Why “Cash Register Honesty” Pays Off

A lot has happened since my last post a few months ago, and I’m excited to share it with you (and ask for your opinion).

But first, I want to share a story about why honesty definitely pays off for me. (But if you really want to skip ahead and read about what’s been happening immediately, click here. 😊)

As part of my recovery, I do my best to be rigorously honest, which includes “cash register honesty.” If you don’t know what that is, it means staying honest about the little things as well as the big ones. So, for instance, I won’t rob a bank, but I also give back change to the cashier if she gave me too much.

Now, I’m not perfect. I still struggle (sometimes unsuccessfully) with saying no if someone has access to a movie that’s still in the theaters. I’ve even been known to buy a ticket on Fandango so I can watch a pirated copy if it’s not playing near me. So this is great progress, because there was a time when I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

My husband thinks I go to ridiculous lengths to ensure I stay “cash register honest.” His eyerolling doesn’t deter me, however. I’ve even driven back to a store across town when they accidentally gave me too much change and I only realized it after coming home!

But what happened a few weeks ago convinced me that this is the right path for me to follow. (I just LOVE this story! 😊 It’s a long story, but so worth it in the end!)
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Step 12 and the Lost Art of Listening

It seems that the art of conversation has become more of a one-sided monologue as society moves us further and further into a “selfie” world. Increasingly, people seem to only want to talk about themselves, and if you try to engage in a dialogue, they simply ignore what you have said (or perhaps give a glancing nod to acknowledge you have spoken) and continue blathering on about themselves. Continue reading

Distracted to Distraction

My new favorite “guru” is Leo Babauta, who writes about doing less while accomplishing more. He really nails it when it comes to what my day is like. Despite being disabled, I’m still bombarded by unending distractions.

I stumbled upon him last week when I saw an article he wrote about distraction. It’s clearly yet another addiction meeting me head on. Babauta offers excellent tips to help overcome this difficult challenge. What I love is how he is so self-revealing. I nodded in recognition and relief throughout the article.

Compulsively researching products and window shopping online are examples of incredibly powerful distractions that affect compulsive spenders and debtors, even in recovery, which can keep us from spending time with our families or accomplishing other daily tasks.

I just saw that he is giving away a free ebook called “The One Skill: How Mastering the Art of Letting Go Will Change Your life” on his ZenHabits.net website.

It is so healing each time we discover that we are not terminally unique in our experience. And so lovely when people offer the gift of help for free.

Lessons Learned

Some of you may have read my blog posts about the debacle of trying to sell my artwork. It was a disaster from day one. Yesterday, I had to retrieve my art from the gallery as it was the last day before I’d have to pay for another three months.

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

I became gratefully willing to sell the expensive printer I bought to make the art prints and greeting cards I was sure would fly off the shelves. It seemed like a lot of work to put it online for sale and I felt I would never sell it for enough to make it worthwhile. And there was this lingering, ridiculous thought that maybe I would use the printer one day. But my gut told me it had to go. So I just did the next right thing. And after two weeks, it finally sold on Ebay. With the rebate I received, I came out at only about $75 out of pocket for the printer. That was a miracle.

So, from over $2200, I am now out $1525. Ouch. But it’s time to stop beating myself up about it all. I didn’t debt. And I didn’t spend down my savings. THAT is a miracle.
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The Final Straw

Update on progress for the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: 175 days written!

Yesterday, I nearly lost my solvency. More like I was about to throw it out the window or, as my husband said, just because the boat has a leak, do you really want to sink it?

I don’t handle stress well. Does any addict? So I’ve been having a huge amount of “buyer’s remorse” about my decision to start a new business at the same time I’ve lost 1/2 my income. I look at the behemoth of a printer I bought (to make art prints and greeting cards) with loathing since I cannot really make it work properly (though a conversation with Epson did help to make it somewhat functional). I checked into returning the beast, but it was not an option.
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Are Justice and Compassion Mutually Exclusive?

“It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness.” (Page 66 of the Big Book.)

Are justice and compassion mutually exclusive? I have been thinking about this for days. I believe they may be for those of us in 12 Step Programs if we are to have any peace.

Here’s what I mean. When I see something I consider unjust, I feel myself getting all riled up. Adrenaline begins to flow and self-righteous indignation is the result. I spout off (often loudly) about the injustice of it all. I can get myself utterly worked up. And that is not good for my recovery (or my health).

In trying to live a life of peace, when I am wronged I am told in the Big Book to show “tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend.” (page 67) I am assuming that this extends out to harms perpetrated on anyone. Otherwise, the Big Book would say that it is OK to be enraged at the court system if you disagree with a verdict or the government if they don’t behave as you would like. Instead, the Big Book says on page 66:

But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintence and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die. If we were to live, we had to be free of anger.

That means I cannot afford to get worked up over anything. That means that I have to find a way to meet injustice with compassion. Or I will eventually relapse into compulsive debting.

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Pouring Gasoline on a Fire

I was recently blessed to have a conversation with a fellow DA member about cravings/obsession. It really hit home for me. I have to admit that I have not yet been freed from obsession. However, I’m grateful that I’m able to distance myself from it more quickly and often find it humorous (when not writhing in pain from it).

Yes, one can be abstinent and in obsession. For me, the key is not to make a purchase when I am obsessed. I use those feelings as an opportunity to practice delayed gratification and patience.

I know I’ve written a number of posts on craving and obsession, but it’s still a core issue for me, so I hope that you will forgive me if I write about it once again.
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Time is another aspect of “Now.”

When I was young, time seemed unbearably stretched out, endless. “Are we there yet?” was my constant question. It seemed that I always wanted the future to be my present.

As I got older, time sped up. Now, at age 58, nearly 59, time is a bullet train. Yesterday, I was 19 and in college, with my whole life ahead of me. I blinked and suddenly, I was 35 and my son was born. Blinked again, and he was in high school. Blinked a third time, and it’s today. He is a man of 23 and I am disabled. I’m afraid to blink again.

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“Now” is a crucial word for me. It is dangerous when it means awakening the beast of craving and fear. It is the most beautiful and perfect word to describe how to live my life and what to focus on. It is amazing how one word can be both destructive and life giving at the same time.

God: Help me realize the positive aspects of “Now” and release the negative, along with my addictive nature.

Gray is the Color of Recovery

As an addict, I tend to have black and white thinking. There is a right way and a wrong way … and my way is the right way. As a person in recovery, I cannot afford to think that way. That is why gray is the color of recovery to me. 🙂

Even regarding my marriage, gray thinking in recovery has strengthened our relationship and reduced the bickering, not to mention the all-out nuclear wars. For instance, I used to go nuts when I saw how he worked on his computer. He takes five steps to my one. In the past, we would have huge, escalating fights about such nonsense because I couldn’t stand for him to do it the “wrong” way.
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