The Importance of Sobriety/Clean Anniversaries

I recently overheard a comment from someone who said “Sobriety anniversary? Who would ever want to celebrate being sober?” And to that I replied, “Well, for someone who was destroying their lives with drugs or alcohol, being clean and sober every passing day just happens to be a big, freaking deal!” People outside AA, NA, CA, and other 12-step or recovery-related programs often do not understand the importance of the sobriety anniversary.

Outsiders or Normies May Not Understand

As an addict in recovery, I can speak for many people that sobriety anniversaries are extremely important. They are major accomplishments! I cannot express the utter amazement I experience every passing year of continued sobriety. A customer of mine described her sobriety as a wonder to her that through “one day at a time” she was able to put together over 21 years of clean, sober, happy living.

Sobriety birthdays are events that are nothing like a regular birthdays: it’s not something we dread as we get older, but rather it’s another year of freedom from addiction. Another 365 days of rebuilding our lives and going from complete self-loathing to find meaning and purpose.

How Others Can Help

We must absolutely recognize sobriety birthdays both in and outside of fellowship. Sisters and brothers in fellowship, friends, and family should acknowledge the sobriety anniversary. Because it is an indescribably important day in the addict/alcoholic’s life, we can offer our presence at meetings where we accept chips marking another year of sobriety, or we can offer gifts commemorating that special day.

Numbers are Real Motivators

During my first year of in recovery, I remember watching people in the program celebrate their anniversaries and this actually made me envious. I often thought bitterly , “if that person can do it why can’t I?” and this became a huge motivator for me. So as the months passed and I accepted more chips, the challenge became greater and I had finally reached my first year. That number “1” became a motivator in itself because I didn’t want to break it and have to start over again.

After a few years of sobriety under my belt, sometimes the idea of remaining clean and sober became somewhat abstract; however, breaking the number was not. There were times when I thought, “I’ll just have a little this one time, no one will ever know…” but then I couldn’t stand the idea of starting over. What’s more, I would feel hypocritical if I would have ignored that one occasion and pretended it never happen. The competitive part of me and I’m sure for many others in recovery believe it is healthy and an example of how the program is a system of interlocking motivators.

My Personal Touchstone

When I first entered recovery, I started making my own jewelry bearing the Serenity Prayer as a touchstone, something to re-direct my thoughts whenever I needed to, especially during those early days of sobriety. On my fifth sober birthday, I made myself a special reminder with a big 5 on it that wore close me. It became a constant reminder of how far I’d come. It was something I could touch or look at in the mirror at any time.

I’d been offering serenity prayer jewelry and gifts, but it never occurred to me to offer the anniversary piece because it was only relevant for one year. Then someone in the program reminded me of the tradition of passing your number along to another sister or brother in recovery whenever they reach that birthday. I now offer several types of gifts customized for sobriety anniversaries for both men and women . I invite to stop by and view my artwork at www.serenityisforever.com.

 

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Sober Diva

A new design inspired by one of my customers.  He told me he likes calling his wife now 10 years sober, his “sober diva”.   Liked it so much, I decided to create a product.  The back can be customized. to include your personal message.  See this link for a product details:  http://serenityisforever.com/index.php/catalog/product/view/id/668/s/serenity-prayer-heart-necklace-fine-925-sterling-silver/

 

Posted in 12step, AA Alcoholics Anonymous, Addiction Recovery, Al-Anon, Clean birthday, Inspiration, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, relapse, relapse prevention, relaspe preveniton, sober birthday, sobriety anniversary | Leave a comment

Beautiful and Moving

Have a listen to Ola Gjeilo’s Serenity – O magnun mysterium Phoenix Chorale.  This is what I imagine angels sound like.  Simply magnificent.  Enjoy.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp63c81go2U

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Thich Nhat Hanh

From the inspiring word of Thich Nhat Hanh, renowned Zen master…

We can start our day with the happiness of a smile and the aspiration to dedicate ourselves to the path of love and understanding. Waking up this morning I smile.  Twenty-four brand new hours are before me I wow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.

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Inside My God Box

GodBoxOblique7972I have a secret. Actually, hundreds of secrets, hopes, fears, desires, wishes all written on little scrapes of paper I’ve collected throughout the years and stuffed into my God Box. This is my way of Letting Go, Letting God – surrendering them to my Higher Power. Instead of worrying, ruminating or obsessing over life, I write it down and Turn It Over.

My first sponsor, over 13 years ago, had one. She thought everyone should have one. At first, I thought it was little childish until I went through some hard times and tried it myself. I started writing notes to my Higher Power, placing them in an old jewelry box.

It was a liberating experience. The simple task of writing down a problem and giving up control is a way of helping me to Accept the Things I Cannot Change. The Serenity Prayer’s words are easy to say, but truly accepting something is so much harder. Soon, I started writing hopes and prayers for others in my life who needed help and placed them in there with my own. It is a form of surrender, an act of faith, a powerful spiritual tool. Over the years, my God Box was getting so full I could barely close the lid.

When I met Darrell Oubré, master wood artist and crafter of amazing handmade boxes, I just had to commission him to make me a new God Box. I told him that my God Box has a special place in my life, and I wanted a box that was just as special. I wasn’t disappointed! Darrell created a wonderful eye-shaped box with an interlocking lid. I was so thrilled with it, that I asked him to make several more so I could gift them to my loved ones. http://serenityisforever.com/gifts/home.html

 

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It Works If You Work It

I’m always inspired by my customers and their stories. Getting and staying clean and sober is one of the most challenging things one can do.  It’s thrilling to get a repeat order one year later from the same customer.  Another year of sobriety!  What an amazing accomplishment!

I was compelled to write about this because of Beverly who contacted me several years ago to buy a one-year anniversary dog tag for her son’s first year sobriety.  She told me how wrapped he had been in his disease, drinking up to 40 oz of booze a day.  He’d been attending Alcoholics Anonymous for a year, liked the program and was staying sober. One year later, she ordered a 2 year dog tag, and the next year a third, and then a fourth!  Yesterday, I just got an order from her for a 5 year medallion! That made my day, and I’m so proud of Beverly’s son.  But, surely not as proud as she is.

It works if you work it!

 

Posted in 12step, AA Alcoholics Anonymous, Clean birthday, Inspiration, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, relapse prevention, sober birthday, sobriety anniversary | Leave a comment

Does Science Show What 12 Steps Know?

This article is from National Geographic and discusses a scientific basis for the twelve steps.  Good read and interesting insight on science and spirituality.

Does Science Show What 12 Steps Know?.

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Principles Before Personalities

One of the tougher issues I have to deal with as an artist, person in recovery and micro-businesswoman is dealing with personalities. The vast majority of the feedback I get for my work is positive and supportive.  It makes me feel good to be of service, and people love what they have purchased for themselves or their loved ones. However, I get the rare comment that somebody really despises my work. Not straightforward criticism like that it’s just okay, or that they don’t really like this or that about a piece — they hate it and go out of their way to stick the knife in and twist it. I have gotten so very offended a few times by customers who really let loose if their expectations were not met for whatever reason real, imagined or mistaken.

I try not to let my ego get bruised and to remember Principles Before Personalities but, oh boy, it’s so tough sometimes. The rational part of me knows that’s the price I pay for being publicly visible, that there’s always that 1% of needy people who are never happy with anything, who spend their lives looking for any excuse to pick a fight. Yet, those comments still really sting! This is one biggest challenges that I face as an artist, since this is my work, not just something I am reselling.

That’s not to mention that it is also a big challenge for me as someone in recovery. Before I got clean and sober, situations like those would make me lash out, attack and then try to numb out the hurt but using or drinking. When this sort of thing happens now, the impulse is still there but I learned to step back and not give it power, no matter how mean and hateful the comments are. Don’t get me wrong, I still get really pissed off, sometimes I get so angry I have to take a long walk to cool off. I tell myself over and over that I’m not going to let some troll threaten my serenity or my sobriety. Principles Before Personality is about humility, tolerance and patience.

What truly makes up for those negative comments is hearing from everybody who takes the time to let me know how they appreciate my work or how it touched them or their loved ones. I never get enough of those positive and inspirational comments from my customers. I get such a nice warm buzz from those comments, it’s almost like an addiction in itself. Thank you again for your continued support.

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Promises Promises

Gorgeous hand made wallets are a wonderful gift for people in recovery. Wallets have a deep symbolic meaning because just about everyone in recovery has had financial problems due to their using or drinking. Sobriety brings more financial stability.. Giving a wallet sends he message “now that you won’t be squandering all your money on drugs or alcohol, you’ll be needing a nice place to put your money.” Sobriety is its own reward, but as the Big Book promises: “Fear…of economic insecurity will leave us.” As a matter of fact, this is one of the AA Promises that I can personally vouch is so true!  AA logo and other styles available soon.

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Circle of Sisters NA Convention Tulsa OK

I am honored to be have been selected to be the official jewelry designer for the Circle of Sister upcoming convention on March 15, 16 and 17, 2013 “Stepping into the Circle of Recovery”.  My designs will be featured at this event.  This is my all-first all-women Narcotics Anonymous Convention and I am thrilled to be part of it.  Thank for considering my artwork.

 

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