Grateful Sunday #41: A Return to Form

With consumerism at an all-time high in Great American culture, I knew the retail inventory schedule following the holiday season would be pretty jammed up…but I was not prepared for just how nonstop January was.  Apologies for my lengthy absence, but I can say with a great deal of certainty that the previous two months have indeed been my busiest two months since I began writing this blog.  Much has happened in that time, and much has changed in my personal life.

Firstly, a clarification: there was a post that appeared on EZ between this and my last writing, that I did not author.  I’ve mentioned how this works briefly in a previous entry, but the concept of ‘reblogging’ may still not be entirely clear to those unfamiliar.  What happens is I will come across another thought piece/article/what have you on the Internet, that I believe to be relevant to my own project here.  I then “re-post” it on to the dash of this blog; it is the work of another person or group entirely, but I am sharing it via the web on my own site.  Unfortunately, WordPress formatting leaves a bit of comprehension to be desired in that department, and even more unfortunately, there is no way to edit a reblog.  Thus there appear to be entries made by me, that were in fact not at all, but simply shared pieces from external sources.

I believe this caused some confusion with the last post I reblogged, as it was written by a female and thus contained some perplexing language, using such phrases as “my boyfriend” – no, not literally MY boyfriend.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course; just, not mine.

Anyway, right around the time of my last posting, I made a choice to proactively pursue a course of learning I had been vaguely considering for some time: an online offering of web graphic design instruction.  Studying communication and advertising in college I had always had design in my peripheral knowledge base, but had avoided any kind of true educational pursuit based on an ill-informed belief that the practice was largely rooted in computer programming and mathematics.  Over time, as I’ve been more exposed to various sectors of the professional communication industry, I’ve come to observe that even the most basic of producers or coordinators have at least some experience with design or design editing.

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Furthermore, as I spend a probable majority of my free time Interwebs-browsing, I’ve come to really appreciate good design and typesetting.  Amongst so much amateur content and creation, quality programming really *pops* and is much more enjoyable to consume (indeed, I’ve previously included on this blog some of the more relevant pieces I’ve encountered).  Equal parts intrigued, inspired, and informed, I decided investing in a little self-education in this field would go a long way, and gradually pay for itself many times over.  So I did a bit of research, selected an online institution that offered what I knew I needed, and completed the enrollment process.

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I decided to pick up two courses, “a la carte” (not of a majors or minors program): a basic introduction to web graphic design, and then an advanced media creation section.  Each session runs eight weeks; the first I completed just last week.  The course provided us with lectures, readings, and access to production software.  The instruction was reasonably paced, thorough, and all-inclusive.  I have a fairly good command of Adobe Illustrator now, as demonstrated by this image of my final project (a poster advert for a performance run of “Don Giovanni” at the Metro Opera Company):

ImageThe left half of the poster features a sketch of Mozart, which was initially outlined in a freehand composition based loosely on a portrait, and scanned into Illustrator to be converted to a digital file.  The right half includes the required descriptive text, provided by the opera company.  If I were truly submitting this to be considered for print and not just for a course project, I would probably have used this as a “final draft,” and cleaned and sharpened both the sketch and the text up by a considerable degree.  Nonetheless, pretty proud of going from never having opened Illustrator to producing an original design piece.  Oh, and to top it all off? 96.9%, overall final grade for the course.  Not bad.

My second session will actually resume in May, due to my being tied up with the other major life decision I recently made: to vacate home in central New York and move in with a friend who has available housing downstate, to spend a month searching for stable, salaried, full-time employment.  Thus, this past Wednesday I landed in Stamford, Connecticut, to spend a few days getting unpacked and settled in before I spend March aggressively on the job hunt.

In my three-and-a-half days here so far, I’ve: had one interview that turned out to be a pyramid-scheme type scam; set up my surprisingly spacious room; eaten at a local burger joint; organized the month’s groceries; and made contact with several employment agencies.  Stamford is not New York, though it is largely populated by young professionals (primarily in finance) who wish it were.  Still, the cityscape hustle & bustle is at once invigorating, exciting, and encouraging.  Moves made; hands shook; babies kissed; offshore accounts fattened; scensters seen; life glamorized.  As a man in his mid-20’s with an entirely new lease/perspective on life, I am ready to dive in head-first.

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And that’s exactly it – it’s change, it’s adjusting, it’s a lifestyle.  It goes for not only “relocating,” but recovery, as well.  Admittedly, my sobriety has not been first and foremost in my mind the past several weeks.  I have attended maybe two meetings in two months.  But I’m not on edge; I’m not white-knuckling my days.  I’m not in danger.  I’m at ease, yet still aware.  A hectic schedule may have kept me from devoting my full attention to my program recently…but I no longer feel that I’m just trying to occupy time, to keep my mind and body safe.  There have certainly been times over the past year that I have needed something, anything, to hold my attention and keep my thoughts from themselves.  But these past couple of months have not been mere preoccupation.

No, it is more than that.  It is mindful living.  It is a complete and total lifestyle change, and furthermore, embrace of that lifestyle.  I don’t have to wake up and think “sobriety,” because I wake up and live sobriety.  Between rehab, therapy, counseling, meditation, practice, and routine, it has become ingrained in the very fiber of my being.  It’s a good feeling.  Uninhibited; secure, even.

 

It does not, however, mean that alcohol is no longer an influential factor in my life.  To let your guard down is to get comfortable; to get comfortable is to forget; to forget is to get vulnerable; to get vulnerable is to relapse.  That is a fairly linear descent I just laid out, but the reality of this disease is often far more complicated and chaotic than that.  We just recently saw a very public, very tragic example of this, in the overdose-related death of critically acclaimed acting legend Philip Seymour Hoffman.  A man who had been very transparent and honest about his substance abuse history; a rarity for an individual who spends so much time in the spotlight of film stardom.  A man who had been clean for 20 years, and in that time had cultivated a rich, engrossing, emotional body of acting work.

 

We can only speculate as to what precisely made him turn back to the needle, but I would not be surprised if it was a complicated chain reaction, and not just one specific event or moment in time.  Our understanding of this disease remains woefully incomplete, and so too does our ability to combat it.  It is complex enough that we have yet to discover a permanent “cure.”  No treatment; only remission.  Godspeed, you beautiful soul. The memories of your haunting, ethereal performances will now be immortalized on screens across the globe.  Let us never forget that your untimely demise is similarly not beyond the realm of possibility, for any of us.

I am grateful for personal progress.  I am grateful for a supportive network of family & friends.  I am grateful for sobering reminders.  I am grateful for fresh opportunities.  I am grateful for free time & peace of mind.  I am grateful to be alive & well.  I am grateful to be able to share these messages & gratitudes with others – especially those that may really need to hear them.

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