October 26, 2010
I meet with a warm group of parents once a month who've had a tough education, both formally and informally, in the realm of addiction. Occasionally a speaker comes and soon Christopher Kennedy Lawford will speak at our meeting about his book Moments of Clarity. So I ran out and bought it and the one he wrote before it, Symptoms of Withdrawal. The latter, which I've only just started, is his memoir about growing up in the world of Kennedys and fame and fortune. I was certainly curious about his experience with addiction as well as the Kennedys, plus I remembered back to this summer when I found myself at a wedding with a famous writer and couldn't say a word to her because I'd never read one of her books! Lawford's Moments of Clarity came as a response to his memoirs. Everyone kept asking him how on that certain day of that certain year did everything change for him; how was he able to get sober and into recovery that day? Instead of the hundreds before it. He addresses this question personally and then asks 43 other recoverers - famous actors, artists, athletes and politicians as well as your average joe. What was their moment of clarity, what happened, what changed? How did things turn around? Turns out recovery can turn the average addict's life, even ones on the very brink of destruction, into a life beyond his or her wildest dreams.
Jamie Lee Curtis admits to being so sick that she befriended injured people to get their Vicodin. Her moment of clarity came when she realized that she was going to die and hurt her family, the thing she loved most. She surrendered and made a phone call and now she sees recovery as the most important thing she's done in her life.
Tom Arnold was changed by a tender moment. A drug-induced crazed low point where Roseanne met him with love and understanding rather than the disgust he was expecting and felt he deserved.
Martin Sheen's story is so painfully honest, he hurt his family with his rage. His moment of clarity came after pushing his son Charlie to the ground in a fit. Naked, he chased him outside to plead for his forgiveness in front of his son's friends.
When Richard Lewis finally sobered up he went back to his old haunt and ordered seven or eight Diet Cokes and lined them up on the bar in front of him. He had something to prove and he did it in his own comedic style.
One of my favorite stories in the book was from a friend of Lawford's, the chief operating officer of a certain amazing treatment center, a jewel nestled within white fences overlooking the hills and valleys of Pennsylvania. I heard him tell his amazing story in person once and reading it again brought the same hope, joy and peace. I love his story. It starts out with an eighteen year old Mike buying a brand-new Mustang and totaling it two weeks later driving drunk at 5pm, 115 miles an hour on a 25mph curve. He and his friend ended up in the hospital where a police officer told him that he was pretty sure he'd learned his lesson so he wouldn't be charged with drunk driving, minor in possession, etc. This future chief operating officer of a certain amazing drug and alcohol treatment center told the officer that he'd never do it again. Two weeks later, he says, he woke up drunk in his mother's car, "sliding sideways down the hill on the wrong side of the road." He had a moment of clarity too, eventually.
Alec Baldwin, Kelly McGillis, Richard Dreyfuss, Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson, Katey Sagal, Lou Gossett Jr., Senator Max Cleland, Rudy Tomjanovich, She's Just Not That Into You Greg Behrendt, conservative economist Larry Kudlow, news anchor Jim Vance, Judy Collins...every one of their generous accounts taught me something about being a loving, surrendered, honest human being for the benefit of others and my own well-being. And to watch for the moment of clarity that can be the beginning of change in any life.
I'm a quote-girl. I always like including things I underline in my books.
Jim Vance - How do I deal with people in my life who need help? Carefully, quietly, respectfully, and deliberatively. My experience teaches me that you can't gorilla -- that's the word we use in the hood -- you can't gorilla an addict into doing what you think the addict ought to do.
Aimee Liu - There's a phrase that I think is very useful: trying to live inside out instead of outside in. ...pay attention to your own standards, your own needs, not everyone else's...
Max Cleland - [quoting Hemingway, who was quoted by Arthur Schlesinger in A Thousand Days, about Kennedy's presidency] "If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good, and the very gentle, and the very brave impartially." Hemingway was right. The world breaks us all. If you haven't been broken by life, just wait a while. All of us get broken one way or another, at some time or another. And many people do grow strong at the broken places, but many do not, and that's the mystery.
June 24, 2010
June 21, 2010
We have these sweet friends who are always doing fun things. They drove down from New Hampshire for a weekend at the Jersey shore (they're originally from here) for their daughter's graduation gift and we went down and met them and another sweet family we haven't seen for a while.
These four people used to be little toddling cuties together and now they're big romping cuties. I am still trying to figure out how this phenomenon happens.
Kind of like how those two used to be five years apart and now they're twins. That's a mystery.
Then on the way home everyone was starving and we didn't want to wait in line at a restaurant on Father's Day so we got KFC and drove to the nearest lake.
I sat on a large piece of broken concrete and ate the best tasting meal I've had in a long time. And photographed it for you, of course, just to show how good fast food can be.
Not really so sweet....
see him holding his head?
June 16, 2010
I attended Sean's end of 2nd grade party yesterday in a neighbor's back yard.
It was perfect for kids.
He had a great time. His friend pushed him on the rope swing.
Then he pushed him on the hammock.
Then others pushed him on the hammock with another buddy.
Then he got on the hammock with yet another buddy...
who then trampled him, as boys do.
Then he stuffed marshmellows into his mouth and tried to speak.
Then he made a visor, with his wonderful teacher looking on.
Then he swung...or swinged...or swang, depending on how you look at things in the world of grammar.
Then the two classes played this game.....
and hid beneath the parachute....
while he hid in the log cabin.
2nd grade was good. Thank you Mrs. Forst.
And happy retirement to you!
June 9, 2010
Sean (2nd grade) has been wanting to take part in the school variety show that Mr. Z lets the kids do every year, but it was always the fourth and fifth graders. This year Mr. Z opened the floodgates and let the little 'uns sing too and there were tons of little ones up there showing their stuff. Sean, as far as I saw, was the only one who brought along his own live accompaniment.
A few things. One, Mr. Z - he was the high school band teacher when I was in school! Great guy. Two, every time Seth makes a mistake on the guitar, Sean looks at him. Cracks me up. He didn't have much room to play, the capo was on the 9th fret to accomodate Sean's high voice. Seth would want you to know that. Three, I wigged out and turned the thing off at the end because I thought it was off when I saw a red light. I was nervous for them and was so upset for about 20 minutes afterward, thinking I didn't get it at all. I think I'm still upset about it! Four, Luke, resident artist, made the signs.
It was a sweet way to end the year.
June 7, 2010
"Most gladly will I glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may
rest upon me; wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses." The humble man has
learnt the secret of abiding gladness. The weaker he feels, the lower he
sinks; the greater his humiliations appear, the more power and the presence of
Christ are his portion, until, as he says, "I am nothing," the word of his Lord
brings ever deeper joy: "My grace is sufficient for thee."
I was searching for a book that might address the idea of spiritual gifts. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness are qualities we Christians are supposed to pour forth. But like an empty pitcher, we cannot pour unless we are filled. Going out and doing something "good" is one thing, "filthy rags;" being filled with the Holy Spirit who pours goodness through me is quite another. How to be filled so that we can pour, not merely do something here, here and here, but pour out something much greater than ourselves all the time, everywhere?
Pride has to go. "And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil." I can't have a belief in our Creator and be proud of anything! I can't do anything good, I didn't create my children, I didn't create my talents and gifts. How can I be proud of winning a foot race when it is God who constructed my legs? If I'm filled with myself, I cannot be filled with God; it has to be one or the other. How to step aside, or more to the point - become nothing - and be filled with the Holy Spirit?
Jesus is our ultimate example of humility. He made himself a mere human and allowed his own life to be taken, brutally. He made himself small so that we could be made right with God. How could I aspire to anything that feeds my own pride when God Himself came and sacrificed all that my filthiness could be washed clean...so that I could be reconciled to Him? My aspirations should be only to bow to the one who saved me and allow Him to fill me with His spirit so my life becomes about Him only.
I cannot sum up this book or barely even comment on it. Andrew Murray's writing is so rich and full that I'm left to drop quotes and question myself on how it is that I can still go about trying to raise my chin every day instead of falling to the floor and becoming nothing but a vessel for the Almighty to overcome. So humility is the answer to my search for the gifts of the Spirit, the answer to allowing the Spirit to dwell within and bring along with it love, joy, peace and all the rest. Those things do not dwell in me naturally and so without humility and without the Spirit, I cannot exhibit and share them.
"Brother, have we not been making a mistake in taking so much trouble to
believe, while all the time there was the old self in its pride seeking to
possess itself of God's blessing and riches? No wonder we could not
believe. Let us change our course. Let us seek first of all to
humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God: He will exalt us. The
cross, and the death, and the grave, into which Jesus humbled Himself, were His
path to the glory of God. And they are our path. Let our one desire
and our fervent prayer be, to be humbled with Him and like Him; let us accept
gladly whatever can humble us before God or men; - this alone is the path to the
glory of God."
June 5, 2010
Isn't it weird that there are books with pictures of tattoos in a tattoo shop? When a person is compelled to imprint something on their skin permanently, you would think they'd already know what exactly that was before they showed up at the shop. Perhaps there are two different reasons for getting tattoos. (At least.) One is - I want to have ink permanently injected into my skin. I think I'll do that in the form of a picture or words....any ideas? The other is - I love Elvis and I'm gonna have his picture on my arm forever.
I have considered a tattoo only once and not very seriously. I nursed all of my boys and often, when I'd lift their little head off my arm, there would be a cute little pink imprint of their ear on my forearm. And I would cherish the little thing until it faded away. The only way I'd be able to have that little ear on my arm forever was with a tattoo. But then I'd have to spend the rest of my life telling that story to everyone who asked, "Why do you have an ear on your forearm?"
So I just keep the little ear print in my memory and smile when I think of it.