Exploring the WordPress World

As my readers realize, I have not spent a lot of time on WordPress the past several months. As my freelance promotional and journalistic paid writing has increased, my personal writing has decreased, and WordPress reading halted completely. Today I returned to WordPress as a reader, perusing Freshly Pressed, Community Pool, and blogs in my Reader. Following are a few reads I enjoyed, in no particular order.

  • A Writer’s Path, 10 Quote Tuesday : This week Ryan comprised inspiring quotes by writers about writing.
  • Ischemgeek,  #HighFunctioningMeans : This struck a strong chord with me, as one with an invisible disability.  If you want to know what I really think, read the post then my comment.


    Blog on! Read on!

Happy Blogaversery to Me: Thank You!

It has been a fabulous month since I began Sober and Single in Med City. Starting my very own blog is something I have thought about for years. I began blogging in 2003 with a small group of people on Perfect Duluth Day. Now that community blog, for residents and lovers of Duluth, Minn., has over 2,000 users. Being that I no longer live in Duluth, I do not post there often and also would never delve as deep as I have here.

I began this blog mainly to write personal essays, which for years have been taking up space in my head. Since I have spent fourteen years administrating and writing blogs for employers, I knew this format would hold me accountable to my craft. I’ve developed an innate work ethic regarding blog writing whereas if I just scheduled time daily to write essays I wouldn’t do it. Pleased to Meet Me delves more into why I write here.

My perceptions of how this blog would contribute to my life and who my readership would be were much different from reality. The reality is much more wonderful. I thought my “followers” would mostly be my friends, forgetting this format’s uniqueness is the community of writers and readers within the blog platform (WordPress).

I really am at a loss of words to explain how grateful I am to WordPress’ readers and writers, and also BlogHer who sponsors NaBloPoMo. I’m taking the Blogging 101 course through WordPress and doing the NaBloPoMo, which were both blogging blisses I knew nothing about a month ago.

The “followship” amazes me. There are so many wonderful writers with whom I connect. And my writing reaches out to bloggers, galvanizing my need to keep writing. It’s been a wonderful month. So I will end where I began on Oct. 21st with “Wonderful Wondering.”

Throwback Thursday: My “Going on a Hot Date” Song

I never tire of “Brass in the Pocket”. I first heard this song by watching the video on MTV, probably in 1981. It came out in 1979, and Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of The Pretenders, initially did not want it released.

I have listened to this song before every “hot date” I’ve had since 16. By hot I mean a date with a boy/man I really like. Now that I’m older, it’s my anthem of feminist sexuality.

Vegetarian Haggis Days: The Beginning of My Edinburgh Adventure

Salad Days

One of the greatest periods of my life was the year I spent in Edinburgh, Scotland, age 24-25. This was a goal I worked towards for three of my five years of college. In fact, I did not even attend my graduation ceremony, opting instead to catch a flight to the U.K., celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday traveling with him and the rest of our family, then catching a train to Edinburgh with no reservations at a hostel and no idea where I’d live or work the next year.

Photo: © Shutterstock / Vichie81

Photo: © Shutterstock / Vichie81

I was an adventurous spirit in my youth, not putting too much forethought into my actions. I did have a work permit through BUNAC and had gone through their orientation in London prior to meeting up and traveling with my family. Being that the BUNAC London headquarters were so big and supportive, I figured I‘d find the same in Edinburgh. Unfortunately their office was a small room tucked away in an alley off High Street and was closed when I arrived. The youth hostels, the only accommodations I could afford, were all full.

Lucky for me I had a very supportive, non-blood related British family, which I called upon in this moment of crisis. The Brams (pseudonym) whom I lived with for a year when going to Birmingham University, England when I was 19, are one of the most amazing families who have “taken me in”. What happened next was miraculous.

Ben, my “house brother” was going to Edinburgh Uni but was in Birmingham at the time with his family. However, his girlfriend had an extra room in her flat, and agreed to take me in for a few weeks before her roommate returned, either for free or for very cheap. This gave me the time I needed to find a job and flatmates of my own.

Josie is a young (a little older now) lass who epitomizes Scots’ hospitality and warmth. While I was living with her another flatmate from Canada joined us. She was much more organized than I, arranging her living and work situation before she left North America. I was a vegetarian at the time, and Josie decided to make a traditional Scottish dinner for us three.

Vegetarian Haggiss

Upon our plates were these ugly, gray, fat, encased lumps of something. They did not look very appetizing. We asked what we were about to eat, and Josie exclaimed, “Wa, Vegetar-rian Haggis!” When asked what vegetarian haggis was, Josie said “Wa, it’s an oats an’ bean pudding in a wee fake sheep’s stom-ach!” The Canuck and I laughed until we nearly peed our pants, while poor Josie looked on, disgusted that we would criticize both her fine dinner and accent. The Vegetarian Haggis Days were the beginning of my wonderful Scottish adventure.

Happiness from Japan, or originally Australia…

Dear Readers,

There is something  you may not know about me; well, you know it if you have read my updated  “About” page. I collect  PEZ dispensers. I began my collection around 1994, mostly buying PEZ on my travels. I bought Bugs Bunny in Albuquerque , because that’s  where he took a “wrong turn”, and my Disney PEZ (original characters Mickey  Mouse, Donald Duck, ect.) at Disneyland.

My friends also buy me PEZ Dispensers on their travels. One friend  bought E.T. for me in Hong Kong. But yesterday I received  my first package from Japan .

And it was a Halloween  PEZ Dispenser ! I have an American  friend from college who has lived in Japan for over a decade.

image

Technically,  he bought this PEZ in Australia. Looking on the back, the dispenser and candy were made in Hungary, on behalf of PEZ Headquarters  in Austria, imported to Melbourne, bought somewhere in Australia by my friend, who flew it with him back to Japan, then sent it to me in Minnesota.

It’s a well-traveled  PEZ Dispenser. And it’s happiness  in a tiny package.

Hello G.O.D, It’s Me, Violet

“One of the things that I have struggled with during my many years of participation in AA and NA is what some of us call “the god stuff.” The references to religion, spirituality, God, and Higher Power are everywhere in the literature and the culture of AA.  Even in the best efforts of the folks back in the 1930s, the “Chapter to the Agnostic” pretty much assumes that as soon as you start to come out of your addiction, and into the light, you will happily go back to some concept of God, albeit not necessarily the God of your childhood.” ~ HANJE RICHARDS, “The God Stuff.”

The “God Stuff” has been the hardest concept for me to grasp in my Alcoholics Anonymous program, followed by the concept of being powerless. The first A.A. meeting I attended in treatment was on Step One, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.” I actually said “I’m a feminist and am not powerless over anything.” This was after almost dying and being in a coma for two weeks, physical therapy for another two weeks, and in the mental health unit for a week; all due to a suicide attempt while intoxicated. If you want to V8 slap me in the forehead for the absurdity of my statement on that first meeting, I agree. That, my friends, is the insanity of alcoholism.

This brings me to “The God Stuff”. Step Two is “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”, and Step Three is “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

My spiritual path is eclectic; a little Buddhism, some Hindu, a bit of Islam, some Wicca, a little Judaism, and a splash of the Christianity I was taught growing up as an Episcopalian. In short, I am a Unitarian Universalist who believes one should build their own spiritual path, and do their own dishes.

In “the rooms” we often talk about a “God of our own understanding”, with a big G, and all meetings I’ve been to across the U.S. end with “The Lord’s Prayer.”  Although the Big Book also speaks of a “power greater than ourselves” and “Higher Power,” there is a lot of He, Him, Lord and God (all capitalized). It’s very cringe inducing for atheists, but also for people like me who believe in a power greater than myself that is not patriarchal.

As part of my “neighborhood” exercise yesterday, I was looking at blogs under the tag “Unitarian Universalist” and the first post I came across was “The God Stuff”. My God embracing AA friends would call my stumbling upon this post “A God thing”. I call it serendipity.

In this post, Hanje introduced me to  We Agnostics & Free Thinkers International AA Convention, which he attended.

As I have said, I have come to believe in a power greater than myself, but don’t have a name for it. The God talk in the rooms can be overwhelming. I do pray and meditate and have found life easier if I give my will over. Somedays I pray to  Mother Nature, others Great Spirit, sometimes Creator, other times Universe, occasionally God, and many times “Hey, You!”

It is comforting to know that there are bloggers like Hanje out there who participate in A.A. but are not God thumpers. AA is an easier, softer way for me to live after spending a decade in and out of recovery rejecting 12 step programs. But I have also loved reading other WordPress blogs by people who do not participate in AA or NA but have long-term sobriety. Jon Sleeper is one such writer.

Just like my spirituality, my recovery support comes from a variety of sources including A.A. but also Health Realization, Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Women for Sobriety. I’m getting over the god stuff, but that mostly is because I began thinking of God as Group of Drunks (those in AA who had what I wanted) and now think of God as Give Orderly Direction. I may not know if there is anything beyond you and me, and if there is what to call it. All I do know is that my program works, if I work it.