Saturday, July 13, 2013

Being engaged in life

A friend that greets me every morning and says "Feed me"
In the midst of all the sadness and loss of loved ones recently, I can say that a saving grace for me has been to stay busy and engaged in the things that I like to do.  There have been plenty of moments when I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning, but I had to take care of the animals.  So I get up and let the dogs out, feed the cats, change water, and then walk down the lane to get the paper.  It's a routine, but one that is necessary when I am struggling with sadness.

The other routine that I have is working in the garden, harvesting the vegetables,  and taking care of the flowers.  Lately, there has been a lot of rain so I haven't had to worry so much about watering. The garden has a great irrigation system on a timer so no worries there. But the vegetables have been plentiful, and the blueberries ripening each day.  So once again, I feel that sense of responsibility to get going and get outside.  No matter how bad I feel, there is just something about digging in the dirt or eating a fresh tomato or blueberry from the vine that makes me happy.

And then there is my life saver--the sailboat.  I have visited her every other day, had a few trips out to the anchorage and am planning to go out again next week for 3 days.  I've joined a Meet Up sailing group locally and hosted a couple of events at the boat.  It's amazing how meeting new people with a common interest can be stimulating and take away unhappy feelings.

I've also been participating in a couple of local photography clubs and been pushing some new avenues with them.  Again, I'm meeting new people, trying new techniques, learning, and staying focused on something I am passionate about.

What these activities mean to me is a release from pain, sorrow and anxiety.  As long as I sit and am sunk in a pit of self-pity, I'm not doing anything productive. I'm not getting better, feeling happier, or letting go.  But what I have found is that the sadness has lessened every day.  I go for hours without thinking about the loss of Mom and Pop or my cousin.  I am coming to terms with acceptance of what is.

In the opening for Al-Anon meetings, there is a line that says, “In Al-Anon we learned to keep the focus on ourselves”. Sadly,  many of us came to Al-Anon with a compulsion to focus on other people.  Many of us had a clear idea of how everyone should behave in every situation and felt very self-righteous when others didn’t follow our rules of conduct. Or maybe we felt sorry for ourselves because our lives basically were all about someone else.  A major turning point came in recovery when I realized that my life was being neglected because all my attention was on someone else.  I knew at that moment that I had to make some major changes in how I was living and thinking.

I'm still learning how to keep the focus on me and not on what others are doing. I don’t have the answers for other people. I don't make the rules for the behavior of others or any facet of their life. If I start getting caught up in what they should or should not do, I have ceased to pay attention to myself.  I know that I generally relate to others better when I allow them to be exactly as they are and keep focusing on what I'm doing.

It is necessary for me to stay involved in the living, be active in those things that I enjoy, and not dwell on my shortcomings or what I've lost.  Finding a passion for something, venturing forth to try something that you've not done before, learning a new skill, giving back to others through volunteering....the possibilities are endless.  And every day, by doing, I can feel the joy coming back into my being.


  1. i am glad you are staying involved...and healthy activity as well...meeting new people, learning new things and putting your hands to growing and cultivating new life...hang in there man...

  2. Take care of yourself but remember we are all human. One thing I try to remember is that without the valleys we would not know high the mountains.

  3. I am sorry for your losses. Thanks for sharing how you cope. There are so many of us dealing with losses through death or addiction. We know that we must find ways to cope but you are one of the few that gives real examples of how to get past the pain.

  4. You are so right. Well done - and well said.


  5. Creativity has always been a joy for me, and when I've been struggling with grief and loss, it has been a way for me to feel that life will go on, and I will feel peace and serenity again.
    Bless you, Syd.

  6. I am glad you are getting through these days and that the tools of al-anon are helping. One day at a time, Syd.

  7. Isn't it interesting how the simple things can keep us grounded and happy or at least, absorbed? You mention taking care of your animals, tending the garden, sailing and photography. Thank you for sharing a bit of your life with us.


  8. Good self care. Happy to read this post!

  9. You've definitely got a full life. We take care of ourselves by continuing 10,11,& 12 forever.Peace

  10. I love this post and Anna's comment. I have learned so much about al-anon from you and so you can add one more thing you are doing on a daily basis...helping people learn what is important. Important to realize it just has not been that long...I think it might have been easier a while back to hang the black wreath on the door and grieve. Be gentle with yourself ...

  11. Wow-oh-wow, Syd - - - What a fantastic inventory of things to-do-for- your own self-focus! This is a fantastic list for anyone to think about - just change some of the things for yourself.

    Actually, you have helped me very much with these reminders - to get off a pity pot and get on with a wonderful life - ONE DAY AT A TIME,

    Bunches of hugs,
    Anonymous #1

  12. I am glad you have blueberries and awareness to guide you through difficult times.

  13. When I was at my lowest I had to move and didn't have a routine to fall back on. I missed that and felt really lost without an anchor. My new home has that feeling for me again and for that I am grateful.

    I agree that our lives and our decision shouldn't revolve around what another person is doing. When I do something out of reaction or because it is what I think I am suppose to do, instead of because I want to do it, I eventually feel resentful. I feel unappreciated for the efforts I have made. This is self serving and not healthy.

    These days I try hard to be honest about my motives and leave the rest to my higher power.

  14. You are such a good example, Syd. I hope you really enjoy that photography club- that sounds like something I might enjoy.

  15. You have been through so much, and I'm glad that you are just doing what you need to do. It's grace that helps us through the hard times, isn't it? I'm glad you are not sitting around moping. Even in grieving, it's good to hear you are living with joy amid the grief, staying busy with your plants, animals, wife, friends, boat and Al-Anon. You are taking care of yourself in a way that is truly wise. Bless you as you deal with so much loss in a healthy way. Your writing and your photos are inspiring to me.

  16. That photo is gorgeous.

    I am glad you have so many positive things to focus on.

  17. I was thinking of something similar to this earlier today myself. Sometimes when we are busy putting one foot in front of the other we don't have time to think about our sadness or feel pity. It's only later when life slows down that look back and say "Wow, that was a really awful time." But hopefully by then we've moved on, and things are better again.

    My family is having a busy summer. I am marking off the days and weeks toward a family vacation at the end. Still, there are times when I pause for a moment and wish I could be up at the farm helping my dad, or sitting in my mother's living room and just listening to her talk about her day. That isn't my life right now and that makes me a little sad, although honestly it never was my life. I'm just more aware of it now. More aware that my parents won't always be there and wishing we all had more time with one another.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day. I know I haven't been keeping it going as well as you keep yours going. I do try though. Glad you have your animals, your garden, and your boat to help you keep putting one foot in front of the other.


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