June 27, 2006

Living in "Want"

"I WANT to be happy," is an often repeated phrase.

People who say it, get exactly what they're asking for. They live in the 'want' of happiness.

Wanting a million dollars won't put money in your bank account. Wanting a Porsche won't turn your Neon into a lean mean driving machine. Wanting to be a bird won't give you wings or get you off the ground.

Instead of curling yourself into a tight little ball and remaining clutched in the 'want' of happiness, open yourself up to the opportunity of receiving it.

Fill the holes in your life with the joy of being alive. Work at happiness from the inside out. Remove the weight of 'want' off your heavily burdened shoulders and make yourself available to bliss.

When you achieve inner happiness, it shows. It seeps from your eyes and rolls off your words. Your peace of heart, supported by a solid foundation, is unflappable. You see external happiness for what it really is, a precarious source of self fulfillment.

Your 'want' is gone, and without it, you stand in the wake of grand possibilities.

Your eyes see the positive in what you have, instead of the negative in what you lack. Happiness starts coming at you from a multitude of different directions.

Live in the 'want' of being happy, or 'be' happy.

The choice is completely up to you.

© 2000 Terri McPherson
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
to subscribe tmcphers@mnsi.net

So more may see it, I have reprinted a wonderful comment on this post from Trudging the Road who said...

I like your "Living in want" entry.

Remids me of a story I heard about an old dog that wandered upon a puppy who was chasing his tail in circles. The puppy said there is happiness in my tail and I have been chasing it all day. The old dog asked "have you gotten happiness?" to which the puppy responded "no."

The old dog said "I just live my life as best I can and happiness seems to follow me"

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We Are Not Our Parents' Fears, Criticisms and Beliefs

Roger King at www.SoulTalkStories.com shares the following wisdom with us today:

"It's so important that we develop our 'higher awareness' by feeding our unconscious mind positive messages - with passion - from our conscious mind. This, I believe, helps each of us experience our lives with intimacy and compassion, as unique and responsible human beings, with our lives working and manifesting our destiny - to bring healing and peace to this planet.

"'In Creative Visualization,' Shakti Gawain writes, 'Every moment of your life is infinitely creative and the universe is endlessly bountiful. Just put forth a clear enough request and everything your heart desires must come to you.' You and I are not our mother's or father's fears, criticisms and beliefs; each of us can dilute old beliefs by acting "AS IF"; then believing, by consistently repeating the following thought passionately:

'I now think all new thoughts ... fresh, creative and loving thoughts which create my reality.'

Wherever you are now, write your own affirmations ... as many as you can. There is a universal magic that comes when you write and say out loud your positive thoughts."

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Living My Amends

"Years of living with an alcoholic is almost sure to make any wife or child neurotic. The entire family is, to some extent, ill"

It is important for me to realize that, as an alcoholic, I not only hurt myself, but also those around me. Making amends to my family, and to the families of alcoholics still suffering, will always be important. Understanding the havoc I created and trying to repair the destruction, will be a lifelong endeavor.

The example of my sobriety may give others hope, and faith to help themselves.

Daily Reflection

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June 21, 2006

De-Stress in Three Minutes or Less - Stop Emotional Eating/Drinking/Using Before It Starts

"There are many instances when you need something you can do right now, to keep yourself grounded, focused and able to make good decisions. After all, you don’t always have time to take a walk, relax in a hot bath or call a friend to talk things over. That’s what we’ll be talking about here—a 3-minute trick for handling stressful situations in the moment.

Minute 1: Stay Grounded

Emotional eating[/drinking/using] happens when you lose your connection to your grounded self. Stress itself is not what makes you reach for something to eat[/drink/use]. In fact, stress is often a good thing and your grounded self knows this! We need the physical stress of exercise to keep our bodies in good shape just as we need the stress of intellectual and emotional challenges to keep our minds healthy.

Nine times out of ten, what really leads to emotional eating[drinking/using] is getting caught in a "mind storm" of worst-case scenarios, projections, misinterpretations, and all the emotional overreactions that come with these thoughts.

This "storm" turns a manageable challenge into something that makes you feel helpless, overwhelmed, ashamed or afraid—and sends you to the kitchen to find something to stuff those extreme feelings. When you can stay grounded in the moment of stress, you have many more options.

Here are some simple ideas to keep you grounded when something (or someone) pushes your buttons and your feelings start to spiral out of control:

Take a few deep breaths. (You can also count to 10, if that helps.) If the stressful situation involves someone else, take a timeout and agree to continue the discussion in a few minutes.

Remind yourself where you are. Take a look around, noticing and naming the colors and shapes in the space around you.

Notice the physical sensations you are experiencing. Whether it's a sinking feeling, turmoil in your stomach, tension in your hands or jaw, restricted breathing, or heat on the back of your neck, try to name the feelings that go with the sensation. Is that sinking feeling fear, or dread? Is the heat a symptom of anger?

The idea here is to stay in your body and in the moment—with what’s real—instead of going inside your mind where all those unreal scenarios are just waiting to get spun out-of-control.

Minute 2: Reality Check

Once you’re calm enough to start thinking productively, put all those thoughts that are clamoring for attention inside your head through a quick reality check. Here are several very common thought patterns that have no place in reality. Do any of these apply to you?

All or nothing thinking
Example: You go over your calorie limit or eat something on your “forbidden” list, and then decide to keep eating because you’ve already “blown it” for today. Reality: Weight loss is not a one-day event. If you stop overeating now, you’ll gain less and have less to re-lose later. That’s something to feel good about!

Reading your own thoughts into someone else’s words
Example: Someone made a mildly critical or unsupportive remark to you, and you feel completely devastated. Reality: The more bothered you are by such remarks, the more likely it is that you are being overly-critical of yourself. When you treat yourself with respect, what others say won’t matter nearly so much.

Either-Or thinking
Example: You make a mistake or have a bad day and feel like a complete and hopeless failure. Reality: No one does well all the time. Mistakes are a necessary and valuable opportunity to learn—if you don’t waste them by getting down on yourself.

Taking care of other people’s business
Example: Something is going badly for someone you care about, and you feel responsible, or pressured to fix it. Reality: People need to learn from their own problems. You aren’t doing anyone a favor by trying to fix things just to make yourself feel better.

Minute 3: Putting Things in Perspective

Most common problems that you face in everyday life are much easier to handle when you keep them in perspective and avoid making mountains out of molehills. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure you aren’t in the mountain-making business:

How big a deal is this, anyway? If I knew I was going to die in a week, would this be something I would want to spend this minute of my remaining time on?

Will any bad things happen if I postpone thinking about this until I have more time to figure things out?

Do I have all the information I need to decide how to respond to this? Do I really know what’s going on here, or am I making assumptions? Am I worrying about things that might not even happen? What do I need to check out before taking action?

Is there anything I can do right now that will change or help this situation?
Am I trying to control something I can't, like what other people think, say, or do?

Have I really thought through this problem, and broken it down into manageable pieces I can handle one-at-a-time?

Use this approach whenever your thoughts or situations begin to feel overwhelming, and you'll quickly find that the mountains that seem impossible at first can quickly morph into what they really are—manageable hills that you DO have the ability to climb. All it takes is three little minutes of your time."

--- By Dean Anderson, an ACE certified personal trainer and Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant. He holds Master's degrees in Human Services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and Liberal Studies.

From this article from sparkpeople.com

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June 20, 2006

To Forgiveness and Beyond

by Dr. Susan Gregg

As so many of us do, I carried wounds from my childhood into my adult life. As a young girl I was molested by some boys. At the time I was devastated. I was sure it was my fault, and when the boys told me not to tell anyone or they would kill me I believed them. Before that I never felt like I fit in, afterwards I felt like a total misfit. I was sure life was a complex game and everybody except me knew how to play.

When I began my journey of self-discovery in my twenties I ran across the concept of forgiveness
and with a great deal of anger and judgment promptly rejected the idea.

Over the years my thoughts on forgiveness have changed drastically. Now I believe forgiveness is one of the most important steps we can take toward achieving self-acceptance, peace of mind, and happiness.

We are taught to think in terms of duality: right and wrong, positive and negative, good and bad, black and white, you and me. Our society is based on the concept of domination -- the society and the individual are seen as separate -- the problem and the solution are two different things. As long as we view the world that way judgment and comparison are very much a part of our thought process.

Forgiveness seems like we are letting them off the hook -- punishment makes much more sense than forgiveness. We aren't taught to believe that everything in life is one. But in truth we are all one, everything and everyone is part of the great mystery of life.

There is another way of viewing life, which I call dominion. Symbolically I think of dominion as a huge sphere, a womb that holds everything lovingly
within it. How we view events in our life depends upon where we are standing on that sphere. I am not separate from anyone hence no one can do anything to me, they just do it.

Viewing life this way makes forgiveness a desirable and understandable component of life. Let me explain. As I embraced the concept of dominion I realized that those boys didn't do anything to me, I just happened to be in the same place they were when they decided to do something. The boys that molested me dealt with their emotional pain by passing it on to me. It was really all about them. What a gift that realization was for me! Not only was I able to forgive them but I was able to forgive myself and really see the experience for what it was, an opportunity to learn how to open my heart and love at a much deeper level.

I strongly believe that if we learn to live in dominion instead of domination the world would be a much more loving and gentle place to live. In dominion, instead of judging things we embrace them. Life, relationships, and everyday events become an opportunity for us to see our filter system, which is composed of all of our assumptions, agreements, and beliefs.

In each moment we have a choice -- will I see this through the eyes of my filter system, the eyes of fear and separation, or will I see through the eyes of my spirit, the eyes of love and oneness? In each moment we can choose to either be in domination or dominion...

Our filter system is composed of our beliefs, the assumptions we've made about life, and the agreements we have made with ourselves and our world. We think we are seeing reality when we are really seeing... our filter system and not the world...

As we move beyond forgiveness and toward acceptance we see the beauty of all of our creations. When we view life from the perspective of dominion we begin to see it as a work of art we create moment by moment. Every event in our life is an opportunity to deepen our connection with ourselves, the people in our lives, and with God, the Great Spirit or whatever you choose to call the Creator of this magnificent universe. After we clearly see the role our filter system plays in our experience of life we often want to release it.

Until then we frequently attempt to control things beyond our control so we can be happy or at least comfortable. We try to change the events in our lives instead of how we see them. When we learn to focus on our filter system instead of what "they did" or "what happened to us" we can learn to be happy no matter what is going on in our lives. We can move beyond forgiveness to a deep sense of acceptance of life just as it is. When we finally realize it has been our filter system that has prevented us from being happy we can change how we think about life.

Changing your mind is a process and it can be an easy and enjoyable one or one that is full of pain and struggle, the choice is ours. To make it a more enjoyable experience create an inner sanctuary for yourself, become your own best friend, talk lovingly to yourself, and gently accept yourself just the way you are. Remember, learning to see life through the eyes of dominion and love is a process...

From an article written by Dr. Susan Gregg, the author of The Toltec Way: A Guide to Personal Transformation, © 2000. Visit her website at www.susangregg.com or reach her at sgregg@aloha.com

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A Foundation of Belief

~This Week's Spiritual Affirmation~

This week I will practice in furthering and strengthening my spiritual belief. Through daily prayer and meditation I will add new and essential building blocks to the foundation of my belief, so that I may soar ever higher during times of elation, and stand ever more firmly during times of trial and tribulation. Though hope may well come before belief, and is essential to the human spirit, hope fails us minus the foundation of belief.

Life seldom goes exactly as we may plan -- or want -- without infinite belief to underpin our finite hopes they will be dashed upon the realities of life daily. Without an infinite belief the finite self is shiftless, as the house built upon sand. With belief,
we can feel faith in an Infinite Creator's higher purpose, God's gently loving hand to guide and protect us.

© ~G.A. Hazelwood
Spiritual Wings

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The Fruits of the Spirit

The Fruit of the Spirit

How does the Spirit of God manifest itself through us? Often we think that to witness means to speak up in defense of God. This idea can make us very self-conscious. We wonder where and how we can make God the topic of our conversations and how to convince our families, friends, neighbors, and colleagues of God's presence in their lives. But this explicit missionary endeavour often comes from an insecure heart and, therefore, easily creates divisions.

The way God's Spirit manifests itself most convincingly is through its fruits: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22). These fruits speak for themselves. It is therefore always better to raise the question "How can I grow in the Spirit?" than the question "How can I make others believe in the Spirit?"

--Henri Nouwen

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June 19, 2006

the Joy in the Journey

It Works - It Really Does

I wish I could tell you all that AA has done for me, all that I think and feel about AA, but it's something that I have experienced and have never been able to put into words. I know that I must work at it as long as I live; I know that it is only by working at it that I can stay sober and have a happy life. It is an endless career. It has changed not simply one department of my life -- it has changed my whole life. . .

I've experienced, in ever growing measure and beyond all expectations and rewards, a joy which I had never before imagined.

c. 2003 AAWS, Experience, Strength and Hope, pp. 341-2

Thought to Ponder . . .
The joy is in the journey, so enjoy the ride.

AA-related 'Alconym' . . .
A A = Always Awesome.

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Choosing the Spiritual Path

We have this choice every day of our lives. We can take the path that leads to insanity and death. And remember, our next drunk could be our last one. Or we can take the path that leads to a reasonably happy and useful life. The choice is ours each day of our lives. God grant that we take the right path. Have I made my choice today?

Meditation for the Day

Your real work in life is to grow spiritually. To do this you must follow the path of diligently seeking good. The hidden spiritual wonders are revealed to those who diligently seek this treasure. From one point to the next, you have to follow the way of obedience to God's will until finally you reach greater and greater spiritual heights. Work on the material plane should be secondary to your real life's work. The material things that you need most are those that help you to attain the spiritual.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may keep growing spiritually. I pray that I may make this my real life's work.

"Twenty-Four Hours A Day" Daily Meditation is a © Copyrighted book of Hazelden Foundation.

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Small Steps of Love

"How can we choose love when we have experienced so little of it? We choose love by taking small steps of love every time there is an opportunity. A smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a phone call, a card, an embrace, a kind greeting, a gesture of support, a moment of attention, a helping hand, a present, a financial contribution, a visit ... all these are little steps toward love.

Each step is like a candle burning in the night. It does not take the darkness away, but it guides us through the darkness. When we look back after many small steps of love, we will discover that we have made a long and beautiful journey."

--Henri Nouwen

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June 12, 2006

Words of Inspiration and Hope

Every breath we draw is a gift of God's love; every moment of existence is a grace.

-Thomas Merton
Thoughts in Solitude

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

-Leo Buscaglia

Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.

-Sigmund Freud

Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.

-Lucius Annaeus Seneca

We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.

-Kenji Miyazawa

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Life is a Series of Situations Offering Opportunities for Spiritual Growth

"Life is difficult"

So begins "The Road Less Traveled," the groundbreaking self-help classic by M. Scott Peck that brought together psychology and religion and has been a source of inspiration and help for legions of recovering people. Reprinted below are the first few paragraphs from the book, that is well worth reading in its entirety.

"Life is difficult

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult--once we truly understand and accept it--then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

Most do not fully see this truth, that life is difficult.

Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy. They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them, or else upon their families, their tribe, their class, their nation, their race, or even their species, and not upon others. I know about this moaning because I have done my share.

Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them? Do we want to teach our children to solve them?

Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. Without discipline we can solve nothing. With only some discipline we can solve only some problems. With total discipline we can solve all problems.

What makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one. Problems, depending upon their nature, evoke in us frustration of grief or sadness or loneliness or guilt or regret or anger or fear or anxiety or anguish or despair. These are uncomfortable feelings, often very uncomfortable, often as painful as any kind of physical pain, sometimes equaling the very worst kind of physical pain. Indeed, it is because of the pain that events or conflicts engender in us all that we can call them problems. And since life poses an endless series of problems, life is always difficult and is full of pain as well as joy.

Yet it is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. When we desire to encourage the growth of the human spirit, we challenge and encourage the human capacity to solve problems, just as in school we deliberately set problems for our children to solve. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving that we learn. As Benjamin Franklin said, 'Those things that hurt, instruct.' It is for this reason that wise people learn not to dread but actually to welcome problems and actually to welcome the pain of problems."

From 'The Road Less Traveled,' by M. Scott Peck. Copyright (c) 1978, 1985 by M. Scott Peck, M.D. Published by Touchstone Books, a trademark of Simon & Schuster Inc.

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Twelve Step Prayers

First Step Prayer
Dear God,
I admit that I am powerless over my addiction.
I admit that my life is unmanageable when I try to control it.
Help me this day to understand the true meaning of powerlessness.
Remove from me all denial of my addiction.

Alternate Prayer
Today, I ask for help with my addiction.
Denial has kept me from seeing how
powerless I am & how my life is unmanageable.
I need to learn & remember that I have an incurable
illness & that abstinence is the only way to deal with it.

Second Step Prayer
Dear God,
I know in my heart that only you can restore me to sanity.
I humbly ask that you remove all twisted thought &
addictive behavior from me this day.
Heal my spirit & restore in me a clear mind.

Second Step Prayer
I pray for an open mind so I may come to
believe in a Power greater than myself.
I pray for humility & the continued
opportunity to increase my faith.
I don¹t want to be crazy any more.

Third Step Prayer
God, I offer myself to Thee
To build with me & to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy love & Thy way of life.
May I do Thy will always! Amen

Third Step Prayer
Take my will & my life,
Guide me in my recovery,
Show me how to live.

Fourth Step Prayer
Dear God,
It is I who has made my life a mess.
I have done it, but I cannot undo it.
My mistakes are mine & I will begin a
searching & fearless moral inventory.
I will write down my wrongs,
but I will also include that which is good.
I pray for the strength to complete the task.

Fifth Step Prayer
Higher Power,
My inventory has shown me who I am, yet I ask for Your help
in admitting my wrongs to another person & to You.
Assure me, & be with me, in this Step,
for without this Step I cannot progress in my recovery.
With Your help, I can do this & I will do it.

Sixth Step Prayer
Dear God,
I am ready for Your help
in removing from me the defects of character
which I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery.
Help me to continue being honest with myself &
guide me toward spiritual & mental health.

Seventh Step Prayer
My Creator,
I am now willing that you should have all of me, good & bad.
I pray that you now remove from me every
single defect of character which stands in the way
of my usefulness to you & my fellows.
Grant me strength, as I go out from here to do Your bidding.

Eighth Step Prayer
Higher Power,
I ask Your help in making my list of all those I have harmed.
I will take responsibility for my mistakes &
be forgiving to others as You are forgiving to me.
Grant me the willingness to begin my restitution.
This I pray.

Ninth Step Prayer
Higher Power,
I pray for the right attitude to make my amends,
being ever mindful not to harm others in the process.
I ask for Your guidance in making indirect amends.
Most important, I will continue to make amends
by staying abstinent, helping others &
growing in spiritual progress.

Tenth Step Prayer
I pray I may continue:
To grow in understanding & effectiveness;
To take daily spot check inventories of myself;
To correct mistakes when I make them;
To take responsibility for my actions;
To be ever aware of my negative &
self-defeating attitudes & behaviors;
To keep my willfulness in check;
To always remember I need Your help;
To keep love & tolerance of others as my code; &
To continue in daily prayer how I can best serve You,
My Higher Power.

Eleventh Step Prayer
Higher Power, as I understand You,
I pray to keep my connection with You
open & clear from the confusion of daily life.
Through my prayers & meditation I ask especially for
freedom from self-will, rationalization & wishful thinking.
I pray for the guidance of correct thought & positive action.
Your will, Higher Power, not mine, be done.

Twelfth Step Prayer
Dear God,
My spiritual awakening continues to unfold.
The help I have received I shall pass on & give to others,
both in & out of the Fellowship.
For this opportunity I am grateful.
I pray most humbly to continue walking
day by day on the road of spiritual progress.
I pray for the inner strength & wisdom to practice
the principles of this way of life in all I do & say.
I need You, my friends & the program every hour of every day.
This is a better way to live.

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A Program Open to Believers and non-Believers Alike

Tolerance in Practice

"We found that the principals of tolerance and love had to be emphasized in actual practice. We can never say (or insinuate) to anyone that he must agree to our formula or be excommunicated. The atheist may stand up in an A.A. meeting still denying the Deity, yet reporting how vastly he has been changed in attitude and outlook. Much experience tells us he will presently change his mind about God, but nobody tells him he must do so "In such as atmosphere the orthodox, the unorthodox, and the unbeliever mix happily and usefully together. An opportunity for spiritual growth is open to all."

Bill W
As Bill Sees It
LETTER, 1940

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June 11, 2006

A World of Meditation

Follow this Beliefnet.com link to a world of meditation practices from diverse spiritual traditions.

The Lonely Disease

Alcoholism has been described as "the lonely disease," and very few recovered alcoholics argue the point...It is an observable fact, that our chief use of alcohol was egocentric -- that is, we poured it into our own bodies, for the effect we felt within our own skin.

Sometimes, that effect momentarily helped us to behave sociably, or temporarily assuaged our inner lonesomeness...The lonely road ahead looked bleak, dark, and unending.

It was too painful to talk about; and to avoid thinking about it, we soon drank again. We discover [in AA] -- but can hardly dare to believe at first -- that we are not alone. We are not totally unlike everybody, after all.

c. 1998 AAWS, Living Sober, pp. 33-4
AA Thought for the Day
(courtesy AAOnline.net)
June 11, 2006

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Each Day is a Sacred Gift

Sunday, Jun. 11

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

John O'Donohue

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Be Willing

Be willing to learn, and a teacher will appear. Be willing to work, and numerous opportunities for making a valuable, positive difference will come your way.

Your willingness is a key that unlocks life's abundance.

Your willingness helps opens your eyes to, and prepares you for whatever you are willing to be or to do.

Your willingness is not merely what you say it is. True willingness resides in the deepest part of who you are.

Be willing, and you will gain access to whatever you need to get the job done. Be willing, and you will find a way.

Many things seem out of reach only because you imagine them to be. Have the courage to be sincerely willing, and the impossible can become real.

Be willing to make a difference in each moment, and your world will overflow with possibilities. Be willing to experience a life of richness and fulfillment, and that is precisely how it will unfold.

Kylen Johnson
Maryland Missing Persons Network

Bishop Endorses 12-Step Recovery

Kim Lawton, managing editor of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, recently interviewed Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson...

Q: Earlier this year, you did go into rehab for alcohol addiction. How are you doing now?

A: I'm doing great now. I just celebrated four months of sobriety this week. It's been a total blessing. I can't tell you how wonderful it feels and what I've learned and how my own faith in God has deepened. And, you know, there's something I didn't expect that has come out of this. Going to 12-step meetings has been a great experience. I always knew I would do it because it's -- I was told that it was really important. But I never expected to be so inspired by it. And you know, there are very few places in this culture where you can walk into a room where there are street people and CEOs and teachers and physicians and construction workers and shopkeepers all in the same room, all talking about real things, talking about their real lives and what's going on. You know, the 12-step programs are really about living your life. Only the first step refers to alcohol. All of the rest are about living a life. And what I've discovered is that there is a whole lot more church going on in those 12-step meetings in church basements sometimes than going on upstairs in the sanctuary..."

From this post from Father Jake Stops the World.

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June 10, 2006

Opening Up to Change


Self-searching is the means by which we bring new vision, action, and grace to bear upon the dark and negative side of our natures. With it comes the development of that kind of humility that makes it possible for us to receive God's help. . . . we find that bit by bit we can discard the old life -- the one that did not work -- for a new life that can and does work under any conditions whatever.

AS BILL SEES IT, pp. 10, 8

I have been given a daily reprieve contingent upon my spiritual condition, provided I seek progress, not perfection. To become ready for change, I practice willingness, opening myself to possibilities of change. If I realize there are defects that hinder my usefulness in A.A. and toward others, I become ready by meditating and receiving direction. "Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely" (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 58). To let go and let God, I need only surrender my old ways to Him; I no longer fight nor do I try to control, but simply believe that, with God's help, I am changed and affirming this belief makes me ready. I empty myself to be full of awareness, light, and love, and I am ready to face each day with hope.

from Daily Reflections ©Copyright 1990 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS WORLD SERVICES, INC.©

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Building Healthy Self Esteem

Dr. Abraham Twerski, renowned psychiatrist, author, rabbi and founder of Gateway Rehabilitation alcoholism and addiction treatment center, has stated that he has never met an alcoholic or addict that did not have low self esteem before he or she became addicted.

This Beliefnet: Health and Healing article provides a useful overview of the topic and offers helpful advice and links to related resources, stating in part:

"'How we feel about ourselves crucially affects virtually every aspect of our experience...from the way we function at work, in love, in sex, to the way we operate as parents, to how high in life we are likely to rise. The dramas of our lives are the reflections of our most private visions of ourselves,' says Nathaniel Branden, a renowned psychotherapist and author, viewed by many as 'the father of modern-day self-esteem psychology.'

The Foundation of Self-esteem
According to Branden, self-esteem has two components: a feeling of personal competence and a feeling of personal worth, reflecting both your implicit judgment of your ability to cope with life's challenges and your belief that your interests, rights and needs are important.

Healthy self-esteem comes from realistically appraising your capabilities, striving to enhance these capabilities, and compassionately accepting your limitations and flaws. Living consciously—thinking independently, being self-aware, being honest with yourself, having an active orientation, taking risks, and respecting reality—says Branden, is the foundation of good self-esteem...

Turning Off the Negative Thoughts
In his bestselling book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, psychiatrist David Burns, M.D., says 'You don't have to do anything especially worthy to create or deserve self-esteem; all you have to do is turn off that critical, haranguing inner voice, because that critical inner voice is wrong! Your internal self-abuse springs from illogical, distorted thinking.'

According to Burns, cognitive distortions such as all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization and personalization can contribute to depression and an impaired sense of self-esteem. His powerfully simple prescription for correcting a negative self-image includes techniques like:

Learning to recognize automatic, self-critical, dysfunctional thoughts that make you feel bad about yourself
Learning to substitute more rational, less upsetting thoughts for these negative ones
Talking back to your internal critic...

A Rewarding Journey
Learning to feel good about who we are is a journey that takes time, patience, self-awareness and an ability to forgive ourselves for our human frailties. As difficult as that may be, the rewards—self confidence, improved relationships, a more positive self-image and a sense that all's right with the world—make it a goal worth striving for..."

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True Responsibilities

The goal in recovery is to find balance: we take responsibility for ourselves, and we identify our true responsibilities to others.

This may take some sorting through, especially if we have functioned for years on distorted notions about our responsibilities to others. We may be
responsible to one person as a friend or as an employee; to another person, we're responsible as an employer or as a spouse. With each person, we
have certain responsibilities. When we tend to those true responsibilities, we'll find balance in our life.

We are also learning that while others aren't responsible for us, they are accountable to us in certain ways.

We can learn to discern our true responsibilities for ourselves, and to others. We can allow others to be responsible for themselves and expect them to be appropriately responsible to us.

We'll need to be gentle with ourselves while we learn.

Today, I will strive for clear thinking about my actual
responsibilities to others. I will assume these responsibilities as part of taking care of myself.

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

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June 09, 2006

Fragments of Prayer

When I am felling depressed, I repeat to myself statements such as these: "Pain is the touchstone of progress."..."Fear no evil."..."This, too, will pass."..."This experience can be turned to benefit."

These fragments of prayer bring far more than mere comfort. They keep me on the track of right acceptance; they break up my compulsive themes of guilt, depression, rebellion, and pride; and sometimes they endow me with the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Bill W.

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Concern for Others Builds Self Esteem

"Our negative sense of self has been replaced by a positive concern for others." Basic Text, p. 16

Spreading gossip feeds a dark hunger in us. Sometimes we think the only way we can feel good about ourselves is to make someone else look bad by comparison. But the kind of self-esteem that can be purchased at another's expense is hollow and not worth the price.

How, then, do we deal with our negative sense of self? Simple. We replace it with a positive concern for others. Rather than dwell on our low self-esteem, we turn to those around us and seek to be of service to them. This may seem to be a way of avoiding the issue, but it's not. There's nothing we can do by dwelling on our low sense of self except work ourselves into a stew of self-pity. But by replacing our self-pity with active, loving concern for others, we become the kind of people we can respect.

The way to build our self-esteem is not to tear others down, but to build them up through love and positive concern. To help us with this, we can ask ourselves if we are contributing to the problem or to the solution. Today, we can choose to build instead of destroy.

Just for today:
Though I may be feeling low, I don't need to tear someone down to build myself up. Today, I will replace my negative sense of self with a positive concern for others. I will build, not destroy. pg. 162

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

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June 08, 2006

Daily our spirits are renewed.

For most of us, a spiritual awakening does not come once and for all. Instead, we have small flashes of insight here and there, and every once in a while we look back and realize with gratitude how the promises of our journey have been coming true for us.

Just as our bodies need daily nourishment, so do our spirits. We can seek people and experiences that leave us feeling warm and uplifted. We can take time each day to become quiet in mind and body so that we hear the inner messages that refresh our spirits. We can read something inspirational, listen to good music, look at a beautiful painting or a sunset, grasp a friend's hand in understanding, and say a prayer.

Our spirits bounce back from hurt and depression. They are more easily renewed when we take proper care of our bodies, since we are a total entity of heart, mind, body, and spirit.

Today, I will look for ways to feed my spirit.

from the book: Inner Harvest by Elisabeth L.

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June 07, 2006

The Group as Higher Power

"Our understanding of a Higher Power is up to us.... We can call it the group, the program, or we can call it God." Basic Text, p. 24

Many of us have a hard time with the idea of a Higher Power until we fully accept the depth of our own powerlessness over addiction. Once we do, most of us are at least willing to consider seeking the help of some Power greater than our disease. The first practical exposure many of us have to that kind of Power is in the NA group. Perhaps that's where we should start in developing our own understanding of God.

One evidence of the Power in the group is the unconditional love shown when NA members help one another without expectation of reward. The group's collective experience in recovery is itself a Power greater than our own, for the group has practical knowledge of what works and what doesn't. And the fact that addicts keep coming to NA meetings, day after day, is a demonstration of the presence of a Higher Power, some attractive, caring force at work that helps addicts stay clean and grow.

All these things are evidence of a Power that can be found in NA groups. When we look around with an open mind, each of us will be able to identify other signs of that Power. It doesn't matter if we call it God, a Higher Power, or anything else, just as long as we find a way to incorporate that Power into our daily lives.

Just for today:

I will open my eyes and my mind to signs of a Power that exists in my NA group. I will call upon that Power to help me stay clean. pg. 152

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

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June 06, 2006

God Has Been Listening

It finally became obvious to me that the God I thought had judged and damned me had done nothing of the sort. He had been listening, and in His own good time His answer came.

His answer was threefold: the opportunity for a life of sobriety; Twelve Steps to practice, in order to attain and maintain that life of sobriety; fellowship within the program, ever ready to sustain and help me each twenty-four-hour day.

c. 1973 AAWS, Came To Believe. . ., p. 11
AA Thought for the Day
(courtesy AAOnline.net)

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June 05, 2006

Finding Pleasure in Simple Routines

"We find ourselves doing and enjoying things that we never thought we would be doing." Basic Text, p. 98

Active addiction kept us isolated for many reasons. In the beginning, we avoided family and friends so they wouldn't find out we were using. Some of us avoided all nonaddicts, fearing moral backlash and legal repercussions. We belittled people who had "normal" lives with families and hobbies; we called them "uncool:' believing we could never enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Eventually, we even avoided other addicts because we didn't want to share our drugs. Our lives narrowed, and our concerns were confined to the daily maintenance of our disease.

Today, our lives are much fuller. We enjoy activities with other recovering addicts. We have time for our families. And we've discovered many other pursuits that give us pleasure. What a change from the past! We can live life just as fully as the "normal" people we once scorned. Enjoyment has returned to our lives, a gift of recovery.

Just for today:
I can find pleasure in the simple routines of daily
living. pg. 146

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

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