Monday, January 2, 2012

Hoppin' John

I made it to my destination in Florida.  Traffic was surprisingly light.  I was driving 75 mph and people were flying by me like there was a firecracker up their butt.  People in Florida sure do put the hammer down.

My main concern on the drive was getting some collard greens and Hoppin' John.  Hoppin' John is the Southern US version of a traditional rice and beans dish eaten throughout West Africa.  It consists of black-eyed peas or field peas and rice, with chopped onion and sliced bacon or ham hock. Smaller than black-eyed peas, field peas are used in the Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia; black-eyed peas are the norm elsewhere.

Throughout the coastal South, eating Hoppin' John on New Year's Day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with luck.  Collard greens, kale, turnip greens, and mustard greens eaten along with this dish are supposed to add to the wealth since they are the color of money.  Another traditional New Year's Day food, cornbread, also represents wealth since it is the color of gold.

I was getting worried until I found a diner where they served up the money and good luck as part of a vegetable plate along with some corn bread. I was happy! So if you missed out on some peas, greens, and corn bread, there is always next year.

Today, I'm going to mosey around a bit.  Maybe check out the marinas.  I'll help my friend get settled in his accommodations where he will be studying for the next few weeks.  I've already checked the Al-Anon schedule and will be going to a meeting tonight.  I'm going to call the local AIS to make sure of the meeting schedule.  We will probably also hit some open AA meetings as well.  There is a 12 step house not far from here.

The first day of 2012 has been good to me.  But it has been hard on others. My wife misunderstood when the caregivers were returning so she spent New Year's Eve at her parents' home.  She got home yesterday around noon and was so relieved.  I know that she won't be doing the night shift for an entire week again.  I told her that I thought it would be too much and now she agrees.

And to the bloggers out there who have been having troubles with family members, all I can say is take care of yourself.  Giving up your own life to try to save someone else's doesn't work.  Two people are then lost.  I know that you love your child, spouse, husband, friend, etc. but you cannot save them.  And meanwhile the "normal" people in the family become less happy and more mixed up in the disease of alcoholism/addiction.  It took a lot of painful reminders for me to finally understand that I was not only harming myself but others when I tried to love them out of their disease.  If you think that you have that kind of power, I have news for you--the disease will kill you from stress, worry, and anxiety.  The martyr role is not going to stop the disease either.  I finally understood the words "keep the focus on yourself" that my sponsor hammered into me.  I get it.

Okay, that's it for now.  Time to find a grocery store.


  1. As a Southerner, we grew up on black-eyed peas. I never forgot the time Alex was at the Farmer's Market (in Colorado!) and he texted me to see if I wanted anything special. Thinking nothing of it, I said "do they have fresh black-eyed peas or purple hulls." LMAO... Colorado does NOT, does NOT... grow those two veggies! (and Alex has never heard of purple hull peas and he graduated from culinary school lol) Sigh. He still laughs about that one! HA!

    You are right. You cannot love the disease away. Right now there's another addict/enabler in my family I'm dealing with (or rather, refusing to deal with) but unfortunately they read my blog.

    Let's just say I am not having anything to do with it but it has been .... shockingly hurtful.

    Quite often when you decide to "focus on yourself" the fallout is brutal. My bell is still ringing....but I am sticking to it.

    Those who "focus on themselves" should not be surprised to find a blowback of sorts - and it can be quite painful unless you're prepared for it.

    Happy New Year Syd!

  2. Florida is my second home, with 25 years there 20 years ago. I return often. I enjoyed rambling through there by way of your narrative.

    Your last paragraph expands on some literature reading I did last night. I have contributed to the chaos in my world with alcoholics, I'm seeing. I'm not sure I've ever even considered that possibility. But it's true. I did. And in so doing, I not only made things worse all around but was killiing myself, literally as you suggest with the stress and worry and anxiety.

    Only by my admission of powerlessness and letting go, and all that that entails, have I been free to focus on myself, to see my worst self, and become my best self and, thereby - and this is the magic - becoming a real help to others.

    I'm coming to associate Al-Anon with: freedom. Period. On all levels. Across the board.

  3. I have never heard of Hoppin' John, so thanks for the education. I made greens for dinner yesterday, not black eyed peas and no cornbread. I hope my year is still ok. Have a great trip. Enjoy FL, and yeah, they drive fast down there.

  4. We have no control, and the sooner we capitulate to that reality, the sooner we can turn towards maki8ng a good life for ourselves.

  5. Hoppin John?? It's a mystery to me...

    I could not entirely detach when a loved one was in crisis. No amount of readings took my mind off the fact they might die as a result of their foolish actions. Knowing you cannot save them, and willing yourself not to worry, are two different things.

  6. mmm did not know it was called hoppin john but i do love that....glad the day was good and the drive as well....

  7. The beans and rice I ate yesterday were refried black beans and white rice and they were delicious. Greens? Let me think...
    Uh. Does cilantro count?
    If so, I am covered.
    Yes, people in Florida drive fast.
    Be careful in my crazy state, Syd. Take care.

  8. Excellent words at the end there from a man who knows of that which he speaks. xoxo!

    My mom is from TN so I was frying up some cornbread yesterday. Most people around here don't find it sweet enough for them. Real cornbread has no sugar in it! :)

    She loves turnip greens but I can't stomach those.

    Rice and beans...yum!

    Miss you, Syd!

  9. It is amazing to me that when you tell a person who is wrapped up in the disease of a family member to take care of themselves - they approach it as another manipulation to "make" the alcoholic or addict "OK." Oh dear.

  10. Dear Syd, What to do with/for the enablers?
    I made the decision to walk away from my mother but I had not been ready to tell her the reason for my absence. She died shortly after never knowing why I had not spoken or contacted her for some weeks.
    Now as a mother myself I realise how this must have hurt her. Apart from her drinking she was a very good and loving mother but a sharp, splintered wedge had grown between us and it was threatening my new marriage.
    I am now watching 2 different friends enabling emotionally manipulative adult children with possible mental health issues who don't accept treatment.
    Is this the same as addictive behaviour? Or are the rules different?
    BTW as someone who has nevered visited your side of the world, my mouth always waters when I hear the names of some of the traditional southern dishes. Does your mouth water if I mention hot buttered toast with vegemite?
    Karen C

  11. I'm working on the 'focus on myself' part. I have a lot to learn. Because as an alcoholic in recovery, I tend to get mixed messages in my head about what that can mean. I feel like I'm being selfish and self centered. this has been a hard week on the co-dependency front. I thank you for your blog.

  12. Great advice, great food priorites, but I guess you need to wait another week for Blacks. Happy New Year.


  13. My "go to" comfort food is field peas mixed with mac and cheese with A-1 Sauce on top.

  14. I'm glad your travels are going nicely... I love the fact that you take time to share cultural information and traditions about where you live. I love that stuff.

    The Hoppin' John looks delicious! I remember eating some permutation of that in Houston, red beans and rice. I love the South for so many reasons, kindness and cuisine among the top ones.

    It is wonderful that you can enjoy your travels, push yourself beyond your "zone" and still keep a kind thought and prayer for C and her parents, without dying of worry.

  15. I'm in California now, but I didn't let the sun set on New Year's Day without my Hoppin'John! Happy New Year Syd, and thank you for your thoughtful posts. I learn so much. I'm definitely focusing on me this year. That is pretty much my only resolution.

  16. I'm glad you had a safe trip, sounds like you enjoyed it.

    Thank you for the reminder, the raw truth always brings tears to my eyes. I can't love the disease out of anyone. They have to be willing to walk that path for themselves. I keep praying and doing my footwork to hopefully get closer to stop harming myself and those around me. Here's to a new day of bringing myself back to the moment and truly focusing on myself.


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