Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fabrics Anonymous, and People-Pleasing.

I love fabric. I can spend hours in a fabric store, wandering about, admiring some and wincing at others, dreaming of garments I could make with this or that, hunting for the perfect buttons for whatever it is I'm constructing at the time. I love the feel of it, the amazing possibilities inherent in those bolts of material.

I have the skill reqired to sew just about anything, and as a result, have great difficulty with paying the prices in ready-to-wear clothing stores. I know I could make it myself, for a fraction of the price. I buy clothing patterns only for the pattern pieces - I rarely need to read the instructions. When we moved down to the city, I was thrilled to have easy access to fabric stores again.

I was in one yesterday, to get lining and interfacing for a coat, and was laughing with the lady cutting my fabric, about "the stash." Most of us who sew on a regular basis, have a stash of fabric waiting to be sewn up into wonderful articles of clothing.

Some of us aren't sure what we'd do with a particular fabric, but have to have a piece of it. Others of us are more in control; we only buy material we can imagine using for something specific - "that would make a great shirt for that long-sleeved pattern."

Some of us do both - I'm in the last category. When we moved from the city to a small town, I gave most of my stash to friends who sewed, and the rest to the hospital auxillary. I was astounded to see how much material I actually had - far more than any one person could ever use, unless I sewed night and day for about 15 years. While we lived away from the city, I didn't accumulate a stash.

We've been living back in the city for just over a year, and I've already started to grow another one, and, I have a "frequent flyer" card at one store.  I've got a large tote, and I've decided that if it will still fit into that one tote, I can purchase it. When the tote becomes full, then no more purchasing of fabric until I've used everything within the tote. A sewing friend does this, and says it works well for her, so I'm willing to try it.

I'm a sucker for the remnant bin, too. Yesterday, waiting to have my interfacing and lining cut, I was hunting through this bin, and found an electric royal blue textured velvet, which I couldn't resist. I looked at it, tried to imagine what I could make with it, put it down, looked at other remnants, picked it up again, and knew I'd regret it if I left it there.

A non-sewing friend once asked why I didn't just get a square foot of fabric I loved, frame it, and hang it as abstract art on my walls? I could do that with this velvet, it's such a delicious color, and textured, so the light plays across the different facets of the very soft surface. I think it might make a good sweater-jacket, but I'm still not sure. I just know it gives me pleasure.

My husband doesn't understand my addiction to fabric, but he admires the end result - the clothing I make for myself, the duvet covers I've sewn for our bed, the curtains and dog sweaters I've made over our years together. I've made him denim and leather baseball caps, truck seat covers, all sorts of goodies.

He jokes that were I to have unlimited funds, and unlimited space, I might turn into a fabric hoarder. I reply that I am already a fabric hoarder, on a very small scale.
My "stash" is a tote full of possibilities waiting to be realised, but I need to have a realistic understanding of just what is attainable within my lifetime, and work within those constraints. Everything in moderation.

Because I didn't sew much in the way of garments while we lived away from the city, I'd forgotten that making my own clothing and wearing it, will place me into situations where my people-pleasing will be heavily triggered. It's an interesting fact of life, that our friends and acquaintances will ask those of us who sew, to "make me something." Everything from curtains, to jeans, to winter coats, to blouses. Not only to make something from scratch, but also to fix and repair - replace zippers, stitch holes in ripped pockets, hem new pants. I don't know why, but people who'd never dream of asking an electrician friend to re-wire their house for free, will ask a sewing friend to make them a winter coat for free. Sewing is work. It may be work I love, but it's time consuming, and detailed work.

I have learned to reply: "I don't like doing alterations, but I'm sure there are businesses here in town that will do it for you."If I then get the response, "Oh come on, can't you just do one pair of pants for me? How long could it take?" I use the technique of "broken record" (repeating my statement and refusing to be drawn into discussion) until the person hears me. I was talking to a program friend about this, and she laughingly replied, "Just say NO!" As I get more comfortable in Al-Anon, and inside my own skin, I become more at home with saying "No."

I've become more honest. Instead of saying that I'm very busy, and don't know when I could get to it, I'm truthful. I say, "I don't like doing alterations. I find them tedious and boring. Just because I have the skill to do it, doesn't mean it's enjoyable."

Non-program people can be quite forceful in their desire to get from me, something for nothing. I was dealing with one recently, and my polite refusals seemed not only to spur her on, but in her frustration at not receiving the response she desired, she was getting increasingly snarky. I finally became exasperated, and taking a moment to compose myself, and ask my Higher Power for courage, I stated flatly:

"I'm not going to sew anything for you, and I'm also not going to discuss it any further. This topic is now closed."
An expression of intense anger crossed her face - lips thinned, nostrils flared, eyes narrowed. She looked at me for a moment, then said in an icy tone, "I just thought you might be willing to something nice for me."

I smiled and replied cheerily, "How's your sister doing? She was ill last time we spoke."

There was a moment of silence, in which I could feel her desire to control me almost as a physical force in the room, before she sighed heavily, and responded that her sister was much better, thanks for asking. We went on to other topics, and as soon as I could do so politely, I excused myself, and crossed the room to talk to someone else. I felt as though I'd narrowly escaped a life of servitude behind my sewing machine, in which I'd never have gotten to a single piece of lovely fabric in my stash, only been able to gaze longingly in the direction of the tote, while I toiled to satisfy someone else's desires, not my own. I'm exaggerating, but my people-pleasing tendencies have put me into that servitude to the desires to others, for a large part of my life.

I don't know how much time I have left upon this earth, but I don't want to spend it that way. I sew for the pure pleasure of it, and that's my right. I've finally learned that I have the right to do something, for no other reason, than that it pleases me to do it.

As I heard in a meeting the other day: "I matter, too!"

Friday, February 25, 2011

Encouraging Ourselves.

I've been discussing fears of various sorts with a few people this last week - it's a subject that always seems to bring forth heartfelt sharing. Many of us have spent much of our lives in fear, and before Al-Anon, either didn't realise it, or if we did, had no tools for change. Al-Anon offers me wisdom and all the tools I could ever want. It's entirely up to me whether I pick them up, ask to have them explained to me, and then go on to try them out, or, turn my chair so that I can't see them, and continue to complain, "But it's so hard!"

Yes it is hard, at times it can feel impossibly hard. But so was my life before Al-Anon. Trying to change the alcoholic felt like facing an ocean with a teaspoon, bailing madly away, one little splop of water at a time flung backwards over my shoulder while thousands of millions of gallons poured in from the deep, washing ashore over my toes, and then receeding. When I was completely engrossed in my bailing, I could lose sight of the movement of the tide, until a wave of a size I wasn't expecting could knock me off my feet - one crisis following another, just as the waves do.

I came into Al-Anon expecting to either be told how to find a much larger bailing spoon, or how to drain the ocean in some other fashion. I was surprised to be told to leave the ocean alone, that all those teaspoonfulls of water were as nothing, in the face of this powerful disease.

I was given the gift of myself, and that was one I hadn't ever been expecting to receive, and wasn't sure I wanted, really. I'd whine to my first sponsor about how hard it was, and she'd cheerfully agree that yes, it was, wasn't it, but so were most things worth having in life. She offered me the tool of perspective, and self-love, suggesting that instead of concentrating so hard upon what I hadn't managed to accomplish yet, why didn't I instead work for gratitude about those little bits I had achieved? Why, she asked one day, was I so hard on myself? Didn't I think I needed encouragement from myself?

Encouragement from myself? I was brought up short, silenced by surprise. Lashing myself, verbally abusing myself, ripping myself to shreds, I could do all of those with no effort whatsoever, they were second nature. Encouraging myself was a beast of another stripe. It took quite some time, to begin to see, that I lived with myself from waking to sleeping, wouldn't it be more relaxing and pleasant to be giving myself encouragement, cheering myself on, paying attention when I got somewhere with all my efforts?

Yesterday I was out in the glorious sunshine, doing something physically tiring. At times I'd find myself feeling dispirited and anxious, and would wrest my focus back to gratitude for the blessings I do have in abundance, but of which I can lose sight when I'm: hungry angry lonely, tired.

Back home again, I received a little gift of encouragement from an unexpected source. A treasure I'm going to use to encourage myself, when I'm out again today.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I'm not overly fond of snow. Yes, it's attractive, and I do like the muffling effect of falling snow on the usual noises of the city, but given a choice, I'd pick no snow over snow, without hesitation.  I moved from the opposite end of the country to this, in an effort to avoid snow as much as possible. We only get snow here once or twice a season, and usually, it's gone within a matter of days.

I had today all planned out - I was going to do this, go there, and accomplish that. I'm glancing out the window as I write this, and the snow is coming down so thickly, it's a white haze obscuring my vision of the house across the street. I don't think I'm going to following my original outline for today.

We can plan; it's good to plan. It's also good to be able to set our plans aside, accept reality, and choose to do what we hadn't intended, but now have the time to pursue.

Moaning and wailing about how I was going to do this today, and now I can't because just look at that stuff coming down, and it's going to ruin all my plans is not only staying stuck within my rigidity, it's keeping my mind closed to what my Higher Power may have decided I need to be working upon this day.

Flexibility is a marvellous thing; physical flexibility allows me freedom of movement, without stiffness or pain.
Mental flexibility allows me freedom of thought, without barriers of control and expectation.
When I accept that my plans for the day are not going to be fufilled, I open myself to learning, and perhaps accomplishment of a task which must be addressed, in order for other things to fall into place. I don't know; I can't see into the future.

I only know this: when I rail and grumble, I make myself frustrated and unhappy. When I sigh good-naturedly, shrug my shoulders, and go devote my time and energy to an alternate undertaking, I stay relaxed and in serenity. I can't make it stop snowing, but I can let go of my desire for it to stop, and concentrate instead on enjoying the look of the silly snow hats growing upon the fence posts, and the birds hopping about on our back deck.

Monday, February 21, 2011

But, Why?

"Why is my alcoholic sister so mean to me?"
"Why does my husband continue to drink when he knows it's going to be a disaster?"

When I was new to Al-Anon, I believed that if could only know why the alcoholic did what he did, I'd be able to accept it. Just give me a good reason, and I could find peace with it all. I think I most likely asked that "But, Why?" question several hundred times, and it's a tribute to the compassion and loving support of the group members, that no-one ever expressed exasperation with me, or told me to stop, already, with the why. Acceptance of what's happening within our own lives, not only allows us to live with more comfort and ease, but we also become much more tolerant of the foibles of others.

It was very difficult for me to accept that there were some aspects of life about which I might never get clarity, or a reason that satisfied. I might eventually be granted understanding, or a reason, but not a satisfying one - not one of those "Ooooooh, now I get it!" kind.

There'a a quote in one of the daily readers, I can't recall which one:

"If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are."

That was an excellent reminder for me, in early recovery, when I would be swept with the intense feelings of desperation to know, to understand, to find a good reason. (It irriated me tremendously, but still operated as a good reminder.)

My sponsor offered a variation of the above:

"It is what it is."

Oh, grrr! I would feel my teeth clenching, when she'd offer me that as a response to a question of mine about why did my husband drink when his little girls were visiting, and needed to see him, and he'd go off on a 3-day bender and only come home the morning they were going back to their mother's, so that I was left to try to make their visit enjoyable when he was absent.....

...or why did he always seem to find a way to destroy anything good that happened in his business; he'd win an excellent contract, and then proceed to royally screw up, so that by the end the business was limping along from week to week, barely making a miniscule profit, when it had the potential to....

...or why did he treat me in such a mean way when he professed to love me when he was drunk or sober, and we'd had good and bad talks about what that meant, and the effect upon our marriage, and me, and...

When I'd ask those sort of questions, and be met with the kindest of responses, all variations upon "It is what it is, and it's out of your control. You can't change other people, you can't force him to be a different father, business owner, husband," I'd feel that my questions were being sidestepped, and there must be a good answer out there, but for some reason, no-one wanted to share it with me.

There was a good answer, and it had been given to me each time I asked that question, it was I who had been unable, or unwilling, to hear or accept it:

"Because he is an alcoholic."

I've learned in Al-Anon, that when I do not accept "It is what it is" as an answer, I am dooming myself to hours/days/weeks of stubborn misery. When I turn my face away from the reality of it, I am practising denial. That's my choice. It's also my choice when I decide to work towards acceptance. It's one of those circular, ongoing processes for me. About some things, I've achieved a solid forgiveness; I no longer rage against my alcoholic first husband. I've let go of all the pain from those ten years, and can look back with detachment. I can remember the painful parts, but I don't feel them anymore.

When I can't find acceptance, is it because I am unwilling to let go of judging the other person? Doesn't the problem lie not with them, but with me, in my refusal to accept how it is at this moment? This moment is all we get - yesterday and tomorrow are past, and not yet here - I have only to deal with today.
Let us therefore, live one day at a time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Seeking Recovery.

At one time in my life, I drove an hour and a half once a week, to attend an Al-Anon meeting, and then an hour and a half to get back home. I'd get astonished commentary on this from newcomers and old-timers alike - nobody but the woman who became my sponsor could relate to my wanting a meeting that badly.

Living here, I've been wanting to attend another meeting earlier in the week, but the one available on the evening I've got free, is not what I consider a healthy meeting. There's a lot of complaining goes on, but not much discussion of the Al-Anon program, and how it helps us to recover. There's a group of people who mostly talk to each other and ignore everyone else in the room. I've attended this meeting many times (in the triumph of hope over experience,) and increasingly, have been walking out to my car afterwards, wishing I'd stayed at home and read program literature or called a program friend.

I was speaking to a friend last night, and she asked, why didn't I try a meeting in the small town which is on the outskirts of this city, a half-hour drive down the highway? I decided to do this, and it was an uplifting experience, as a good meeting is.  The people were warm and welcoming, the topic was a page from our Fourth Step Inventory book, "Blueprint for Progress" and the discussion thoughtful and honest.

What a contrast to the first time I attended the one (what I consider unhealthy) meeting here in the city -  I was completely ignored. That in itself spoke volumes, as those people didn't know that I wasn't a newcomer. As we lived here for a while, time and again I heard people say that they didn't attend that meeting, because they'd either had an unpleasant experience there, or it might be a meeting, but it wasn't an Al-Anon meeting.

Yet I've continued to attend, knowing what I know, hoping that this time, it would be different. (Isn't that the program definition of "insanity?")

In a healthy meeting, newcomers and visitors are warmly welcomed, and when it's a newcomer's first meeting, members speak about what it was like for them when they were new, and also talk about our First Step:

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable."

In a healthy meeting, members use program literature to spark discussion, and talk about what works for them. The focus is on us, not our alcoholics, and how we use this amazing resource of Al-Anon to make our lives not only manageable, but also joyful.

A healthy meeting is inclusive, not exclusive. A healthy person is able to learn from her mistakes. I guess I'm relatively healthy, even if it does take me a while on occasion to accept that things are what they are, not what I'd like them to be.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What I Can, and Can Not, Control.

"My older sister drives me crazy bitching and moaning about everything, but because she has MS, I feel sorry for her, I love her, how do I tell her to stop?"

Habitual complainers can be a real challenge for those of us who are people-pleasers, especially close family members. We don't want to listen to that litany of complaint, but we also don't want to damage the relationship, or give the impression  that we don't care when our love is genuine.

In Al-Anon, I've learned two things which apply to a dilemma of this kind:

1. I can't change other people.

2. I teach people how to treat me.

Those seemed contradictory, when I was new in program; I couldn't understand how I could teach someone to treat me differently, without in some way changing their behavior.

 My sponsor explained to me that I wouldn't be trying to change the other person, I would be making it clear that I was changing the ground rules of acceptable behavior in a relationship with me.

That raised the possibility of conflict. I feared conflict. I also dreaded being subjected to hours of: lament, listing of grievances, dissatisfaction with anything and everything, and an all-round negative attitude.

What are my choices? I can use my old way of distancing, avoiding, ducking and eventual shutting out, or I can sit down with the person, and ask that they let me have my say without interruption, then we can talk about it. I can then go on to say what I need to say, using the formula of "When you _____, I feel _____. If you continue to do this, I will _____."

"When you are complaining non-stop, I feel frustrated. If you continue to do this, I will refuse invitations to spend time with you."

"I come to visit you because I love you and want to see you. When you spend our time together expressing your dissatisfaction with everything from your job to your husband, I feel used. If you keep this up, I'm going to have to limit our time together to short phone calls, and quick 15-minute visits."

"When you bitch and moan the whole time we are out together, I feel bored and angry. If you continue to do this, I won't be going shopping with you anymore."

No taking of the other person's inventory, no saying what they should or should not be doing, just a clear statement of how I feel when they do what they do, what the consequences of this will be in future, and then I leave it at that, and give them a chance to speak.

Some may try to manipulate me: "How can you be so mean to me, I've got cancer! You're healthy, you don't have anything to complain about!"

I can look down at that gauntlet, and choose not to pick it up, instead restating my position:
"I want us to enjoy each other when we are together. When you spend the only time we have together complaining, I feel frustrated and irritated. Then the next time you call, I find myself feeling unwilling to call you back, because I'm in a good mood, and don't want to listen to negativity. I'm not willing to listen to you complain for more than 5 minutes in one outing. From now on, when your 5 minutes is up, I'm going to let you know, and if you continue to complain, I'm going to go home."

For me, direct is best. I decide ahead of time what it is I need to say, so I'm not able to be distracted, or dragged into some sideroad topic, and I also pray for strength to be lovingly honest. I accept that this may not go the way I hope it will; actions have consequences, and I need to be clear as to whether or not I'm willing to accept those consequences, before I take the action.

Can I deal with it if this person gets angry and shuts me out, trying to force me to accept unacceptable behavior from them?

Can I deal with it if this person tries to use emotional manipulation?

I'm no longer willing to be treated with disrespect, in order to keep a friend. Over my time in Al-Anon, my definition of a good friendship has undergone a sea change, and I'm grateful for that.

Family members can be even harder to deal with, simply because we have so many years of history between us. But the same questions apply. Am I willing to accept that I may be subjected to intense pressure to revert to the way it was? Am I okay with the knowledge that this may create conflict where there was none? (Or at least no external conflict - from the sound of it, you're going through a fair bit of internal conflict when dealing with your sister.)

I get to choose just how direct and honest I am going to be; with those choices, come the results. Talk to your Higher Power, and your sponsor, be as loving as you are able without giving ground, and best of luck. It will work, if we work it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Unchallenged Beliefs About Ourselves.

Our ideas about ourselves are formed in early life; we internalise negative messages received from without - from parents, or parental figures. We fold those messages about our nature into our own sense of self, and go on to carry them virtually unchallenged, often laced through with feelings of shame.

That shame is a powerful force working against self-knowledge - we may fear that if we reveal those beliefs about ourselves to another person, they will respond with, "Yes, I know that about you."

In reality, I have never yet seen anyone reveal a core belief of this kind, which has the slightest attachment to the reality of who they are as a person.

I like to look "well put together" when I'm going out of the house, and I like my house and car to be neat and clean. It's a testament to the ability of the human mind to hold two opposing beliefs simultaneously, and somehow rationalise that holding as completely reasonable, that for 53 years of life, I could tidy and clean my surroundings, while carrying a core belief that I was slovenly by nature. (untidy or unclean in appearance or habits) 

I cleaned my kitchen until all surfaces shone, while believing that I was a terrible housekeeper. I dusted the top of the hot water heater, and cleaned individual slats of blinds, while feeling intrinsic shame about being such a slob. I got down and picked out pine needles which the vacuum couldn't remove from the back door mat, firmly in the grip of that core belief.

It wasn't until I was granted awareness of the fact that I held two opposing beliefs - I like my self and my surroundings to be clean and tidy/I'm a slob - that I began to remember remarks which at the time of hearing, had slid past relatively unnoticed.
I'd shown someone a picture of my cute little dog, and she'd sighed, "Look how clean your kichen floor is! How do you keep a white floor looking like that?"

In conversation with another friend, she'd asked what was the noise in the background, and I'd replied that I was washing dog dishes before feeding them breakfast. When she'd asked how often I did this, and I said every morning, she said, "Good grief, I only wash mine every two weeks!"

I gave a friend a ride, and when getting into the car, she exclaimed, "Your car is so clean!"

It was my husband who pointed out to me, "If you like a clean house all the time, you aren't a slob." I was dumbfounded by that realisation. I had a total disconnect between the fact that a slob is messy and sloppy in home and appearance - I was neither, therefore, I wasn't a slob.

That core belief about who I was, had been folded in to my sense of self when I was so young, all along I'd just accepted it to be as real as the fact that I have brown hair. In Step 4, I would list that as of my character defects - the way I viewed it, because I had this as a fault, I must be aware of it, and work to overcome it, by keeping myself and my home nice and neat. Intrinsic in this core belief  was the idea that were I to relax my standards in this regard, I'd imstantly fall into squalor.

It took a very silly conversation with my husband, in which he suggested I try not cleaning any part of the house for a month, and then fell over laughing at my immediate and involuntary expression of revulsion, for me to begin to question that which I'd accepted as truth for so long.

When our core beliefs are challenged, and shown to be untrue, it can leave us feeling rather unsettled afterwards - we need to reorient in a new and different landscape. I find prayer, and conversations with my Higher Power and my program friends, are of great help in smoothing my way.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Minding My Own Business.

I used to be a great one for stating my unsolicited opinion; I always knew exactly how other people should think, or behave. I would get enmeshed in the craziness of other people's lives, trying to "help."  I'd then become resentful and frustrated when they wouldn't take my advice.

Al-Anon has taught me to mind my own business. I can watch someone buying a ticket on a train to disaster, keep my mouth firmly closed, love them, and pray for them. This was a very difficult concept for me to grasp when I was new to program. Wasn't I being  a bad friend, if I didn't warn of what I might be able to see, and they not? If I had a bit more knowledge, foresight, or wisdom, wasn't I being selfish to keep that to myself?

In Al-Anon, I have learned that I cannot puncture someone else's denial. If I try, I become at best another irritant, at worst, the enemy - for pointing out what is too painful for them to accept at that time. When I detach from a friend's choices, and trust that their Higher Power is looking out for them, I can love without judgement.
I can be a source of support and encouragement, without in any way trying to steer or direct.

I have discovered that until we are ready to learn a lesson, we won't learn it. I've seen this truth in my life, and the lives of those around me. I may be unready because I have fear, or perhaps I'm stubbornly refusing to accept - it doesn't matter. My Higher Power will continue to offer me opportunities to learn that lesson, gently, and then more forcibly. I may accept the first delicate tap upon my arm, or keep stomping along in my willfulness until it reaches the "whack upside the head" stage before I accept - my choice. So it goes for each of us.
Actions have consequences.

From Hope for Today, page 39:

"Al-Anon teaches me that I cannot make life a fluffy bed for others."

Friday, February 4, 2011

Conscious Contact

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and the power to carry that out.

I have, at various times in my recovery, been trudging through the darkness of my disbelief/slogging through my Higher Power's will for me/acting as if to get me through. In the early years, I had to listen to the oldtimers and choose to keep going when I couldn't see a way forward, because not only did I believe what they told me with such conviction, but it was also demonstrated in their calm serenity.

This is a "continuing action" Step - I need to practise this on a daily basis, if I want to keep the lines open, my head clear, and my joy fresh.

I used to think that I had to have a set ritual to talk to my Higher Power. Now, I understand that just as:

"...there are no "musts" in Al-Anon.."

...there are no requirements or barriers to my conscious contact with my Higher Power. I can reach out when I'm out walking beside the ocean with my dogs, and I can reach out just as effectively, standing with both hands in a sink full of hot water and suds, doing dishes.

My Higher Power is always there, close to me, accessible. I am the one who steps away. That's why this Step is necessary - to remind me that: "God is a gentleman - he doesn't go where he's not invited." I have found this to be entirely true, in my life. I am the one who must open the door to self and issue the invitation - my Higher Power isn't going to barge in unasked. When I've been feeling contrary and willful, wanting to do it "my way" - that's just what I've been allowed to do, and I've rarely found the result to be quite the perfection I'd conjured up in my stubborn imaginings.

I have only to seek to improve my conscious contact, and I will feel it. But I must seek. Standing back from the closed door wailing about my loneliness doesn't work, I have to swallow my pride, climb down from my victim/martyr plinth, wrestle the door open, and humbly ask for what it is that I need. I have only to ask, and I will find comfort.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


This morning a good friend and I took the ferry to the mainland, went shopping in a major city for the day, then flew home by floatplane. My friend and I were the only passengers on the de Havilland Otter, so I was permitted to sit right up front in the co-pilot's seat - what a rush!

It was stunningly beautiful, taxi-ing out into the harbour, slowly picking up speed, bouncing first gently, then a bit more roughly over the water; then the pilot revved it up, we lifted into the air, and banking slightly, turned to head towards home, our lovely island.

The last time I was in a floatplane, I was 17 years old, and flying to a tiny northern town inaccessible by any other means when the ice thawed - for half the year. I've always remembered that trip with delight - we saw a moose running beneath us, the scenery was outstanding, and it was just plain fun.

So it was today - after liftoff, I turned in my seat to look at my friend - we  both had ear-to-ear grins of pure joy. I was wearing the co-pilot's headphones to protect my hearing, so we couldn't talk, but we kept making eye contact and laughing with delight - sharing that experience with a close friend in Al-Anon, made it perfection.

When we landed in the harbour of our home city, we sighed with satisfaction, and walking along the float back to solid ground, agreed that we were going to do that again, soon.