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Category Archives: recovery

$20 bags or minibar wine

As my plane landed back in Florida on Sunday afternoon, I was greeted with the news of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Like every other recovering addict I know, I felt sick. 2.5 million people die each year from a disease that I tend to forget about. Every so often I am slapped back to reality. This was one of those slaps. It was as if someone was grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me, saying,  It doesn’t matter that you have been sober for over 17 years, you are still a drunk and a drug addict. You are one slip away from your kids finding you on the bathroom floor. Even while I write this , days later, I can feel the heaviness on my chest and a lump in my throat.

Later that same day, a friend of mine posted something on Facebook which read:  I’m not sure which is more sad, the death of PSH or the small bottles of wine that I keep for cooking that I can’t stop drinking. I wanted to respond to her that these events are equally devastating, that I understood how she felt, that I had been her. I know what it is like to have no control over the substance I am putting into my body. I have lied, cheated, and stole among many other things to get the next drink or drug. But I didn’t. I didn’t respond. I was tired from my trip. The next day the post was down.

I struggled with reaching out to her. It’s not that she doesn’t know that I am in recovery. Everybody knows I’m in recovery. It’s not that I didn’t want to help, I do. I’m not sure why I hesitated. I think it’s a part of me pretending that I am removed from the messy stuff now. It’s funny that this realization makes me closer to the messiness than ever. I sent a private message and I’m hoping to hear back. Either way, I have put the offer out to her. I hope to be able to tell her that she has a chance at another life if she can stay away from the small bottles one day (or minute) at a time. Because that’s what it feels like sometimes, like a whole other life in the same body. I want to let her know that although life has many challenges, everything is manageable when we give up the drink and the drug. I want to show her that there is a huge support system available 24/7 for the times when the urge is stronger than we are. She doesn’t need to do this alone.

As it says in the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous, this disease is cunning, baffling, and powerful. These words are as true to me now as they were the first time I heard them. As a person in recovery, I make choices each day that are either leading me towards a drink or away from one. I am grateful that I have made it through another day and that I have plans tomorrow that will continue to lead me away from taking that first drink or drug.

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What I wish I knew when I started High School

me and my girl

me and my girl

My daughter started high school this year.  As a mother, this feels a little scary.  I am continually reminding myself that she isn’t me and that her life experiences up to this point have been very different than my experiences were at her age. I am happy for her to begin to feel some freedom and explore new things and ideas. I am happy to know that she will build friendships that may last for many years.

There are a few things that I would love to tell her. Things that I wish I knew when I started high school.

  • Even the “cool kids” feel insecure often
  • Not everybody is doing it (that goes for sex, drugs, alcohol and cigarettes)
  • If they are doing it, they aren’t having as much fun as they are saying
  • People respect you when you respect yourself
  • Being mean is not cool
  • Getting good grades matters
  • What your classmates think of you may change from day to day and won’t matter in 10 years
  • It’s more fun when you don’t take yourself too seriously

So far, she is navigating the unknown territory beautifully. She seems to take much of the drama in stride and tries to stay away from trouble. I am grateful for a handful of wonderful woman who serve as a mentor to her when she doesn’t want to listen to her mother. I can’t blame her, I didn’t want to listen to my mother either. Now I can’t get enough of my mom.

I have also started to share pieces of my story with my daughter. She knows that I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. She asks questions and I tell her the truth that I think she can take in that moment. It scares her. It takes her a while, sometimes months, before she asks the next question. I’m in no rush. I want her to know that she has choices in life. Every step is a choice. Every choice has consequences. I don’t want this to be a burden for her, I want it to give her freedom. Freedom to express herself fully without fear, to see the big picture and not feel threatened by the small shit. These years can be a time of experimenting, learning, pushing boundaries and testing the water without diving into the depths of chaos.

I hope that she has the strength to choose differently than I did, that she chooses to listen to her inner guidance even when it is the softest voice in the room.

asking for help

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These past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activities and events. Many of which have given me cause to reflect on what is happening in my life. I celebrated a birthday, Mother’s Day, and my 16 year sobriety anniversary within two weeks. I am so grateful to be where I am today and I have been enjoying all of the mayhem that goes along with juggling family and career. Mixed in with the feeling of gratitude was some uneasiness. I’m sure many of you know the feeling and have heard the voice. The one that says, “Who am I to be thinking of expanding my business?, Who would want to learn from me?, What makes me think I have that much to offer?” This voice sucks. I hear it less and less as the years go by, but every once in a while I find myself caught up in self-doubt. Luckily, I have acquired some tools over the years for just this very situation. As I sat in my morning meditation the other day, I asked the Universe to show me if I was ready. I asked that my ego step aside and I become a channel for something greater than me. With that, I got up and got ready for the day while continuing to beat myself up. (It’s funny-or crazy-how quickly I can vacillate from one extreme to the other.)

My morning was unusually smooth, everyone off to work and school without a hitch. I arrived to work feeling less capable than normal but wanting to find clues that I was on the right path. I had three massages scheduled. All of them were new clients. As I talked with the first woman before her session, she revealed that she was struggling with some emotional issues and that she would be open to any suggestions that I may have. I stepped out of the room to let her undress and thought to myself, “I don’t know what to tell her.” Just then, I passed a regular client in the hall who had a session the week before. She said, “Thank you so much for the visualization exercise you gave me last week. It really helped. Every time I feel pain, I think of what you said and within minutes the pain is gone.” Then she gave me a hug and walked into a yoga class. My first clue. I was on the right path. I can help the woman who is in the treatment room waiting for me. That client left with a renewed hope and willingness to continue to make time for wellness. My next client came in for stress relief and floated out, stating that she thought my “hands had eyes because they stopped at every area in need.” My second clue. I do have something offer. My final client of the day is very much on edge. While I am talking to her before her session, she sternly stops the conversation and says, “With all do respect, I just need a massage.” Thankfully, I was beginning to feel better and her attitude didn’t bother me at all. Shortly after putting my hands on her, she began to release. She cried like a baby and hugged me three times before she booked another appointment. My third and final clue. I thanked the Universe for providing encouragement and I stated out loud, “OK, I get it, I’m moving in the right direction!”

My point in sharing this is to offer some hope and tools in case you experience similar negative self talk. I think a lot of people feel this from time to time. Please know that it is ok to ask for help from a friend, a professional, or whatever your idea is of a Higher Power. I have always received the help and support I needed when I have had the courage to ask. It hasn’t always been what I wanted, but it has been exactly what I needed.

Balancing Tip: Since I am still obsessed with my new juicer, I am going to share my current favorite morning juice. 1 large cucumber, 1 large carrot, a handful of leaves (romaine, spinach, or other green leaf), 1 granny smith apple, 1/2 lemon, about an inch of ginger. I have been pouring it over ice thanks to a tip from the writer of babeandablender.com (Thank you!). Super delicious!

keep coming back

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In AA gatherings, when someone conveys an air of know-it-all, we often say, “Keep coming back.”  This is meant with love and humor, knowing that the more people come, the more they grow and change.What I thought was truer than true in my first year of sobriety has dramatically changed over time. From my experience, I assume I will have yet another point of view before too long. I have learned to become more patient and tolerant and to become more inclusive. There was a time that I didn’t even want these qualities. I didn’t know this way of life was an option. I listened, though, and kept coming back.

I find this happens in yoga, too. People come into a class with their own ideas of what exercise and fitness is about. They don’t need an instructor to tell them how quickly (or slowly) to move and they certainly don’t want to be told how to breathe, or heaven forbid, sit still for a minute to notice the breath! I love these people because they are me. I am reminded of where I have come from and I want them to keep coming back so that I may witness this journey in others. It is such a beautiful thing. And like the caterpillar, they don’t even know where they are headed or how gorgeous it will be to emerge as the butterfly.

Earlier this week, I had a woman in class who, despite my gentle promptings to slow down, pushed so hard during the first half of the class that she exhausted herself and had to just lay on the mat for the second half of the class. As we were cleaning up, I mentioned that I noticed how hard she was pushing herself. She smiled and said, “I don’t get to exercise during the week, I need to fit everything into this class. But don’t worry, I’m Type A–it’s fine.”

My reply: “Keep coming back.” And I will, too.

Balancing tip–Avocados. Incorporating avocados into my diet has helped me to stay on track. Because they are fatty tasting, avocados seem like a treat. Each serving contains monounsaturated fats (the good kind), vit K, folate, potassium, vit E, lutein, magnesium, vit C, and vit B6. My usual way to eat them is super simple. I cut up a whole avocado into large chunks, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with pink salt, and indulge! You can find out everything you ever wanted to know about avocados at www.avocado.org.

the daily reprieve

With the news of Whitney Houston passing, I am reminded once again of how lucky I am. Addiction knows no boundaries. Color, gender, and creed have no power over the substance. I need this reminder. I am sad about the passing of a woman who clearly found at a young age what she was born to do. For a time, she was an example of how one person could shine so brightly without compromising their dignity. Although I was never a huge fan of Whitney’s, I always appreciated her amazing talent. And as someone who grew up in the 80s, her music is part of the soundtrack to my life. The disease of addiction doesn’t care. It shows no favoritism or partiality. Addiction doesn’t take into consideration a loving family or good job. Left alone, addiction leads to jails, institutions or death. The only escape that has worked for me so far is to not take a drink or a drug, one day at a time, for the past 15 years. It is not a cure. Just a daily reprieve. Alcoholics Anonymous has taught me that I can do anything for one day. This has not always been easy or fun. I wasn’t promised fun. I was promised, if I followed the suggestions, to never again have to feel desperation over a substance controlling my life. That is what I have received.

I remember feeling like I had no options. That people must have been lying when they said they hadn’t had a drink in 5 years. How could that be? Did they ever have fun? There must be something wrong with them. Little did I know just how much was wrong with me. I found in Alcoholics Anonymous what I have never been able to find anywhere else: a community of people who understand who I am and loved me anyway, a group that loved me when I wasn’t able to love myself, strangers that became friends and carried me through the first little while when I didn’t think I could stand on my own. To this day, I count on A.A. to be there when I need them and they have never let me down. I am a little ashamed to say that over the years, I have stopped giving back as much as I did before. I am hoping that in sharing this here, I will be able to possibly plant a seed for someone who may need it. There are always options.

It seems odd to now give a nutritional tip, but here it is: Tip #4-try something new! Next time you are in the produce section, pick up something that you have never tried before. Maybe some kind of squash or different green than you usually buy. We get into habits with our food and there is a whole world of fruits and vegetables waiting to be discovered. It doesn’t matter if you end up liking it or not. The point is to bring awareness to your food choices. Many of us operate on autopilot and miss the magic of appreciating what nature so freely provides.

keeping secrets from my heart and from my soul

I have been really digging the latest Florence and the Machine album. There is a line in one of the songs that says, “I’ve been keeping secrets from my heart and from my soul.” The first time I realized what she was saying, I was blown away. How many of us do this? I know I do and I am really good at it. As long as I don’t say anything to anyone else and I pretend it’s not happening, I can keep a secret from my heart and from my soul for a long time. The problem is that it starts to wear me down. Doing this actually begins a dangerous pattern within me. I begin to experience feelings of isolation and depression. The more I feel this, the less I communicate with others–even my friends. Before I know it, I have made subtle changes in my life in order to keep a secret. I wonder how many people can relate to this. Hearing the words in a song lyric was very validating that I wasn’t the only one.

Secrets are a big issue with me. I used to love them. I loved to keep them and I loved to tell them. I’ve been in many sticky situations because of secrets. I remember hearing in early sobriety that “you’re only as sick as your secrets.” Well, I was pretty sick! After being beaten by enough secrets, I avoid them like the plague. I beg friends and family not to tell me secrets. The burden is too heavy for something that usually doesn’t really matter anyway. I always end up saying the wrong thing to the wrong person and inevitably, someone is upset with me.

When clients confide in me, it is something very different. It is easy for me to carry their secrets, I guess because it really has no bearing on my life and I don’t usually know the cast of characters. I was able to experience this from a client perspective last week. I was trading energy work with a colleague and friend of mine. There was a personal issue going on with me that I had been denying to myself. Minutes after she starting working on me, she asked me about it point-blank. I laughed to myself and knew I needed to let go and say what has been happening out loud to another caring human being. Very much the same as the 5th step in a 12 step recovery program. The 5th step states that we are to admit to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Doing so provides us a freedom and the ability to “look the world in the eye”-Bill W. Once the secret was out, it no longer had any control. My heart and my soul were very much aware of what was going on. I knew that they knew and it made me think about ways to address the issue. It’s funny to me how much effort I can put into not dealing with things. I know I need to deal with it eventually, but I choose, instead, to torture myself for extended periods of time. Just another reminder that there is always room to grow. Progress, not perfection.

Nutritional tip #3–soup. There is an old Italian saying which says:  “Soup does seven things. It relieves your hunger, quenches your thirst, fills your stomach, cleans your teeth, makes you sleep, helps you digest and colors your cheeks.”  That is a pretty big statement. I am not sure that it has done all of those things for me but I have been making soup a major staple in my diet for the past few months. I am lucky enough to have a personal chef (aka my husband) who gladly makes large pots of soup for me whenever I request. We make a run to the local farmer’s market and stock up on seasonal vegetables to use in the soup. There is usually beans or barley and sometimes a little meat. My husband has a natural talent with soup, along with many other foods.  I have attempted to make it myself a few times and I am never too happy with the results. It is for this reason that I am not providing a recipe. I trust there are many wonderful recipes in books and on the internet for anyone interested in trying their hand at soup making.

Once it is made, I freeze it in smaller batches. I am able to defrost a couple servings at a time. I heat it in the morning, put it in my thermos and take it for lunch most days of the week. I also have it for the occasional dinner when the rest of the family is having something I don’t care for. It’s nice to have on hand when I am short on time but in need of something nutritious to eat.

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