100 Days of Writing – Day Thirty-Five

“Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Big Book of AA, page 417

Life is definitely not always easy. People, places, and things many times are not as we would like them to be. One part of being able to live a relatively happy existence is to be able to accept the world as it is and people as they are.

Many times, at least in my mind, I have a certain picture of the way I’d like the world to be. I’d like people to act a certain way, I’d like places to be as I’d like them to be, I’d like situations to be as I think they should be. And the fact of the matter is, most of the time the world is not going to align with these expectations. And these expectations can fester and become resentments.

Best I can figure, people are doing what they feel is the right thing to do at any point in time. And since they have a different reference point than I do, chances are it’s not the same thing I would do if I was in the same situation. I can question people’s motives and actions, yet I’m sure at least in their minds, they’re doing the right thing. And who’s to say that I know what’s best? I sometimes struggle to know what’s best for me, so why would I think I know what’s best for anyone else?

Just for today, I will try to stay in the present moment and be acceptive of what others choose to do. In some cases, I may find it necessary to alter my course and take action, but much of the time things will proceed just as they are intended to, with or without my permission.

It’s also important, at least for me, to have continued faith in my Higher Power, who does see and know all. My lack of acceptance in any situation may be due to a lack in my own faith life and nothing more.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

David Lee

100 Days of Writing – Day Thirty-Four

Asking for help. It can be one of the most difficult things we do in life, but often it’s literally a life-saver.

I found myself in what I consider to be the worst days of my life. My addiction to alcohol had been one of the primary reasons for my marital separation and eventual divorce. The brick wall of “hitting bottom” hit me square in the face and I didn’t know what to do. As I looked out the back window of my home, I cried out loud, “My God, what have I done?”

I then took what was perhaps in the biggest step in my eventual recovery and that was to grab the phone book and turn to the yellow pages to look for some help with my plight (In fact, I still have that page from the book, complete with markings of the first few places I called). At that moment in time, I realized that I had a problem that I couldn’t solve on my own and needed some professional help. I eventually got that help in the form of counseling and outpatient rehab using my employee’s assistance plan from work. That fateful day was nearly twenty years ago and I can honestly say that reaching out for help was one of the most important things I’ve ever done.

Why do we find it so difficult to reach out for help when our lives have gotten beyond our own skill set? I’m thinking a part of it is that we’ve been trained that we’re supposed to be skillful enough to handle everything on our own. I think this is especially true with the male gender, although not limited to it. A part of our self-esteem and ego are wrapped up in being able to figure out solutions to all the problems we encounter. But we also need to realize there are those times when we can’t do it on our own and need outside help.

The road of recovery, especially that first year, was far from easy. Treatment for alcoholism and the break-up of a twenty-three-year marriage were difficult from the outside. But I found along my path plenty of trained counselors, therapists, and the like that were more than capable of helping me maneuver through those difficult days. Without them, I have no doubt, I would not be sitting at this keyboard sharing my thoughts with you this day.

I also feel that a part of the reason we go through life’s hard times is so we can be of service later down the road when we encounter others who are going through similar situations. We can share our experience, strength, and hope with others and help them to see it is entirely possible to get through what we’ve got to get through. But of course, none of that is possible if we don’t take that important first step: Reaching out for help when we realize we can’t handle it on our own.

David Lee

Random Writing – Another school year is ready to begin and another interim position will be underway

Another school year will soon be upon us and I’ve once again accepted an interim position for the first weeks of school. It will be my forty-second year in the classroom and my thirteenth after retirement. Year forty-two is getting ready to get started.

The assignment I’ll be working in to start the year is an eighth-grade science position. I’ll be working at the same school I retired from in 2010, so it’s back to familiar surroundings. I’m really looking forward to beginning the new year and am already making plans for those first few weeks.

Substitute teaching is not an easy proposition, especially over the past two years with the pandemic we’ve been experiencing. I really like interim positions, which in this case will likely be the first eight weeks of school. Although it’s been a few years since I’ve taught eighth-grade science, I’m getting great help from the teacher I’ll be working for, as well as her husband, who also teaches the same subject at the same school.

I have, like in past years, had several “teacher dreams” over the past couple of weeks. I could probably best call them “teacher nightmares,” because they almost always feature a classroom that I’ve never been in before with students who don’t seem to want to listen to any of my instructions. I’ve found that such nighttime mind wanderings are normal for teachers before the start of the school year.

So the start of the new school year is at hand. Who knows what challenges I’ll be facing, but as always, it’s my choice to continue to teach and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been afforded.

David Lee

100 Days of Writing – Day Thirty-Three

Smoking Cessation Continues….Day Twenty

It’s been nearly three weeks since I’ve smoked a cigarette and although I’m still dealing with cravings and urges to smoke, I haven’t given into those and remain smoke-free.

My last cigarette was on Monday, July 18th at 5:05 a.m. I’ve been using nicotine lozenges to replace some of the nicotine I was taking into my system and will have an ultimate goal to not use those as well. But first things first….

I think a part of the success I’ve experienced is the fact that I’m also on a new medication for my ADD. I started taking it on July 13th and it has helped curb some of the anxious thoughts that lead me to smoke nearly a pack a day. While I still have cravings and have contemplated buying a pack of cigarettes, I haven’t given myself permission to do so.

My breathing has notably improved and I notice on especially warm days, I don’t struggle as much. I’m not around anyone who smokes on a daily basis and that has helped as well.

I have a support group to help with my continued recovery. Most noticeably, my wife Lisa, who has never been in judgment of my smoking habit, but has been my biggest supporter. I also have a group of friends who are former smokers and they have been sharing some of their experience, strength, and hope.

Another big key, at least for me, has been the “QuitNow” app that I’ve downloaded on my phone. It helps me keep track of my time away from smoking and that’s great motivation.

Today’s numbers from the app: 19 days, 11 hours smoke-free – 389 cigarettes avoided – $113 saved from not purchasing cigarettes. It also has a chat feature that allows me to share and hear from others who are attempting to quit smoking.

It’s still one day at a time…this much I know. I’m so very grateful that I’ve been able to stop for the time I have and am looking forward to many more smoke-free days ahead.

David Lee

100 Days of Writing – Day Thirty-Two

Smoking Cessation – Day Thirteen

I’m entering day thirteen of my latest effort to quit smoking and although the cravings and urges are still there, I’ve not found it necessary to light up a cigarette since July 18th. The nicotine lozenges have been a real asset to curb the craving for nicotine, especially when first waking in the morning and after meals. I’m also trying a prescription medication for my ADD, which I started taking five days before my last cigarette and I feel this has also been helpful.

I know there is a physical component to quitting smoking, the addiction to nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes. Still, there’s also the psychological component, which has a lot to do with a mechanism I’ve used to curb anxiety and stress. I’ve also realized it’s just a habit,, something that I’ve done in the past, especially at certain times in the day and I’ve found many times I don’t actually have a craving for nicotine, but think of smoking just because it’s “what I do.”

I’m continuing to use the “QuitNow” app on my phone, which helps me chart my progress. It tells me this morning that I’ve avoided 265 cigarettes since I first stopped and saved a little over $77 from not buying cigarettes. It’s a true revelation when I see the number of cigarettes I haven’t smoked. When you’re smoking one at a time, a pack a day, the numbers seem low. But when you see the cumulative count, it’s quite mind-blowing.

I’ve also noticed some of the side effects of smoking have lessened or gone away altogether. While I still cough quite a bit when first laying down to go to sleep, overall the respiratory effects are much less. I’ve also started becoming aware when there’s someone around me who has been smoking, smelling the odor on their clothing. Just another reminder of what others may have experienced when around me before I took my last puffs.

I’ve also used my twelve-step program to help with my cessation from smoking. I play the tape forward and ask myself, “What’s activating this desire to pick up a cigarette?”, “In what way is my smoking selfish and self-centered, as well as being inconsiderate?” There are also others in my recovery groups who have kicked the habit as well and sharing my experience with them has also been helpful.

It’s still one day at a time at this point. I’m proud of myself for taking the measures to get healthier and extend my life. Perhaps the fear of what could result from continued smoking is the best motivator of all. Getting a “clear” result from my CAT scan and knowing I can’t change my past consumption, but surely can work in staying stopped is a key.

David Lee

100 Days of Writing – Day Thirty-One

Fear – The Evil and Corroding Thread…

I went to a meeting with some like-minded friends this morning and as I was the meeting chair, I had the job to come up with a topic. I had thought about it for quite a while and thought the topic of “fear” would be an excellent discussion point. I took notes as my friends shared and made a list of the most important ideas that I heard. I’ve also included some thoughts of my own along the way.

  • Most all fear is ego-based. I hear something I didn’t want to hear or am not getting what I want.
  • Fear is often not based in reality. Fear is most often based in negativity.
  • Acronyms for fear: F*%) Everything And Run and False Evidence Appearing Real
  • A paraphrase about fear from Mark Twain: “Everything I worry about didn’t happen, so it works!”
  • There are rational fears and then there’s panic.
  • When considering our fears: “Is this the hill I want to die on?”
  • Lots of fears are self-centered
  • Fear keeps me from being present in the moment.
  • Lots of fears come from or are based on past experiences.
  • Worrying doesn’t change anything.
  • Fear can either motivate or paralyze us.
  • Fear is a lack of faith.
  • Fear is a liar.

And then there’s the reading from the Big Book of AA, on which our discussion was based:

“This short word somehow touches about every aspect of our lives. It is an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune we felt we didn’t deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling? Sometimes we think fear ought to be classed with stealing. It seems to cause more trouble.” (P. 67:2, ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’)

100 Days of Writing – Day Thirty

No particular topic today…just writing off the top of my head

Today is one of those days where no particular topic appealed to me, so I’m just going to be writing off the top of my head. Sometimes those can be some of the most entertaining pieces to craft.

I delivered Meals on Wheels today on my regular route. I’m getting more familiar with the homes I visit and the route took the least amount of time for me today. I delivered thirteen meals and finished in under an hour. The two routes that I’ll be running the second and third weeks in August will be in a different part of town, so every delivery day is an adventure. Thank goodness for GPS!

It looks like we’re getting ready to get a big-time summertime storm. Temperatures were in the low nineties today, so it’ll be a welcome relief from the heat. I guess it’s a product of getting older, but it seems like the really hot temperature days have a more tiring effect on me than they used to.

I’m on day nine of not smoking and the cravings still occur at semi-regular intervals, especially when first waking in the morning and after meals. I had a discussion with two friends last night, both of who are former smokers, and they gave me some helpful hints on how to deal with the urges to smoke.

In just a matter of weeks, it’s going to be time to head back to the classroom. I’ve accepted an interim position for an eighth-grade science teacher who’s going to be out for eight weeks or so on maternity leave. I’m looking forward to getting back into the school year routine. The school I’ll be working at is the same school I retired from in 2010, so it’s back to the old haunting grounds once more.

That’s all for right now…we did, by the way, get that torrential downpour I was mentioning earlier. It’s always nice to get a break from the summertime heat. I’m sure the sun will be back in full force tomorrow.

David Lee