An Invitation

You can create a life you love… right here, right now.

You’re going to work with the raw material of your life… exactly as it is.

Start with a willingness to practice creating moments of
Peace, Joy, Empowerment, And love… in each day.

What would that look like?
What is peace? Joy? Empowerment? Love?
How does one live those qualities?

Peace is a deep inner quiet we each have within us, that can be accessed anywhere, any
time, by briefly pausing, breathing deeply and allowing one’s self to be still.

Joy is the exuberant feeling that comes from being aware and awake to the small miracles
and wonder of life in each moment.

Empowerment is recognizing one’s ability to take action, and taking action.

Love is making a choice in this moment to support one’s divine potential or that of
another with kindness and compassion. Love is not an adjective, it is a verb.

You can create a life you love by bringing these qualities to the circumstances of your life
as they are now. All you need is a sincere “yes” to yourself… and a daybook…

A daybook can be on your phone, I-pad, computer. It can be a big beautiful journal or a
little notepad that can be carried easily in a pocket or purse. It can be a graphic journal
where you draw instead of write.

Each day just take a moment to record:

When today did I create a moment of peace?
When today did I create a moment of joy?
When today did I create a moment of empowerment?
When today did I create a moment of love?

As you begin doing this right here, right now… your life will change and you will begin
creating a life you love.

Posts made in April, 2014

Healing Habits

From Sorting the Pieces of Your Life, A Woman’s Guide to Simplicity, Order, Renewal, and Trust

“Everyone goes through periods when we know we need to change. Studies, however, tell us that simply Assistance (with clipping path)knowing often isn’t enough. . . it takes something else—exposure to the right idea, hearing stories that resonate in our own lives, a certain kind of encouragement—that makes the first step feel within reach.” – Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in life and Business

In his ground-breaking book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, an award-winning reporter, tells the story of Eric who quit smoking permanently after a long term habit.  Eric had used willpower in the past to overcome a 9781400069286_custom-401a0d258f36abc0afccb673d3bab1de7926e20e-s6-c30speech disorder, but it just wasn’t working with his nicotine habit. Despite his well-intentioned efforts of chewing gum, reading affirmations, and setting goals, his resolve to stop smoking failed him.

He realized that he was trying to ‘just walk away’ without replacing smoking with a new habit. He was also simultaneously trying to change other things and, as he put it, ‘needed to focus on one thing at a time.’ He knew that smoking was his ‘keystone habit’ so he decided to just focus on that while doing experiments to discover what his relationship to smoking was all about.

He soon learned that his cue to smoke was a desire for calmness. “Smoking had become my way of relaxing,” he said.  And so he began to experiment with substitute behaviors.  Eventually he discovered meditation and began practicing it for just a minute or two when he needed calm. As he continued to practice he successfully replaced smoking with meditation.

reflection-20-500x500Eric learned as most successful self-changers do, that changing a habit is a process not an event, and that relapsing was part of the process.

“It’s tempting to see those relapses as failures,” Duhigg writes in his book, “but what’s really occurring are experiments.”

The powerful insight we gain from this is that change is achieved by practice.  Just as we can’t sit down to the piano and immediately play Clair de Lune if we have never played before, we can’t just make up our minds to change an unhealthy habit or start a new one.

Recent research backs this up. A small clump of tissue in the center of the skull, the basal ganglia, has been found to be integral to habit development.  Through studies, in which rats wandered through a maze following the scent of chocolate, it was discovered that their basal ganglia was working furiously.  Over many runs through the maze, gradually the rats ran faster, and their mental activity slowed down.  The rats had internalized how to sprint through barely thinking. The brain worked hard to internalize the habit and then had to think less.

sexy-woman-dancerAn old friend of mine, Candy Smith, who is a dancer, once told me that when she was first learning a dance she had to think carefully about which steps came next, even consulting her notes, but as she practiced again and again eventually she reached the point where, as she said, “It’s in your body and you just dance!”

So it is with developing new habits.  And often the new habits we are developing are in response to the old habits whose death we desire.  In fact, according to Duhigg we will never be successful in changing unhealthy habits unless we replace them with new healing habits.

Researchers at MIT have discovered a simple neurological loop behind each habit we have: a cue, a routine, and a reward. Duhigg gives us the framework for change: Identify the routine; experiment with rewards; isolate the cue; and have a plan.

He himself noticed that he had a routine. Every afternoon at a certain time he got up from his desk, walked to the cafeteria; bought a chocolate chip cookie; and ate it while chatting with friends. This routine had resulted in an eight pound weight gain over time.  After experimenting he discovered the reward he was seeking was a temporary distraction that comes from chatting with friends. He realized his cue was simply the time of day. Then he designed his replacement—walking to a friend’s desk and talking for 10 minutes. Of course these changes have to be practiced again and again for the brain to make them automatic behaviors.  But fortunately the brain tolerates relapse.

We can follow the same plan to develop a new habit if there is a way we want to improve our life.

img_Great-Pacific-Garbage-Patch_2My daughter Rose was deeply affected by learning in her college ecology class about the ecological footprint everyone leaves upon the earth.  Research has shown that if everyone in the world lived like we do in the United States we would need seven earths to sustain the way we live.

She realized that most of her garbage was plastic, and, unlike paper and bottles, plastic is more difficult to recycle.  She decided to spend a year not using plastic containers for her groceries or food storage at home.

“I had skeptics around me,” she said, “but that just inspired me to prove them wrong. I was told, “You can’t do that.”

“Hmm, we’ll see about that,” she said and embarked on her journey of forming a new habit.

“An important part was the decision,” she recalled.  “It was less about a struggle and more about planning my life in such a way that was conducive to my resolution.”

farmers-market-produceShe started buying her food at produce markets that carried unpackaged produce and food in bulk bins so she could package her food in paper bags or plastic bags she already owned and was recycling. This also meant not buying as many processed foods since they are often sold in plastic containers.

Her diet changed dramatically.  She was eating more natural food and cooking from scratch to make her own bread and tortilla shells for example

The hardest part, she said, ‘Was going without cheese.  I loved cheese and it was always sold in plastic.”

That is until she discovered a farmer’s market, where a certain farmer who ran a pastured farm, sold cheese in its own rind.

“I probably wouldn’t have even gone to the market that morning if I hadn’t started my new no-plastic habit.”

281948_4681608323353_1365105319_nAnd most incredible to me is that Rose’s plastic-free year not only led to a smaller ecological footprint and a healthier diet, but she now works on the farm that made the cheese that was encased in its own rind.  She started out as the dairy manager, which meant learning to make cheese and later more skills necessary for running a farm with pastured animals.

One new habit changed her life!

(And if you want to know more about the farm go to Seabreezefarm.net or more about her year without plastic go to [email protected])

I am inspired toward developing and strengthening healthy habits in my own life by the stories I have shared today. Aristotle sums it up precisely, We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

 

 

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Creating a Circle of Support

From Sorting the Pieces of Your Life, A Woman’s Guide to Simplicity, Order, Renewal, and Trust

“‘Have you noticed how much faster we can go when we paddle together?  Look what happens to the canoe when I work against you,’ she said as she moved her paddle in an opposing direction. We started to pitch and tip dangerously. As she corrected we began to move forward easily again and she said, ‘With the support of other women you can do practically anything.” – Lynn Andrews, Flight of the Seventh Moon

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAMy heart beat quickly in anticipation as I made my way through the color and clamor of Pike Market in Seattle, Washington. The vendor stalls bloomed with life—deep fuchsia peonies, purple lilacs, bold red strawberries, woven hand goods in a rainbow of colors.  I could hear the call of the fish sellers, “We ship anywhere in the world!”  And a fragrant waft of the scent of homemade bread, drifted past.

Finally I found Pike’s popular meeting place—the large brass pig stanchly placed on a brick sidewalk at the entrance.  I was there to meet four of my college roommates for the first time in years. The first to arrive, I leaned against the heft of the pig and listened to a string quartet play Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on the sidewalk.

Suddenly I heard squeals and laughter, “There she is,” one of them cried out. Four women rushed toward me and immediately we were in a huddle hug, laughing and our eyes flooded with emotion.

article-2445999-188A4E6300000578-833_634x435Many years before we arrived at our college apartment strangers, but became fast friends.  There was constant music playing in the apartment, which seemed to be a magnet for a steady stream of other people and activity. There was always a conversation going on, people playing games, studying together, or making brownies.

We supported each other through the rigors of academia, the coming and going of romance in our lives, the death of one roommate’s lifelong friend, and the announcement of another that she was leaving school to serve a mission. Eventually some of us married and left, others pursued higher education, and some careers.

Now, all these years later, we were reclaiming our circle of support.

Detour[1]We talked constantly over the next few days as we went sight-seeing, shopping, and eating, finally ending up on the rocky shore of the Puget Sound on Whidbey Island.  Sitting on huge driftwood logs and playing with the smooth pebbles of the beach we sat in silence. We had learned of each other’s marriages, divorces, heartaches with children and with infertility, struggles with addiction and other destructive habits, weight and aging. The secret sorrows of our lives hadn’t been mentioned in the cheery cards that had crossed the country between us at Christmas.

moon-circleAs the sun began to set we moved closer together, holding hands, snuggling against each other in the cool evening, tears streaming down our cheeks.  Life had been good in many ways, difficult in others, and we realized we still had each other.

In my past battle with addiction (see chapters 13 and 14 in the archives) I learned that creating support is crucial to successful recovery, or change of any kind. Both seeking and offering support to others creates fertile ground in which new behavior can take root.  By inviting others, who are safe, into our lives, we create a container where both parties can honestly share and emphatically listen without judging.   This act of witnessing, both as voice and ear is enormously empowering and healing.

Friendship is one of life’s many forms of intimacy and is worth the time, effort, and risk required.  True intimacy is created when we allow ourselves to be authentic and accept another’s uniqueness without needing to change or ‘fix.’

Often our interaction with others is superficial—exchanging information about carpooling, our children’s sports and lessons, work schedules, etc. If we allow ourselves to venture a little deeper we are soon able to tell if a deeper connection is possible.

o-TWO-WOMEN-TALKING-facebookSometimes we may unconsciously hold others at bay as an act of self-protection.  To be open and honest in relationship is to be known.   And would we still be accepted if we were really known? What if our secrets—messy houses, yelling at the kids, struggles with addiction; surviving sexual abuse; an abortion or affair, and any number of struggles that are fraught with shame—were discovered!  Some things are private and don’t need to be disclosed, but coming to know and being known happens as we are willing to be honest and vulnerable. Maybe it just starts with how much we charged at Christmas; how much chocolate we eat and where we hide it; that we’re afraid of the dark or to take a driver’s test?  In so doing the biggest truth of all is revealed—we are human!

Sometimes our support comes in a form slightly more formal than a friendship: A sponsor provides the addict with daily accountability around their use or acting out; a counselor can create a non-judgmental safe place to explore our lives where the focus is solely on the client’s needs (unlike friendship); a spiritual advisor can offer spiritual guidance and encourage introspection; a mentor who has walked a similar path can teach and guide us; the right relative can love us no matter what, and give us hugs and encouragement; sometimes parents can be safe supporters letting us know they believe in us.

women-singing-earthWhat is important is that we find a place where we can connect in some way so that we are not alone on this wondrous, but difficult journey on a dangerous planet in an impermanent body.

I also encourage support groups, Twelve Step meetings, and educational groups often offered by hospitals or mental health agencies.

When I was in the early days of my own recovery I found support in some unlikely places.  One was my Twelve Step sponsor, a widowed father of five, who had maintained his sobriety even through the tragic death of his wife.  I remember vividly one day when we met and he gave me a challenge in my recovery journey that felt impossible for me to do.

When I told him I couldn’t he didn’t give up on me and he didn’t let me off the hook.  He said, “What can you do?”  His question helped me see that there was always something of which I was capable in the ongoing journey of change.

Many years ago I was told a story by a 16-year-old teenage girl whose father was killed in an accident one spring morning.  She had an important track meet scheduled for what would be two days after her father’s death.  As part of a girls’ cross country team that was ranked third in the nation, she would be running to secure her place in the upcoming regional and state meets.

She talked it over with her mother and they both decided her Dad would have wanted her to run.  Besides the fact she was overwhelmed by the death of her father, her times had varied putting her in either seventh or eighth place.  To move to the next level she would have to be in at least seventh.

The day of the race, after the gun was fired and runners legs sprinted into motion and unusual thing happened, instead of the top runners moving ahead, like a pack, they surrounded this girl so that they were abreast and as they ran encouraged her by calling out, “stay with us, you can do it!”

Div III State Track“They didn’t leave me,” she told me, “They made sure I stayed with them.”  As she approached the finish line she was very close to the two other runners who had been ranked first and second in previous races. Hearts throbbing, their breath exhausted, the two runners instead of racing ahead, each grabbed one of the hands of the girl who had lost her father crossing the finish line together.  It was called as a three-way tie for first.

“With the support of other women (and men) you can do practically anything!”

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The Power of Compassionate Change

From Sorting the Pieces of Your Life, A Woman’s Guide to Simplicity, Order, Renewal, and Trust


“Our bodies are speaking to us all the time from a depth of wisdom beyond our comprehension.  In fact, the body is one of the wisest and dearest friends we will ever have.” – The Gift of Our Compulsions, Mary O’Malley

I began my journey of recovery from addiction with a promise to God:  I would not indulge in my addiction for 30 days.  That seemed reasonable.  It was difficult, but I was making great progress. And then, at midnight on the 28th day I relapsed. I was devastated and disgusted with myself.

I headed to my bed where I planned to completely cover myself with the blankets as if hiding.  “Who am I kidding,” I thought. “God knows I have failed again.”  I knew I would feel more ashamed if I didn’t at least acknowledge that I had broken my promise.

I fell to my knees, already confessing on the way down, “I’m so sorry, I broke my promise . . . .”  The whispered slide-1words had barely left my lips when warmth, as if an embrace, enveloped my entire body along with the reply, “I am so proud of you for making it 28 days.”

That great Divine kindness opened my heart to the importance of compassion on the journey of change.

For many of us it is easier to offer compassion to others than to ourselves. Somewhere along the rocky shores of life we got the idea that we can prod ourselves into change by being hard on ourselves. By beginning to hold our behavior with compassion and curiosity, we accept change as a process not an event. Relapse, an inevitable part of that process, becomes an opportunity to learn about the need our unhealthy behavior is trying to fill.

Our dysfunctional behavior is an unconscious attempt to solve something.  Once we identify what we are attempting to solve through our addictions, compulsions, and bad habits we have the key to our healing. These behaviors are not who we are, they are something we struggle with, a counterfeit attempt to fill a legitimate need.  To let go of such behavior requires recognizing our needs and finding healthy ways to fill them.  As we do, we reclaim our true self and natural joy.

So how do we discover the needs underneath our negative behaviors?

We learn how to develop awareness of, and attention to, our emotional states.

Emotion is simply a sensation in the body overlaid with thoughts and stories.

Central-Nervous-System-Large-1The body and the brain are intimately intertwined via the nervous system.  A feedback loop exists in which each are continually communicating with each other. The brain is constantly scanning current reality against the sum total of our experience.  In a nano-second it makes a decision about how to respond to the needs of the body and the experience of life. Our different emotional responses are products of this process. For example, if we are suddenly exposed to danger the brain instantaneously shuts down digestion, sex drive, and other processes that are unnecessary for the moment.  It increases heart rate and breathing and sends cascades of adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol into the blood stream resulting in a fight or flight response.  There may truly be danger, or the brain can make a mistake and what was thought an intruder sneaking in the back door in the dark, is really Uncle Jim who often fails to knock!

In summary, emotion is created by a perception of experience in the brain and then revealed to us by sensations in the body. When we feel the first rustling of anxiety, depression, or fear, we often deal with the body sensations created by those feelings by fixing, ignoring, blocking, or escaping them; unless we’ve been taught better. Our escape routes include alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, gambling, overworking, overeating, obsessions, fantasizing, viewing pornography, and other sexual behavior that becomes compulsive.

Golden-Hands-FinalBy becoming aware of and kindly attending to the emotions underlying our negative behaviors we finally come home to ourselves, after a long season of self-abandonment. This allows us to more freely exit our addictions.

“You are hearing the vote of a part of yourself long ago disenfranchised,” Jungian Therapist David Richo writes in his book, How to Be An Adult, A Handbook on Psychological and Spiritual Integration.

Often we are so disconnected from our bodies we may not even notice our emotions, but suddenly find ourselves with a host of unhealthy cravings.  Acting on them is only a temporary distraction and we return to ourselves feeling worse and now facing bigger problems than the initial trigger.  As they say in Narcotics Anonymous, “one pill was too many and a thousand were never enough.”

And in Alcoholics Anonymous they have a word for trigger moments: HALT!  It is actually an acronym: Hungry? Coaccionar-hostigar-manipular-socialmente-problematica_CLAIMA20130611_0114_14Angry? Lonely? Tired?  This early warning system connects a person to real need disguising itself as the desire to drink.  When the person uses ‘HALT’ they give themselves the space to assess what the real problem is and address that.

This is where the power of mindfulness finds its place.  In mindfulness training we are taught the importance of checking in with ourselves, taking a few breaths, and just noticing where we feel sensation in our body.  A rapidly beating heart tells us we are anxious.  A heaviness in our chest may signal sadness.  The visceral urge to yell or punch lets us know we are angry.

What our body needs is our presence showing up in the form of awareness, attention, curiosity, and compassion.

How can we do that?

An invaluable tool called, ‘The Four Questions’ is offered in the book The Gift of Our Compulsions, A The-Gift-of-Our-Compulsions-9781577314707Revolutionary Approach to Self-Acceptance and Healing, by Mary O’Malley. When we are feeling the familiar urges to indulge in that which can be harmful to us we are invited to stop and ask: In this moment what am I experiencing? This is an invitation to take a moment and do a quick internal body scan of all the sensations that are showing up.  Is there a buzz in my head?  Tension in my neck?  Rapid breathing? The feeling of a trapped humming bird in my stomach?

We move onto the next question: For this moment can I let this be here? This is where we make the decision to not abandon ourselves, but simply allow for our feelings while gently noticing and acknowledging their presence.

The third question asks: In this moment can I touch this with compassion?

I call our response to this question a willingness to offer ourselves “there, there” energy–those soothing words a mother might say to her crying child as she holds her, pats her back and simply says, “there, there.”  We can acknowledge with kindness and patience that we are anxious, afraid, angry . . . There is no ‘should’ about having these sensations or not, this is just what is actually happening in this moment.  We may begin to feel a little calm return.

And then we ask: Right now, what do I truly need? Instead of a drink, a drug, some unhealthy food, or some other escape we will often find we just need to sit down for a minute and take a break, go for a little walk, call a friend, say a prayer, write in our journal, doodle, turn to words of encouragement, walk outside and notice the solid earth on which we stand.

Eventually I did make it 30 days, and then 300, and then years, and now I barely count . . . I just live! And bask in the joy of feeling fully alive while I am still living.

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Recovering From Addiction

From Sorting the Pieces of Your Life, A Woman’s Guide to Simplicity, Order, Renewal, and Trust

 

 There is . . . “a voice that lives inside all of us, one that whispers, ‘stay here long enough to revive your hope; to drop your terminal cool; to give up defensive half-truths; to creep, carve, bash your way through; stay here long enough to see what is right for you; stay here long enough to become strong; to try the try that will make it; stay here long enough to make the finish line; no matter how long it takes or in what style . . . “ –Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. Women Who Run With The Wolves

Hello. My name is Tamera.  I am a wife, mother, grandma, writer, and professional mental health counselor; and for many years of my life I struggled with addiction.

tumblr_mdjlt3mrNW1qftkt0o2_500My innocent introduction to addiction occurred during my early teen years, wrapping a cloak of shame around me that I silently wore unbeknownst to most who knew me.  Addiction stole my freedom and constantly whispered to me how weak I was. It bred in me hopelessness, fear, and self-loathing while also seductively convincing me I wasn’t one of ‘those people’ who are addicted.

My recovery began years later as I was quietly cleaning the kitchen one afternoon. After years of trying and failing, I was ready to tell myself the full truth: I was an addict. I was miserable. I no longer wanted to worship at the altar of addiction.  A small, but lucid voice inside me whispered that I deserved better and that I wasn’t alone.

In that quiet, truth-telling, life-changing moment, I knew that I had to be willing to pay any price to recover, and that the cost would include personal suffering. I believed it was worth it, not to live another day in the ecstasy and agony, the highs and miserable lows, of the addicted life.

I attended my first recovery meeting in a church basement, nervously introducing myself as an addict. I didn’t realize in that humiliating moment how dramatically my life would change over the next few years.

I was in for a major housecleaning—a spring cleaning of the soul, one that would take several seasons . . . It  AlisonMillerLifeCoachingincluded attending a 12 Step Meeting five days a week, working The Twelve Steps with a sponsor, and going to counseling. Just as important to me was gaining an understanding of mindfulness practices that helped me replace my addiction with the ability to come to my own assistance, to learn how to be alright with myself without escaping into addiction.

Recently I was speaking with a mentor of mine, Paul Levy, author of Dispelling Wetiko, Breaking the Curse of Evil.  Besides being a writer, he is a beloved therapy group leader in Portland, Oregon, who has helped hundreds of people transform their lives by learning to live more consciously.  I hadn’t ever told Paul I had struggled with addiction, but now I chose to disclose.

“You know Tamera,” he said, “I think all of us in some way have an addictive part of our nature.”

I hadn’t thought of it like that before, but what he said felt true.  We can delineate differences between addiction, compulsion, and just plain old bad habits (see Chapter 12 by clicking on the menu tab next to this article) but there’s a way that negative behaviors, at some level, take ownership of each of us.

It starts with the brain—about 3 lbs. of tofu-like tissue containing 1.1 trillion cells, including 100 billion neurons. Neurons are nerve cells that work nonstop sending and receiving messages that cause our bodies to function properly. This happens via a chemical messenger called a neurotransmitter traveling across a small space called the synapse to a nearby neuron.

dreamstime_6994606Addiction over-stimulates our brain’s reward circuit causing a flood of the neurotransmitter dopamine. The overload causes the dopamine receptors to make less dopamine.  The person then feels flat, lifeless, and depressed which leads to more addictive use or behavior.  This leads to a ‘biochemical’ memory trail, the brain being taken hostage by this process.  Billions of addictive pathways, which support addiction, bad habits, and compulsions have been created.  We literally end up in a rut, the ruts of our own brains. (Next week I will address the role emotion plays in the process.)

Where is the hope?

It begins with practicing abstinence.

addicted-brain2Once we begin to practice turning away from an addictive or habitual substance or process, our damaged brain begins to heal.  For many years it was believed that the brain could not be changed.  This is outdated. We now know through two decades of incredible new research and methodologies that the brain can be changed.  Some of the top brain experts in the world claim that the damage done to our brains can be reversed. Other researchers suggest that old patterns still exist in the brain, but can be overridden by creating new patterns or neuro-pathways.

Regardless, what is important is that each time we refuse our cravings our brain responds and reshapes itself in a microscopic way. Eventually, completely quitting leads to a transformation not only of the self, but also of the brain processes that supported the addiction. We literally change our mind.

A huge question then becomes, how do I stop?

Many years ago another counselor friend of mine showed me a drawing one of her clients had made.  It was a three-sided enclosure with a stick figure human pushing with all of its might against the middle wall while freedom waited behind her.  Shivers ran down my arms as I looked at it.  It was a metaphor for how I had escaped from addiction.

What does that mean?

How-to-prepare-for-a-miracle-in-drug-addiction-alcoholism-recovery2The first three teachings of The Twelve Steps are key in understanding the walls we face and push against. The steps teach us that by ourselves we are powerless over our addictions, but that there is a power greater than ourselves that can restore us to sanity (health).  Our lives change when we turn our will over to the care of our Higher Power. In other words we can’t do it alone.  And our own personal definition of the Divine is honored.

At the time I started my own recovery journey I was reading Isaiah in The Old Testament.  One day I came upon two verses that changed my life forever. “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee. I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”  Isaiah 49:15-16

My Higher Power, Jesus Christ, led the way before me. He truly has been my Savior. Don’t let my personal spiritual conviction stop you if you are not of the same heart.  This is my point: see the principle in what I say—we need help to make the difficult journey of recovery. We can each honor our personal truth and values in defining our personal Higher Power.

And there were many sources of help for me.  Twelve Step Meetings offered amazing spiritual practices.  Buddhism offered invaluable insights on mindfulness. Counseling helped me see the connection between addiction and my own childhood trauma and gave me tools to heal the trauma.

CompassI learned I didn’t have to figure it all out on my own. I just needed to follow the next right action. I needed to stop battling addiction, sit with my God, my self, and others in recovery, and I would find the way over time, one step at a time.

This required letting go of my ego; and my need to control, to be in charge, to think sheer will would work when it had failed me for a couple of decades. Life was asking me to lean, let go, and humble myself. As I did, the path unfolded, one step at a time.

At the beginning of my recovery I couldn’t have been more overwhelmed and comforted in the same moment if I had been standing at the very edge of The Grand Canyon.

Next week I’ll share more tools and insight from my journey from addiction to freedom.

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