Archive | January, 2018

Love, Freedom and Sisterhood

27 Jan

Last night, I had the great pleasure of going to see Glennon Doyle with my mom in Naples, Florida at an event called “Love, Freedom and Sisterhood.” I’ve written before about “God winks” and this was a pretty big one. I made plans to take my boys to Florida to see my parents and found out afterwards that Glennon and her new wife, Abby Wambach, would be holding an event only about eight miles from my parents’ house while we would be visiting.

For those of you who don’t know who Glennon Doyle is, check her out here: Glennon Doyle. In a nutshell, she is a woman for whom I have a great deal of admiration for several reasons: she speaks her truth, she has learned to find the silver linings in life, and she inspires others to be the best, most honest version of themselves they can be.

After getting sober and writing the blog Momastery and the book Love Warrior, Glennon focused on philanthropy and activism and started a non-profit called Together Rising. The website says “At Together Rising, we believe that the surest way to lift a family or community is to lift a woman — that when a woman rises, she raises her people up with her.  Our mission is our name — To Get Her Rising — and we exist to heal the world, one ‘Her’ at a time.”

I wish everyone could have heard her message last night. There were cameras there filming, so maybe at some point you will be able to see it, but I can at least share some highlights with you:

Become the ones we are waiting for. Through Together Rising, Glennon Doyle has brought immediate help to families that would have otherwise been waiting for long periods of time for aid and assistance. Sometimes, we need to be the first responders. I see this firsthand in both my job with the National Breast Center Foundation and as someone in recovery who tries to help and guide others struggling with alcohol or addiction.

The number of women in my own community who don’t get the medical treatment they need for breast cancer is staggering. I am blessed to work for an amazing physician who saw this need and started a foundation to address it. Women don’t have weeks or months to wait when they are scared, overwhelmed and lacking insurance or financial resources to get the help and treatment they need.  The foundation helps women who need it now.

I also have the privilege of working with many people who turn to me for help with their battle against substance abuse. They may have waited years for help, not knowing where to turn or being too scared to ask. While there are those who disagree with my being so open about my recovery, I think it’s fair to say that if I wasn’t “out there” with it, I wouldn’t have become one of the ones that many are waiting for.

-Don’t abandon yourself to please the tribe. This was the story of my life until I got sober, worked on my character defects and stopped being a people-pleaser who was afraid to rock the boat.   I spent my life trying to make everyone else happy and worrying about what everyone else thought. I lost myself.   I thought for a while that I could find myself in the bottle. Not so much. It only made it worse.   Five years and eight months sober (2070 days but who’s counting), I have only recently started to find out who I really am and speak my truth. Sometimes it’s hard as hell, but it’s much better than living my life completely numb and abandoning myself to please the tribe.

Get to your own voice of wisdom. Glennon talked about how she often turned to friends for advice and help with major decisions in her life. But she learned that everyone’s opinion depends on where they themselves are coming from—their tribe. No one else knows.   Only you know. You need to listen to that voice inside of you. Some call it intuition. Some call it wisdom. Glennon described it as “feeling warm”. When something doesn’t quite feel right, she said she doesn’t “feel warm” inside. I think you know what she means. I do. I am blessed to have a few people I trust and confide in and often run things by to make sure I’m on the right track. But ultimately, I have to listen to my gut. As Glennon said last night, “your life has never been tried before. Every woman is a pioneer.” We will make mistakes in the choices we make in life but that’s okay. The important thing is to learn and grow from them. My mistakes and bad choices made me who I am today. Glennon talked about having our own built-in GPS. It’s okay to make a wrong turn and get that voice that says “redirect”.

-Be still. “Shut out every single voice in your life.”   We often find our brains on overload with a zillion voices shouting at us, people clamoring for our attention, overwhelmed with life’s daily demands. We need to take the time to just be still and tune everything else out. A good friend of mine reminds me often to simply breathe. I’ve learned in recovery the importance of prayer and meditation, which comes only with being still. Being still allows me to connect to my HP (Higher Power) and refocus. Being still allows me to get to my own voice of wisdom. Being still is also something that is not always easy, especially for someone who is used to going a million miles a minute. But it is essential for us to find our true selves.

-Allow nothing but love onto your island. We have the ability to surround ourselves with what we choose. We don’t have to allow other people’s fear, anger, prejudices or judgments into our space. Enough said.

-Be desperate to tell the truth. When asked about when she started writing her blog, Glennon said that she found it to be something just for her. That she “wrote her heart out.” She said that her writing was “raw and real and true, like someone who actually believes she is forgiven.” I feel exactly the same way about my writing. There is something amazing about getting it all out and seeing the words on the page. And there is something even more amazing if those words on the page help someone else.

There was so, so much more but that gives you a good idea. I learned a great deal last night from a fellow recovery warrior, including even a little about carpentry. As Glennon explained, “sistering” means strengthening weak joists with additional material. Adding a board on each side can help a weak one stand stronger. Sometimes we could all use a little sistering. I’ve been blessed to have strong women and men stand up beside me to hold me up when I needed it. I hope that I can be a strong board for others when they need it as well.

“If there’s a silver lining to the emptiness, here it is: the unfillable is what brings people together. I’ve never made a friend by bragging about my strengths, but I’ve made countless by sharing my weakness and my emptiness.” 
― Glennon Doyle MeltonCarry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed

Martha Carucci is a blogger/author from Alexandria, VA.  Her book Sobrietease is a humorous yet heartfelt account of her journey through recovery and sobriety into a  better life.  Follow Martha’s blog at www.sobrietease.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Come From Away

4 Jan

I didn’t anticipate writing a piece about one of the most tragic days in history as we just rang in the New Year and I optimistically look forward to good things ahead. But I saw a show in NYC last night that will forever change the way I look at September 11, 2001.

I knew very little about the show “Come From Away” going into it. I knew only that it was about the passengers on 38 planes that were diverted to a small town in Newfoundland on September 11th when airspace was locked down following the terrorist attacks in the U.S.. I was curious and not quite sure what to expect.

I saw the musical with my daughter, who was barely 2 months old on September 11, 2001. Throughout the show, I was cognizant of the fact that we sat in those seats, just a short distance Ground Zero, with two very different perspectives. She obviously doesn’t remember that day, but as I looked around and saw the tears on the faces of the men and women around me, I knew they remembered it probably as vividly as I did. I felt a very strong connection to the complete strangers that I sat in that theater with last night.

In the small town of Gander in Newfoundland, the population of 9000 almost doubled that day when 7000 passengers from 38 planes coming from all over the world landed there.   The actors did a phenomenal job of captivating the stories of kindness and selflessness that the people in that small town exhibited over the few days that they hosted these displaced, confused, worried and exhausted travelers. They opened their homes, provided food and clothing, and put their own lives on hold to help people they had never met before.

It was something I never knew and would have never thought about.   The extent of the ripple effect throughout the world that the terrorist attacks had. It was impossible not to go back to that day in my mind. Sixteen years later, it’s not something I think about often, perhaps only on the anniversaries. But I realized last night that there are so many people who probably think about that tragedy nearly every day as they either survived it, as did my brother-in-law who worked in Manhattan, or lost a loved one.

I still choose not to watch the documentaries or specials about that day. I can’t listen to the recordings of the last phone calls. I don’t want to see the bodies falling through the sky to the ground. My daughter shared with me that in her school, they watch the accounts of 9/11 every year on the anniversary. Students are given the option to leave the classroom. But that’s all they have to go on.   They were too young to know. I’ll never forget watching the news that day in horror. Or hearing the jets soar over my house and seeing the smoke rising from the Pentagon, just a few miles away. I was due to return that week to my job as a lobbyist in downtown D.C. after my maternity leave but I was crippled with fear and postponed it.

But time moves on. I eventually went back to work. The fear gradually lessened. But the world was forever changed. Ironically, one of the things I remember just a few days after the attacks was my daughter’s godmother coming to visit us on her birthday on September 14th,, which she shares with my husband. She wanted to see and hold her goddaughter. She held a very high-level position in the U.S. government and the long days and nights and brutal amounts of stress at work following the attacks were taking their toll.   Holding an innocent child in her arms during that time provided a brief respite of comfort. And here we were now, sixteen years later, visiting her in NYC and treated to the show as a Christmas gift from her. A gift that made an enormous impact on us both. I walked back from the theater with my daughter with tears rolling down my cheeks, a very rare thing for me. She even said to me that it was okay to cry. Yes, it absolutely is.

I was recently in a meeting where we talked about the idea that bad things happen in life but good things can come from them. This show was an excellent reminder of that. There are so many stories from that day, many that we will never know, about both heroic acts and simple acts of kindness. There is a scene in the musical where many of the travelers, of all different faiths and backgrounds, go to a church and sing the Prayer of St. Francis, one of my true favorites. A very dear friend, an incredibly talented musician and healer, sang it and played the guitar to it at a meeting once. It was a gift to those of us in the room that day, and it was a gift last night as it moved me to tears and taught my daughter a wonderful prayer she didn’t know. For those of you not familiar with the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, here it is:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

 

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

 

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

The people in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland gave all those things freely those few days following the attacks—love, pardon, faith, hope, light and yes, even joy. They consoled the weary travelers without regard to their own needs. I wish everyone could see “Come From Away.” I am so grateful to have seen it. To have seen it with my daughter. To have let my tears flow freely. To have been reminded of the kindness and good that exists in our world. To have sat next to total strangers and shared a moment in time. To have enjoyed a show on Broadway in a city that not just survives, but thrives. And to be 2047 days sober and able to feel and express the gratitude for all these things.

 

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