Welcoming Joy Into Your Life

Good morning! Happy Sunday and may it be a day of grace for you each. I am overflowing with emotion today and want to share it. It is deep gratitude, which is coming forth as joy, so wish to discuss this as my topic.

The dictionary defines joy as a very glad feeling, happiness, great pleasure, or delight. For me, joy manifests when I am at peace with myself and the world around me, and I am feeling grateful for everything. That is how I feel this morning. Joy is a place I live in most of the time nowadays. But it wasn’t always like this. Oh, no. Far from it.

I used to be an angry and bitter person, blaming others for my misery. I lived in that space for four decades. Then I got sober and through the course of keeping sober, began to be less angry and bitter, especially after I became able to forgive my parents. I gradually stopped blaming others when I learned that my feelings were my responsibility.

Really?? I had no idea that was the case! I started seeing that I often did the very things for which I was angry at others, so suddenly had less to be angry at them for, and more to be responsible for how I felt about it all. Blaming went away as I learned to do a continual check of my actions and behaviors, correcting bad behavior when it occurred.

At some point in sobriety, I began to be grateful. I think it happened a couple of years after I forgave my parents. It started with being grateful I woke up every morning and grew from there. Today, I find myself being in great gratitude for all my experiences, the easy and the difficult, as it all contains a lesson for my growth. This alone is enough reason to express joy.

Joy is intensified as I observe all the miracles around me… in nature, in others, and in myself. It is the end result of an ongoing celebration of life. It is a wonderful place to live!

How about you? Do you experience joy in your life? If you don’t, what is in your way? Your anger and bitterness… the blaming of others that you do, the looking to another to provide your happiness rather than providing it for yourself? These are all things that will rob you of joy in your life. Learn to do it differently, without the negative emotions and behaviors, and you, too, can experience joy.


What Lights You Up?

Good morning after a bit of a break. I have not been able to gain access to the backend of my blog, so have not been able to send it out for the past few days. We’re back in business. Being the non-techno wizard I am, I have no clue what happened, nor how to fix it if it happens again…

Today I want to talk about what lights you up! What in life brings you great joy and happiness, gives you strength and energy to keep going through the difficult patches?

Is it the simple things you can see all around you in nature… the flowers in their delicacy and glory, the cloud formations that are fascinating, the green rolling hills that gently stretch out in front of you? Is it the time you spend with yourself in quiet solitude, or the time spent with loved ones and cherished friends?

Take a moment and consider what lights you up. Taking this time will benefit you for the rest of your life. Each time you stop to consider what lights you up will bring you to the present moment, where all your joy, happiness, and peace reside.

Each time you consider this, you will start your day over again. It will bring you a freshness that you will find delightful. You will open to more willingness and you will become more teachable.

For me, one of the things that lights me up is being in my home which I have decorated with all the things that feed my soul… plants, pictures, knickknacks… Then there’s my darling, precious kittie, Izzy. She is the light of my heart right now. We are very close. There is my quiet time by myself, and then there is the time I spend with others that are important in my life. It’s all good. It all feeds my soul.

So, what lights you up and feeds your soul? What brings you peace and happiiness? Take a moment to leave a comment and let us know.


What Is It Like to Be Sober When You’re Hurting?

Good morning to each of you, and the day is long past dawn. It is bright and clear in the northern San Francisco Bay Area, and I am loving this weather!

Yesterday, I spoke of what it was like to be sober and I talked about all the positives. What about when it gets tough? You see, it does get tough. It’s not all a picnic. So, that’s what I want to talk about today… what to do when being sober is tough.

The thing about being sober is, you begin to feel your feelings. For years, perhaps, you have numbed them out, and suddenly your numbing agent is gone. The length of time for the difficult emotions to emerge will vary in the time it takes for them to appear and in intensity, depending on the depth of your pain.

For me, I was on a pink cloud, feeling wonderful, for about 6 months before the difficult emotions really hit me, and I mean REALLY hit me. Although, during that 6 months, I was still grieving the loss of an unrequited love, the thing which had led me to my bottom in the first place, when all I could do for several months was drink and cry. So, I was dealing with those feelings of rejection and even thoough I felt grand being sober, those feelings were hovering in the background.

I’m referring to the feelings that were buried deep inside, the ones of rejection from when I was a child, the feelings of worthlessness, shame, and despair that I carried throughout my childhood and then for most of my adulthood until I was 48, which was when I got sober. It was a bottomless well, a deep crevice and I felt like I had fallen off of a cliff many days.

How did I deal with it, you may ask, so you know how to deal with it when those feelings, or similar ones, come upon you? First and foremost, I resolved never to drink, although there were times in the course of my sobriety when I would yell, “Being sober is not better than when I was drinking!” Nonetheless, I kept holding on to my sobriety, I kept sober, and discovered that being sober was absolutely worth it! How did I do that?

I went to 4 or 5 support group meetings a a day for the first one and a half years of being sober. Every morning, I started my day with a brisk walk, followed by writing in a journal with my left, non-doiminant hand. I printed, actually. All sorts of deep feeliings flowed onto the page and I was able to have them to look at, to experience them. My writing helped me work through those feelings.

Plus, I talked to people a lot about those feelings that came up. And then, I read spiritual books voraciously. Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s The Invitation, The Dance, and The Call, Iyanla VanZant’s Until Today, Yesterday I Cried, and One Day My Soul Just Opened Up, Melody Beattie’s books on co-dependency – I forget the titles.

Later in sobriety, when I was facing the pain caused by my child abuse, I read all of Claudia Black’s books, It Will Never Happen to Me was a big one that helped me get through my feelings.

The point is, and this post is getting long so I will end with this, allow your feelings to come up and find some way to cope with them. It is okay to distract yourself at times, with healthy activities, such as reading, exercising, writing, yet you need to face the difficult emotions and feel them. The only way past difficult emotions is to go through them. The only way out is through… Stick with it, hang in there, get counseling if needed. Ah, that’s something else I did that was paramount.

Just remember, the end result is happiness and joy, peace and freedom, like you have never experienced before. Trust me on this. Just stay sober, and don’t pick up that first drink. I wish you well on your journey.


Finding Joy in the Simple Things

Good morning! I have been having difficulty with my computer for the last few days. It keeps freezing and crashing on me… before I can type in the blog. Let’s see how far I can get today. I liked the query about joy… finding joy in the simple things, so let’s move forward and discuss this.

Burst of Joy

Joy is an emotion of elation and, more quietly, of extreme contentment. When we experience joy, we are in the present moment, noticing that which is around us with gentle and appreciative eyes and heart. When experiencing joy, we are fulfilled with the most basic and simple things.

Even in the midst of my computer trying to die on me through its crashing and freezing, I have experienced joy. How in the world did that happen and why in the world would I even be thinking about joy, you might ask? Well, every time it crashed and I had to wait for it to restart, I was able to look around me at my surroundings, which brought me great joy and contentment. The way I have my home decorated brings peace to my soul.

There are other ways to experience joy in the midst of difficult times. You see, joy is expressing delight, or rejoicing in what we have. Even in the midst of a difficult time, we can turn our attention to the little things around us that delight us, in which we can rejoice. It may be as simple as a little flower in all its wonder, or it may be something as profound as watching another human being, especially a child, as they navigate their day.

Joy is found in the little things that are occurring constantly around us, every day, all day. All we need to do is make the decision to look for joy in our world. This takes willingness to turn our attention from our strife and trouble, and focus on something else for a moment. In that moment, we become refreshed, making it easier to cope with our troubles.

Where do you find joy in the simple things of your life? What brings you delight, even when you are stressed? We’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment and let us know how joy manifests in your life.



How Sobriety Leads to Joy and Peace

Good morning! I hope this is a gentle and fulfilling day for each of you. I wish for you a sobriety that is filled with joy and peace. That’s the search term for the day about which I will blog today… the relationship of sobriety to joy and peace.

All my life I looked for joy and peace, peace-of-miind. I looked to alcohol and drugs to supply these for me, and I thought I had them when I was drunk and high. It was not until I started and lived a life of sobriety that I discovered I had no clue what joy and peace could really be.

Burst of Joy

In sobriety, I learned it was possible to heal my wounds from early life and this brought me great joy to be free of chains that bound me. My heart burst with joy when I discovered that I even COULD heal.

At first, life was quite painful in sobriety, as I was feeling my feelings without anything to numb them, to quiet them. Ah, and it was extremely difficult to stay sober, but with lots of prayer and attending support group meetings (4-5 a day), I was given the gift of continued sobriety.

The more sobriety I accumulated, the more I healed from emotional scars and pain, the more joy I felt. It was a wonderful feeling, and still is in present day. You see, every day I feel joy… joy about the life around me, joy about my peace-of-miind.

Yes, with the joy I had found, I began to experience peace. I think the biggest thing that led me to peace was learning to conduct a self-appraisal, and conducting one on a on-going basis.

At first, it was difficult to do an appraisal, as I felt shame over my behavior, my actions. Every time I thought of what I had done, or who I was, I felt shame. This was one of the negative effects of an abusive past.

Promise of Peace

After a while of doing an appraisal, however, I began to gain peace when I completed one. It began to feel really good iinside to identify my poor behavior and thoughts, and to right them. It felt good to “confess” them to another person, as part of the appraisal process involves telling another person what I had discovered.

I think that when one commits to doing an ongoing self-appraisal, one is offered the promise of peace. But the real thing that brought me to peace was when I discovered how to forgive my parents. The act of forgiveness really undid the chains that bound me emotionally.

At the end of each day, if I had done an appraisal and forgiven myself and others, I experienced the promise of peace. To this day, that is true for me, and so I gladly and without reservation perform an appraisal and look toward forgiveness.

All of this is possible because of my continued sobriety. And how about you? Do you experience joy and peace as a result of your sobriety? How does that look for you? Leave a comment and let us know.


Opening the Gates of the Heart

The creation of my nationally-acclaimed, award-winning book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, is evidence of God at work in my life, as He, through me, created a lovely book of photographs of wrought-iron gates and inspirational verses that is a pathway to peace, a daily meditation or reflection.

You see, I had no idea I was creating the book for the first several years of its existence. This is a story that is so profound, as I discovered the verses for the book, written in my journals before I even photographed and titled the gates! It was nine months after shooting the gates that I realized verses from my journals gave words to the images far beyond the visual element, words that flowed upon the page, that emanated from deep within me as I journaled with my left, non-dominant hand. These are the verses that comprise, verbatim, seventy-five percent of the verses in the book.

As I reflected upon these words, I realized that I want to extend an offer to you for the book, for the holidays. I am offering my book, personally signed for you, a friend, or a loved one, for $20.00, from now until December 24th. This cost includes shipping via media mail.

To get this offer, you need to circumvent the current price of $25.00 on the website by calling me directly to place your order. 415-883-8325. I will send you the book with an invoice and you can send me a check, or you can pay by credit card over the phone.

I want to offer this special because I want you or your loved one to experience the hope, joy, and peace that you will experience when you read Opening the Gates of the Heart. And, I offer this because I want to thank you for your loyalty in following my blog, my work. It is what I have to offer to you. Whether you are trying to get or stay sober, recovering as a child of a alcoholic parent, or a veteran looking for solace, you will find magic in the book’s pages.

To see if Opening the Gates of the Heart is a match for you or as a gift for that someone special in your life, check out the endorsements, under the “About” tab above. You can also see some of the book’s pages on “About the Book,” under the “About” tab above. The book is a tribute to the resiliency and beauty of the human spirit, and will bring you more calm, more peace, in your life.

Spend some time checking out the book and then call to order your copy or copies today. I look forward to being of service to you through my book.


Moving Past Resentments in Sobriety

“Moving past resentments in sobriety” and “I promise you a life of joy and wonderment” were the search phrases that jumped out at me this morning. They go hand-in-hand, one follows after the other. When you get past your resentments, there IS a world of joy and wonderment out there.

In recovery circles, it is a well-known fact that resentment is the number one reason people drink. Interestingly, the CDC cited that in 2011 in the US, there were 11.8 million substance abusers. Wow. Assume that most of them have resentments, and that’s a lot of resentment flying around out there!

I found it possible in sobriety to get past my resentment I had held tightly for 38 years. It was against my parents for things that happened while I was growing up. I was very angry and bitter, but didn’t show it. I kept it all inside, bottled up. But when I drank, it came out, often big-time. in the form of rage or huge despair and wailing with grief from my losses.

My life became one of victimhood, living life as the victim, and “poor me,” “you’d drink, too, if you suffered what I did.” I was consumed by self-pity. Before sobriety, while I was still drinking, I had no clue that there was a way out of this nightmare. I had no ability to see that I was creating my own misery through the fueling of my resentment against the folks.

I was creating my own misery by failing to take responsibility for my own feelings, to heal from the grief and hurt. That took some time in sobriety to discover that it was my responsibility to do so. And, I had a choice to continue being bitter or to work myself free of the chains that were binding me. Ahhhhh, a choice… Sobriety led me down the path to freedom when it helped me realize I always have a choice in everything I do. We all do. Yes, even you.

What I found after I worked through my resentments, has been great joy and wonder at the world around me… the physical world and all Her wonders, as well as the people in the world, and all of their wonders. I learned to have greater kindness and tolerance for others… great compassion. The more I practiced those things, the more wondrous things became in what the person revealed to me about themselves, what they shared with me, how they treated me. Closer bonds have been established. It has been true joy and wonderment.

So how can you get from your resentment to that joy and wonder about which I speak? It’s a process… a process of looking at your wounds and feelings, and identifying where that keeps you stuck in present day. It’s about using that process to look with new eyes at the resentment and the person whom you resent, until you are able to reach forgiveness.

This is a process I guide people through in my one-on-one coaching.  If you want to experience joy and wonderment in your life, you may be interested in learning more. Go to “Coaching” under the “Services” tab. We can work on that resentment that is keeping you from joy and wonder, and you can experience more peace during this holiday season.

I was indignant about looking at my “stuff.” After all, I was justified! I WAS a victim. That’s a fact. But there came a time in sobriety when I realized I just couldn’t carry my bitterness any more. It was affecting my ability to get to true sobriety, emotional sobriety. What I discovered was forgiveness and that helped me to find joy and wonder, peace and freedom.

How about you? How do you work through your resentments in sobriety? Have you reached joy and wonderment in your life?





What Happens When You Surrender to Sobriety?

I am going to address two of the search terms from early this morning – how to surrender to sobriety and joyous emotions. The reason I chose these two is because once you do get sober, you experience joyous emotions.  I want to be very clear that my joyous emotions are possible only through my sobriety. I proved otherwise for 26 years of drinking.

The “how to surrender to sobriety” sounds like a plea to me. Sounds like someone is recognizing their need to start sobriety, and cannot get to surrender, can’t go there. I surrendered after spending several months in deep and debilitating grief over an unrequited love. So, my surrender was very difficult and when I finally asked for help, I was desperate. I was begging for help. You don’t have to get to that point.

On the other hand, my surrender to decide to attend a support group to help to stop drinking came with grace. The friend I was living with said to me that she had been to this group before and did I want to join her? I just quietly said yes, without even thinking. This part was easy. It was getting to the decision to quit, finally quit, that was difficult, that brought me to my knees emotionally. Let’s look at that for a minute.

I kept on and on with my drinking because I knew of no other way to deal with my pain over the unrequited love, over childhood issues. I was afraid if I quit, I would wither away to nothingness, that it would zap what little energy I had left. The reality was, starting in sobriety actually gave me more energy, I found, because I was not  so badly hung over every morning, that I had to eat greasy or spicy foods to control it.

I couldn’t even name my pain, I was that far gone in the ability to know what I was feeling. The thing is, as I said, I was afraid to give up the only way I knew of to deal with the pain. What I didn’t know was, the longer I kept drinking, the longer I prolonged the ability to feel joyous emotions. I prolonged the ability to get through and past my grief over the unrequited love, the anger over my childhood. It was a vicious circle.

Let me just say that, in the end, I adore and cherish my sobriety and if I had one regret, it would be that I didn’t do it sooner. If I had, I could have spent less years in emotional misery from childhood issues. That’s because, with the aid of the support group, I was able to get to the point of dealing with the childhood issues and thus, healing from them.

If you were to ask me, I would tell you that sobriety is so well worth it. Yes, it sucks at first and sometimes for a few years. But in the end, when you clear out all the past debris, when you can visit the past only to make it possible to move forward in the present, you reach a space where you find peace and freedom. And joy. Tremendous joy and excitement about the things around you, especially the people.

Then there’s wonder. In sobriety. You see everything and everyone with great awe and wonder, as you focus on one moment to the next, taking it all in. Along comes grace, that space where you somewhat float along, where the ability to roll with everything that is going on descends upon you like a cloak. And, of course, there is peace, a deep knowingness that all is well, that all is going as planned.

I wish you well on your journey to sobriety and hope that you can approach surrender to it with grace and wonder, instead of with the attitude of giving up in defeat. Yes, you are defeated by alcohol, but that doesn’t mean YOU’RE defeated as a person. You have  treasure trove of things to discover about yourself and others. Happy discovery.


Quotes on Life with Images

This, “quotes on life with images,” was a search term that found my website this morning. I recall using that as a keyword phrase, perhaps… What I what to really focus on is the term, because what I have to offer you today is quotes on life with images. They are taken from my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Carolyn Jones

All Rights Reserved

Visions of Gratitude

When seen with eyes and heart that appreciate,

everything around and within me becomes more pleasing, more beautiful.

Moments of Wonder

 Do you suppose there has always been such richness, such beauty in the world?

Perhaps it has been there all along,

waiting to be noticed, to be seen, with the eyes of the heart.

If we as individuals cannot speak to each other,

how, then, can we as nations achieve peace?

Warmth of Humility

 Rather than take on everyone else’s dreams, desires, and expectations,

can I not look humbly at what has been placed before me?

We will grow through the barriers of our heart and

be able to fully experience the richness of life.

Promise of Peace

When I practice the principles of love for myself and others,

the gates of my heart melt into the glow of dusk,

and peace rises to greet me.

Balance of Serenity

I am serene, carried by the winds to places where

I am held in balance with great beauty and strength.

Burst of Joy

My heart bursts with joy!






Living with Gates Flung Wide – Ah, Peace

Yesterday, I talked about how to forgive… an actual process to use to get there. Once you find forgiveness, you will move into all the wonderful benefits of freedom and peace. You will begin to live with the gates of your heart flung wide open.

What do I mean by this? Well, first of all, you will begin to see the world around you with wonder… awe and wonder. You will seek out that attitude, applying it to everything you encounter.

When you find forgiveness and begin to see things around you with wonder, you will live in grace. Grace is a feeling of goodwill and is a favor which is bestowed upon you. It is a virtue given to you by the powers of the Universe, or God, or whatever you call the divine in your life. It settles quietly… gently… like a soft and comforting cloak.

It is hard to describe what it feels to live in grace, but one thing that happens for me is that everything falls easily into place. I have a deep sense of knowingness that life in its essence is perfect, and I sort of float from one thing to the next, not in a dizzy state, rather, in a calm and conscious way.

When you can find forgiveness, your life begins to be lived in joy… great happiness. Joy is a feeling of great pleasure or delight. You know when you are living with joy in your life when the little things become so pleasurable for you, that you wear a smile on your heart throughout the day.

And, finally, you will know peace. This is a feeling that all is well. It is felt at a deeper level. Regardless of the strife that arises, you know that everything is as it is intended to be, and you are alright in the world. It is a sense that pervades all others.

These are the things that you will experience once you go through a self-appraisal, and begin to learn to express compassion for others and yourself… once you find forgiveness for others and yourself. It is a truly beautiful space in which to live each day.

This is a state-of-mind that I have looked for all my life. I tried for 26 years to find it in alcohol and drugs and I thought I was experiencing joy all those years. What I realized after a few years of sobriety is that I didn’t have a clue what joy was, what wonder or grace was, and I certainly never experienced peace while I was drinking.

In other words, what I have found since forgiving and doing my grief work is a feeling that is so far greater than anything I had ever imagined possible. The journey to get to this point becomes well worth it once you get to this point.

For those of you who are dealing with long-standing anger or resentment, it is possible to get through that to another place, a place where you feel relaxed with others, with yourself, with the world around you. I wish you well in your journey and hope for you the path to forgiveness and peace.