer!

 

Letting Go

I’m proud of myself, yet there is much I am still learning about the principle “Letting Go” specifically in the workplace. Workplace stress affects us all in different ways. Some people have the ability to handle it. While others, like myself, have difficult times. In recent days, I’m taking new measures (or steps) to not let work relationships bother me.

Many times in this blog I have written about my frustrations at work. Working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) I’m responsible for the lives of those I care for, all the while dealing with different personalities of my co-workers, and attempting to manage my own life in sobriety. At times this can be a monumental task.

For instance, we have 30 residents on a floor. We are divided into three teams to handle the workload. With a particular group of individuals, we work as a team to accomplish our tasks. We set a plan in motion at the beginning of our shift of how things should flow to ensure we are successful in our responsibilities. But at the end of the night, I’m frustrated because a majority of the work is done by one individual. My fear is I will be accused of not doing my own workload.

But at the end of the night, I’m frustrated because a majority of the work is done by one individual. My fear is I will be accused of not doing my own workload. I have talked to this individual to “slow down” allowing the other two of us to “pull our own weight”. Yet, I feel my concerns fall on deaf ears. What bothers me the most is when this individual turns around to complain she is doing all the work.

In addition, this individual takes it upon herself to work with an active injury. Knowing this, I’ve suggested the individual takes measures to ensure their own welfare. Again, my concerns and suggestions fall on deaf ears. Yet, the individual will begin to loudly complain, “I just can’t do this anymore . . .” It gets annoying after a while.

What does this have to do with me? Absolutely nothing – that is the point. This individual is responsible for their own choices. No matter how annoying or frustrated I get, this individual is causing her own chaos. I have to remind myself of the simple principle of “Letting it Go”.

My fear of being accused of not doing my own workload will subside. It is my understanding this individual has already taken measures to change responsibilities in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I’m trying the best of my ability not to let my frustrations and annoyance get the better of me. That in itself is the challenge I face.

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day 2017

 

As you may or may not know, I’m an amateur genealogist. Many of my family members have been service men or women in the Armed Forces during various conflicts (Vietnam War, Korean War, WWI and WWII and Civil War). Today, I want to thank those in the past and present for serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.

Memorial-Day

Today, I’ve decided to go down my own memory lane. As you know, I’ve fought my own battles with addiction. Before WordPress, I had online journal through LiveJournal. Livejournal was one of the first “blogging” sites in the old days of the Internet. Starting in 2002, I started blogging events in my life on a regular basis. However, in 2017, I ended my relationship with Livejournal transferring service WordPress. As the use of Livejournal declines, I’m afraid my entries will soon disappear. Therefore I’m taking the painful task of downloading them all, month by month.

Painful, yes, but I’m okay. Tears flow down my face as I read memories of my past. Over and over, I asked myself, “When is this all going to end?” At times, the world around me goes dark and I’m re-living some of the worst times in my life. Afterward, when I snap myself out of my memory, it is a relief the life I lived back then is truly over.

But for many addicts, they do not survive. Since the beginning of my sobriety in Dec 2007, I have had many friends who have lost their own battles with addiction, never to rise again for their own battlefields. There are others, like myself, who continue to suffer from the wounds inflicted by our addiction(s).

surgeon_general.png

So today, while I honor those who gave their lives in physical battles, I also want to honor those who lost their lives to their addictions.

You, too, will not be forgotten!

 

 

 

The Jump

After the Winter of 2016 into 2017, I vowed to move closer to work. An opportunity presented itself. Yet, knowing myself, I proceeded cautiously. Today, I made the decision to move to a new home. As expected, I have 1,000 emotions going through me at once, I can’t think straight.

I’ve decided to move from a one bedroom apartment  in Binghamton, NY, into a three bedroom trailer in Van Etten, NY. PIctures will be posted at the end of this post for those interested. After viewing the property the other day, I called around for services (i.e. cable, internet, fuel oil for heating and propane). Today I created a budget based on potential income and expenses.

So I took the jump, called the new landlord and I’ll be moving July 1, 2017.

I can’t believe I’m doing this . . . more later.

New Home Pictures

 

Full Circle

Yesterday I had an appointment to view some property in Van Etten, NY. As I drove to my destination, I went through Spencer, NY. I was flooded with memories of the times at the end of my drinking days. All I could do to stay on the road was to keep wiping my eyes from the flood of tears coming down my cheeks. It’s interesting how things have come full circle.

I can remember months before my sobriety date in 2007. I was drinking at least a 30 pack of Milwaukee’s Best lager or more. It was only $7.00 for a 12 pack or $15 for a 30-pack with a short trip to Pennsylvania. The things I did to get beer.

As I passed a certain road, I remember the all day trip it took me just to get my beer. Four miles of road took me an hour and a half one way, so THREE HOURS total. I would buy a 12-pack at the store, go back home and by the time I hit my front door, I have a couple cans left. I would take a nap and go back into town to get another 12-pack for the night. Absolute insanity.

Meanwhile, my rent was three months late. My landlord was threatening to throw me out. I didn’t have a job. My unemployment had run out in November. I had no fuel for heat, so I was running to a gas station to get 2 gallons of kerosene every day too. I couldn’t even think of food. My refrigerator was empty. In the last couple of days, I couldn’t remember the last time I took a shower because I had used all the propane, so I had no hot water either. It was a miserable experience.

Now it has come full circle. I’m full of emotions because that was who I was at the time. Today I’m 150% a different person. I am a responsible adult who pays his bills on time, is not in threat of eviction or lack of basic services. I have transportation and a well paying job. I am committed to traveling the path I am on with sobriety. But don’t think the journey has ended.

I’m beginning, yet another, new chapter in my life.  As I search for a new home closer to work, new stresses will begin to pop up I’m sure. Yes, there will be bumps in the road. But in the end, I’ll survive without grabbing for a drink.

Now I have this song in my head:  https://youtu.be/fCR0ep31-6U