Forgiveness

75. A MAD-LIB FOR ADDICTS

cookie monster

 

Before I get a ton of hate mail from those who say addiction isn’t funny, I agree, it’s not. It does eventually become extremely important to be able look back on our past and learn how to not beat ourselves up over events we cannot change. Some of the funniest stories I’ve heard are in A.A. meetings. Obviously I’m sworn to secrecy, but it’s nice to know that it’s possible we can eventually laugh at those times that challenged us the most.  Nothing I have done that hurt others holds any kind of humor, that’s for sure, but there are plenty of things I have done to myself to supply more than enough amusement. Looking at these episodes of poor judgement and incomprehensible decision-making is, in my opinion, an excellent way to help strip the ego. The trick here is to look in the mirror and practice forgiveness rather than remorse. Doing the latter only fuels the need to be seen as a victim. Sharing these moments will not only help you find common ground with those willing to help, it will rid you of the “cringe” factor the memories may dredge up. Shame is one of the most draining and damaging of emotions. Getting beyond the need to express this concerning your past is one of the healthiest things you can do. Remember, self-actualized people are quick to laugh at themselves and are self-accepting.

If you are currently in a place where the pain is overwhelming, my prayers are with you. If real recovery is in your future please believe that what lies ahead isn’t ALL drama and business, there will be times of joy and discovery. A huge part of recovery is learning how to re-connect to feelings that have been forgotten, misplaced, misdirected, and abandoned. Management of expression is absolutely central to mental health.

I cannot use a fill-in-the-blank format for this entry, WordPress does not have this option. Please use a separate piece of paper and simply match the numbers. The choices I have provided for the blanks make things a bit more specific than your typical mad-lib. Trust me, it’ll come out much funnier this way. Try to fill out your form without scrolling all the way down. You may also highlight the top section, then print separately. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Confessions of an Addict-

  1. verb, past tense ______________
  2. object _______________
  3. public event _______________
  4. body part _______________
  5. body part _______________
  6. famous person _______________
  7. sport _______________
  8. a food _______________
  9. a profession _______________
  10. a possession, can be plural _______________
  11. low number _______________
  12. notorious man _______________
  13. notorious woman _______________
  14. number _______________
  15. weird characters/people _______________
  16. object, plural _______________
  17. a phrase meant to insult _______________
  18. adverbial phrase (how did you jump? i.e. …..like a madman, without hesitation, for no good reason, etc.) _______________
  19. a dangerous action (i.e. – running into traffic, etc.) _______________
  20. article of clothing _______________
  21. something yucky _______________
  22. verb, past tense _______________
  23. object _______________

 

( ) = an optional word, choose one or the other.

  1. I once got so drunk I ______1._______ (a) an _____2._______ during _____3.______.
  2. I failed the roadside DUI test because I could not touch my ______4. ______ to my ______5.______.
  3. When I get wasted my friends say I act like ______6.______ trying to play ______7.______.
  4. I once came out of a blackout surrounded by empty ______8.______ boxes and dressed up like a ______9.______.
  5. Once, I was so desperate for money I gathered (all) my ______10._______ and sold (it) them at a pawn shop for ______11.______ dollars.
  6. My mug shot looked like ______12.______ had a kid with ______13.______ who obviously hadn’t bathed for ______14.______ weeks.
  7. My nightmares used to include ______15.______ throwing ______16.______ at me while shouting ______17.______.
  8. Someone once posted an online video that showed of me completely sloshed, running ______18.______ while ______19.______ just so I could win a bet.
  9. I once went to work so hung over I was wearing my ______20.______ inside out and my breath smelled like______21.______ .
  10. There was a time where I would have ______22.______(on) a ______23.______ if it meant I could be free of my demons.

So, have fun with this. It should serve as a reminder to some (and a promise to others) that living on the other side of addiction is ALWAYS going to be better than dying inside it.

I look forward to hearing some of your responses to this. Feel free to post what you came up with and let others share in your laughter!

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

58. SUREFIRE SELF-DESTRUCTION

 

best fire

Do not let the fire of your hatred destroy the only person capable of putting it out.

35. PLEASE STOP BY…..

open

Welcome!

I write a blog dedicated to the subject of ground-floor self-help topics. My introduction says a lot about where I come from and who I am. Further subjects address different areas of interest. I’m looking for new subscribers and will respond to all who care to leave a message.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

33. “In the house…

“In the house that is LOVE, chiseled into the floor of the basement, is the word forgiveness.”

floor

I welcome you to visit my blog. Please follow me and feel free to comment as much as you would like, I will acknowledge all.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

32. “The right …

“The right lived life does its greatest work in the final hour.”

I invite new followers and will respond to all comments.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

29. IN SEARCH OF BEAUTY

Observing the Moon

I’ve always been intrigued by the night sky. As a boy I was privileged to have lived in the Colorado mountains far from the “pollution” of city lights. Sometimes, long after my parents had gone to sleep, I would quietly get out of bed and sneak outside just to look up and wonder. When the moon was new, the milky way, that massive arm of our galaxy, would shine in all its glory arcing from horizon to horizon. I knew some of the constellations and occasionally I would spot a shooting star. I never felt small or insignificant compared to the vastness that lay before me; what I did feel was connection to infinity.

Strangely enough it never occurred to me to try a more comprehensive approach until I was an adult. In my mid twenties (the late 1980’s) I was getting ready to attend a Pink Floyd concert. In anticipation of the upcoming event I had gone out and bought a nice pair of binoculars. One evening I happened to notice a spectacular full moon rising. On a whim I grabbed my new field glasses and set my eyes to something I had never seen before. There before me, in detail I had never bothered to explore, was another world. Another world! I’m telling you for a fact the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I couldn’t stop looking. Eventually I bought a telescope and continued my gaze to even deeper discoveries.

It bothered me a little that I had completely ignored  what was probably the most beautiful thing I had ever seen up until that point. I took its presence for granted and I began to wonder what else I had treated with the same attitude. This thought was put on hold as my alcoholism (which had begun several years earlier) began to assert itself. Soon everything was either bleak, boring, or annoying. Life quickly became self-centered. Nothing met my so-called standards so disappointment was the only outcome. Those who helped me get past the chaos and disorder worked tirelessly to bring me back to sanity and beyond. Along the way they encouraged an attitude of gratitude which now is permanently woven into my being.

I began to see the smallest of things in new ways. Colors popped, my surroundings looked new and exciting. I began to pay attention to how everything is symbiotic. I realized that whatever created me also created the world that surrounded me. I’ve said it before, “I believe nothing exists that isn’t supposed to” which means that everything must have some sort of purpose. My respect for the smallest of life forms skyrocketed. That spider that used to give me the creeps I can now let crawl into my hand while I gently place him outside. The same life-force that compels me to survive is the same that pushes this little animal to do the same.

I now see the beauty in everything. Ugliness is an illusion, a judgment created and used to satisfy the human need to rank and label. All that surrounds us is sculpture, all we hear is music, all we communicate is poetry, and all we do is part of the harmonious dance of the universe.

Some may question the need, or perhaps the ability to see this quality in everything. Can I see the beauty in the starving children of the world? You’re damn right I can, if I didn’t see the potential to change it into something inspirational I would never want to. How about in the carnage left once violence has taken place? Yes, I see what has survived, what will ultimately prevail, and what will be learned that must never be repeated. For those that seem lost, the beauty of hope prevails. For those who live a life of cruelty, the beauty of redemption exists. For those who constantly criticize, the beauty of acceptance can be attained. For those who are vindictive, the beauty of forgiveness is available.

Expression of this quality is a gift not only to yourself, but to all those you associate with. Do I still look for fault and criticize things? Yes, absolutely, but always with the intent to create something better, or at least present solutions instead of problems. I consciously begin tasks and challenges by first knowing my involvement can transform them into higher beauty. Do I recognize some things as having more beauty than others? Yes. I’m not beyond that yet; but keep in mind I  know it’s in everything at some level, and I feel it’s my duty to find and acknowledge it . Actually, I think it’s ultimately everyone’s job to take what’s in front of them and make it better by expanding its beauty so much that it can no longer be ignored or hidden.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

20. APPROACHING LIFE POLITELY

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When I was in second grade our teacher, Mrs. Larson, spent an entire day on manners. It made a great impression on me. I learned to open doors not just for girls, but anyone. I learned to say “Mr.” and “Miss or Mrs.” to those I approached (especially strangers) as a way of acknowledging someone with dignity. I learned to show a graceful respect for everyone no matter their appearance or age.  I’ve often wondered how far and to whom her influence has carried itself. Forty years later the ripples in my pond are still there.

I learned very quickly how important politeness is. Some think of it as an attempt at being self-centered or above reproach using such words as snotty, conceited, pretentious, or arrogant to describe this attitude.  I do indeed see how it  might be played as leverage to try and rise above others.  This is not the proper definition nor execution of what I’ve come to understand. Courtesy is the act of putting even the smallest needs for others first; always. This is easily understood when its opposite is realized. Those we know who are the most rude and cocky constantly put themselves first in every situation. They are unkind and impolite. Their self-perceived priorities take precedence. They are extremely unreliable in every situation because when the need for help arises, it’s given only when it benefits them as well.

Putting the needs of others first isn’t just the entire picture. I suppose one could do this outwardly while hiding feelings resentment and jealousy. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve done this, especially in traffic, but I’m also happy to announce that these incidents are becoming exceedingly rare. Being polite isn’t about how I want others to see me, it’s about how I want to see myself. If someone else benefits from something I’ve done, it’s a side-effect, not the goal. I used to become frustrated when my attempts at being civilized weren’t being returned. Someone would yell at me until I finally sunk to their level and yelled back. Not anymore. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of times where I will step up and be a MAN, raising my voice appropriately when the situation calls for it, but I will never be a jerk or insulting.

Do not think that politeness is equal with weakness. It’s not an invitation  to those seeking to take advantage of a peaceful situation. Upon the contrary, keeping a calm and patient exterior (as well as interior) lets nothing unwanted influence you.  Remember, frustration always commits suicide. It cannot survive without a captive audience so it self-destructs. As soon as its given attention it has a reason to re-assert itself which is why the followers of a great many historical blowhards are just as annoying as their leaders.

At the very least ask yourself these questions. Why not be kind? Why not be patient? Why not be empathetic? Why not be generous? Besides, who really does want to become rude, impatient, indifferent, and selfish anyway?

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

14. THE STRENGTH OF COMPASSION

heart water

Once, a long time ago, I was witness to a hit and run. Never really saw the car, but I was the man who stopped to help the victim. She remained conscious and I remained calm, all the while telling her that things were going to be just fine. I knew they weren’t. She was bleeding from her eyes and ears and was concerned about her husband getting upset that she was going to miss work that day. I took off my coat and gently placed it over her, worried that the cold, snowy ground was going to compound problems of shock. The collision was so hard that her shoes bounced off my windshield some forty feet away, so my gut feeling was that there was much more injury than could be diagnosed by casual observation. I continued a simple reassuring conversation with her, never letting on what I really thought. My only goal was to keep her from panicking. Within minutes the paramedics showed up. Her condition in this short span had already showed signs of deterioration. The blood flow from her injuries was increasing and she had lost her eyesight. I never asked her what her name was. I guess I didn’t need to. They whisked her off, and I continued to work, wondering if she was even going to live. Seventeen years later, I still wonder.

What behavior marks the pinnacle of our aspirations? That morning I spent ten minutes lying to a total stranger, and yet at the time I knew I’d done the right thing. That morning I treated someone differently than I might have wanted them to treat me, and looking back, I wouldn’t hesitate doing the same thing again. That morning, though tragic for someone else, forced me to abandon what I normally thought of as proper conduct and embrace a much more powerful idea, kindness.

The “Golden Rule” that all of us are familiar with is something I cannot fully endorse anymore. It is a good idea and a great place to start, but it can be abusive and heartless if practiced with too much passion. I am forty-eight years old. I carry no shame with my age and I never will. For one, I’ve never associated how old I am with who I am. Now I ask you, just because I carry this belief close to my heart, does this give me free rein to ask all who cross my path what their age is? There is no doubt that this is indeed treating others the way I want to be treated, but the very idea of doing this is selfish and inconsiderate. The “Golden Rule” applies in this situation only when I change the angle of approach by generalizing the moment; would I want a total stranger asking me a question I was unprepared or unwilling to answer? Of course not.

The second situation that seemed to violate my ethics all those years ago was lying. My heart knew this was a circumstance where the outcome could easily end with the death of the person I was talking to. Yes, it did cross my mind; what I would want to hear if the roles were reversed? If I felt the end might be near, would I like the chance to say goodbye to those I loved? Would I want to express a final thought? Would I want to ask forgiveness for things I could no longer correct? These are harsh questions and not to be lightly asked when a life hangs in the balance. I suppose if death were eminent, that there was no chance living, then yes, by all means I would want the truth. Even then I suppose I’d want it tempered with reassurance and faith that what awaited was not to be feared. I had no idea what lay in store for this woman an hour from then, but I had a grasp of what the immediate future held. Instead of handing her the facts, I opted to give her nothing but hope. It wasn’t just for her, but to a small degree, me as well. I had to share a belief that things were okay, if nothing else so that she could hang on long enough for those who could bring real aid to have a better chance.

One of my mentors says, “When facing the choice to be right or to be kind comes up, choose kindness.” This means never saying to someone “I told you so.” There are of course times that require a blunt approach, but they always seem to come before any given incident not after. I feel honesty is best used as a warning. It also comes in handy to point out unrecognized acts of self-destruction, but even this is still nothing more than a warning to not repeat oneself. Basically, I believe that “Honesty precedes, while compassion follows.”

To live  compassionately is my goal. To be empathetic (not sympathetic) towards all I meet is  the life I demand of myself. To align with another individual’s priorities, even for just a moment, erases my ego. I cannot be “self-centered” when I become “they-centered.” This is a blessing of the highest sort. All the pain, anguish, bitterness, hostility, angst, regret, and fear that had so effectively eroded  my life was the direct result of the storms of my selfishness. The peace that compassion continues to feed me, strengthens me. May it strengthen all of us.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

8. MY FAVORITE BUMPER STICKER

Sunset_2007-1

I had this bumper sticker printed up years ago and handed them out for free to anyone willing to take one. While it still makes me laugh, I also consider it a very important question.  It’s a little like hearing someone complain about whiners. Not only are they joining in with the same crowd they are trying to distance themselves from, now they’re center stage. I think this is why we should “Love thine enemy as thyself.”

If tolerance is what we want to project, are we not obligated to turn this attitude towards those who receive it the least? When mankind experiences pain somewhere in its “body” shouldn’t this demand care and healing? We seem to point towards what isn’t working in our society and do our best to fight it rather than help it. We praise that which is already doing well and insult what isn’t functioning properly. In my opinion this attitude is destructive and immoral.

No one wants to be around a hypocrite. People that do this are fooling themselves into believing that by putting everyone else down, they don’t have to work at doing anything to look good. We witness this unethical “sleight-of-hand” all the time in various incarnations. The “I’m right and everyone else is wrong” syndrome is, unfortunately, very common.  “No one does what I tell them to do” equals “I’m perfect, they’re flawed.” “No one comes up with better solutions than me” equals “I’m brilliant and they’re stupid.” “Others don’t do nearly as much work as me” equals “I’m productive, they’re useless.” “Everyday I fight bad drivers on the way to work” equals “I’m courteous, they’re rude.” All of these are hypocritical attitudes. No one is perfect. This is not a generalized judgment; I simply mean that there is always room for improvement.  The trap of thinking you’re beyond reproach is to invite a lifestyle that will convince itself there’s no need for progress.   Those who try to position themselves into a brighter spotlight by negative promotion lose all credibility. They don’t realize their audience is  instinctively aware that they’re unwilling to become better.

I would love to think I am past this kind of behavior but I’m not. On occasion I catch myself playing the victim. My moments of “poor me” are a lot less pronounced than they used to be, but at least I have the ability to recognize them. This “role” leaves a bitter taste, I assure you.  I’ve learned  there are countermeasures for this habit.

  1. I stop trying to be better than the rest of the crowd, I simply commit to being better than I used to be.
  2. My personal standards are far beyond what others expect of me.
  3. I acknowledge where talent lies. When I’m seen as someone who gives credit where credit is due, I notice people are more eager to work as a team. Everyone wants some sort of recognition for their contributions. Sometimes nothing more than a “Thank You” makes all the difference, especially when it’s done in public. I know it does for me.

I think it’s amazing just how many don’t do this. It’s too bad that the ones who do this stand out so prominently. They are a rare breed; I wish they weren’t.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

WELCOME TO SELF-HELP AND RECOVERY FOR BEGINNERS!

11_milky_way_road

For both men and women, knowing where to begin a better life can be overwhelming. I’m only the doorman to tomorrow. I can show you where to start, but I will not tell you where to go.

“…it’s easier to undertake a journey when the entrance is clearly marked.”

When I first set out to seek out new avenues and new sources for self-improvement, I made a trip to my local book store expecting to find exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t. I stood there facing several hundred choices wondering where to start. Surely someone had written a beginner’s guide, a square one launching point that wasn’t overwhelming. My goal was to find something not only easy to read, but informative and entertaining. I sought plain and straight forward instruction on how to move ahead in my life. I wanted a resource that would offer the basics and inspire me to continue researching whatever subject might stimulate my interest.  After thumbing through several dozen publications, I found out rather quickly my thirst for knowledge was being offered to me through a fire hose. There was no doubt every answer conceivable lay buried in the pages of the volumes I was wavering in front of, but the process of sifting through endless manuals to look for what appealed to me was not one I was eager to attempt. For the most part, each title addressed a specific topic, and that was fine, but my tastes were much more generalized. What I longed for, even though I didn’t know it at the time, were the right questions. Eventually, through trial and error, I became interested in specific authors, various subjects, and diverse teachings. Even though the road I chose was slow and treacherous, I never stopped progressing. There is, however, little doubt in my mind, I’d be a lot further along than I am now if it had been somewhat less intimidating. It is my opinion that the absence of an easy first step keeps many a wandered traveler from finding their way home.

There was a time when I was truly certifiable. I had nothing in my world that someone would have wanted in theirs. In 1995 I was drinking two-fifths of vodka a day. Since July 28th of that same year, I have been in recovery. As the years progressed, I worked on various elements of my character that needed nurturing. My health improved as did the rest of my personal life. Abundance flowed in, while misfortune waned. In the summer of 2007, came one of my biggest wake-up calls. I had hit the high mark of my weight–347 pounds. After committing to a weight loss program early in 2009, I lost over 105 pounds in six months without loss of energy or strength. I now tip the scales at an average of 220. I’ve had heat stroke, carbon monoxide poisoning, viral pneumonia, MRSA (staph infections), pulmonary embolisms, and car accidents. There are those who may use similar events to convince others how unlucky they are; I use them to prove how fortunate I am. I’ve survived these and other temporary setbacks with flying colors. If attitude is everything, then I’m the direct result of the resolute belief that life gets better every day.

My attempt with this blog is not to provide a goal, but rather an introduction. I’m not a scholar, nor am I a counselor. As a matter of fact, I’m a plumber; a blue-collar worker who has no problems getting his hands dirty and breaking a sweat for a living. Hopefully, my background will offer an approachable and relaxed alternative for those just starting out. I know it’s easier to undertake a journey when the entrance is clearly marked. I’ll never tell anyone where to go, but I’ll be glad to talk about where I’ve been and if you want to visit these places, I’ll simply point the way.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood