Archive for the ‘Twelve Step Program of Recovery’ Category

Tom and I are fans of Hawaii 5 O. Me, more for the scenery than some of the stories, but we watch the show fairly often. It is where the “Book ’em Danno” line came from. We  visited the beautiful islands of Hawaii on our 40th wedding anniversary in 2007, and now I have met beautiful Emma Thompson, who creates wondrous healing herbs and essential oils from nature there.

Several years ago, I started this website blog with the intention of highlighting books that interest me, or that I have read, or that I know the author that wrote them or also the authors I am having wonderful conversations with who are writing wonderful books.

This fell to the wayside for many reasons and many moves since I started it.

However, it is back now!

I intend to learn how to build audience for this site and also to take submissions for guest blogs and information on the writing life.

Feel free to contribute to me at   sue.hajec@gmail.com



Here is my entry for today on http://www.bookmdanno.wordpress.com



October 11, 2017 by napkinwriter | Edit

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black cat halloween

Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors and commentators on life in general, and life of a recovering addict in particular. I came across her post on Facebook today, and found in between the lines,  many meandering thoughts of like kind wandering through my mind lately. Especially the ebb and flow of life, the learnings along the way, and the inevitable march of time into older-age, which I am experiencing.

This morning, I put out the bag of roasted and salted almonds (but not, I noticed, as salted as they used to be which I liked; must have cut back in the name of nutrition, darn). Anyway I put them out and munched on a few, so I would bypass the bag (one of each) of mini Musketeers and Snickers.

To no avail…..after having downed one of each, I now have them behind closed doors of the closet awaiting the first ding-dong (oh, there’s another sweet, none in sight) of the front door bell tonight.

The fact that I have a little community in this “avoid sweets” attempt made life a little lighter for me today. All that’s left is to attack and accomplish the cleanings of two bathrooms on this rainy Saturday afternoon, watch a little football comfortably, as the MSU Spartans are having a rest day, and play some games on my Kindle Fire. Pretty easy.

Happy Halloween.

From Anne Lamott:  GUEST BLOG

“I have finally isolated the problem: that we were born at all. That we have bodies, and minds. Also, parents. Who made us go to school. Where a third of the children were absolute beasts, especially on the blacktop, when teachers weren’t looking. At about the time a grandparent or cat died, and we began to realize everything and everyone was going to die. Even Mom! Who was insane, who either had to be highly medicated, or who cleaned between the piano keys with Q-tips, or hated Dad, or adored Dad, who hated her.

This is all by five years old, before most children can even read, i.e. begin to learn about the full nightmare of life in one’s own bizarre family, let alone slums, Stalin, alcoholism, manic-depression, JFK, cancer, acne, and what eventually happens to most animals at the pound.

This advance is not available to most children until they are at least six years old.

Right? I mean, let’s put aside the fact that our hearts get broken–everyone’s hearts get badly broken here, trust me; shattered–and maybe we have children and they have awful problems, and their hearts get shattered, and you want to die, but eventually maybe they find a great husband, say, whom you adore, who, when the twins are ten, they divorce. Then your best women friends gets breast cancer. Plus your cat, who is the main reason you can even stand being here at all some days, is on his last legs.

So yeah, maybe we’re a bit more tense than the average bear.

Yeah, maybe we’ve shut down a little. Maybe at six years old (see above) we’ve developed armor, like very articulate, high-achieving armadillos. We’re obsessed with what other people think of us. Some of us drink or eat a little more than would be ideal. We know we are a little off balance, a little out of whack, because we binge on this or that, or starve, or have developed tiny, tiny control issues, and maybe struggle EVERY so often with judgment, hardly worth mentioning; or cannot turn the TV; and the cell phone is destroying our lives, our chance to be spiritually awake and present, and makes us hate the worst offenders. Plus, you know, the little death thing.

I promise, if I were in charge of more, if I were God’s West Coast representative, I would have a much better system.  But I’m not.

So what is the plan? I’m so glad you asked, because while I have some heartbreaking and highly stressful things going on even as we speak, as everyone does, and it is Halloween, which I hate on every level, not just because I have eaten all the fugging Mounds, which I thought I could keep around because I don’t love them, I am in a dangerously good mood.

Why? Because I have community. I have several friends who are so On Beyond Zebra in terms of greatness and loyalty, that we will never be alone in our struggles and suffering guns craziness. Because I got a second chance at life. Because God has to love me-that’s His or Her job.

Because the day is young, and only I can wreck it. I’ve done my prayers, meditation and been to the Church of the New York Times. I am in my own home, where there are pets, autumn apples, unread books, clean sheets on the bed (!!!!!), not all that many more Mounds bars to shovel in. I get to go for an hour’s hike. And then, OMG, a hot shower. I get to put lotion of my beautifully, ripply, sturdy, work-horse thigh; the laying on of hands.

And then all of these sober people who love me more than life itself–and I them–are going to meet and roar with laughter, or cry, and listen intently to one another, and remember that most of our problems are mental–our minds are for entertainment purposes only. So we will change channels. We will turn off K-Fucked Radio, and be where our feet and hearts are, with each other, sticking together, sharing our water and gum. We remind each other to eat, that we get even worse when we don’t. Like Jesus telling his disciples, “You are all driving me a bit crazy here today, but there is a fish roast going on at the beach. So everyone go eat, share, savor; breathe. And we’ll meet back here later. Deal?”

Then I am going to flirt with every old lonely person I see. And I am going to walk with my dogs through the ‘Hood, even though Bodhi is old and aches, and I will pick up litter, even though there will be more tomorrow, because that is not my business. Love and service are my business. Walking the dogs is my business. Radical self-care is my business: hence the autumn apple as and clean sheets, and remembering to look up. Asking myself if I want to be right or kind is my business. Law of the American Jungle: Remain Calm, and Share Your Bananas. Period.

I have to get up tomorrow at 4:00 a.m. and fly to Alabama, but that is tomorrow. Not my problem. Just today. I have you, you have me. The friends, the changing leaves,the unread books. The dogs. The cat, who is perhaps the tiniest bit bitter, about the dogs. The Mounds, which are actually damn good. Our hearts. Cool water. Wow.

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Cat - Hello God

When you place the call, God answers. This was my recent communication.

September 15, 2014
I am reading “They Speak By Silences” author listed as A Carthusian; and Surrender, a guide for prayer by Jacqueline Syrup Bergan & S. Marie Schwan; An article in AARP magazine (Aug-Sept) The Missing was a light bulb going off for me yesterday. Although it was an article focused on the loss suffered by the families of Flight 370, Vietnam MIA’s (still 1,500 listed), missing children and adults, it put a name to a condition I believe myself to be living…..AMBIGUOUS LOSS….. though fear is involved, it is more a gathering of many different emotions that are open to hit strongly at any given moment.

Psychologist Pauline Boss says “Ambiguous loss triggers a kind of stressful, unresolved emotional state distinct from traditional grief. ..resistant to usual therapeutic treatment (don’t have $$ for treatment now anyway) instead the path to healing involves negotiation an uneasy rapprochement with the unanswered questions that such a loss leaves in its wake. “Grief therapy doesn’t work because there is nothing wrong with the person, there is something wrong with the situation itself.

I would not go so far as to say there is nothing wrong with me, BUT I do feel the reality of living in the WAKE of personal challenging circumstances , and constantly discerning between what I must surrender to and the courage to change the things I can change, which seem so very few at this time.

Then I call upon my higher self to manifest, live in faith and continue my life one step at a time; I can cycle anger, despair, confusion, craziness, at any time of any day; I do not know when they will assail me and at times overcome me. I do all this with acknowledging my responsibility in all of it and consciously trying to knock out any traces of blame.

And my life looks from the outside looking in that “nothing much is going on here.”

I feel I am in constant negotiation, daily, with the terms of my life.

GOD’S ANSWER came on Tues. September 16 at 11:16 am in the
Twenty Four Hours AA Meditation Book:

Cat, pen and blank open notepad

(This looks just like my journal that I pasted the following answer in).
Sept. 9 Meditation of the Day:

“In God’s strength you conquer life. Your conquering power is the grace of God. There can be no complete failure with God. Do you want to make the best of your life? (yes) Then live as near as possible to God, the Master and Giver of All Life.

Your reward for depending upon God’s strength will be sure. Sometimes the reward will be renewed power to face life. (yesterday, I was in great need of this renewed power, I could not feel my own), sometimes wrong thinking overcome
( great struggle here yesterday and trying to quiet the wrong thinking, oh woe is me, what will become of us?), sometime people brought to a new way of living. (What is this new way, when you are doing the best you can?).

Whatever success comes will not be all your own doing, but largely the working out of the grace of God.”

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Robin Williams  Artist Joe Petruccio

Art by Joe Petruccio

I’m not much about Hollywood these days. I have not seen a movie in a very long time, enjoying crunchy popcorn and a “timeout” from the other “real things”  capturing my attention at the moment.

The act of writing is what makes you a writer. Someone, somewhere, said and wrote that down. The death of Robin Williams has brought a need for me to write. But I don’t want to experience the difficulty of making the words that appear on paper match the experience of some kind of presence within me that needs expression.

This will be hard. I know that. I don’t like to do hard. But I am going to do this.

I don’t need to write about Williams, but he is one human who turns the “one” into the universal. I’ve needed laughter in my life and he and his gigantic talent have provided that from the days of Mork and Mindy through Patch Adams and beyond.

I’ve needed truth in my life and his dramatic performance and dialogue lines, delivered with heart-felt sincerity touched strange truths in my own heart.

In many ways, the mission of his acting career steamrolled both the hilarity and prickly insufficiencies in our humanness with dead-on aim, absolutely no pun intended.

But, perhaps, it is the fact that he had two tougher-than-life opponents to navigate his life with that touches the deep, sad places in me.  Mental illness in the form of clinical depression and addiction.  And he waged battle with both.

I know a little about both and I, too, live my life knowing no truer lines in the Big Book of AA are spoken than,  “we deal with alcohol, cunning, baffling and powerful.”  I’m not sure to what degree a counselor would note depression on my chart but I know more true words follow that statement on page 59 in Chapter 5, How It Works:

“without help, it is too much for us.”

Those words are read at every AA meeting around the world  and it doesn’t matter how long it has been since our sobriety date, how deeply we are connected to the fellowship or how we are continuing to work the steps in our lives…….we are still only one drink away….

Recovery can sometimes seem like that two layer cake….everything fine on the outside,  fire below on the inside.  It must have seemed that way for Robin Williams and on any given day it can look like that for me too.

You can’t tell for sure.

I am not afraid of that. I just have enormous respect for that and now much, much more compassion for myself and others who live their lives in a 12 step program because that is ONE of the places where they can receive help.

Nobody gets a pass on this one. From accounts published or reported, it sounds like Robin Williams was seeking this help. In a mention of his checking into a treatment facility in Minnesota, I make a guess that it was Hazelton, the grandaddy of all 12 Step Recovery Program facilities. I’m sure he received the best there was to offer. We never have a guarantee that it is enough, but we can hope.

Robin Williams wanted to be well. To share his talents over the top was part of being well for him. To seek help, he opened himself.

He, like all of us, also can relate to the Big Book line: “who among us wants to admit to complete defeat?” …ah, probably nobody?  But all of us in recovery from addiction have been willing (in whatever fashion we can be) to do this humbling act, and then……..ask for help.

We owe this day — the day we are living —  to the fact that we did that and continue to do it. We owe our gratitude to those who were there for us with their help.

They could not save us, but they could teach us.

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Closer Walk - Billie GrumblattGarden spaces of Billie Grumblatt

Billie posts the most beautiful garden landscapes on Facebook. I always immediately want to take a stroll into them and then even pause for a rest by the greens and  blossoms before I leave. But, alas, I must settle for the vicarious virtual tour and with that, I am somewhat satisfied.

I was at a retreat outside Oregon many years ago, nestled deeply in the tall woods and the rich, raging  Columbia river that threads through the area.  Suz, a deep in her heart Bluegrass musician, led us into a spiritual experience of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” I have been able to pick up the strength and confidence I got from that anytime since then.

Last week was one of the times I needed it.  I just seemed to pick everything apart and ended up in the general category that just everything was a problem. And I was not willing to let go. I stewed. I fumed in rage and anger, I lost my perspective, I was crabby and vindictive. I didn’t think I deserved the pot I had set boiling in my circumstances.  I identified immediately with the photo of the chicken that came across my Facebook feed.

Rough Week
In AA’s little black daily reflection book, “Twenty Four Hours a Day”, the meditation opens with “Walk humbly with the Lord.”

I was transported immediately back into the forest in Oregon and once again felt the exercise of “Closer Walk”.  Marcia, the facilitator, had us pick a spot where we had walking room anywhere in the room.  The first spot represented THE PRESENT TIME AND DAY and we were to absorb and accept all that was happening in our lives at this time, as Suz sang the most uplifting rendition of that song I have yet heard, enhanced by her guitar which represented waves of Spirit to me.

I was struggling, at that time, with some major challenges in my workplace that were causing havoc with the mission I thought was mine to  do, actually having felt “called” to do it.  It was painful standing in that spot on that floor, which the facilitator even enlarged the unknowns of this time.

Then she had us walk five steps forward and each step represented the movement of one actual year in our own life. From that spot we were to “listen in” and see if we could attune to something that was perfectly all right where we were five years out in the future.

Then we walked backward in time back to our original spot, where all the problems and fears resided. While nothing had changed in the circumstances, the “closer walk” absolutely changed how I felt about the circumstances. A little more accepting, a little less fearful, perhaps just a bit more confident that “this too shall pass” into something better in the same environment or else I’d be moved on to something different, how or when I did not know.

It turned out that it was the latter option with a lot more daily difficulty ahead of me but within it over a long period of time, I received the grace of knowing a little better how to walk humbly with the Lord.

In the Twelve Step Program, there is an acceptance of the word Higher Power to denote that which we surrender to, especially if we have a problem with the word, God.

I don’t have a problem with that word, and so I use Lord and God throughout this story.

In the AA meditation it lists some of the things “walk humbly with thy Lord” means:

practicing the presence of God in my daily affairs; asking God for strength to face each new day; turning to him often during the day in prayer for myself and for others; thanking God at night for the blessings of this day;

I do these things on a regular basis.

The meditation goes so far as to say “nothing can seriously upset you if you are walking with God.”……

OK, I have more humble walking to do…..I have admitted earlier, I still get upset….

There are two images of walking with the Lord on the beachsand;  two sets of footprints, and then only one; two sets of footprints and then two long lines where one set of prints had been.

The first is when the Lord carried me; the second is when he DRAGGED me kicking and screaming.

But most of the time, these days there are two sets of footprints and a casual conversation going on as we make our way down the beach listening to the reassuring sounds of the crashing waves of the sea.

March 27 2014photo by Susan Heffron Hajec

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This photo is a great expression of how I’ve attempted to move mountains through the course of my life………….the long and winding road!

I was on the bus on this road last year moving through the Alps and five countries by the expert driving of our young Swiss bus driver. Up and down, and all around, it truly seemed he DID move mountains.

This year, however, I’ve encountered a looming mountain of another type — the type we are warned are only removed by an increase of faith.  The July 20 – 22 Meditations of the Day in the AA Twenty Four Hours a Day little black book outline the instructions for traversing this mountain successfully.

First, it seems I must pray I do not limit myself by doubt.  I do dismantle my doubts and fears by reflecting that many times in the past, personal mountains  have been made into molehills with a combination of prayer, listening and small actions over small periods of time that added up to a solution I helped manifest. Or something better I never even saw coming happened and improved the circumstance.  So limiting my doubt calls once again for the wonderful  “S” word — surrender.


Second,  believing that Faith can and has removed mountains of challenges throughout my life, I lean into the belief that truly Faith can do it one more time. Faith can change any situation for the good, even if there remains much discernment or work to be done.  This has always meant for me to increase the amount of willingness within me.

When I feel willing to work within the circumstance, I become aware that many times I can do little myself to change the situation. But the Serenity Prayer comes to my rescue as I can focus better on what needs to be accepted, what I can work on to change that is within my power, and a little confidence arrives with some sense of wisdom in knowing “the difference”.

Day 3Zugspitze3

The last leg of this three-legged stool of moving mountains seems to be — trust. I try to carry out God’s guidance to the best of my ability. I try to leave the results to God.  The giant step here is to begin to believe that the guidance God gives me has already been worked out by God to produce the required results for my own circumstance.

This week that guidance has led me to look into two areas of service that will be personally challenging but I am following the guidance and see where it leads.

I recommit to living according to the dictates of my conscience and I pray that I may leave the results to God.

The meditation of the day mentions “If you have enough faith to ask God to give you the power you need and if you are grateful enough for the grace God gives you, you can move mountains.”

Here comes the mountain-mover with faith and gratitude.



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One step at a time

I have started a new page on my Facebook page titled Twelve Step Program of Recovery. I am not new to this program and I have not relapsed with alcohol. But I have recently been redirected to the basic literature of the program due to some “internal strife and bickering” that I am working through in my spiritual practices.

I am renewed by the truthful language of the program and the power it has and has had since its founding by Bill W.  to point the way to accepting powerlessness (no matter what the power issue is) in our life as grace and how to get on living  with or without what we are currently deeming as unfair, unjust or just plain yukky.

The language of The Big Book, the Twelve and Twelve and the little black prayerbook of Twenty-Four Hours a Day rings ever-more true and supportive in my thirty-fifth year, one day at a time, than it did when I had the grace to find and join the program.

It is safe to say, I know I would not be on this planet physically, nor would I be enjoying the great blessings I have of family, friends and life I do today, had I not learned through the fellowship of AA, how to make the choice to not take that first drink.  And keep learning.

On my new Facebook page, I will share short quotes from the powerful literature, photography that inspires me and hopefully others, and an occasional short story of the recovery graces and trials along this way.


Going to meetings, you hear lots of tales of trial and tribulations, but if you keep going to the meetings long enough and often enough, you also see and hear these disappear or resolve into a “daily do-able” approach to life….and a laugh or two along the way.

I am grateful and happy to know the people in recovery. They have blessed my life.



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The end of this month marks thirty-two years I’ve been “steppin’along” with the teachings, graces, and experiences of the AA Twelve Step Program influencing my life, indeed, giving me a chance to have a life.

And I have been “having a life”. One full of constant changes, one with many surprises, one which I truly wouldn’t have any other way. Although I don’t frequent the meetings as much as I did in the “old days”, it was the fellowship and the steps of AA that helped me grow up and accept the nicks and scrapes, the outright disasters, and the boatloads of good that came into my life a day at a time as I kept “steppin’ along”.

This morning, in my quiet prayer time, the echoes of Step 3 came floating into my soul:

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”  The bolded part of that sentence is the only part of the sentence that is italicized on page 59 of the Big Book, in Chapter 5, How It Works. This is read frequently at the start of AA meetings, so if you go frequently to meetings you hear over and over again the beginning sentence of the chapter: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.”

Now that’s what I like, a promise and a recipe for success at the very beginning! And it has held true for me. There are several reasons why part of that sentence is italicized, I think, but the main one is many of us in the recovering fellowship had trouble with the very word — God — and Bill Wilson, the founder knew it.

I was not one of those. I had grown up with and learned to depend upon a loving God, but also a God with many “sharp edges” and doctrine strings hanging all over him — and there was another problem for many — they didn’t want to give God a gender, and God was always referred to as him, most often with a capital H.

So my steppin’ along with God evolved from a soul-searching dependency upon God to an all-out daily trust in God and the Divine. And the location of God in my life changed from “out there” (although God is there too) to an eternal Presence within me.  An Eternal One who just loves me all the time.

The first three words can trip a person up as well. MADE A DECISION. My goodness, yes…..I made a decision, and then I forgot and made a decision over again, and then I despaired and went back on my decision, and then I learned to live my decision, to turn it over, in the big and the small of my life, and THAT! is the best decision I ever made. The need to drink over any decision has been long removed, by the grace of God, from my life.

Halloween has never been something “I do” very well. I enjoy the children, costumes and sugar-fun of the time. But at the root of many my own and most addict’s problems I guess is the inability to think we are acceptable without disguise. In AA and many other spiritual paths of life, we learn to discard those disguises and just show up as the infinitely beautiful creature God made us to be.

Now that’s a Big Step!

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