Recovery

Yoga is Not a Trend, It’s a Necessity

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Okay people, I’ve jumped on the yoga mat. While it’s not a pretty sight–my short limbs contorting over and around the extra pooches rounding my middle–I am, once again, right where I need to be.

God help me.

Some clarifying points, so my friends aren’t too startled: I’m enrolled in a beginner’s yoga class. The schedulers graciously avoided adding seniors to the class title although I am one of the youngest people in the class. Last week, I huffed and puffed next to an 85-year-old wispy woman with Parkinsons who was more limber than me.

Good for her, I silently moaned, as I realized I need the class as much as she does.

The ugly, unfortunate truth

My yoga teacher says the body remembers every single injury it’s received. This is not good news for a lifelong tomboy like me. I played hard as a kid–I could run circles around the neighborhood boys–and I played even harder as a young adult addicted to cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana.

My body took a ton of abuse; during college, I was in the ER at least once a semester for an “accident” (like falling down stairs) or symptoms brought on by the physical stress of the ism’s of addiction, like heart palpitations and shortness of breath.

Now, I’m 54 years old, 24 years into remission from addiction, and feeling physically old.

I have degenerative disc disease in my neck and lower back. Most days, I have a band of pain around my upper right thigh. I’m overweight from my love affair with sugar and carbs. I’m on medication for blood pressure and high cholesterol and my family has a history of heart disease.

Again, God help me.

The easier, softer way

Let’s face it. My body took a lot of abuse when my alcoholism was active. I’ve often wondered how that abuse would manifest as I age.

Turns out aging is not my friend, not in my current condition at least. Finally, I’ve cried uncle. I’ve surrendered. I’ve said, “I’m sick and tired and being sick and tired.”

This time, I mean it.

The second yoga class was a tiny bit easier than the first. I went in the evening, worked hard for an hour, got home about 8:30 and collapsed into bed. I slept like people are supposed to sleep.

Wherever did I get the idea that anything good has to be hard or requires great sacrifice? Puh-lease . . .

When you think about it, a gentle yoga practice–mine is called Kripalu Yoga–really is the easier, softer approach not only to good physical body care, but also a mindful approach to overall living. The Kripalu tradition calls this approach taking yoga “off the mat.”

A good practice for living

My spiritual sister, Annie Scholl, writes that getting in better shape is not about the number on the scale. It’s about health and feeling good in our 50s so that we’re setting a good benchmark for our 60s and beyond. I hope to practice yoga into my 80s and 90s (How’s that for optimism?)

Aging is inevitable. I’m good with that.

But I’m not good with repeating the embarrassing incidence in California that happened a few weeks ago. My sweetie and I slid down an incline to the beach on our butts because we didn’t have the stability (or faith in our joints) to hike down.

Two young men jumped up from their beach perch and ran over to collect our grandmotherly selves. Ugh.

Next time? I’ll manuever that path on my own. Aging may be inevitable, but misery, pain and old-lady rescues are not acceptable.

I am a yogi after all. God help me (third time for emphasis)!

Membership Program Answers “What’s Next?”

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After we threw a big party–the UNITE to Face Addiction Rally–for 25,000 at the base of the Washington Monument on October 4, people asked, “What’s next?”

Yesterday, Facing Addiction answered the question in a big way: What’s next is a national membership program that challenges how Americans deal with addiction.

I can say we because I write a lot of digital content for Facing Addiction. I can say deal with because the work will be comprehensive when it comes to shifting prevailing attitudes and beliefs around each and every aspect of our nation’s #1 health crisis. You can read more in co-founder Jim Hood’s article here.

Getting to work

Following the Rally in DC, we–or speaking for myself, I–sat in this space of feeling blown away by the event we pulled off. I mean, seriously, who does a first-time, national event in the non-profit world with Joe Walsh, Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow, The Fray, and a bunch of actors and politicians?

Here’s the video recap (by the way, the guy in the military suit is the US surgeon general!):

Here’s the thing: people are paying attention. The ears of big-time influencers are perked up, intrigue is at an all-time high and Facing Addiction’s co-founders are meeting daily with people whose names would blow your mind. Mine gets blown on a regular basis and I’ve been involved for nearly a year!

Then there’s the work. We’re not slouching in the ambition department, folks. If you’re plugged into B Here Today socially, you’ll see references to the different target areas of Facing Addiction’s work throughout the remainder of the year. For a more detailed list of those areas, click here.

By the way, that link will also introduce you to the Become a Member page.

Membership in Facing Addiction

The comprehensive approach that Facing Addiction is taking to building programs and solutions to the addiction crisis will take an unfathomable amount of money. So, yes, your money is needed. But more than that, you are needed.

Your voice is needed. Your heart is needed. Your belief that we can become a branded organization that stands with the likes of the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association is needed.

Membership in Facing Addiction provides an opportunity that is rare in today’s “take your money and run” national non-profit world.  Parts of this membership package allow you access to unprecedented moments in history.

Don’t you want to own a part of the mission that completely reshapes how addiction and recovery are perceived? That shifts the problem from the halls of criminal justice to the hallways of healthcare facilities?Membership in Facing Addiction is all this and more!

Plus you get a t-shirt.

When my mom died of cancer more than five years ago, my family knew where to go for answers to impossible questions.

When it comes to addiction, the questions also seem impossible to answer. Facing Addiction is primed for the mission. We still need you! Sign up for membership today!

23 Gifts of Willingness, Thanks to Recovery

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November 20th is the mid-point in my sobriety year. Three days ago, the recovery calendar turned to 24 1/2 for me.

I think I remember that first six-month mark–24 years ago–because it came right at Thanksgiving and was the beginning of my first sober holiday season.

I remember spending a good deal of time in November and December of 1991 overcome with gratitude. In fact, I don’t think a single season since then has quite captured the magnitude of emotion I felt then.

Now, in full disclosure, I was an emotional wreck in 1991; gratitude was only one of many emotions that lived on my skin’s surface. I was also angry, bitter and self-righteously indignant, mostly with my family. Those poor people.

24 years ago and now

Six months into recovery found me fiery and righteous. I looked and acted tough although my insides quivered in fear of not drinking or smoking pot during the holidays. My God, how would I survive?

Thank you, God, for feeling comfortable in my skin all these years later. I no longer wear my emotions just above my hairline. Sometimes I may still not like the skin I’m in–I’m working on toning and tossing some of it–but I really like who I am today.

Who cares if it took nearly a quarter of a century to get here?

The gift of willingness

Of all the reasons for thanksgiving and gratitude this year, I am grateful for the gift of willingness. This topsy-turvy year brought me to a recent resting place of sorts; a place where I’m settling in and figuring things out. I wouldn’t have this resting place without willingness.

In this past year I have become willing to:

  1. 1. Trust the process
  2. 2. Keep my mouth shut
  3. 3. Let go of outcomes
  4. 4. Cultivate awareness and quiet time
  5. 5. Say, “No, I don’t want to”
  6. 6. Believe in unknown possibilities
  7. 7. Have faith in right outcomes
  8. 8. Love without liking
  9. 9. Look beyond what I see
  10. 10. Try something new, then something else
  11. 11. Sit with uncomfortable feelings
  12. 12. Say, “Yes, I will do the thing I love to do”
  13. 13. Bow my head more often
  14. 14. Leap into adventures
  15. 15. Lend hand and heart in service
  16. 16. Appreciate others’ struggles without fixing them
  17. 17. Reach and stretch mind, body and spirit
  18. 18. Grow where I am
  19. 19. Pray without ceasing
  20. 20. Cherish my family
  21. 21. Turn from the angry and violent
  22. 22. Stay mindful
  23. 23. Caress my heart-mate with tenderness, open arms and a welcome home at the end of each day

God’s grace grants me, not only willingness, but also desire to do each of these things. What a bountiful feast of joyful living!

Feelings of blessing begin with an inner knowing that all is well. I feel well today! My soul feels happy–me, the one who always tried to “figure out” the meaning of happiness. Now I’m basking in pools of heavenly happiness.

My prayer for you during this week of Thanksgiving is that you feel well too. May your soul feel happy, may you uncover your own willingness list and may you grow in your sense of God’s grace.

B Well and Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo courtesy of taliesin

How to Be Mindful With Your Small Screens

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I read recently that awareness is a vast reservoir that holds each idea that stems from our outer selves–what we see, hear, taste, smell and touch–and from our inner selves–all things we feel and believe.

Because awareness is the big vat that holds it all, everything swirls together so that all awareness is equal. In other words, you can be aware that you’re seeing a beautiful sunset and be aware that you’re feeling peaceful and happy about seeing a beautiful sunset.

I’ve been wondering lately about whether compulsive social media use–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram–can filter awareness, or worse, block mindfulness.

Looking through a camera lens

My sweetie and I took a few days off last week and traveled to the Pacific coastal village of La Jolla, Calif. It’s one of our favorite places, probably because we met there 10 years ago. The seals and sea lions, massive cliffs with walk-through caves and the magenta sunsets hold a special place in our hearts.

I love watching the intense power of the sea as it crashes against the cliffs. The swirling white foam reminds of La Jolla foammarshmallow Fluff oozing over chocolate ice cream–my favorite sundae!

Of course I took lots of pictures with my iPhone. At some point, though, I became aware that by watching the phone’s screen to time a perfect picture, I missed watching the perfect timing on nature’s big screen.

By watching your phone's screen to time a perfect picture, you can miss the perfect timing on nature's big screen.… Click To Tweet

I had a similar experience last month at the UNITE to Face Addiction Rally in Washington, DC. Part of my job was to live-Tweet and Facebook the event–an incredible experience that I loved! But busily typing tweets (again, on a small screen) took my focus off the immediacy of the event.

I’m not complaining, but–here’s the awareness thing–I feel a smidge less mindful.

How do we find balance?

The Catch-22 for me, when it comes to social media, is that much of the work that I do in the addiction recovery and advocacy space involves being present to online activity and then responding. Nothing wrong with that.

I know I’m off-kilter and over-consuming when I find myself mindlessly cruising social feeds while waiting at an appointment, in line at the grocery-store, or (gasp!) stopped in traffic. No, I’m definitely not present in those moments.

I also know I’m overly focused on the small screen when I’m supposed to do something else, like a writing project, or journaling or some recovery work, and instead, I’m scrolling through Facebook.

Ah yes, we’re all guilty from time to time, and this post isn’t about shaming anybody, not even myself. What I do want to suggest is that you become more aware of how you may be putting filters between you and whatever your big screen happens to be.

There is a way for mindfulness and social media to coexist. The key word is awareness. Being aware and feeling aware keeps you conscious, mindful and connected to Life’s Big Screen. Here’s to beautiful scenery!

How Your Thoughts Impact Your Recovery

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Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin’s Facebook page. http://buff.ly/1VK7cj1

 

I read something recently that turned my day around completely and allowed me to start over. Who says a 24-hour period begins at midnight?

Recovery often presents itself as an insightful opportunity to choose mindfulness and reclaim your sense of self-worth, which, by the way, never left you. Your thoughts simply caused you to temporarily misplace it.

From the mind of Jon Kabat-Zinn

“It is a big step toward reclaiming our lives when we realize that, no matter what their content, good, bad, or ugly, we do not have to take our thoughts personally.

“When we don’t automatically take them personally, or believe the stories about reality that we build from them, when we can simply hold them in awareness with a sense of curiosity and wonder at their amazing power given their insubstantiality, their limitations and inaccuracies . .

“Then, in that moment at least, we are already free, ready to act with greater clarity and kindness . . . ”

~ Mindfulness for Beginners

Think about the stories you tell yourself, often repeatedly, on any given day. As a storyteller, I usually have multiple versions of each story and lots of drama involved with mine!

What happens when you stop and tell yourself the story is nothing more than a script you’ve written? What happens when you step away from being the person writing the script or telling the story and become a spiritual being watching the person with the story?

Recovery grows sweeter again.

Here’s what happened to me over the weekend

I stopped. Just stopped the story.

I clearly saw the story’s insignificance, even its untruths. And, as an observer, I saw without judgment so that I began to loosen the ropes of self-condemnation that often tighten around me.

The last part of the above quote, “ready to act with greater clarity and kindness,” are true action words, like one long verb. As I reflected further, I remembered that I’m not hanging out in this world to accumulate things or to get what I think I deserve.

No, I’m here to give–kindness, charity, comfort, compassion and love.

Here’s the most critical part: I must hold myself in the center of givingness. The observing me has a much easier time staying in the middle than my ego does. In fact, staying out of the center is probably the reason why the ego pushes me to stay busy doing.

Just be-ing tends to ruin the ego’s day. The spiritual brat in me loves to stick out her tongue at that thought! Progress, not perfection!


UNITE to Face Addiction update: If you’re reading this early on Monday and you’re still at home, set your DVR to record the Dr. Oz show before you head out. On today’s episode, Dr. Oz will give a behind-the-scenes look the Rally on October 4th. You’ll get to see great clips with the artists and members of the crowd. Don’t miss it!