I've got those feelings in the pit of my stomach. You know the ones, when you're about to go up to bat or your speaking part in the play is coming up or your solo in the chorus. Yikes, haven't felt like this is awhile. This may sound totally corny, but here goes, I was asked to share this site more publicly so I did. That's it. Welcome Facebook peeps.
I'm feeling pretty good about it, really, why not. I needed to finally take my own damn advice and be fearless. I expect people will love it or not... that's safe! The most interesting part of this journey so far has been a rude awakening regarding my own memory, or lack thereof. In AA we say we have a "built in forgetter" that's for sure! On the Look Back page as I post entries from my handwritten journals dating back to 1979 I'm always amazed! The experiences I had, the epiphanies, the breakthroughs... that I completely forgot about. Shit! One of the goals of this post is to "keep it green."
Bye for now. And you can thank Anne Frank!
I guess I first heard this at AA meetings... the first meeting I went to, actually. It struck me as something true that I hadn't really thought about before. Perfection used to be the only option, in my head, anyway... what a relief to admit that the goal is progress not perfection. WOW!
This concept is now hardwired in my personal neural pathways. I love that visual... I've created a "Progress Not Perfection" electric sparkly "bridge" for my self deflating thoughts they trip off into another neural zoney network of acceptance and surrender. There may even be a glitter/glow/beam of a little self congratulations regarding some element of actual progress rather than the opposite nastiness. Way cool...
Any how, I've been thinking a lot lately about the idea that the rooms are actually classrooms and the other trusted servants are classmates. Apparently Bill W made a comparison... "We are only operating a spiritual kindergarten in which people are enabled to get over drinking and find the grace to go on living to better effect." AS BILL SEES IT, p. 95
If I operate like my sober date is my birth date then I'm almost 2 years old. The terrible twos were my least favorite and most endearing years with my baby brothers. They were like tiny Buddhas with their observations and fearless innocence. They were also able to push every button I had and drive me completely insane.
I want to focus on finding that internal loving, supportive, wise parent that I never had on the outside. Not sure how I go about doing that exactly. I've had some amazing breakthroughs and epiphanies using the Runes lately. Using the Runes to converse with my Higher Power and the internal spirit that is me. I do know one thing for certain I can't count on anyone outside myself... no one! Maybe that's something that I need to or will eventually overcome, i.e. opening up and trusting someone... but not happening anytime soon. Every time I do, I just get whacked. I believe, at least for now, that I need to focus on creating / finding that inside me. Other people can assist... but there is no substitute, I wonder if that's what they would call "co-dependence"...
Thinking about "Progress not Perfection" and reminding myself that I'm about 2 ish in emotional / spiritual speak creates space and safety. Two going on fifty one. This is my first spring without smoking since I was 13. My first smell of spring... wow! So many "firsts" and birthing a new me. Happy Spring!
Black or white, good or bad, this or that... Will I drive this way or that way. Will he/she respond like this or that? I remember one of my first spiritual advisors was actually successful in making sure that one good distinction stuck with me. There are ALWAYS AT LEAST FIVE choices or options or outcomes in EVERY situation. It is amazing how well this has served me over the years. It has allowed me to open up my creative thinking and provided an outlet for multiple opportunities for any given challenge or situation.
It interesting now to notice how black and white focused our culture encourages us to be. Even after the success of the book/movie shades of gray! Politics is particularly onerous in this... rich or poor, liberal or republican, conservative or liberal, and on and on.
If you can manage to stay aware enough to notice yourself doing this... remind yourself that it's NOT TRUE... there are always AT LEAST FIVE options/choices/outcomes/questions/answers or whatever for any dilemma, problem, quandary, outlook, prospect, question, issue... get the idea?
Just moved to share this today...
I had a love affair with the sun in my late teens and early twenties. I was a tanned, naturally bleached blonde goddess. Equally, carefully, tanned on all surfaces. I would carefully time and turn and twist so that no armpit or inner thigh was left untanned. That was a fad, it only lasted a couple years as I recall. That was a very deadly affectation as it turned out. Add those sun filled tanning days to a childhood sunscreen free, and one fateful major burn at 13 while surfing in March on Waikiki Beach and you get melanoma, at least for this Irish blonde. Thanks for an accidental miracle, a scratch I got while working in the garden, which lead me to notice a no longer innocent, slightly larger than before mole. It was pure intuition which prompted me to follow through and have it checked out and then finally it required a serious dose of hutzpa with the doctors involved. (I would be dead right now if I had not been my own impertinent, insolent, audacious advocate.) Anyway, I survived the melanoma after a lot of intensity, reality checks and a couple of surgeries on my lower middle back. I didn't mean for this to be a post about my brush with cancer... I'll look for some journal entries from those days... 1995 ish. I garnered quite a few interesting distinctions going through that experience, as you might imagine. I certainly earned the "cancer survivor" letters after my name. (An interesting thought / observation... like MD or PhD... CS, cancer survivor.. fodder for another day. Laurie McCauley, C.S. has a nice ring to it...there's a lot of us these days!)
I guess I'd have to say that smoking was my first illicit love affair. I think my affair with smoking and writing kicked off around the same time. I used the smoky stolen solitude to write. My first diary entry was in April 1979, I was 13. I was inspired by reading the Diary of Anne Frank. Pretty insane when you consider the circumstances that created that book and the incredible impact it had on me. It saved my life, writing has saved my life more than once over the decades. Chokes me up!
Writing is the only love affair of mine so far that is thoroughly good for me in every way and has no nasty, addictive, beastly or vulgar side effects. It came to me this morning, thus the source of this post, that most of my love affairs have turned illegitimate or adulterous in some way. Smoking was, certainly, and so was drinking. Perhaps misguided or reckless are better descriptors, any which way... they didn't serve me in the end.
While clearing the traffic jam on the hershey highway this morning, I came across this quote in my Nic Anonymous, Year of Miracles book: "I no longer search for "truth." I search only for beliefs that serve me, that help me to get where I truly want to go. Then I work diligently at discarding beliefs that work against me." Barry Neil Kaufman (interesting programs and retreat space 1.5 hours from me! The programs appear curious, but seems as though you still have to know where the fuck you want to go!)
The observation for the day is: I now realize I have a love affair, perhaps inappropriate, with food. (Breakfast, especially, eggs benedict, all flavors of sausage, limp smoky bacon, grits and flapjacks, waffles, hash browns, biscuits and gravy... scrambled, poached, baked, fried, tossed you gotta love em all... EGGS! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. The food exploration I've been on... the "diet" / "healthy eating" journey has made me aware of the physical presence of a bread, sugar and fat (sat or un) whore inside me. Shit!? I know now too that I have a love affair with coffee... I am a coffee snob and I'm quite certain that will also prove to be somehow unhealthy and I'll have to give it up. I know that moderation is the key but that's for most people. Abstinence seems to be my most sane and realistic option. Fuck, Fuck, Fuck as DeeAnne would say! As the quote says, my ray of hope at the moment, focus on the love affairs that serve me and discard the rest. Thank God for bathroom reading!
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others are you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press n to the greater achievements of the future,
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times an give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
From a plaque I found at a client's home.
Heads Up: the following entry is an example of "I'm figuring it out as I write..." rather than "Here it is, I think I've figured 'it' out."
I had a newish thought this morning... not smoking or drinking includes "giving up" on many different levels. I just wrote, in fact, giving up cigs and alcohol has an element of giving up... stupid, that's why I re-wrote it but it gets to my point. There is something to give up, that is don't partake in, enjoy, or TOUCH... taste or play with... etc.
There's a similar element with various diets and cleanse plans that I've explored. Some you give up sugar, others grain others fats... with some, like weight watchers, you can eat anything but you give up quantity. So as I've mentioned before with cigs and alcohol, it's absolute I'll never touch alcohol or cigarettes again. They will never come close to my lips or fingers. That doesn't work out with food. There's a difference between abstinence and moderation. Gretchen Rubin examined the difference between moderation and abstinence in Better Than Before. With moderation so much thought is required, checking in, checking up, planning, etc. a lot more thought space than pure abstinence where you give it up, it's gone that's it you move on. I did enjoy the Mark Hyman 10 Day Diet Detox cleanse... the food list was acceptable... no grains and no sugar that provides a lot of abstinence. I did lose weight and feel great I just didn't stick with it.
The problem I notice with Weight Watchers is the moderation idea, first off. There's a lot of thought and planning involved and tracking and checking in, a lot of brainpower investment. There's also the problem of stopping once started... ONLY 6 crackers, FUCK! I'm better off just saying NO crackers! Maybe that's part of the definition of an addict? Inability to STOP... it's not impossible it's just a LOT of effort. I'm still making progress and staying within the daily points, for the most part, but it's a lot of work! It's only been two weeks so I'll hang with it, but I have modified it to exclude all processed food and very little sugar or grains. I can do a Hyman version of Weight Watchers... There's WILLPOWER. My goal is to come up with a daily system for eating that I can use now and maintain for the rest of my life. Maybe I will have to do a "diet" to lose to a point and then a maintenance plan. I don't want to... I guess I should fucking make up my mind. OK so I will eat now in a way to lose weight and then go with a way to maintain... I don't know, it just doesn't feel right.
So this is probably why I haven't lost a bunch of weight quickly =) I haven't made a decision and then been consistent. Now I'm going to add another element into the mix...
GIVING IN... whenever I do limit myself on any plan I feel odd... check out the synonyms for giving in: verb: admit defeat, abandon, back down, bail out, bow out, buckle under, capitulate, cave in, cease, cede, chicken out, collapse, comply, concede, cry uncle, desist, despair, drop, fold, forswear, hand over, leave off, pull out, quit, relinquish, resign, stop, submit, surrender, throw in the towel, wash one's hands, yield.
None of those words or the idea behind them works well with my core values. Even if I'm defending and being rebellious for something totally harmful I'll be damned if I'm going to GIVE IN! I think what changed the tide with drink and smoke is I was somehow able to flip it... change sides so to speak. If I get my rebel on the "right" side... in alinement so to speak then the giving up thing doesn't seem to even enter into the conversation.
This feels right and it's a matter of thought awareness and mediation. Mediation with myself, obviously. I think I've had the cart before the horse with all the diets and cleanses and detoxing. It has been two months really not two weeks... WW is just the latest expedition into the world of weight control. So in summary... I'll stick with points and meetings for now but really shift focus to modifying my point of view and winning over the rebel to the side of health and well-being. I won't be giving in then I'll be victorious somehow whenever I exercise or eat right and feel great. OK, I hit this point and start to really wonder if I'm totally mentally impaired. I should have thought of this, right?! No punching bag, it is what it is. New mission!
Step 10 - "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it."
I am incredibly thrilled to be in the flow. I reviewed this step with my Sponsor this morning and it's fucking insane how many points confirmed what I've been going through and figuring out in the last months of sabbatical... truly fucking unbelievable... hold on for this! (All the following quotes from the 12 and 12 book, step 10)
1. "As we work the first nine Steps, we prepare ourselves for the adventure of a new life. Then comes the acid test: can we stay sober, keep in emotional balance and live to a good purpose under all conditions?" How many times have I expressed how I feel born again, brand new, growing up for the first time, literally "the adventure of a new life."
2. We used to have hangovers from drinking but now we know of a different type of hangover... "That is the emotional hangover, the direct result of yesterday's and sometimes today's excesses of negative emotion - anger, fear, jealousy, and the like."
To live serenely we need to eliminate these hangovers, our inventory enables us to do this. I'm ready for a daily tool and here it is!
3. They mention a spot check, in the moment, a daily and then an annual or semiannual inventory. They compare it to a "BALANCE SHEET." DIng, ding, ding... this week I finally came to grips with the fact that I need to step up in my business and pay closer attention to the income statement and balance sheet... LITERALLY!! Neener neener (Twilight Zone music).
4. "Many of us also like the experience of an occasional retreat from the outside world where we can quiet down for an undisturbed day or so of self-overhaul and meditation." Seriously?!! That's what I've been doing for the last couple of months, right!? I did not read this first, I swear!
5. "The emphasis on inventory is heavy only because a great many of us have never really acquired the habit of accurate self-appraisal...For these minutes and sometimes hours spent in self-examination are bound to make all the other hours of our day better and happier...we need self restraint, honest analysis of what is involved, a willingness to admit when the fault is ours, and an equal willingness to forgive when the fault is elsewhere. We need not be discouraged...for these disciplines are not easy. We shall look for progress, not perfection." I've been talking about awareness and being the observer. That's all this is watching without judgement or attachment. I've been doing step 10 without knowing it for the last two months!
6. OK, so if 1-5 hasn't blown your mind, then this one totally should! One of the major "personal epiphanies" I've had over the last couple of months is to SLOW down, take my time and be OK with "taking a moment" and being intentional with anything I promise, commit to, or say to myself or others, right!? So the 12 and 12 calls it "restraint."
"Our first priority will be the development of self-restraint. This carries a top priority ranking... Nothing pays off like restraint of pen and tongue... Our first job is to sidestep the emotional booby traps. When we are tempted by the bait, we should train ourselves to step back and think. For we can neither think nor act to good purpose until the habit of self-restraint has become automatic." pg 91 Here's the shit... I've read that all before at some point, probably more than once but it took my sabbatical/retreat and thinking it was my own personal revelation to really "get it." Stunning, brilliant, fascinating and completely wonderful! So there it is, did YOU get it? No worries, if you didn't get it this time, it's waiting for you, but don't give up!
7. Then from the Big Book... icing on the cake, page 85: "Love and tolerance of others is our code. And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone...It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality - safe and protected." This is referring to the thought and temptation to drink but for me it speaks to everything in life...as the observer with pause patience and restraint I do feel safe, protected and neutral!
Wow! This is earth shattering, essential and paramount information and the daily discipline of an inventory WILL KEEP IT PRESENT! Confirmation of my observations, how great the program is and a means to continue it! Grateful!
Apparently I can be exceedingly dense... it just dawned on me, just now, that a major point of failure for eating "off plan" happens because of shit I bought at the store. So, in other words, the point of failure is not at home trying to use willpower to stop myself from eating something sweet or salty (whatever it is I'm "not suppose to eat"). The time to address the problem is WHILE SHOPPING - DON'T BUY IT!! How stupid and simple, and oddly easily escaped my attention is that??!! It occurred to me that I could write a book on how to shop. No one has done that that I know of... there's plenty of books on how to organize your stuff and get rid of your stuff... how about a book on how to avoid / monitor / edit getting the shit in the first place!?
On another front... Daily Reflection: The secret of fulfilling my potential is in acknowledging my limitations and believing that time is a gift not a threat. I'm still, right now, in this moment, rushing and impatient. The whole idea of not expecting things to resolve overnight is TOUGH! I've been reading through old posts and my "sabbatical time" took 2 months but was NOT focused. The excuse? Don't have one. I have been thinking that I would continue the "time off" and I think I will. Hope & Power is DONE, just in time to start again. I DID NOT finish ANYTHING regarding promises early on in January. I did NOT stick with the 10 day detox past day 4... I have gone to meetings but have not stuck with Weight Watchers either. I started the Artist Way and have yet to do day three of that process. What the fuck is the matter with me? This post, by the way is an update to the original date... today is 3/16. I'm venting and about to go out and do my Morning pages now that it's 3pm. FUCK!
PS It's amazing how many positive images there are of shopping...healthy food in the pictures! No shots of the chip aisle or the ice cream sections! Try it... google shopping and click images!
My sabbatical time has flown by. I'm not surprised, I guess, just decidedly not ready to "let it go" and unsure I have to. I need to set aside a couple more days to finish Hope & Power. I have clients showing up, awesome. My name is mostly changed everywhere with everyone... splendid! I really didn't lose the weight and figure out a new overall health and wellness strategy and schedule. I guess what I learned, unlike smoking and drinking you can't just quit food. I knew this, obviously, but there are so many levels at which it needs to sink in to be real. I did "quit" some food but that's not enough or even going to work long term. I am intentionally flowing in the direction of health and fitness as an ongoing moment by moment choice. I'm constantly remembering to take my time and stop rushing! Rather than an instantaneous overnight transformation this conversation seems to be on ongoing, never ending unfolding.
Choices "TO..." rather than "NOT TO..." are a whole different movement. It is already a miracle that I was able to completely banish all desirous thoughts of smoking or drinking. I tossed the bullies out on their bums and barred the door. I've been mastering the skill of thought banishment. I like the comparison to the brain as a thought hotel... I've ousted, dislodged and evicted all thoughts of covetous smoking or drinking. I used to knock on wood when I would say that... still do! Not sure, other than that higher power how that happened exactly. Anyway, I digress... the point is the thoughts regarding food and exercise are much more constant and subtle. They are wrapped up in feelings as well like self-esteem, physical hunger, worth, muscle soreness, expectations, rules, regulations, etc. Bottom line comes down to choices, even creative choices instead of the absence of choice.
Sorry I'm rambling, but the thoughts are doing just that, spinning. Good!
The idea of exploring the extremes is a fun possibility. I was the total couch potato for weeks and pretty much ate anything and everything for quite a while. Do I need or want to go to the opposite end and eat nothing and exercise constantly for a while? Does the pendulum need to swing all the way right to find a reasonable middle point? I'm a fan of the Tao and the middle way. It isn't "who I am" either way although I honestly look in the mirror right now and say that is NOT ME! I like the idea of it but not the reality of it and I'm shy / hesitant to consider committing to an extreme workout plan when I haven't been able to maintain even a little. Maybe that's the problem? Go for the crazy crossfit insanity for three months three times a week. Die of soreness and severe fitness. It would be a quick (relatively) way to get back to "me." Would it serve me, though? Do I need or want to go to that extreme? I guess it's an option if what I'm doing, the gradual bit isn't working. Robin mentioned a gym that she goes to three times per week. Maybe that's an option... who knows! Damn! I didn't reach the clarity and satisfaction that I usually do when writing. Guess I need to write more. Catch you later!
Parting thoughts... FLOW by Wiki
In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields, though has existed for thousands of years under other guises, notably in some Eastern religions. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task, although flow is also described as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one's emotions.
I felt bad about being so forward regarding people being "duped" by religion. I actually woke up this morning thinking I should retract some of the things I said yesterday. Nope, not gonna do it. I re-read it and it's OK, it's my opinion.
I got so wrapped up in my rant that I totally forgot the point of conversation... I've figured out between the 3rd step prayer and Conversations with God - a nifty and plausible way to merge them together...
God's will for me IS to follow my bliss. ba da boom...
Next topic, quickly (I have to leave for an appointment in a few minutes). Since I can remember, the only real grown up type plan I ever entertained was building a huge home completely in the boonies (love that TV show) off the grid. I have drawings from way back what the view looks like from the triple decker deck. The complex is built into the side of a mountain facing south. There is a stream, a greenhouse, a hot tub, a helicopter pad, a stable on the first floor for lots of animals, and loads of beds and baths, a recording studio, a movie theater, an awesome art space, AND tons of secret passageways. I have drawings of my floor plan! Overtime my imagination allowed for interesting people and environmentally friendly fixtures to join in. I would entertain various prize winning authors and philosophers, scientists (anyone from TED or OnBeing is welcome) and they could choose to stay in a selection of bleeding edge yurts with the latest composting whatever and solar appliances with rain collection gadgets... you get the idea. Recently it dawned on me that this could be a retreat center and I could add cooking classes and exercise options besides photography & hiking. Something like Elk Lake Lodge got me thinking.
Ok... now, the crazy coincidence part of this... Friday I went to The Priory, a Benedictine retreat center in Chestertown, NY. They just happen to be looking for a director. So... the wheels seriously start spinning. I have no specific experience, but in general I know I could figure it out. I would even enjoy it except for the fundraising aspect (I hate to ask people for money, at least I have in the past). The take away is a maybe someday actual means to my dream. I could actually get hands on experience running someone else's' retreat on my way to creating my own. Just crazy, cool thoughts that hadn't crossed my mind scape before.
What shall I forgive this day to amuse and delight?
I decided back in November 2015 to make my poetry available and journal online. I'm not exactly sure what "blogging" means but I am quite sure this is an online journal. Feel free to read on with an aire of open minded curiosity. At no time do I intend to offend, judge or pretend to know anything really, I'm just an observer and explorer, as we all are. Feel free to "boldly go" through my observations and perhaps it will spark or inspire. Comments are off because I don't want to be worried about political correctness when I'm writing. I'm not thinking about "you." I'm just writing because it feels "right". Feel free to enjoy or surf on.
Fibber McGee's closet!