Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Relentless Self-Criticism.

When talking on the phone to a sponsee last night, I went to get my Courage to Change, as I had a page I wanted to read to her. It's one of my favourites, (a program friend says that she's certain she's heard me say that about every page of this book, at one time or another) so I'm going to reproduce it here in its entirety.

From Courage to Change, page 103:

 "It's only natural to want a quick fix or an immediate solution to a difficult situation. As one member jokingly puts it: "Grant me patience, Lord - and hurry!" My sentiments exactly! Do have some discomfort or a problem in my life? Let me fix it, or be rid of it now. Is it a situation I've lived with for twenty years? Fine, I'll give it fifteen minutes. Perhaps I've lived with it all my life - well then, an hour, maybe even two. It is connected with alcoholism? Do its roots run really deep in the ground of my being? In that case I'll make a few program calls and share at a meeting.
 Is it still hanging on? Very well, I'll launch a major campaign of self-criticism. What's wrong with me? Why do I have all these feelings about something that isn't important? I'm sure I caused all this myself: somehow I'm to blame.
  Heaven forbid I should surrender, accept my discomfort, and pray for guidance.

Today's Reminder
  Willpower cannot eliminate in a day troubles that have taken root and flourished in my life for decades. Things take time.

    "You cannot create a statue by smashing the marble with a hammer and you cannot by force of arms release the spirit or the soul of man."

I have recognised in myself, and in many other members of Al-Anon, one similarity - relentless self-criticism. We feel whatever we feel, as a result of life happenings, and then when we can't control those feelings by wanting them to go away, we begin to nag and harp at ourselves for having them at all. Just as the reading states, we begin to ask ourselves and others, "What's wrong with me?"

What's wrong, is that we are having the normal human response: pain, or sorrow.

Our culture doesn't allow much room for either of those - why else would so many of us be confused as to what's going on, when we feel them? We are exposed on a daily basis to many messages from the culture, to seek help immediately - get counselling, take this medication, start this exercise routine, and feel better!

Much emphasis is placed upon "feeling better"; so much so, that when we can't force ourselves to feel better, we become anxious and disturbed, and begin to bash ourselves for whatever it is that we may be experiencing.

Human beings cannot get over the loss of a relationship in a few weeks. We must go through a process of grieving, and that takes however long it takes. Some people can work it through fairly quickly, others take longer. We can't judge ourselves by the culture's yardsticks, or by other people's example. We have no real idea of what is going on for them; we see only the public person.

When I am in pain, or grieving, if I then add to my pain by "launching a major campaign of self-criticism," all I manage to accomplish is make myself feel much worse.

I add shame, and this complicates things by blocking the working-through of the original feeling. I don't feel it any less, I just can't process it.

I have a right to my feelings. When the process isn't blocked by shame or self-criticism, those feelings will rise, peak, and subside. This happens continually over a period of time, and each rise is a little less, until I reach a place of calm acceptance.  Ultimately, I will be able to say, "This happened." without an accompanying rush of painful feeling.

That's the process for all of us; that's just how it works. When I allow myself to feel my feelings, I can acknowledge it: "I'm feeling this now."

I can allow the pain or sorrow, let it move though me, because experience has shown me that it will pass. At the peak of the feeling, I may believe that I will feel this pain forever, that I'll never be happy or peaceful again. I let myself feel the pain of that idea. If I'm really struggling with it, I will call my sponsor or a program friend, read literature, ask my Higher Power for guidance and support.

At one time in my life, before Al-Anon, I could shut my feelings off like flicking a switch, by repeating a little mantra of "It doesn't matter, it doesn't matter..." After a few repetitions, I'd go numb. That was how I managed to stay in my first marriage for ten years, by using the same techniques learned earlier in life, to numb myself to pain.

Numbing myself to pain, stunted my ability to experience joy, delight, fufillment. This is another one of those blasted either/or truths: we get none of the feelings, or all of them. Pain and sorrow are included in the package. If I want the joy and the delight, I must accept the full scope of my feelings. That means that at times in my life, I am going to feel pain or sorrow. I pray to be accepting of all of my feelings, and not to shame myself for having them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Don't Blame God....

...for the choices people make.

We all have free will. What some do with that free will, is a result of having been warped and twisted in their formative years - abuse breeds abuse, down through the generations. At one time, I held God responsible for all of the abuse I'd endured. Eventually, I reached an understanding in my recovery, that just as I have a choice as to whether my hand reaches out to stroke, or to strike, so did those who had me in their care.

If I am less than kind to another person, I can see with crystal clarity that this is my fault, my responsibility, my choice. I don't say, "That was my Higher Power's fault just now, when I was snarky to my alcoholic."

When I realised that those in my past acted in free will, I also gained compassion for their struggle. They had their own pain, anger and sorrows driving them.

Just as blame is pointless in my relationships with people, so it is, with my relationship with my Higher Power. Blaming interferes with my learning and progress. It creates a chasm between the blamer and the blamed, and to what end?
None of life can be undone once it has taken place. We can only walk forward in this life. I spent a long time moving forward, with my head twisted back over my shoulder, staring at the past, complaining of my sore neck.

Let go. Let it all go. Fling it away, or just let it drop, it doesn't matter, just break the connection between you and whatever it is that you are clutching. If you can manage to let it go, you will be given instead, the treasure of serenity. But it's an either/or, you can't have both.

I kept my misery because I couldn't believe the replacement wouldn't be far worse. My sponsor had to practically pry my hands open, to encourage me to let go, but once I did that first time, I was amazed and astounded to discover that she'd been telling me the truth - I felt instantly relieved and calmer. That was the beginning of trust for me.

Letting go is a powerful action. When I let go of that which is bothering or distressing me, when I turn it over, I am always rewarded with peace of mind, and peacefulness of spirit.

I accept today, and I accept myself.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Back Up A Bit, And Try Going This Way.

Many years ago, I had walked down to the corner store after a snowstorm. The city in which I lived was not well prepared for snow, and neither were most of the inhabitants. When I went into the store, there was a small car parked on the street, revving madly, trying to pull out of a parking spot, and making no progress. As I exited the store, I saw it was still there, and went over to knock on the driver's window. The driver rolled down her window, and looked up at me questioningly.

I said, "You might have more luck if you shut it off, get out, and kick away the big ridge of snow in front of the front tires, then when you try again,  give it a tiny bit of gas, pull out very slowly. Or back up a bit, and try going this way - follow the ruts made by other drivers, rather than attempt to push through the mounds of snow."

She swore viciously at me, rolled her window back up and continued to rev the car like a crazy woman. I still hear it roaring away as I walked back up the block to my house. She was furious, she was determined, she was going to make that car do what she wanted it to do.

I like to remember that lady, whenever I'm engaged in that same lunatic stubborness myself.

Our neighbour's small friendly dog tried to come for a visit this weekend. He tried pushing against the rather wobbly wire fence, and being old and tired, it gave a bit. He then backed up, put his head down, charged at it, and rammed it with his forehead.

It moved forward a bit, then springing back, flung him smartly backwards, unhurt. He gazed about him, apparently confused - what was he doing still on this side of the fence? 

The neighbour and I grinned at each other, and he asked, "What was that phrase you used before, when we were discussing canine reasoning?"

I replied, "Dog-brain is a very strange place."

My husband commented from the deck, "At least he only tried that one time - I know people who would be doing that so many times, they'd have the design from the fence permanently engraved in their forehead."

I laughed, thinking of the times that I've been engaged in my own ramming attempts. How many times did my first sponsor suggest that I back up a bit and try going a different way? I couldn't hear her. I mistook my obstinacy for determination. I rationalised my inability to compromise. I defended my pigheadedness inflexibility.

The end result was the same as it was for our neighbour's lovely little dog. Didn't matter how many times I rammed that sucker, I was always landing on the same side of the fence at which I'd started.

In Al-Anon, the practise of the first 4 Steps allowed me to "Back up a bit, and try going this way." So began the miracles of positive change in my life.
I'm grateful. I enjoy the reminders.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Forgiveness Is A Choice, Not A Happening.

I was listening to an AA speaker last evening, while doing yoga, and one thing he said really resonated with me. He was answering a question posed by an audience member, about forgiveness.

He replied that when he was talking to sponsees about forgiveness, and wrongs done to them, he'd ask: "Can you imagine yourself 5 years from now, would you have forgiven them by that time, do you think?"

Invariably, the reply, after some thought, is, "Yes."

He then asks, "Why wait?"
(I could hear the ripple of surpise, and appreciative murmurs, run through the audience.)
The speaker repeated, "Why wait? So you can marinate in your unhappiness, and be a victim? If you can see yourself forgiving them sometime in the future, why not do that right now, and then you have your freedom from the resentment and anger?"

Forgiveness has been a powerful tool for me, to increase my daily serenity. When I accept that other people are trying to function with their own confused thinking and character defects, just as I've done, and continue to do, I can choose forgiveness.

I used to think that forgiveness would just ...occur, after I'd reached a certain place in recovery. That has proven not to be the case. Forgiveness is a choice. As I let go of my old beliefs that I have the right to know what another should do, say, or think, forgiveness becomes an easy choice. It's not something I do for the other person, as I once thought. It's a choice I make to free myself - from anger, from resentment, from Victimville. I lived there for a long, long time, and I'm not interested in moving back. They say you can't go home again, well, I'm grateful that through the practise of Al-Anon, not only do I not go back there, I've pretty much bulldozed the entire place - nothing to see there, anymore. Blue sky, green grass, the occasional bird or deer wandering through, but all those buildings I'd constructed and maintained with rage and resentment, they're gone, with not even a foundation stone to mark their place.

That's freedom.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Step Groups.

When several members of a Al-Anon group agree to meet once a week in addition  o their regular home group meeting, for a mutually agreed number of weeks, to discuss the 12 Steps, it's commonly called a "Step group."

Last night was the first meeting of our new Step group, and it was wonderful. I love Step groups. I love the intimacy, the learning, the trust. I've been in groups which have started out rather raggedly because of clashing egos, but through assiduous practise of "principles above personalities" have melded into powerful rooms of change for all involved. That's something to see.

I remember every Step group in which I've taken part.
I was participating on a fairly shallow level at the beginning, because I was new to them, and new to trust, and found the revealing of myself  to be quite frightening. But, just as it does in a regular meeting, the honesty and willingness to share being demonstrated by the other people at the table, showed me that it was safe to do so. Nothing terrible was going to happen if I was honest about my thinking, and my feelings.

There have been times when I haven't realised the effect of a Step group upon my growth, until long afterward. My thinking may have altered ever so slightly in one area - which shifts my perspective, and my perceptions. When I think differently, I see differently. In turn, when I see differently, I think differently. When I'm able to stay open to this process, it's a self-perpetuating movement towards a healthier way of life.

I encourage any of you who haven't yet joined a Step group to make the committment to the next one available to you. It's an experience difficult to articulate with clarity, but unremittingly positive for all concerned.

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Even When I'm Wrong, I'm Right."

My ex used to say that, and I'd grind my teeth in frustration - in his worldview, he was always in the right, and that was just the way it was, period.

Life offers lessons; we accept or refuse them. When we are involved in a determination to be "right," we lose sight of the lesson we could be learning. When we are justifying our feelings or actions, we aren't listening to what our Higher Power may be trying to teach us.

It's always been a source of amazement to me, the way we human beings can take an obvious blunder, and through the use of some very tortured reasoning, flip it over into a deliberate choice motivated only by purest of feelings.  And then argue this with the most impassioned speeches. All in the service of being "right."

When I admitted my powerlessness, and to the reality that my life was unmanageable, I gave up trying to be right. Right didn't matter so much any more - what mattered was that I was sunk in a gloom-filled mindset, with emotions roiling and resentment festering, and I was desperate to find a better way to live.

Being right is about ego, and the facade we display to the world. When I can let that go, and admit to my having been in error, or thoroughly mistaken, I achieve a freedom I was unaware was possible, in this lifetime.

I used to spend a lot of time being righteously indignant about the way other people behaved, or the things they said; that was my bashed-about ego trying to assert itself. I didn't know any other way to feel satisfied than to be "right" and someone else "wrong."

In this wonderful program, I have found that I can let all of that go. I can admit that I am powerless over anyone but myself, and for that, I'm grateful. I can step back from my erroneous assumptions of obligation and responsibility, detach, and turn my efforts towards what I can change.

All that time I invested in proving that I was "right," did not afford me one molecule of self respect, or ability to love myself. When I work towards improving myself, I know that I'm doing what I'm meant to do, and it satisfies me.

I've heard powerlessness criticised as "giving up" and for me, it was just that, but it was a giving up of that in which I shouldn't have been involved to begin with - trying to control the drinker and the drinking. Not my business.

I'm reminded of a program friend who laughingly recited an incident in which she'd declared dramatically to her alcoholic, "I wash my hands of you!" and looking upwards, he'd declared with equal drama, "Thankyou, God!"

I pray for the continued ability to admit my powerlessness, and for relaxed acceptance of that truth.

Friday, June 17, 2011


One lesson I learned when young, was that if I had several tasks to perform, to do the one I wanted to do least, first. That way, it was finished, wasn't looming over me casting a long shadow, and everything that came after it felt easy by comparison. ( I always clean the bathroom first.)

I was explaining this to a sponsee, and she brought me up short by exclaiming, "I wouldn't have the self-discipline to do that!" I had to stop to consider - was it self-discipline? I suppose it is, although I think of it more as having found a way that works for me.

We then had a spirited discussion on labelling, and the different feelings which arose when considering "self-discipline" as opposed to "what works for me." She got really excited as she got a glimpse of the possibilities ahead, if she were to just change the way she labels her life. For her, "self-discipline" felt heavy and guilt-producing; "what works for me" felt light and powerful.

She said to me, hands waving, "I'm having one of those things you talk about, those things! You know what I mean, what are they, oh, why can't I remember?"

I asked, "Startling revelations?"

"Yes!"  She sat back in her chair, satisfied, and beamed at me. I beamed back.

She said, "I've wanted one of my own, since the first time I heard you use that term."

I laughed, because that's how it seems to go in sponsorship. It's never the things upon which  I pontificate, which make the connection for someone, it's the chance comment, the offhand remark.

"God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain."
                                William Cowper

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Perspective In Maturity.

An Al-Anon member reminded me of a joking comment made by a mutual program friend ... he'd sighed heavily, and stated ruefully, that he'd come to the understanding that he wasn't the center of the universe. The rest of us at the table burst into laughter, but most could relate. When new to program, we may feel as though our feelings matter more than anything else around us.

Perhaps we believe that the strength of our feelings should cause people to treat us differently, make allowances, change a long-held policy or tradition. We may have been in pain for so long, that we don't know any other way to operate apart from using our feelings as a starting point for all of our decisions, justifying our behavior with our feelings.

We feel what we feel...

... and that's as far as it goes.

That feeling needs to begin, and end, with us. A feeling does not give us the right to demand change from someone else. It does not justify childish, manipulative or
vindictive behavior.

I speak from experience; I used my abusive childhood both as a shield, and a spear. I heard an AA member say something at an open meeting which stayed with me. He said that no-one cares what kind of misery we may have undergone then; what they care about, is whether or not we're a kind and loving person now. I couldn't shake that remark; it leapt into memory when my feelings were roused and I was about to behave unkindly.

I slowly, over time and practise of the Al-Anon program, began to understand that while I could live the rest of my life carrying that same rage and fear, I also had the option to let it go. How did I let it go? The same way we let anything go - by deciding to open my hand, relax my grasp, and let it fall away.

In program, I have learned that I have the right to my feelings. I've also learned that using my feelings as markers is not the best way to operate, since my feelings aren't always stimulated by the higher parts of my being. Sometimes they are the lizard brain, or the inner child demanding to be heard. I don't want to be a three-year-old all my life, I want to mature and grow. That means that oftentimes I need to feel my feeling, and then let it pass before I take any action - speak, write, or whatever the feeling is telling me to do. I can feel my feeling, observe that I'm feeling my feeling, and then share it with another member.

Not recite the way in which I arrived at that feeling: "I said this, and he/she said that, and then I said.." but share the feeling: "I'm feeling angry/lonely/frustrated/hurt."

Or recognise my feeling, and decide that it's all very interesting, but not worth verbalising, since if I am truly honest with myself, I can see that this is my inner three year old speaking. It's not the best idea, to let small children give me life advice. Before Al-Anon, I allowed my inner child to tell me what to say and do, because she was in a rage, or furious with hurt and pain, and wanted to have a temper tantrum to release the feeling.

We label certain behaviors "childish" because they are most often demonstrated by those young in years. When we have many years under our belt, and still act in that way, we have a problem. And we are a problem, to those who must deal with us.

I feel what I feel. That's fine; I let that happen, but I do it quietly, and without a lot of fanfare nowadays. If after a few day's contemplation I still feel strongly, and I can honestly say that I am not trying to change something or someone, I may speak up. I try to refrain from splashing my feeling about with much noise and drama.

Maturity has various components - mental, emotional, behavioural. That same AA guy I mentioned earlier, said something else that stayed with me. He said, "It's so hard!" is not a reason, excuse or justification. It's hard for all of us. It's just as hard for the person who has to put up with you, and your shortcomings. Think about that next time you start feeling sorry for yourself."

Sunday, June 12, 2011


"Al-Anon talks about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. When I'm doing that "same thing," I really really believe it will turn out differently - how do I get past that blind spot?"

I have learned that I can have habits and patterns of thinking, which may seem to me quite reasonable, but which, when brought out into the light of day and discussed with another human being, sound rather deranged, in their denial of reality and experience.

It's all very well to have hope, and a positive attitude. For me, it was not that so much, as it was stubborn determination to achieve a desired result. This is where working the Steps with a sponsor can be so useful. A sponsor can help us to realise when we are not being honest with ourselves. A sponsor can act as a touchstone of grounded serenity. An Al-Anon friend jokes that she started to change her behavior, not because she thought she should, or believed that she was in the wrong, mistaken or misguided, but because she couldn't stand having to discuss it with her sponsor afterwards.

I happen to believe that for most of us, we will keep on doing what we are doing until we're ready to stop; until then, nothing changes because nothing changes. We will find reasons dazzling in their complexity, with which to justify this fact of life. We aren't ready to change, because we haven't had enough yet. That is impossible to explain or understand, if you don't happen to have that kind of co-dependent thinking.

In a car, the side mirrors can be set in such a way as to remove the "blind spot" - Al-Anon has helped me to reset my thinking, so as to see more clearly the ways in which my attitudes and emotions caused me strife and frustration - to remove my blind spot.

"Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords: but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain; and expectations improperly indulged must end in disappointment."
                         Samuel Johnson

Wise man, Samuel; he figured out for himself, what I had to attend 12-Step to learn.

My suggestion to you, is to get a sponsor if you don't yet have one, and since you already have an idea of where your "blind spot" is, talk it out with other Al-Anon members and your sponsor. Work the Steps. Surrender all of it, blind spot included, and turn it over. Ask your Higher Power for help.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

If You Don't Swim, You'll Just Float.

Someone asked if I could please elaborate upon my remark yesterday that I seem to be hearing a lot lately from people who don't work the program, and say they "don't get much out of it."

Nobody would go out into their yard, start to dig a bit, clear perhaps a foot or two of sod down to the bare soil, then put down their tools, sit down in despair, and say they don't get anything from gardening. We can all see how silly that would be.
Yet this is what happens with 12-Step. People clear a bit of grass, get down to some dirt, then sit down, give up, and say they "don't get much out of Al-Anon." (Or AA, or any other program.) Or they come into 12-Step from a place of desperation, and do work the program at first, until they start to feel better, and that's where they stop. And rest. That rest can go on for years, until the parts are rusted together, and it takes monumental effort to unseize the brain.

I had one sponsee ask why she was so stuck, when another person who'd come to Al-Anon a month or so after she had, and whom she wasn't aware I sponsored, was moving in leaps and bounds? "Why?" she wailed to me, "I just don't get it!"

Why? Because she had never surrendered, never admitted her powerlessness or insanity - she was determined to be a victim, and any suggestion that she wasn't, or that she work to change herself, met with a fierce resentful resistance: "Why should I? It's not fair!"

Damn right it isn't. Let's move on, shall we?

I need to do regular digging and weeding, or my plot of self can quickly become choked with the buttercup of  resentment strangling my newer, less-established plantings. I need to be going out every day and doing an inventory, or nature will take over - untended gardens revert to the wild.  I don't want to have to start all over from the beginning.

I'm going out to the garden, are you coming? No, you're going to watch from here? Ok, but don't complain when a month from now, you can't tell you'd ever started to dig.

Forgive the analogy, but that's how it is - you don't get the result without the effort. Stop doing the work, or never begin, and you won't get anything but more of what you have now - packets of seeds, and a vague intention.

One place we lived, we had a neighbour who used to walk past our front garden, and stop to sigh, "I wish my garden looked like this." Finally, my husband could bear it no longer, and replied with a smile, "It could, if you put in the time and exertion that my wife does."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Goose Footsteps.

Yesterday, while out and about, I met up with someone I haven't seen in perhaps ten years. We stood on the street and talked for a bit.

It was a peach of a day - sunny and warm, with a slight refreshing breeze. The rhododendrons are out in full glory this time of year; a 15'x10' bush completely covered in those incredible blossoms is a spectacular sight, and never fails to move me to awe.

Within a few minutes of this lady and I starting to talk, she was ranting angrily about the man she divorced ten years ago - him, his family, his children. I tried several times to change the subject to something positive, but she wasn't interested.

A wave of sadness washed through me, as I realised that she was stuck in the same place in which she'd been stuck when I first knew her all those years ago. She was still clutching her righteous anger, keeping it stoked to full burn as she remembered every slight, real or imagined. I recalled that she'd been unwilling to let any of it go back then, and she was still unwilling.

She said, at one point, that she wasn't getting much out of 12-Step anymore - I keep hearing this lately, from people who don't work the program, and wonder why it doesn't help them the way it helps others.

I interrupted to say that I needed to be going, and we said our goodbyes. When I began to walk again, I had one of those powerful "gratitude shudders," because I was just that way, when I was new to Al-Anon - full of rage and suspicion, unable to let go of anything that had ever happened to hurt me, desperate in my loneliness. Had I not embraced this program in its entirety, that is who I would still be.

I feel as though I had a narrow escape.

I cannot thank my family doctor enough for continuing to suggest Al-Anon until I finally heard him, and tried it. I feel a deep gratitude for the ladies in my first meeting, who were so warm, loving, and welcoming. I'm grateful to my first and succeeding sponsors, and all of those who have offered me their "experience, strength and hope." Bless you all, and I thank you wholeheartedly.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Practise Makes Better - Perfect Isn't Achievable.

One of the delights of 12-Step, is to watch the growth of a person who is sincerely trying to work this program. Most people coast for a while when they first start attending meetings, because they have a period of what is simply, relief:
a heavy-sighing plonking down of the burden of self into a chair, and the willingness to listen.

Some go so far, and no further, and that works for them. It wouldn't and didn't work for me, but I was very tangled and twisted in my thinking, and a seething mess of resentment, anger and pain. When I began to understand that were I to truly put in the effort, I could achieve a peace of mind unimaginable to me then, it opened a vein of longing within me. I became willing to do whatever it took to get there.

I'm not suggesting that I was willing each and every moment of each and every day, because that's just not true; I had (and still have) times when I was/am practising my program more from custom than inclination, and my feelings  were/are not the pure and lovely creatures I might wish them to be. But habit being a powerful thing indeed, I do the Al-Anon thing instead of the other, and the results are the same either way.

I may be letting go and letting God only because it has become a habit to do so in this sort of instance, and I may not be able to achieve unmixed willingness until my feelings have subsided a bit, but really, isn't that the point of all our work? To make these healthy choices our familiar way of doing things?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Provocation - An Opportunity To Work My Program

Some days, the only thing that works, is to fall silent, stay that way, and recite the Serenity Prayer to myself, until such time as I can escape from the company of a person trying to pick a fight with me.

I don't have to know why they are feeling argumentative or trying to provoke me; that's not my business, or my problem. My part of it, is to behave in a way that I can respect, and remember, without cringing or regretting. For me, that usually means to keep my mouth firmly closed.

It's a disease, and it has a myriad of effects upon a person. I don't need to spend time trying to decipher the meaning of their words or their behavior; I don't have to defend, protest, argue.

I can ask for guidance and Let It Go.

We're having some gloriously sunny warm weather, and that makes me happy. I get up each morning and go out to examine my garden to see how it's progressing.

"Earth laughs in flowers."

                      Ralph Waldo Emerson