Uncle Iroh

X = Sobriety

pai_sho

Jet: I’ve done some things in my past that I’m not proud of. But that’s why I’m going to Ba Sing Se, for a new beginning. A second chance.
Iroh: That’s very noble of you. I believe people can change their lives if they want to. I believe in second chances.

In primary school, we were given mathematical equations and taught how to solve for “x”.  We were taught how to look at a problem from all angles: algebraically, graphically and by using the concept of equivalence. We learned how to add, take-away, multiply and divide, and determine the variables (or unknowns) to find the solution. If we were impatient, tried too hard, or allowed the perceived complexity of the problem to overwhelm us, the solution was always frustratingly out of reach. But once we calmed down, realized that the math equation was not out to get us and followed simple rules, what was once puzzling was made clear.

Flash forward 30 years and I’m driving around the largest roundabout in the world, on my way to meet the girls, and having an epiphany. I finally realized what “x” is in my life. For me, x = sobriety. Now I am not saying that sobriety is the answer to all of my problems and that I have it all figured out. It isn’t and I don’t. But I cannot ignore how many different aspects of my life have improved since I had my last drink more than a year ago.

As 2014 began I was frustrated with my life and had little hope. I was sick and tired of making the same mistakes and I could not figure out why I could not get my life together. I was unhappy in my professional life, and felt stuck in a rut after working for the same firm for 15 years, yet at the same without hope that I could be of value anywhere else. I was angry with myself for drinking as often as I did and the way that I did. I was ashamed of it and unknowingly withdrew from or sabotaged relationships that were important to me. My self worth was at an all time low.

It was not all bad of course. There were moments of fun and happiness, and there were times that I did make an effort to change aspects of my life. I resigned from my job, but without having a new one waiting for me I ended up staying exactly where I was.  I was never getting enough sleep (sleeping off a hangover is not the same as a good night’s rest), smoking a half a pack a day (a pack if I was out drinking), not taking care of my body, and totally ignoring my creative side. I could not imagine what my future looked like. I just honestly could not picture it. And for the life of me, I could not figure out why I was where I was. I could not reason my way out of the puzzle I was in. At the time, I looked at giving up alcohol as just that. Giving it up. I would have the same life minus the booze. I had no idea that giving it up and thereby choosing to have a better life, that one factor, would be the common denominator in all the improvements to come.

Now, so many things have fallen into place. I feel like I have a second chance, at everything. Life did not magically improve of course, I put in the work that was required and I still do. But when I take stock and look back on the last 15 months and at all the variables, there is no denying that for me, x = sobriety.

There is a clarity of thought that I did not have before, the upside of which is focus which in turn manifested itself as determination and will. I now believe that I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to or at least learn from simply striving for a new goal. Then there is the power of attraction. I do believe that like attracts like, and my more positive attitude and confidence has attracted a lot of positivity and stability into my life. No longer am I wasting my days and energy being hung over, regretting a night of drinking, or berating myself for having no direction in life. My days and energy are spent on more positive and rewarding endeavours.

I have been appreciating my relationships more than ever before, cultivating stronger relationships with old friends because I now know my worth and can be a better friend. I have also made new friends with common interests, other than alcohol, who inspire and motivate me on so many levels.

I have more love for myself and with it automatically comes self-confidence, care and self respect. I am gentler with myself by dealing with difficult emotions in healthier ways instead of judging myself for having them in the first place. I’ve found a renewal of faith that life is good, and that sincere effort is rewarded. I have hope again, for myself and for my future.

From my second chance to yours: love and light,
Phoenix

~*~

This is Post X, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Wisdom In Understanding Others

Earth, Fire, Air, Water

Fire, Earth, Air, Water

Iroh: Fire is the element of power. The people of the Fire Nation have desire and will, and the energy and drive to achieve what they want. Earth is the element of substance. The people of the Earth Kingdom are diverse and strong. They are persistent and enduring. Air is the element of freedom. The Air Nomads detached themselves from worldly concerns, and they found peace and freedom. Water is the element of change. The people of the Water Tribes are capable of adapting to many things. They have a sense of community and love that holds them together through anything. 

It is important to draw wisdom from different places. If you take it from only one place it becomes rigid and stale.

Last night I was out for dinner and drinks at one of my favourite places. A friend of a friend joined us, let’s call him George, and at one point George brought up a guy he knew who was going through a rough patch, “He’s all doom and gloom,” George says of the guy, “then the next minute he’s analyzing everything. He’s the philosopher type, you know. Says whatever he is going through now is something everyone in their thirties has to go through. A sort of crash and burn so you can rise from the ashes sort of thing.”

Everyone chuckled and two of my friends shot me sidelong glances as I am the known philosopher of our group. I smiled at the phoenix reference, even though for a brief moment I wondered if my friends thought I was as annoying as George found his friend. I too, philosophize about a lot of things. I love learning and exploring so I can’t exactly help it. I do try not to wax philosophical every time I hang out with my friends. What made me laugh was that as George was talking about the guy he knew, all I could think was that I wanted to meet the guy to chat. 🙂

I find people’s stories to be interesting learning opportunities. Sharing our stories and the way we individually see life only enriches our shared experiences and fuels our understanding of and compassion for others.

From my story to yours, love and light,
Phoenix

~*~

This is Post W, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Victims ‘r’ us

Dark Korra

Iroh: If you look for the light, you can often find it. But if you look for the dark, that is all you’ll ever see.

Disclaimer: This post is not for the victims of traumatic events. This is for the doomsday folks, you know,
the ones who only see the dark stormclouds hung before them, and refuse to cast their eyes upward to see the sun.

Don’t you just love encountering people who only talk about their woes and how much they hate life? They assemble in groups, usually after work at their favourite watering holes or coffeeshops, trying to one up each other with their sob stories. It’s like a pissing contest to see whose day was worse or who has the roughest life. Oh boo hoo! We ALL deal with stuff. Strife, drama, and hardship are all relative and affect each person. How you deal with them is up to you. Don’t get me wrong, we all need to vent sometimes and that’s what friends (and the internet) are for but seriously, something bad happens to you EVERY day of your life? Nothing brings you happiness? You can’t find something to make you smile anywhere? There is nothing you can do to improve your life? I seriously doubt that. Hi, I’m Phoenix. I battle my demons every day. Some days I win and some days I don’t. I get that sometimes life gives us a raw deal, but I refuse to have a defeatist attitude about my life.

I understand “misery loves company” and the need to share sorrows and hardships with your peers – that’s what we do here on the Sober Blogging Network, but we also share our hopes, dreams and positive things about life too. Holding on to drama and grudges and swimming in a big vat of  “Everyone, and the world, is out to get me!” proclamations will never get you anywhere. At some point you have to take charge of your own life.

Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.”  — Chinese proverb

You have to make the decision to change what you don’t like and then follow up with practical choices. This means not only being open to new ideas, approaches and practices, being willing to explore them and try them out, but also figuring out if you would benefit from surrounding yourself with those who look for and talk about the positives in life despite their difficulties. Words are very powerful.  What you say and what you listen to affect your beliefs about the world. Finding others who believe in the possibilities rather than the impossibilities will help you to believe that you too can do anything. I know that no one has it all figured out but I’ve found that sometimes a good shake up, dust off, and re-organizing of the group of people you spend most of your time with is always good. Figure out who inspires and motivates you, and says “I can” more than they say “I can’t.” The ones who care about you, will listen when you need them to and appreciate the time, care and consideration you offer when they are in need too.

Life is too short to spend so much time complaining and bogged down with only negative and pessimistic attitudes. Life is too short to miss the brightside.

Love and light,
Phoenix

~*~

This is Post V, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Questions of the Year: The Daddy Project

Iroh Zuko Lake Laogai

Iroh: “It’s time for you to look inward and begin asking yourself the big questions. Who are you? And what do you want?

Last month I signed up for a Closeness, Distance and Intimacy in Relationships workshop. I attend developmental workshops from time to time as I am always interested in the psychology behind human behaviour. Our introductory session taught us that intimacy requires mutual self awareness, openness to self re-evaluation and trust. I know I have issues with trust and self worth and I am aware that children who are not shown enough love or support to establish a strong sense of self, develop antagonistic and defensive personalities. As adults, they can sometimes still have difficulty believing in their worth and well, we all know where that can lead: Self doubt = low self esteem = little self respect = self abuse = addictive behaviour. In terms of relationships, we have difficulties with openness and trust.

After our introductory session we were advised to select a current relationship we would like to improve upon. They say that a girl’s relationship with her father affects the quality of her future romantic relationships. Sounds about right, so I decided that my focus for the workshop was going to be Dad and me. We were given standard questions, which are applicable to all relationships, and were encouraged to answer honestly, no matter how painful. I’ve listed them below and if there is a relationship you would like to work on, I encourage you to answer them too.

What am I going to change?
My relationship with my father.

How would I like this relationship to be?
Loving, supportive and open with reassurances of love and affection. I want us to enjoy each other’s company and have freedom of discussion without judgment. I’d like there to be acceptance and guidance from both sides and I want us to feel proud of each other. I want us to forgive each other and appreciate what each can bring to the relationship.

Knowing that I cannot change another person, what can I do to make our relationship this way?
Reach out more. Be more patient, open to understanding and accepting of him. I know he did not have a warm, nurturing or reassuring childhood and it is difficult for him to show affection  the way I believe I need him to.

What blocks are there to prevent me from making these changes?
Fear of rejection.
Fear of judgment.
Fear of effort without reward or appreciation.

What do I usually do when I encounter these blocks?
I find ways to explain away the situation: “It’s not really a bad relationship.” “It’s not his fault for being distant and uncompromising.” “I can’t change him anyway.”
I make excuses: “I’m too busy to call or visit.” “It’s not the right time to talk about such things.”
I do nothing. I block it all out and dismiss my need to have a better relationship with him.

What usually happens then?
The problem never really goes away. I am still left wanting even when I pretend it does not matter. Then I feel disappointed in myself for not trying and ashamed for being short with him. I judge myself harshly for not working to improve our relationship and then the hurt starts all over again.

What do I need to do to get past these blocks?
Tell myself that I love myself enough.
Tell myself that I will be okay if I don’t end up with the relationship that I want.
Be patient. This is very hard for me but I will appreciate every baby step and learn from each set back.
I need to understand that I need this sort of relationship with him. This will be my motivation.
Understand that this change will take courage and persistence.
Understand that I have a lot to offer too, as a daughter, friend and loved one.

Who am I currently in this relationship? (I must have a good sense of self to know the place I am starting from)
A distant daughter. I don’t make an effort either.
A judgmental daughter. I am ashamed of him at times.
I have talked about him as being without hope when in fact I might be the one without hope for him.
I blame him for the break up of his marriage to my mother.
I am jealous at times of his relationships with his step-daughters and with my nephew.
I am not as compassionate or as kind as I should be.
Generous as I am with others, I am far less generous and forgiving with him.

In any close relationship, differences will emerge: views, perspectives, the way we handle stresses and anxieties. Understanding and having a fair sense of self allow us to better handle the inevitable differences between the two people involved. It is important to understand that the differences are not problems in and of themselves. The problems are based on our emotional reactivity to these differences.

Thinking of my answer to the last question, what is the first sentence which comes to mind to describe myself?
I am my father’s daughter. 😦

What did it feel like to identify who I am? (my sense of self)
Eye opening and sad. I realized I am as responsible as my father is for our relationship
But I am hopeful, even though we have our work cut out for us.

Which self would I like to bring to the relationship?
My authentic self: loving, kind, understanding, generous, grateful, affectionate, hopeful and creative.

In what ways would I be different if I was that self instead?
I would be optimistic about our relationship, instead of hopeless. I would be understanding and flexible, not forceful but adaptive. I would tone down my reactivity and turn up my empathy.

What difference would being like this bring to the relationship?
Perhaps more understanding, tolerance and the opportunity for growth.

What is my detailed plan of action from this point? And what can I do to cope more positively with the differences and similarities between Dad and me?
Make a concerted effort to keep in touch more and to visit.
Get to know more about him. Be patient, open and understanding.
Understand that lots of planning and no action will lead me nowhere.
Understand that courageous acts of change require small manageable steps. There will inevitably be setbacks, maybe even failures, but I won’t take them personally and I won’t give up. I can take a time out if I need to, but I won’t give up.

I am actively working on my relationship with Dad. It is slow going and I’ve decided that’s okay. For now. I’m interested to know if any of you found the questions helpful or at least thought provoking. Copy and paste the questions onto a document and carry it with you to answer one day when you feel ready. I found that removing the pressure of assuming that I’ll actually talk to Dad about all of this, and writing out my answers, helped me to focus and be honest about my feelings.

~*~

Here are the questions in an easy to copy format:

1. What am I going to change?
2. How would I like this relationship to be?
3. Knowing that I cannot change another person, what can I do to make our relationship this way?
4. What blocks are there to prevent me from making these changes?
5. What do I usually do when I encounter these blocks?
6. What usually happens then?
7. What do I need to do to get past these blocks?
8. Who am I currently in this relationship? (I must have a good sense of self to know the place I am starting from)
In any close relationship, differences will emerge: views, perspectives, the way we handle stresses and anxieties. Understanding and having a fair sense of self allow us to better handle the inevitable differences between the two people involved. It is important to understand that the differences are not problems in and of themselves. The problems are based on our emotional reactivity to these differences.
9. Thinking of my answers to the last question, what is the first sentence which comes to mind to describe myself?
10. What did it feel like to identify who I am? (my sense of self)
11. Which self would I like to bring to the relationship?
12. In what ways would I be different if I was that self instead?
13. What difference would being like this bring to the relationship?
14. What is my detailed plan of action from this point? And what can I do to cope more positively with the differences and similarities between us?

Love, light and good luck to you,
Phoenix

~*~

This is Post Q, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Patience

Tenzin_and_a_frustrated_Korra (1)

Tenzin: There is no shame in taking the time you need to make a full recovery. I know you want to help. But trust me, everyone has this under control. I just think you need to …
Korra: [Angry.] If you say, “be patient”, I swear I’m gonna water-smack you in the mouth!
Tenzin: Nooo … I was going to say, you need to … [Searching for replacement advice] not worry about the future. Be grateful for where you are now and the progress you’ve made.

Last night a business associate took me out for dinner in the city’s art district. The restaurant was a cross between an art gallery, a bar and a restaurant. I loved the decor which set my mind’s cogs turning as I was finally feeling inspired enough to resume planning my pieces for an upcoming exhibition. The exhibition dates have been set for over a year and as usual, mired by doubt, I was procrastinating. Then of course, frustrated with my lack of progress, I’d berate myself for my creative block. I understand that the block is caused by a fear of failure. I want my pieces to be perfect and if I fall short, I’ll feel like a failure.

I do this to myself in other ways too. Like frowning at myself for being ashamed that I could not tell my business associate that I don’t drink at all. I shrugged off my decision to order a club soda and lemon, with an “Oh, I just don’t feel like drinking today.” Yet I gave myself a stern talking to before bed: “You have to get over this. You’ve been sober for over a year. Own your sobriety. Be proud of it and stop thinking that something is wrong with you. You should be further along in your acceptance of yourself.”

I might be right, but I can’t help feeling jealous when I read about others who totally own their sobriety, are open about it and never feel ashamed that they had to stop drinking. Me? I still worry that others will think less of me. Yes, I know I shouldn’t put so much stock in what others think and I am working on it. Times like this I have to be patient with myself and focus on how far I’ve come, instead of how far I have left to go.  I can notice and acknowledge the inner growth that is happening. I am a work in progress after all and I know I am in a better place than I was. I’m grateful for that.

Back to my upcoming exhibition. I know the best thing to do is to just focus on the work and enjoy the process. I have to trust that once I am true to myself, happy with what I create, and brave enough to put myself out there, that’s an accomplishment in itself. In the end that’s all that really matters. 

Tunnel Better Place Aang Iroh

Uncle Iroh: Sometimes life is like this dark tunnel. You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving… You will come to a better place.

~*~

This is Post P, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Open Mind and an Open Heart

Zuko_and_Iroh_at_the_Western_Air_Temple

Uncle Iroh: You know, Prince Zuko, destiny is a funny thing. You never know how things are going to work out. But if you keep an open mind and an open heart, I promise you will find your own destiny someday.

In 2011 during a particularly enlightening yoga workshop I recognized my purpose: I knew with absolute certainty that my purpose in life was to help people heal through creative expression. I had no idea how to do it but I saw myself thriving if I found a way to fulfill that purpose. I talked to people in the field who I trusted and respected, and sought advice from business owners. I created a Project Scrapbook and in it wrote daily, all of my plans and ideas, colouring and highlighting them with sketches and drawings and dreams.

By the end of that year, after the disastrous break-up of a dysfunctional co-dependent relationship, I was drinking often. Too often of course, but I did not see that back then. I did not know, as I do now, that my drinking was fostering fear and uncertainty in my life. I was using it as an escape and all it ever did was stop me from tidying up my side of the street. Hell, it kept me from tidying up my little space on this Earth. Tidying it up and preparing it for it’s true purpose. My Project Scrapbook stayed closed for a long time. I could not find a way to believe in myself and kept my mind and heart closed. I was afraid that I would never do anything worthwhile and that my life, that I, was worthless. So I stopped dreaming. I was in despair and I did not even know it.

Goethe says, “Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded.”

This quote means so much to me now.  In February 2014 when I quit drinking I focused all of my attention on dealing with early sobriety and the onslaught of reality checks and emotions it brought with it. I focused on understanding the changes I was going through and on getting healthy. I began tidying my little space. I moved into a smaller apartment, paid off my debts, and made practical plans for my financial future. I worked on my spirit too. As I began to feel healthier, my mind cleared as did my intuition. I started to trust myself more and had decided to let my heart lead me where it would. I felt the pull and tug of certain workshops and classes and I followed with an open mind and an open heart, sometimes not knowing what to expect, but never regretting the decision to attend. Without the physical, psychological and emotional fallout from drinking, there is more space and time in my life for opening doors and widening avenues on my true path.

Four years have passed since that eight week yoga workshop and although my initial venture did not blossom, I am as sure as ever that my destiny lies on this path. I’m going after my dreams again. This time with excitement instead of anxiety, with faith instead of fear, with gratitude instead of despair, and with confidence that I am open to the possibilities.

“We think when we stop drinking that we are giving up a mind-expanding substance, when in fact sobriety is the true freedom, and opens up new horizons beyond anything we could have dreamt.” ~ Primrose

~*~

This is Post O, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Metamorphosis

Iroh-watches-over-Zuko-300x200

Uncle Iroh: You should know this is not a natural sickness. Your critical decision – what you did beneath that lake. It was such a conflict with your image of yourself that you are now at war within your own mind and body. You are going through a metamorphosis, my nephew. It will not be a pleasant experience but when you come out of it. You will be the beautiful prince you were always meant to be.

Do you remember hangovers? The head-in-a-vise headaches, the dehydration and cotton mouth, the sandpaper skin and sensitivity, the sour stomach and food that tasted like cardboard, the body aches and fatigue? Even though it’s been a couple of years I still do, vividly. That was my body fighting to get back to normalcy after I’d spent the night wrecking it by drinking and smoking too much. I feel such remorse when I think back to the way I disrespected my body and I certainly don’t miss the days lost, curled up on the couch in front of the TV, being physically unfit to do anything constructive or productive.

The human body is remarkable in the way it is designed to repair and heal itself. With the exception of serious illnesses or compromised immune systems, from the moment we sustain an injury or get the flu, our bodies begin repairing. Blood will clot, new cells will replace old or damaged ones, muscle tissue will regenerate. When I gave up drinking and smoking, I understood that I may have had physical withdrawal symptoms until the toxins were completely out of my system, and I also understood that healing would take time. For me, I started feeling healthier about six weeks after I quit. By then my sleeping and eating habits had normalized. My energy levels were higher than ever and I steered more of it toward enjoying life instead of fighting hangovers.

Mentally, the fog lifted and there was a clarity of thought I had not felt in ages. For people who were binge drinkers (more than 3 or 4 drinks at a time) or high functioning alcoholics (those of us who drank heavily every day and still managed to hold down a job and perform well enough to keep our habit hidden) our performance levels naturally increase a few months after we quit. I was fortunate enough at that time to be offered the opportunity to broaden my professional experience and knowledge. I jumped right in. With growing confidence in my creative capabilities and my ability to tap into them now, I flexed my creative muscles and experimented with different outlets. Now, I’ve been thinking about going back to school to explore that side of me. So many things are changing, for the better.

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ~ Haruki Murakami

~*~

This is Post M, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Kindness

Iroh and Ming Kindness

Uncle Iroh: Thank you, Ming. Your little gestures of kindness have made my days in prison bearable.

Kindness received and shown in any sort of recovery is invaluable to its success. I will always be grateful for the support and kindness shown to me when I first gave up alcohol.

My boyfriend’s support meant a lot to me this past year. His consideration of my efforts to stay sober, by cutting back on his drinking, keeping his fridge well stocked with non-alco beverages for me, being willing to discuss my rapidly changing moods in the early days and to talk through my thoughts on every related subject helped me not to feel abnormal.

My girlfriends were great too. They were 100% supportive of my choice and assured me that they were going to be available to me when I needed them. One or two even went so far as to opt to meet for coffee or lunch so I would still have my girls’ time without our ‘regular’ drinks, or abstain from drinking when we did go out so I wouldn’t feel like the odd one out. In those first few weeks I was touched and reassured that I my friendship was still impotant to them too. When my boyfriend and I broke up and my sister migrated a few days later, my girlfriends made sure that I was not alone.

My mom, although I’ve told her that I don’t want to know if she reads my blog and that I’m not ready to talk to her about my sobriety yet, every now and then sends me short, sweet and encouraging “I am proud of you” messages.

These little acts of kindness make me feel loved and supported, and boost my confidence in my ability to continue. In turn, I try to do the same for others I meet who are also trying to quit or stay sober. I am always moved and appreciative of readers who take the time to read, like or comment on my blog and I return that kindness as often as I can. Many times this journey is not an easy one and these little gestures go a long way, for all of us.

~*~

This is Post K, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Humility

Humilty is the only antidote to shame

Uncle Iroh: Zuko, you must let go of your feelings of shame if you want your anger to go away.
Zuko: But I don’t feel any shame at all! I’m as proud as ever!
Uncle Iroh: Prince Zuko, pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame.

Every now and then when i meet my girls for “drinks” I meet someone who did not know that I quit drinking a year ago. Depending on who I encounter, I’ve noticed that I either feel ashamed that I had a drinking problem or feel superior that I no longer do. I have come to understand that both feelings are unhealthy for me.

Feeling ashamed of myself will never serve me because it is rooted in judgment (my old nemesis). I can have regret or remorse for mistakes made but shame is wrong. I own my mistakes and have held myself accountable for them. They have helped to shape me into the person I am today and I am not ashamed of who I am.

The flipside of that is the smug superiority complex I apply when I feel the ticklish aura of defensiveness enveloping me. This mostly happens around ex-drinking buddies who make jokes or disrespect my choice to quit. I feel Defensive Phoenix pushing her way to the forefront, crossing her arms, and looking down her nose at the offending party. While she may be necessary in the moment, I don’t really like feeling that way. It’s not good for me to judge anyone, even if their jokes are dumb. Most people truly just don’t know what to say. Heavy drinkers feel uncomfortable around ex-drinkers. It’s simply a fact.

If I am to learn to truly accept myself, shame and pride are two extremes I should not allow to manifest themselves in their worst forms. We’re all on our own journeys. No one (including me) is better or superior to anyone else, no matter where they are on their journey. Each person is unique, with a unique set of skills and abilities and a unique rate of learning. We learn and grow at our own pace and determine the lessons we are receptive to and learn along the way.

“There are no extra people on the planet. Each one of us has our own unique form of genius and authenticity within us aching to be accessed.” ~Robin Sharma

I believe that each person I meet along my journey has something to teach me or to learn from me, if I have I am humble enough to allow the lesson.

Thanks for being my teacher and my student.

Phoenix

~*~

This is Post H, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Emotions Don’t Have to Overwhelm Us

Iroh_and_Korra

Uncle Iroh: Korra, what’s wrong?
Young Korra: (eyes welling up with tears) I came here with my friend, but I lost her, and now I’m all alone.
Uncle Iroh: You’re not alone, Korra. It’s okay.
Young Korra: (frowns, then shakes her head and raises her fists in anger) No, it’s not okay! Jinora’s gone, and I need to find her! She’s lost, and we need to go home! (the flower bulb spirit wilts off to the side as a result of Korra’s shouting) I don’t like the Spirit World! I don’t want to be here anymore!

A dark storm cloud with a circling eye forms over the mountain in the distance and then blackens the sky. The fox spirits at the tea party growl viciously and howl, the plant spirits wilt, and May and Jim turn on each other.

Uncle Iroh: Korra, please, stop. (he touches her shoulder) Look at what you’re doing to everyone.
Young Korra: (looks around at all the suddenly angry or frightened spirits) I did that?
Uncle Iroh: In the Spirit World, your emotions become your reality. You must try to stay positive.

There is a dark pall over all the spirits as Korra sits back down. Iroh reaches toward her and dabs her tears away with a handkerchief. She sniffles, then turns to the spirits. Very calmly, she places her hands together and bows her head to them.

Young Korra: I’m sorry.

The spirits’ colors return to brightness and they stop growling or being sad. The dark cloud rapidly retreats back to its place over the mountain. Korra smiles in wonder as the sun shines down on her and Iroh beside her.

Uncle Iroh: (smiling) There, you see?
Young Korra: I can make the Sun shine?
Uncle Iroh: Even in the Material World, you will find that if you look for the light, you can often find it. But if you look for the dark, that is all you will ever see. 

~*~

This is one of my all time favourite scenes in the Legend of Korra as it illustrates three things I believe in:

We don’t have to let our difficult emotions, (fear, sadness, hurt, anger, despair) get the better of us. While we cannot change or control our emotions, we can acknowledge and release them.

We have the power to change how we see the world. When we succumb to our difficult emotions our perception of the world shifts. Everything can seem out to get us, or as if Murphy’s Law is the new world order. But, a shift in perspective is possible and is up to us.

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them.”  — Oscar Wilde

Emotions like anger, depression and anxiety can destabilize and imobilize us, but the answer is not in repressing them. I’ve found that it helps me to allow myself to experience the emotions instead of stifling them. I usually find that by allowing and accepting them, I can come to an understanding about what caused their intensity in the first place and eventually I can learn to trust what I feel.

“Nothing is more intimate to us than our emotions. The current of feelings that underlie all of our thoughts and physical sensations has a major influence on every choice we make. Even after a careful, rational analysis, we tend to make our final decisions based on what feels right to us. For that reason, it is vital that we heal and train our emotions to be reliable and trusted allies.” ~ Deepak Chopra

We all have light inside of us. It is a part of our creative core from which we draw positivity, courage and hope. We can make the sun shine, for ourselves and for those around us.

“You have light and peace inside of you. If you let it out you can change the world around you.”

Love, Phoenix

~*~

This is Post E, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.