February 26, 2006

Eating More Slowly

We compulsive overeaters are inclined to devour our meals in a great rush. Mealtime often finds us anxious and tense, and sometimes we are just plain greedy! While others at the table are interested in conversation and socializing, we may be narrowly focused on food and preoccupied with trying to satisfy a ravenous appetite.

We need to break out of our self-centeredness. Rather than being completely absorbed with satisfying our own appetite (which we can never do), we can learn to focus some of our attention on the concerns of those around us. When we eat more slowly, we have more time for others and we feel less deprived. Our enjoyment, of both the company and the food, is greatly increased.

Even when we eat a meal alone, we should remember that we do not receive all of our nourishment from physical food. When we eat more slowly, we become more relaxed and refreshed both physically and spiritually. When we are aware of our Higher Power and thankful for all of His blessings, the meal is more satisfying.

Help me to slow down and appreciate Your gifts.

©1980, 1992 by Hazelden Foundation.

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Give Thanks for the Morning Light

"When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food, and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself."

--TecumsehTechnorati Tags: , , ,

February 25, 2006

The Forest for the Trees

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
~ Author Unknown

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No Ordinary Success Story

A.A. is no success story in the ordinary sense of the word. It is a story of suffering transmuted, under grace, into spiritual progress.

Upon entering A.A. I listened to others talk about the reality of their drinking; loneliness, terror and pain. As I listened further, I soon heard a description of a very different kind - the reality of sobriety. It is a reality of freedom and happiness, of purpose and direction, and the serenity and peace with God, ourselves and others. By attending meetings I am reintroduced to that reality, over and over. I see it in the eyes and hear it is the voices of those around me. By working the program I find the direction and strength with which to make it mine. The joy of A.A. is that this new reality is available to me.

Copyright 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc.
Daily Reflections

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Bringing Our Secrets into the Light

We all have our secrets: thoughts, memories, feelings that we keep to ourselves. Often we think, "If people knew what I feel or think, they would not love me." These carefully kept secrets can do us much harm. They can make us feel guilty or ashamed and may lead us to self-rejection, depression, and even suicidal thoughts and actions.

One of the most important things we can do with our secrets is to share them in a safe place, with people we trust. When we have a good way to bring our secrets into the light and can look at them with others, we will quickly discover that we are not alone with our secrets and that our trusting friends will love us more deeply and more intimately than before. Bringing our secrets into the light creates community and inner healing. As a result of sharing secrets, not only will others love us better but we will love ourselves more fully.

--Henri Nouwen

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February 24, 2006

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

We often urge ourselves to hurry up when there's no good reason for it. At such times, all we really do is create needless tension and anxiety. The slogan "Easy does it" is our answer to such calls to hurry. The slogan suggests that we simply move into the rhythms of life and go with the flow.

It's not hurrying but steady effort that finally brings achievement. We've had entirely too much hurry and impatience. What we really need is confident, persistent effort in the right direction. We should be especially reminded of this when we see anxious, impatient people speeding through traffic, risking life and limb to save a few seconds, only to be forced to wait at traffic lights. A good steady pace is what we need, and it will win the game.

I'll be active today, but not overactive. I'll look for rhythm and efficiency in everything I do.

from the book: Walk in Dry Places by Mel B.

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February 21, 2006

A Universe that Makes Sense

"In my own case, the foundation stone of freedom from fear is that of faith: a faith that, despite all worldly appearances to the contrary, causes me to believe that I live in a universe that makes sense.

To me, this means a belief in a Creator who is all power, justice, and love; a God who intends for me a purpose, a meaning, and a destiny to grow, however little and haltingly, toward His own likeness and image. Before the coming of faith I had lived as an alien in a cosmos that too often seemed both hostile and cruel. In it there could be no inner security for me.

"When I was driven to my knees by alcohol, I was made ready to ask for the gift of faith. And all was changed. Never again, my pains and problems notwithstanding, would I experience my former desolation. I saw the universe to be lighted by God's love; I was alone no more."

1. GRAPEVINE, JANUARY 1962 - 2. LETTER, 1966
From "As Bill Sees It" Copyright®1967 Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

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The Path of Spiritual Growth

The spiritual path and growth promised to us by the Twelve Steps does not depend on any religious belief. They are not contingent upon any denomination or sect. They are not, as the traditions of Twelve Step programs state, affiliated with any religious denomination or organization.

We do not have to allow anyone to badger us about religion in recovery. We do not have to allow people to make us feel ashamed, afraid, or less than because we do not subscribe to their beliefs about religion. We do not have to let them do it to us in the name of God, love, or recovery.

The spiritual experience we will find as a result of recovery and the Twelve Steps will be our own spiritual experience. It will be a relationship with God, a Higher Power, as we understand God.

Each of us must find our own spiritual path. Each of us must build our own relationship with God, as we understand God. Each of us needs a Power greater than ourselves. These concepts are critical to recovery.

So is the freedom to choose how to do that.

Higher Power, help me know that I don't have to allow anyone to shame or badger me into religious beliefs. If they confuse that with the spirituality available in recovery, help me give their issue back to them. Help me discover and develop my own spirituality, a path that works for me. Guide me, with Divine Wisdom, as I grow spiritually.

From "The Language of Letting Go" by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

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Piloting My Airplane

AA has accomplished so many things in my life today. It has given me my sanity and an all-around sense of balance. Now willing to listen and take suggestions, I have found that the process of discovering who I really am begins with knowing who I really don't want to be.

And although the disease of alcoholism inside of me is like gravity just waiting to pull me down, AA and the Twelve Steps are like the power that causes an airplane to become airborne. It only works when the pilot is doing the right things to make it work.

c. 2001 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 456-7

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February 20, 2006

A Peaceful, Positive Feeling


World peace begins with your inner peace.


I choose to think peaceful thoughts, to say peaceful words, and to do peaceful acts.


I close my eyes, take in a gentle breath, and allow the spirit of peace to expand and fill every part of me. I imagine this peace as a beautiful light that is filling every cell in my body with health and vitality. The energy of peace calms my emotions and clears my thoughts. I see myself going through my day thinking peaceful positive thoughts, speaking peaceful words, and doing peaceful deeds. In my mind's eye I see my peaceful attitude and actions touching others and encouraging their inner peace. I see this sharing of peace easily traveling from person to person until the whole world becomes more and more peaceful.

I combine these thoughts and images with a feeling of joy and let them go.

Copyright © 2001 Institute For Creative Living

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No More Excuses

"Through our inability to accept personal responsibilities, we were actually creating our own problems." Basic Text, p. 13

When we refuse to take responsibility for our lives, we give away all of our personal power. We need to remember that we are powerless over our addiction, not our personal behavior.

Many of us have misused the concept of powerlessness to avoid making decisions or to hold onto things we had outgrown. We have claimed powerlessness over our own actions. We have blamed others for our circumstances rather than taking positive action to change those circumstances. If we continue to avoid responsibility by claiming that we are "powerless;' we set ourselves up for the same despair and misery we experienced in our active addiction. The potential for spending our recovery years feeling like victims is very real.

Instead of living our lives by default, we can learn how to make responsible choices and take risks. We may make mistakes, but we can learn from these mistakes. A heightened awareness of ourselves and an increased willingness to accept personal responsibility gives us the freedom to change, to make choices, and to grow.

Just for today:
My feelings, actions, and choices are mine. I will accept responsibility for them.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

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Staying Sober is my Main Business

A.A. Thought for the Day

Liquor used to be my friend. I used to have a lot of fun drinking. Practically all the fun I had was connected with drinking. But the time came when liquor became my enemy. I don't know just when liquor turned against me and became my enemy, but I know it happened, because I began to get into trouble. And since I realize that liquor is now my enemy, my main business is keeping sober. Making a living or keeping house is no longer my main business. It's secondary to the business of keeping sober. Do I realize that my main business is keeping sober?

Meditation for the Day

I can depend on God to supply me with all the power I need to face any situation, provided that I will sincerely believe in that power and honestly ask for it, at the same time making all my life conform to what I believe God wants me to be. I can come to God as a business manager would come to the owner of the business, knowing that to lay the matter before Him means immediate cooperation, providing the matter has merit.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may believe that God is ready and willing to supply me with all that I need. I pray that I may ask only for faith and strength to meet any situation.

From "Twenty Fours Hours a Day" ©Hazelden Foundation

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February 19, 2006

We Stop Living in a Fantasy World

Above all, we reject fantasizing and accept reality. The more I drank, the more I fantasized everything. I imagined getting even for hurts and rejections. In my mind's eye, I played and replayed scenes in which I was plucked magically from the bar where I stood nursing a drink, and was instantly exalted to some position
of power and prestige.

I lived in a dream world. AA led me gently from this fantasizing to embrace reality with open arms. And I found it beautiful! For, at last, I was at peace with myself. And with others. And with God.

c. 2001 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 559

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A Glorious Release


"The minute I stopped arguing, I could begin to see and feel. Right there, Step Two gently and very gradually began to infiltrate my life. I can't say upon what occasion or upon what day I came to believe in a Power greater than myself, but I certainly have that belief now. To acquire it, I had only to stop fighting and practice the rest of A.A.'s program as enthusiastically as I could. "

After years of indulging in a "self-will run riot," Step Two became for me a glorious release from being all alone. Nothing is so painful or insurmountable in my journey now. Someone is always there to share life's burdens with me. Step Two became a reinforcement with God, and I now realize that my insanity and ego were curiously linked. To rid myself of the former, I must give up the latter to one with far broader shoulders than my own.


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Relapse: Reservations Required

"Relapse is never an accident. Relapse is a sign that we have a reservation in our program." Basic Text, p. 76

A reservation is something we set aside for future use. In our case, a reservation is the expectation that, if such-and-such happens, we will surely relapse. What event do we expect will be too painful to bear? Maybe we think that if a spouse or lover leaves us, we will have to get high. If we lose our job, surely, we think, we will use. Or maybe it's the death of a loved one that we expect to be unbearable. In any case, the reservations we harbor give us permission to use when they come true as they often do.

We can prepare ourselves for success instead of relapse by examining our expectations and altering them where we can. Most of us carry within us a catalog of anticipated misery closely related to our fears. We can learn how to survive pain by watching other members live through similar pain. We can apply their lessons to our own expectations. Instead of telling ourselves we will have to get high if this happens, we can quietly reassure ourselves that we, too, can stay clean through whatever life brings us today.

Just for today:

I will check for any reservations that may endanger my recovery and share them with another addict.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

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February 18, 2006

It's Not About Being Right or Wrong

Recovery is not about being right; it's about allowing ourselves to be who we are and accepting others as they are.

That concept can be difficult for many of us if we have lived in systems that functioned on the "right wrong" justice scale. The person who was right was okay; the person who was wrong was shamed. All value and worth may have depended on being right; to be wrong meant annihilation of self and self-esteem.

In recovery, we are learning how to strive for love in our relationships, not superiority. Yes, we may need to make decisions about people's behavior from time to time. If someone is hurting us, we need to stand up for ourselves. We have a responsibility to set boundaries and take care of ourselves. But we do not need to justify taking care of ourselves by condemning someone else. We can avoid the trap of focusing on others instead of ourselves.

In recovery, we are learning that what we do needs to be right only for us. What others do is their business and needs to be right only for them. It's tempting to rest in the superiority of being right and in analyzing other people's motives and actions, but it's more rewarding to look deeper.

Today, I will remember that I don't have to hide behind being right. I don't have to justify what I want and need with saying something is "right" or "wrong." I can let myself be who I am.

©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

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February 17, 2006

Denial is a Coat of Many Colors

"Denial...keeps us locked into an increasingly deteriorating pattern of behavior...that we unconsciously use to prevent ourselves from facing reality...You may recognize some of these:

* Simple denial - you pretend something doesn't exist when it really does...
* Minimizing...
* Blaming - it's not your fault...it is so-and-so's...
* Excusing - you offer excuses, alibis, justifications and other explanations for your own or others' behavior...
* Generalizing - you deal with problems on a broad, general level, but avoid personal and emotional awareness of the situation or conditions...
* Dodging - you change the subject to avoid threatening topics or confronting issues...
* Attacking - you become angry and irritable when reference is made to the existing condition, thus forcing avoidance of the issue..."

Virginia Santoro

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February 16, 2006

A Daily Exercise in Acceptance

"Too much of my life has been spent in dwelling upon the faults of others. This is a most subtle and perverse form of self-satisfaction, which permits us to remain comfortably unaware of our own defects. Too often we are heard to say, 'If it weren't for him (or her), how happy I'd be!'"

Our very first problem is to accept our present circumstances as they are, ourselves as we are, and the people about us as they are. This is to adopt a realistic humility without which no genuine advance can even begin. Again and again, we shall need to return to that unflattering point of departure. This is an exercise in acceptance that we can profitably practice every day of our lives.

Provided we strenuously avoid turning these realistic surveys of the facts of life into unrealistic alibis for apathy or defeatism, they can be the sure foundation upon which increased emotional health and therefore spiritual progress can be built.

1. LETTER, 1966 - 2. GRAPEVINE, MARCH 1962
As Bill Sees It Copyright®1967 Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc

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February 15, 2006

Time is a Most Precious Asset

And what is time to me now? It is a most precious asset. I have the luxury of being able to cherish the memory of yesterday, to live today with serenity, to wait for tomorrow. I find great contentment in just knowing where I was and where I am.

And I am grateful; grateful for the existence of Alcoholics Anonymous; grateful to my God for leading me to the doors of AA and to Himself, grateful for hope. I am grateful for this minute. My eternity may be in it.

c. 1986, The AA Grapevine, Inc., The Best of the Grapevine [Vol. 2], p. 21
AA Thought for the Day (courtesy AAOnline.net)

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February 14, 2006

Sick and We Didn't Know It

We remember we have an incurable, potentially fatal ailment called alcoholism. And instead of persisting in drinking, we prefer to figure out, and use, enjoyable ways of living without alcohol. It is no disgrace.

No one knows exactly why some people become alcoholics while others don't. It is not their fault. We did not want to become alcoholics. We did not try to get this illness...We did not deliberately, maliciously, set out to do the things we were later ashamed of. We did them against our better judgment and instinct because we were really sick and didn't even know it.

c. 1998, AAWS, Living Sober, pp. 9-10
AA Thought for the Day (courtesy AAOnline.net)

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February 13, 2006

Security in Our Spiritual Lives

"What is the basis of our security? When we start thinking about that question, we may give many answers: success, money, friends, property, popularity, family, connections, insurance, and so on. We may not always think that any of these forms the basis of our security, but our actions or feelings may tell us otherwise. When we start losing our money, our friends, or our popularity, our anxiety often reveals how deeply our sense of security is rooted in these things.

A spiritual life is a life in which our security is based not in any created things, good as they may be, but in God, who is everlasting love. We probably will never be completely free from our attachment to the temporal world, but if we want to live in that world in a truly free way, we'd better not belong to it."

--Henry Nouwen

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February 12, 2006

Unnecessary Anxiety, Needless Fear

We have all had the experience of worrying about something at some point in our lives. Some of us have a habitual tendency to worry, and all of us have known someone who is a chronic worrier. Worry is an extension of fear and can be a very draining experience. In order for worry to exist, we have to imagine that something bad might happen. What we are worrying about has not happened yet, however, so this bad thing is by definition a fantasy. Understood this way, worry is a self-created state of needless fear. Still, most of us worry.

One reason we worry is because we feel like we're not in control. For example, you might worry about your loved ones driving home in bad weather. There is nothing you can do to guarantee their safe passage, but you worry until you find out they have reached their destination unharmed. In this instance, worry is an attempt to feel useful and in control. However, worrying does nothing to ensure a positive outcome and it has an unpleasant effect on your body, mind, and spirit.

The good news is that there are ways to transform this kind of worry so that it has a healing effect. Just as worry uses the imagination, so does the antidote to worry. Next time you find that you are worrying, imagine the best result instead of anticipating the worst outcome. Visualize your loved ones' path bathed in white light and clearly see in your mind's eye their safe arrival. Imagine angels or guides watching over them as they make their way home. Generate peace and well-being instead of nervousness and unease within yourself.

Another reason we worry is that something that we know is pending but are avoiding is nagging us-an unpaid parking ticket, an upcoming test, an issue with a friend. In these cases, acknowledging that we are worried and taking action is the best solution. If you can confront the situation and own your power to change it, you'll have no reason to worry.

From DailyOM - Nurturing Mind Body & Spirit.
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Living Fully in the Moment

"We regretted the past, dreaded the future, and weren't too thrilled about the present." Basic Text, p. 7

Until we experience the healing that happens when we work the Twelve Steps, it is doubtful that we can find a statement more true than the quote above. Most of us come to NA hanging our heads in shame, thinking about the past and wishing we could go back and change it. Our fantasies and expectations about the future may be so extreme that, on our first date with someone, we find ourselves wondering which lawyer we'll use for the divorce. Almost every experience causes us to remember something from the past or begin projecting into the future.

At first, it's difficult to stay in the moment. It seems as though our minds won't stop. We have a hard time just enjoying ourselves. Each time we realize that our thoughts are not focused on what's happening right now, we can pray and ask a loving God to help us get out of ourselves. If we regret the past, we make amends by living differently today; if we dread the future, we work on living responsibly today.

When we work the steps and pray each time we discover we're not living in the present, we'll notice that those times aren't occurring as often as they used to. Our faith will help us live just for today. We'll have hours, even days, when our full attention is focused on the current moment in time, not the regrettable past or fearful future.

Just for today:
When I live fully in each moment, I open myself to joys that might otherwise escape me. If I am having trouble, I will ask a loving God for help.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous © 1991 by World Service Office Inc.

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Acceptance of Dependence on a Higher Power

AA Thought for the Day (courtesy AAOnline.net)

We couldn't lick alcohol with our own remaining resources and so we accepted the fact that dependence upon a higher power (if only our AA group) could do this hitherto impossible job. The moment we were able to fully accept these facts, our release from the alcohol compulsion had begun.

Bill W., March 1962
c. 1988, The AA Grapevine, Inc., The Language of the Heart, p. 270

Thought to Ponder . . .

Many of our fears are tissue paper thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them.

AA-related 'Alconym' . . .

A B C = Acceptance, Belief, Change.

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Generosity, Compassion & Humility

Sunday, Feb. 12

The Friend of God has these three qualities: a generosity like that of the ocean, a compassion like that of the sun, and a humility like that of the earth.


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February 11, 2006

It's Not What You See, It's How You See It

How does your life look from where you stand?

Look at that old couch. Those colors and that style have been out of date for years. Look at those old bed covers. They've been washed so many times the pattern's faded to almost nothing. Look at that pitiful wardrobe. Those old clothes are a disgrace. Look at this entire place. It's a decorators nightmare.

I hate my life.

Same house. Same person. Different perspective.

Look at that old couch. I've curled up in its corners and read many good books, laid down on its cushions and had many long naps. Look at those well worn bedcovers. They've kept me warm on endless winter nights and provided a cozy place for my children to jump in to when they needed a safe place to snuggle. Look at those clothes of mine. I sure appreciate how good I make them look when I put them on! Look at my home, my haven, my sanctuary. Millions of people are without shelter, and I have a place to return to at the end of each day - a place I call my own.

I am blessed.

Changing your life doesn't have to cost a cent. 'What' you see - doesn't determine your reality. 'How' you see it - is the truth of your life.

Living in love and loving life,

Terri McPherson
Wise Hearts - Weaving Small Wisdoms Through The Fabric of Life

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Rescued by Surrendering

Characteristic of the so-called typical alcoholic is a narcissistic egocentric core, dominated by feelings of omnipotence, intent on maintaining at all costs its inner integrity...Inwardly the alcoholic brooks no control from man or God. He, the alcoholic, is and must be the master of his destiny. He will fight to the end to preserve that position.
A.A. COMES OF AGE, p. 311

The great mystery is: "Why do some of us die alcoholic deaths, fighting to preserve the 'independence' of our ego, while others seem to sober up effortlessly in A.A.?" Help from a Higher Power, the gift of sobriety, came to me when an otherwise unexplained desire to stop drinking coincided with my willingness to accept the suggestions of the men and women of A.A. I had to surrender, for only by reaching out to God and my fellows could I be rescued.


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February 09, 2006

Shattering Your Understanding


There can be progress only by shattering your understanding to allow a greater understanding to come through.

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Alchemical Wisdom

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February 08, 2006

Losing Interest in an Unhappy Childhood

SOME OF US were abused or neglected when we were children. Our parents' attitudes may be the reason that we first became unhappy, but once we've grown up, it's no excuse for us to go on complaining.

Our own attitudes sustain that needless suffering and it is ourselves that we must learn to forgive. Our parents did whatever harm (and/or good) to us they may have done. There's no changing that.

If we go on trying to be what we believe they wanted us to be, our nostalgia becomes a form of revenge. It is our way of showing them that they should have given us another chance and that we are preoccupied with how things might have been.

Acting as though we deserved their past mistreatment only makes us miss opportunities for happiness in the present. It may allow us to feel that we were loved when we were children, no matter how badly our parents may have treated us, but to maintain that illusion, we must go on feeling bad about ourselves.

We must learn to lose interest in our unhappy childhoods and forgive ourselves for having stayed stuck for so long.

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What a Journey!

This process of growth and change takes us along an ever-changing road. Sometimes the way is hard and craggy. Sometimes we climb mountains. Sometimes we slide down the other side on a toboggan. Sometimes we rest.

Sometimes we grope through the darkness. Sometimes we're blinded by sunlight. At times many may walk with us on the road; sometimes we feel nearly alone. Ever changing, always interesting, always leading someplace better, someplace good.

What a journey!

Today, God, help me relax and enjoy the scenery. Help me know I'm right where I need to be on my journey.

©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

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Prayer for Forgiving Oneself

Gracious God, my heart is heavy with my own failures. I try to excuse them and explain to myself why they occurred, because I want to be free from the feeling that I am unworthy and incapable of being all that I can be. But I find it easier to accept your forgiveness than to forgive myself. When I try to forgive myself, it seems I only remember and re-play my failures in my mind, and a sense of hopelessness floods over me. Help me to know that my past actions are a part of my growing humanity and that even when I fail to live up to what is your will for me, every single moment can be lived anew. Remind me that refusing to forgive myself only keeps me from experiencing that newness. Assure me of the truth that by casting “my sins into the depth of the sea” (Micah 7:19b), you have freed me to discard them myself and live the next moment as if it were my first—for indeed it is. I ask this for the sake of your love. Amen.

Copyright ©1999-2006 explorefaith.org

One of a beautiful collection of Prayers for Living at www.explorefaith.org

Returning to God's Ever-Present Love

We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior. God doesn't approve of betrayal, violence, hatred, suspicion, and all other expressions of evil, because they all contradict the love God wants to instill in the human heart. Evil is the absence of God's love. Evil does not belong to God.

God's unconditional love means that God continues to love us even when we say or think evil things. God continues to wait for us as a loving parent waits for the return of a lost child. It is important for us to hold on to the truth that God never gives up loving us even when God is saddened by what we do. That truth will help us to return to God's ever-present love.

A daily meditation from the Henri Nouwen Society.

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February 07, 2006

Owning Our Power

We need to make a distinction between powerlessness and owning our power.

The first step in recovery is accepting powerlessness. There are some things we can't do, no matter how long or hard we try. These things include changing other people, solving their problems, and controlling their behavior. Sometimes, we feel powerless over ourselves - what we feel or believe, or the effects of a particular situation or person on us.

It's important to surrender to powerlessness, but it's equally important to own our power. We aren't trapped. We aren't helpless. Sometimes it may feel like we are, but we aren't. We each have the God given power, and the right, to take care of ourselves in any circumstance, and with any person. The middle ground of self-care lies between the two extremes of controlling others and allowing them to control us. We can walk that ground gently or assertively, but in confidence that it is our right and responsibility.

Let the power come to walk that path.

Today, I will remember that I can take care of my self. I have choices, and. I can exercise the options I choose without guilt.

You are reading from the book The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

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Life is Not a Test

"We have found a loving, personal God to whom we can turn."
Basic Text p. 27

"Some of us come into recovery with the impression that life's hardships are a series of cosmic tests designed to teach us something. This belief is readily apparent when something traumatic happens and we wail, "My Higher Power is testing me!" We're convinced that it's a test of our recovery when someone offers us drugs, or a test of our character when faced with a situation where we could do something unprincipled without getting caught. We may even think it's a test of our faith when we're in great pain over a tragedy in our lives.

But a loving Higher Power doesn't test our recovery, our character, or our faith. Life just happens, and sometimes it hurts. Many of us have lost love through no fault of our own. Some of us have lost all of our material wealth. A few of us have even grieved the loss of our own children. Life can be terribly painful at times, but the pain is not inflicted on us by our Higher Power. Rather, that Power is constantly by our sides, ready to carry us if we can't walk by ourselves. There is no harm that life can do us that the God of our understanding can't heal.

I will have faith that my Higher Power's will for me is good, and that I am loved. I will seek my Higher Power's help in times of need.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc

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Forgiveness is a Path to Healing

"In our journey to inner peace and healing, both guilt and forgiveness of self and others have a profound effect on this process. Guilt is defined as a feeling of culpability especially for imagined offences or from a sense of inadequacy; a self-reproach; and forgiveness as the act of forgiving or the ceasing of feeling resentment against an offender. Guilt and lack of forgiveness of self and others, burdens many people with the heavy weight of inappropriate shame and the destruction of deep-seated resentments. In recent years, much has been written about the destructiveness of repressed emotions and particularly anger and resentment in contributing to life-threatening illnesses.

The belief that feeling emotion means we are weak is a dreadful legacy to burden people with. Teaching people that strength means not feeling or denying our feelings is tantamount to creating illness. Beliefs such as 'big boys don't cry' and 'good girls don't get angry' has resulted in men and women who are unable to get in touch with what they actually feel. Depression is thought to be caused by anger turned inward and is only one of the symptoms of the need to protect ourselves from the scorn associated with expressing feelings. Many other illnesses and particularly the addictions are theorised to be expressions of a deep level of emotional pain.

Why won't we forgive? I believe it starts from our unwillingness to forgive ourselves. We believe that we are undeserving of love, respect, acceptance, appreciation, and the right to live a life where we walk in peace, joy, harmony, and abundance. Somewhere along the line, we started to believe that all the rules and regulations of the society in which we live defined who we were supposed to be. We stopped trusting and believing in our own inherent worth and came to believe that we were 'not good enough.' Messages such as 'you failed' or 'you should' became a litany for us to abuse ourselves with guilt. I call it abuse because it is just as painful when we do it to ourselves as when others do it to us. We became judge and jury and found ourselves guilty of our perceived offences. When the primary caregivers such as parents, teachers, and other societal influences are unable to love themselves unconditionally, this 'learned attitude' is passed on to the next generation as shame in an attempt to control behaviour.

This sense of shame differs from guilt in that guilt is about behaviour. Shame is deeper and more pervasive. It is about your being and feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, being bad and unlovable become the conviction underlying your life. Children grow up believing they are 'not good enough' and become the caregivers for the next generation. And so it goes, on and on. I am not blaming the parents and caregivers here as we parent the way we were parented. My own definition of maturity is that maturity is achieved when we are able to forgive our parents and other significant adults for being human.

What Is Self-forgiveness?

Self-forgiveness is the willingness to believe that you are worthy, that there are no mistakes rather, you are on the planet, or in Earth School (as some people call it) to learn about being human. The opportunities to learn are just that - not mistakes - just opportunities to learn.

Practical Steps to Self-forgiveness

-Examine how you perceived a certain situation and how you can chose to change your perception. Remember that the thoughts we think create the feelings, and it is our perception that creates our interpretations of the situation.

-Accept yourself and your humanness - you are not supposed to be perfect.

-Admit when you make a mistake.

-Remember that everybody is doing the best they can with what they know, and that includes you.

-Let go of past-future thinking, stay in the 'Now.'

-Confront your emotional pain - own your own 'stuff.'

-Appreciate the lessons that have contributed to your growth and made you who you are now.

-Say 'I forgive myself for ____________ (whatever).'

Gwen Nyhus Stewart, B.S.W., M.G., H.T., is an educator, freelance writer, garden consultant, and author of the book The Healing Garden: A Place Of Peace – Gardening For The Soil, Gardening For The Soul and booklet Non-toxic Alternatives For Everyday Cleaning And Gardening Chores. She owns the website Gwen's Healing Garden where you will find lots of free information about gardening for the soil and gardening for the soul. To find out more about the book and subscribe to her free Newsletter visit http://www.gwenshealinggarden.ca
Gwen Nyhus Stewart © 2004 – 2006. All rights reserved.
Reprinted from this emaxhealth.com post.

Morning Prayers

Quotations to stir heart and mind.
Compiled by Richard A. Kauffman

LET US KNOW, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn.
--Hosea 6:3 (NRSV)

I OWE the Lord a morning song of gratitude and praise, for the kind mercy he has shown in lengthening out my days. He kept me safe another night; I see another day. Now may his Spirit, as the light, direct me in his way.
--Amos Herr

LORD GOD, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day. Preserve us with your mighty power that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity, and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--Book of Common Prayer

NOW ANOTHER day is breaking;
sleep was sweet, and so is waking.
Dear Lord, I promised you last night
never again to sulk or fight.
Such vows are easier to keep
when a child is sound asleep.
Today, O Lord, for your dear sake,
I'll try to keep them when awake.
--Ogden Nash, excerpted by David Yount in Breaking Through God's Silence

LORD, thank you for this beautiful day!
Please help me to see the beauty in every day, and help others to see the beauty
in your wonders. Guide me through perils toward your brilliant light.
--Kate E. Ritger, Prayer in All Things

AWAKE IN THE MORNING, and the first thing you do, thank God for it, even if you don't feel particularly happy about the day which is to come. … Come to God again with two convictions. The one is that you are God's own, and the other is that this day is also God's own; it is absolutely new, absolutely fresh. … This day is blessed by God, it is God's own, and now let us go into it. You walk in this day as God's own messenger; whomever you meet, you meet in God's own way.
--Anthony Bloom, Beginning to Pray

we have just gotten up from our bed,
and we ask you kindly:
Let us be reverent before you—
reverent and obedient—
and let us love one another.
--Jan Karafiát, Broucci

Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today.

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February 06, 2006

Let Go of the Need to Be a Victim

Before recovery, many of us lacked a frame of reference with which to name the victimization and abuse in our life. We may have thought it was normal that people mistreated us. We may have believed we deserved mistreatment; we may have been attracted to people who mistreated us.

We need to let go, on a deep level, of our need to be victimized and to be victims. We need to let go of our need to be in dysfunctional relationships and systems at work, in love, in family relationships, in friendships. We deserve better. We deserve much better. It is our right. When we believe in our right to happiness, we will have happiness. We will fight for that right, and the fight will emerge from our souls. Break free from oppression and victimization.

Today, I will liberate myself by letting go of my need to be a victim, and I'll explore my freedom to take care of myself. That liberation will not take me further away from people I love. It will bring me closer to people and more in harmony with God's plan for my life.

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Asking and Offering: The Art of Spiritual Trading

We clasp the hands of those who go before us, and the hands of those who come after us; we enter the little circle of each other's arms, and the larger circle of lovers
whose hands are joined in a dance, and the larger circle of all creatures, passing in and out of life, who move also in a dance, to a music so subtle and vast that no one hears it except in fragments.
-- Wendell Berry, Healing

Asking / offering / giving / receiving is one circular motion... As we ask for what we need and offer what we can we become spiritual traders of life's energy, time, abundance, and interrelatedness. Through this practice, we are reminded that everything lives in reciprocal relationship with everything else, whether or not we immediately perceive this relationship, whether or not we choose to be aware of it...

Trading is practice in mindfulness. It slows us down so we may notice the opportunity present in the moment. Through acts of spiritual trading we learn to see that everything is an exchange. Today I will ask for what I need, first by becoming aware of what that is. Today I will offer what I can by holding all the choices I make within an understanding of reciprocity. The trajectory I set into the day is not a straight line; it's a dance of intersections and connections between myself and other people and the opportunities we create as we cross each other's paths...

Today I will offer what I can by being open to surprise and interruption as part of the flow of my intentions. An older neighbor calls to ask if I will bring her mail from the box to her doorstep. Of course I will, though I also know it means fifteen minutes of chatting. I trade a little efficiency for the aid I can provide a neighbor. Someday I will be old and in need of a younger person's kindness. A friend emails the request for a prayer chain for his son. I stop and light a candle on my windowsill, hold the thought of his need for a moment. Someday I will be in need of the prayers of friends and strangers...

Only spiritual trading creates flow. As long as the energy is flowing and cyclical, there is enough to go around. If any one of us stops asking or stops offering, the flow is disrupted and the balance destroyed. We all know people who give and give and give and forget to receive until they collapse into exhaustion, depression, or illness. We all know people who take and take and take and forget to offer until they find themselves alone at the zenith of their careers, divorced from their families and friends. If we become depleted, we have no energy left to respond and no energy left to ask. If we keep demanding without reciprocating, people will respond with resentment or hoard their energy and we will not get what we really need. Perhaps the purpose of this learning cycle, playing out over and over again in our lives, is to help us see the world differently...

This is not a New Age concept. In 1623, in his Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, John Donne wrote his famous soliloquy: "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main..." He understood. And somewhere inside ourselves I believe we understand. It's just hard to see this reality in our own culture where so much stuff puts us constantly to sleep..."

--excerpted from The Seven Whispers, ©2002, by Christina Baldwin.

About the Author:
Christina Baldwin has taught seminars and workshops internationally for more than twenty years. Her best selling book, Life's Companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Culture, she explores the tradition of council and reintroduces it as a modern forum for people to meet and learn from each other. Her educational company, PeerSpirit, Inc., is dedicated to building communities of reflection, adventure, and purpose. She lives on an island north of Seattle. Contact www.peerspirit.com for Seven Whispers study guide and Christina's schedule.

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February 03, 2006

Rejecting Shame

Authentic, legitimate guilt is the feeling or thought that what we did is not okay. It indicates that our behavior needs to be corrected or altered, or an amend needs to be made.

Shame is an overwhelming negative sense that who we are isn't okay. Shame is a no win situation. We can change our behaviors, but we can't change who we are. Shame can propel us deeper into self-defeating and sometimes self-destructive behaviors.

What are the things that can cause us to feel shame? We may feel ashamed when we have a problem or someone we love has a problem. We may feel ashamed for making mistakes or for succeeding. We may feel ashamed about certain feelings or thoughts. We may feel ashamed when we have fun, feel good, or are vulnerable enough to show ourselves to others. Some of us feel ashamed just for being.

Shame is a spell others put on us to control us, to keep us playing our part in dysfunctional systems. It is a spell many of us have learned to put on ourselves.

Learning to reject shame can change the quality of our life. It's okay to be who we are. We are good enough. Our feelings are okay. Our past is okay. It's okay to have problems, make mistakes, and struggle to find our path. It's okay to be human and cherish our humanness.

Accepting ourselves is the first step toward recovery. Letting go of shame about who we are is the next important step.

Today, I will watch for signs that I have fallen into shame's trap. If I get hooked into shame, I will get myself out by accepting myself and affirming that it's okay to be who I am.

From the book The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

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February 02, 2006

Choose Joy

Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.

What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.

-- Henri Nouwen

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