09 November 2017

I Am Enough

The Fifth Promise of Debtors Anonymous states that we will realize that we are enough; we will value ourselves and our contributions.

I Am Enough

I am enough
I am myself
I am free
free from material wealth
free from showmanship
free from debt

I am enough
I am myself
I am enjoying life
thankful for employment
thankful for a home
thankful for a partner

I am enough
I am myself
I am able to see
to see the sunrise and set
to see a lovers smile
to see a friends victory

I am enough
I am myself
I am able to feel
feeling the love from a cat
feeling accepted
feeling at peace

I… am… enough…
I… am… myself…
I… am… contributing…
contributing to life
contributing to others
contributing to God

08 November 2017

The Fifth Promise of Debtors Anonymous

The Fifth Promise of Debtors Anonymous states that we will realize that we are enough; we will value ourselves and our contributions.

Growing up in an abusive alcoholic home I always felt “less than.” Never quite good enough. Any healthy values are had were never quite good enough for my family. If I got a B in a class I would be questioned as to why I didn’t get an A. If I got an A, I would be questioned about how much better it could have been if I didn’t miss a couple of days of school because I was sick.

I was taught that no matter what I did it was no good. Not just in my family but also growing up during a strict time in the Catholic Church. If I wanted to fulfil any urges as a teenage boy I was shamed and certainly going to hell. Then the confusion really sat in because I was told not to touch myself but yet a priest could.

I carried these early lessons in life into my adulthood. My values said that I needed to take care of myself and no one else. I could run up bills and not worry about paying anyone back. In fact, I’d become quite angry if you expected me to pay you back.

One of the worst feelings in this world are the thoughts of being useless. A total zero. I believed my self-worth was based on material things. While getting a nice car and having a kick ass stereo meant the world to me, the idea of how I’d pay for it never entered my mine.

It was all for show. A new stereo meant inviting people over. Get a keg of beer, crank it up and party the night away. This would go on for a couple of weeks, then the first monthly bill would arrive in the mail. A sense of accomplishment would fill me with false pride when I made a minimum payment.

Next month would come and another small payment was made. This would go on for six months until frustration would set in. I’d look at the balance and hardly nothing was removed. I was paying interest and very little else. Now my stereo was outdated and small compared to others. I hated it and now even hated myself for buying it.

I now believe that is OK not to have everything. That I don’t have a need that isn’t met. By learning how to let go of my wants, I have come to a spiritual freedom realizing that I am basically a transient in this time and place. That I can’t take anything with me when I leave so why do I need to acquire things now?

A short time ago my wife and I got away for a weekend. Nothing extravagant. Just a simple weekend together and it was perfect. She came home with a new mug for her to drink tea, I came home with a root beer, something that is hard to find in the UK. And we were both more than happy with these simple gifts.

And the best gift of all after spending the weekend together? No debt. It was all paid for with cash.

22 October 2017

Had Nothing

The Fourth Promise of Debtors Anonymous says that we will begin to live a prosperous life, unencumbered by fear, worry, resentment or debt.

Had Nothing

Had no fear… had nothing
no roof… no clothes… no food
nothing …
maybe no fear but tons of worry

starving… shaking… withdrawals
no future plans… please…
let me survive the day
hated everyone… just because they had money

please give me a penny
please give me a sandwich
please don’t spit on me
please don’t curse me

oh the dream of a warm meal
followed by a warm bath
with clean warm clothes
and a nice cozy bed

a prosperous life
possibly not financially sound
rather comfortable with no fear
no debt… no worries

free from comparisons of others
free from resentments
no longer looking for handouts
rather closing hands in a prayer of thanks

20 October 2017

The Fourth Promise

The Fourth Promise of Debtors Anonymous says that we will begin to live a prosperous life, unencumbered by fear, worry, resentment or debt.

I have been debt free for four years now and I am living a prosperous life. By “prosperous” I don’t mean I’m rolling in money. What I am is free of fear. I can wake up in the morning and not worry how I am going to pay the mortgage. How can I make a payment on a credit card when I have no food in the house? Those type of questions were with me from the minute I awoke to the minute I fell asleep.

It was a horrible way to live. The sad part about it was that even though I hated living like that I kept it alive for many years. I couldn’t let people know how broke I was, so I played the game of being a big spender and used credit cards to go deeper into debt.

I would go on holidays for a week to ten days and the whole time never use a penny. Instead the whole excursion was paid for with credit. From getting petrol, to meals, to nights in hotels, to acquiring souvenirs… every financial transaction was paid for with credit. Than every night, I would call an 800 number to see how much more credit I had. When one card was maxed out, I used another. Of course, I couldn’t go on a holiday with just one credit card… I needed at least two and preferably three. There was one trip where I had four credit cards and that was a holiday for a king!!!

Those holidays quickly ended when the next month came and bills arrived in the mail. First thought was to apply for another credit card and condense them all onto the new one and make only one payment. Sadly though, by maxing everything out getting a new card was impossible.

So the struggle began to pay back those cards with just minimum payments. Every month got harder and harder to keep up. Every month also got more stressful as people would ask when the next big holiday would come.

Today, holidays are paid for with cash. They are budgeted and worked for. They are stress free and worry free. At the end of a holiday, there isn’t any worries about how it would be paid for because it is already paid for.

Nothing beats cold hard cash. All the credit in the world doesn’t mean much if there is no legitimate plan to pay it back…

28 September 2017

I Was With Him

I Was With Him

weak… no more pain
not giving up… just accepting
felt warmth and loved
felt secure and comforted

so quiet laying in bed
the tv sounds kept away the fear
and its light kept away the darkness
neither had my attention

looked down the hallway
watching nurses do their rounds
a feeling of Oneness came to me
the room came alive

still weak… yet felt so strong
no longer thought about the future
instead cherished the moment
a day of learning and a night of living

God was with me
I felt His touch
I felt His warmth
I felt His love

that night I accepted death
knowing life would be lived again
it wasn’t my time… ye grateful
for the visit from my dear Friend

23 September 2017

A Wedding, Immigration, and Cancer

Just 12 days short of my first anniversary from heart surgery I got married to my wonderful British girlfriend, Karen. It was also the day before I celebrated my 21st year of sobriety. We got married in the Presbyterian Church, which is the American branch of the Church of Scotland. Kind of fitting since I am a member of the Episcopalian Church, which is the American branch of the Church of England. In the corner of the church was an American flag, nope we didn’t have a flag of the United Kingdom anywhere.

It was a very small wedding, yet it was beautiful and perfect. By the end of the day, complete strangers were friends and the next day we heard from a couple of people how they wished all weddings were like that.

The same day we got married, we went with the vicar to the courthouse and got all the paperwork done and had everything in our hands right away. Karen would take this proof with her back to England and would start the process for me to move to England.

It was a process that we had no idea how long it would take. We knew for non-Europeans wanting to immigrate to the United Kingdom was an uphill climb. One that you had to make sure that all the “t’s” were crossed and all the “i’s” were dotted. There was no way we could have handled it on our own. The reality was that there was no way Karen could handle it all. It was unfair of me to dump it all on her, but there was no other way. She lived in England while I was over 5,000 miles away.

The best thing we did to make sure we could be together was to hire an attorney to do the paperwork for us. It may have cost us some money, but the stress and worries it saved us was well worth it.

Three months after our wedding and just over a year since heart surgery, I was granted a visa to live and work in the United Kingdom and I started my new life, in a new country on 1 January 2016. I was so happy and also relieved when I moved.

Before my health scare, I knew something wasn’t right but I had no idea what could be wrong. So, after everything happened and everything was fixed, I felt comfortable with the move. Not because of my health, rather because I wasn’t bringing illness into our new life together.

Sadly, within ten months of living in England, I was diagnosed with mouth cancer. As much as I wanted to protect Karen from my past health issues, there was nothing I could do to protect her from this happening. What I could do though, was to make it as least painful as possible. That meant doing everything doctors wanted me to do and to be active in every procedure I had to take.
Admittedly, I hated and feared a lot of it and even wanted to quit but I made it through and today I am cancer-free with a strong heart. Today, my wife looks at me and knows how much fight I have in me, not just for my life but for ours as a couple...

14 August 2017

I Am Not For Show

The Third Promise of Debtors Anonymous says that We will live within our means, yet our means will not define us. 

I Am Not For Show

A hundred dollar a night hotel
A thirty dollar a night hotel
which is the best?
People would be impressed with $100
yet… it’s just for a sleep
thirty dollars paid with cash
hundred dollars paid with credit

never defined by credit… certainly not for show
not worried what others think
rather sleep with less stress
a little money in pocket
at the end of the day
we’re all the same
head on pillow… sleeping soundly

it’s not what is owned
rather… its what’s owed
tv that’s paid for
not a surround sound with a monthly bill
a 1990 car parked out front
not a 2017 porsche that takes half a paycheck
head on pillow… sleeping soundly

keep your possessions and your wealth
a little money in hand
some stashed for a rainy day
a fine night out eating lobster
replaced with chicken parmesan
champagne replaced with coke
head on pillow… sleeping soundly

no debt… free to be
no worries… no stress
what a wonderful life
not defined by what others have
nor defined by show
not worried about wants… just needs
head on pillow… sleeping soundly