Sunday, September 30, 2007

The End of September

Tomorrow is October 1. I began my abstinence from computer games September 1. Tomorrow is a month. It's hard to believe. I'm delighted it's the truth, though.

My life is blessed. The stressors remain. My reaction to them comes from the other direction, though. I'm serene. I'm content. I am at peace. Praise God!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Kicked in the Gut

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
Yes. I'm still abstinent from the games. But the thought did cross my mind. One of those people on my resentment list just shoved her way back in bigtime. It doesn't matter. It can't be helped. I would change it if I could, but I can't.

I edit a newsletter. It's eight pages, and looks good. It looks professional. And the issue just out announces the meeting that really is September 27 as being August 27. The email message that set me off says, "Got mine just now. Uh--the back page lists August 27 for the ... program. Hope folks check inside! Or did I lose a month somewhere?? :}:}:}:}"
Peace I Ask of Thee Oh River

Peace I ask of thee, oh river
Peace, peace, peace
When I learn to live serenely
Cares will cease

From the hills I gather courage
Visions of the days to be
Strength to lead and faith to follow
All are given unto me.
I'm sorry I made the mistake. I'm sorry I have to pray for her, sincerely or not, for a while. Probably a long while.

Monday, September 24, 2007

24 Days One Day at a Time

This blog is three weeks old today. I started it for a lot of reasons, but one pressing at the time was my obsession with computer games and my need to pour that frustration into writing without violating my anonymity in OA. On that Monday I had not opened what I then referred to as "stupid computer games" going into the third day. That abstinence continues, making this the 24th. The obsession is gone, as surely as the food obsession. I'm almost as amazed at the game obsession being listed as the food one. I didn't do either. God did.

I spent a good deal of the weekend on the computer, but I worked long and hard on an obligation I've known I needed to be working on since August or earlier. Since it needs to be finished by October 1 and is a big project, it was high time I got busy! I found the experience gratifying, challenging, and exhilarating--by far a bigger thrills than even exciting computer games, not just the Spider Sol, Sudoku, and Tetris I tended to play!

In Sunday School yesterday we read:
To claim God’s favor in our daily lives and agendas, even for every trivial lucky break and game-winning field goal, without acknowledging the world of suffering, the world of other people’s struggles, is to use God’s name in vain. (Ray Waddle, Against The Grain: Unconventional Wisdom from Ecclesiastes, page 18)
I found the timing of reading this ironic. The day before I had spent considerable time looking for something I needed that day. I'm working each morning on starting the day asking God to direct my thinking and to allow me to walk with him (changed from the earlier inviting him to walk with me.) So, I prayed, "Okay, God, where did I put them?" The answer, immediately obvious, led to my uncovering them in less than a minute. Sunday morning, with that in mind, I said "Okay, God. I need to find an agent." This, of course, is a much bigger task, a more meaningful one in the long run. I had an idea of a step I needed to take, one I'll take as soon as I publish this post--despite the quote above. I'll always remember the quote or at least the gist of it, though, and put my own requests into context of God's will, not mine. But I won't be so doggedly independent that I won't accept his proffered help. One day at a time.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I Must Go Down to the Sea Again

I could sit and look at the ocean forever. I’ve never lived closer than an eight hours drive, but I’ve visited from time to time. Once, with my parents and two of my sisters, before the third was born, again when my own sons were quite young, from time to time during conferences and meetings, on two ocean cruises, and flying over the expanse of the Atlantic, I’ve savored it. From time to time I’ve waded, probably never more than knee deep. Until now.

Far too often I’ve stood on the beach, the sideline of life, afraid to get into the game. I’m available for commentary, ready and eager to direct or describe the action, but the mêlée? I leave that to the actors. Conversation? Let me talk to the group. One on one? Too scary.

At least these truths evidenced themselves until nine months ago, the day I embraced OA and found myself wrapped in the support of my brothers and sisters. This day, three quarters of a year, I stand supported and loved, ready to face my fear.

I snuck up on my fear, buying a swimsuit in May, carrying it to a June retreat but isolating instead of daring to swim. Carrying the garment to Wisconsin, I admired it in the suitcase but never removed it, ignoring invitations and the pool beneath my window.

Today, the suit got wet. With salt water. I announced I intended to play in the surf, but over the swimsuit I donned shorts and a shirt. And I took my drivers’ license, credit card, cell phone, and new fancy camera with me. Did I really expect to get into the surf? Probably not. I did take off my sandals, fasten them to my shorts, and walk with my feet in the edge of the water, as I had before. I put the shoulder strap of the camera bag around my neck so I couldn’t drop it, fear of falling paralyzing me. I felt sand erode under my feet with surging and ebbing water. I ventured a few feet further, anxious, nervous.

I scanned the beach for an acquaintance attending the same conference, somebody I knew but had never conversed with of course. Maybe I would ask them to watch the camera. Should I take it back to the hotel? Maybe I could leave it with the desk clerk instead of confronting my husband in my folly. Three strangers sat in lawn chairs on the beach. Were they trustworthy? Better to disguise it as clothing piled, invisible among other piles.

There weren’t other piles, just one. Did I trust that family? On a wave of courage I put the bag on the concrete base of a pier, far from the water, close enough to the seawall few people walked up there. Resting on sandals, wrapped in the clothes, perhaps the large camera seemed innocuous enough. In my untried suit, wearing trifocals, I ventured into the surf.

I must get the suit wet. Finally water splashed the garment. Mission accomplished! I could return and retrieve the camera. No. Not enough. I went further out, and further, and further, surprised when a wave splashed drops on my face. I took off my glasses, held them tight, and moved further out. I marked my progress by the nearby pier. It would be marvelous to stand even with the building spread out near the end. I got close, about 3 feet the goal, but the waves were covering my head, the sun was long since down, and I was swimming alone, though a family of four were within sight, paying no attention to me.

I didn’t need to prove anything. I was far enough. Standing and relishing long enough to soak in the moment, I worked my way to shore, dressed, and climbed to the top of the sea wall where on a bench I pulled out the camera to take pictures of the area. In the darkness the quality suffered.

It's okay. The images in my head will remain pristine. I have dared to live in tomorrow.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


What a neat day! It's Saturday, after a tough week, before a conference away from home at a fun place. Nothing pressing--well, nothing much. It's a good day.

Part of the fun of the day was getting to know a woman who's asked me to sponsor her. I've seldom met anybody--probably never--whose life and interests so closely parallel my own. We spent a delightful time together, and I look forward to many more in the years to come.

The games that plagued me until 15 days ago beckon to me occasionally, but it's a gentle call, one I can ignore and move on to something else. The shift from the obsession to this peace staggers me. It's a gift from God as clearly as my abstinence.

I worked through the 7th step in the workbook the last few days, sending the result to my own sponsor. This second time through the steps continues to yield rich results, and I'm so glad my sponsor suggested it. I've learned a lot about me and about God through it.

I'm bored tonight, so I wrote a poem.


my body an extension
of his,
a universal
remote control.
I exist in his shadow
in his mind
and mine.
Ask me my thoughts?
I answer with his.
Inquire of my health?
I’ll report on his pain.
We think first of him.

Can I? How?
Like a marionette
dropped, drug,
our strings now
desperately entwine.
Can I unclench his fist?
I forgive. Him. And me.
I release him, set him free.
Prosperity be his. Serenity.
He receives, I get it too.
Enmeshed in release.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


On an email loop, a person said, "When I ask someone who is not in program what is meant by surrender, the answer is usually that it is a negative word. It equates with quitting, giving up, being beaten and so on. What is the meaning of surrender in program?"

What a question! What a perfect question for me to encounter this morning. Here's what I wrote:
Surrender. Release. Surrendering your heavy burdens, relying on the promise that God will not give you something too heavy to carry. Finding out what is really meant by, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Surrender is a freedom beyond belief, a peace that passes all understanding. Surrender is serenity, joy, release. Surrender is the life I want to never let go of now that it finally has found me.

Clint H on tapes available through talks about the difficulty of talking to soldiers about surrender but the excellent word picture that came from the experience. When a soldier surrenders, he lays the weapon down, sits down, and waits to be told what to do. He doesn't look at the weapon, doesn't touch it, doesn't initiate any action, he simply waits. The difference, with surrender under the 12 steps, is that the emptiness and defeat may feel the same, but the benevolence and love that are the orders make it the most wonderful event in a lifetime. I surrender.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Major Minor Miracle

I dreaded the day today. I lay in bed and thought about Step 11 and the Big Book admonition,
On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.
To be honest, I wasn't really worried about my thoughts or about being dishonest or self-seeking. That self-pity thing, though, was a bit rampant in my expectations for the day. I work with a lot of people, and some of them frustrate me. Not many do so more than one person I was to spend the majority of the workday with today--and tomorrow and perhaps Wednesday. I pitied me despite asking God to direct my thoughts, but I remembered a wise mentor I had many years ago who would listen to my tale of woe about a situation and then tell me, "Sometimes the best way out is through." With that thought I could bear to face the day.

I found myself pleasantly surprised. It's not that the person didn't still irritate me some of the time, but not ALL of it. What the person said ACTUALLY MADE SOME SENSE! I found myself interested and ready to follow the line of thought. Wow!

What a change from past encounters! Wow! Later the same passage advises
We ask especially for freedom from self-will, and are careful to make no request for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves, however, if others will be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends. Many of us have wasted a lot of time doing that and it doesn't work.
I can easily see myself having prayed that the irritant be less irritating. I didn't. I prayed about my own thoughts instead. And I was blessed. I'm almost looking forward to tomorrow. Almost.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Eight Days Down!

The pull is greatly lessened. Funny how weak a week can make a wreck of a habit.

Tonight I'm dealing with resentment. One big resentment. I've prayed for the person to have everything needed, to have the peace and happiness I want. I've prayed for the resentment to be taken from me. I've resisted the desire to pray for the person to be taken from me. Oh well. So far I don't see results. Lord give me patience and I want it NOW!!

Tomorrow is going to be a challenging day. Without the safety net of my computer games. Sigh. Take care. Good night.

Friday, September 7, 2007

And on the Seventh Day....

My afternoon as planned has cancelled out, been postponed to another day. A couple of items have languished too long on my desk, and I'll work some on them, but the remainder of the afternoon is open. The old habit of reading the email that came in since the last time I checked then opening a game for "just a minute" which would devour a major part of the afternoon's time now comes as a fleeting pull. The question, though, is where to turn. So many choices. This time I'll take one of them. And at the end of the day, when I look back through the perspective of the 11th step, I'll feel so much better. Freedom still terrifies me, but it entices me at the same time.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Linguistic Maneuvers, Thought Modification.

Well, the day is still Day 6 of abstinence from the computer games, but they're no longer Stupid Computer Games. My counselor says to drop the stupid, to acknowledge the valuable role they played in numbing my mind when I wasn't able to cope with pain and fear. I've played them for a long, long time. I've called them that, SCG, for about as long. Anybody remember the old TI99/4A computer from TI? I got pretty darned good at the original Mario Brothers game on that. Besides that, I first tried to teach myself to program on that machine. Yep, I've played computer games for a long time. The hole is massive, but other things are moving into the void, making it more comfortable. Now, though, I've got to amend the vocabulary. Humph. Growing up when you're 60 is tough!

How can I be of service?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Letter to my Friend

I don't like the word "sponsee." I like "sponsoree" a tad better but not much. I think "pideon" is cute but wouldn't want to impose it on anyone. I've settled on calling those for whom I am honored to serve as sponsor my "sponsoreds." One tonight has become abstinent recently and is still struggling. I'll share with you what I told her tonight.
Know your decision is for today. Don’t think about forever. I get problems when I look at forever, too. There’s a part of me that thinks I can allow one treat a week or something similar and that thought scares me to death.

My cravings happen most often just after breakfast. I can get up from the table having eaten more than is on the menu I have modified to my food plan (by an ounce of cheese) and still feel like I’m sinking for lack of sugar. I have been going ahead and doing a 150 calorie bar, and I’ve given that up since Friday and feel better about it. This morning I had two cheese sticks when I wanted to have the bar and since I was settling for the cheese sticks and wouldn’t have chosen them, they felt better, and served the purpose without being a reward for failure. My food plan allows either for the morning cravings, but I hope to move away from the need as the weight decreases.

I do understand where you are. And so do you. You’re looking at this well, maturely, seeing what is happening, and I’m proud of you. When you do feel weak, (dizzy and a headache) I believe you should eat slowly more of the same. Take small bites and try to give you stomach an opportunity to catch up. Drink plenty of liquid before and during a meal to help with the full feeling. At some point you may want to add up the calories and see if you really are depriving yourself of what you need to be eating. That’s a possibility. You didn’t gain the weight overnight and losing it overnight feels righteous and glorious, but harming your health to do it is insanity over food in its own right.

God has given you abstinence. He’s not stingy. He gives it over and over again.
    1. I admit I am powerless over food — that my life has become unmanageable.
    2. I believe that a Power greater than me can restore me to sanity.
    3. I make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand Him.

Have a blessed and abstinent evening. You have myriad friends. We love you.

It's the Vacuum that Bugs Me.

I would have said the games pulled me, but now, in the jetsam of the habit I find the pull is the vacuum, the need to fill every minute, the fear of moving to something real, something meaningful, the terror of the unknown.

I have a list of options, things I can turn to. This blog is one, and the most comfortable at this moment. Yet the other options smile, knowing their long hibernation has ended, that my life is awakening. They shimmer, exhilerated their moment may come at last.

Procrastination is chronic, low intensity fear. The only part of that failing to ring true is the "low." I had a mentor once, a wise old man. He continues to mentor me, long past the end of his life. He's telling me now, as he did when I was a newcomer to his profession, "Sometimes the best way out is through."

I have a book to edit. Excuse me while I take the first step. Did you know Lau-Tzu didn't say that a journey of a thousand miles was begun with the first step? He said raising the food started it. Actually, on further research, the site www.QuotationsPage says:
Although this is the popular form of this quotation, a more correct translation from the original Chinese would be "The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet." Rather than emphasizing the first step, Lau Tzu regarded action as something that arises naturally from stillness. Another potential phrasing would be "Even the longest journey must begin where you stand." [note by Michael Moncur, September 01, 2004]
Ready, set....

And on the Fifth Day...

So far, so good. I helped my young niece with games last night--on and I didn't really play the games, just helped her with a few keystrokes and read for her. She's in her second week of kindergarten. That doesn't count as blowing the computer games abstinence, I do declare.

I went to my meeting this morning, and it was a good one.

My credenza looks MARVELOUS and there is no pile beside the door. Of course there are four books leaning against the credenza, but I'm going to give those to the public library. Let me amend that. The TOP of the credenza looks good. The open shelves? Well, another block of time when otherwise the computer games would have eaten away the hours, and that too will be better. Right now, I've got to go do the job I'm paid to do. Have a blessed day.

Can I be of service?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


The obsession with stupid computer games is manageable. That doesn't mean it's not there. This is day four. By the end of this day, I'll have gone through Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday without playing stupid computer games.

So why just now did I have what seemed to be an overpowering urge to open a game? Fear. Procrastination is chronic low-intensity fear. I heard it and my heart knew the truth of it completely, automatically. What am I afraid of? Moving forward. This office is a shambles. It embarrasses me when I look around. I've been here well over 19 years now, and it's well inhabited. The offices of my counterparts around here are pristine in comparison--many of them actually pristine without even comparing them. I've got a credenza to my right with 30 or 40 books piled on top because they don't fit underneath. Above them are letters, papers, stuff, including a file box full of stuff for a book I've been planning to write at least 12 years. On the floor near the door is a scanner I bought on EBay and have never used, a cell phone holder, a coaster, a book I finished long ago, and some kind of a cord. To my left are boxes from my parents' house I have to go through as the family historian, to sell those things nobody wants to keep or to give to charitable institutions. Pictures I've intended to hang...

Funny! I was looking around, saw the pictures from last year's photo show, art I'd been intended to hang in my office I was going to say about a year. Then I realized as I was typing it had been exactly a year, that the deadline to take down the 2007 display of photos was 1:30 today. I got it done in the nick of time. Now I have this year's art to hang near my office as well. Anyway, you get the picture. I've got plenty I could go, merely in decluttering and you've got an inklink how much I procrastinate on writing projects, etc., as well.

The blog has served it's purpose for this entry. With plenty of other stuff I knew I could do, I needed to address the fear, and the blog worked for that. Thanks for being of serve.

How may I serve you?


I thought about "the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day." (AA Big Book, page 86) Problem was, I didn't consider the plans I didn't remember. At the breakfast table, eating the food I'd told my sponsor I was going to eat for breakfast, I got up to answer the telephone. Before I walked the six or seven feet I said "I had a dentist appointment." Sure enough it was the hygienist. I got there almost 30 minutes late. Trouble is, that's the second time in not too many months I've done the same thing. She was gracious, said she'd have to scold me next time. I didn't need her scolding. In fact, scolding with me makes me feel like I've paid the price and the score is even. Forgiveness I find much harder to take. Her 9 AM appointment didn't show up and it didn't put her out of her schedule, so I'm glad for that, but it doesn't help much.

I got in the car afterwards. I listen to a lot of MP3's downloaded from I had a CD playing in the car I'd made from there, Jim W. He said "We did everything we could to prove ourselves insufficient, and to know God you cannot be sufficient." So I sit here, insufficient. I won't forget a third dentist appointment, either. God help me.

Monday, September 3, 2007

One Day at a Time, Today

Good morning. I've been frustrated about not being able to blog my Overeaters Anonymous experiences because of the necessity of anonymity. I visited some AA blogs last night and realized this morning this was my forum to declare a wondrous even that just happened. First, I'll introduce myself.

I'm 60 counting years on earth. I'm almost 9 months abstinent in OA. December 17, 2006 changed my life forever, thank God! I'd been teaching the same Sunday school class over twenty years, and as was my habit, I stopped at a convenience store and got a cappuccino and a sweet roll. I'd been given the book Overeaters Anonymous and had read it. I'd been working with a counselor familiar with 12-step programs. I'd been going to Metabolic Research Centers for years and was down about 12 pounds from the starting weight, on my way back up. I needed help. I got into the car and said, "This is stupid." I guess that was my prayer that led to God's taking away my compulsion to overeat. I've been abstinent since finishing that snack. Like I've heard Chuck Chamberlain quoted, "If I'd known that was going to be my last drink, I'd have had two." If I'd known it was my last sweet roll, it would have been a great one. But it was.

Since that day I've released 43 pounds. My highest weight ever was 300 in early 1998. My weight this week was 210.5. You may notice the difficulty of starting a new program of sane eating a week before Christmas Eve. I know. But I was abstinent and it felt MARVELOUS! Besides that, I fell in my kitchen on December 24, hurting my rotator cuff rather badly. I know it was a rotator cuff, because I'd severed the other one in 1997 which led to the surgery which led to the blood clot which led to the coumadin which led to the 300 pounds, along with the pure stress that caused the severed rotator cuff in the beginning. I didn't go to a doctor with this one. I could have, of course, by going to an emergency room. Or I could have gone on Tuesday, the 26th. But on the 27th I was flying from Texas to London, UK, and I wasn't about to have a doctor say I couldn't go. My husband was already ill and couldn't make the trip, and I was going with my older son and daughter-in-law who hadn't used passports before and hadn't had the time to prepare to be their own tour guides in London. The plane trip was agony. I had a window sheet, separated from the kids, and couldn't use the arm to get in and out of the seat. But I survived the trip, abstinent.

On that Sunday the 17th I had gotten on the computer and found The Recovery Group, joined, and found a food buddy and several other friends. Every time I could find an email cafe, I sent a food report to them and my counselor. I did have bread pudding twice on the trip, and under my present definition of abstinence that would not have counted, but it was a thoughtful decision and when I weighed again after Christmas and the trip, I weighed the same as the Tuesday after my 12/17 birthday. I worked through the steps, releasing my first sponsor in March and not finding another until July 1, but I used my counselor as a substitute sponsor in the meantime. With my new sponsor, I've started back through the steps, completing the 6th step last night with an emotional tidal wave cleansing me in the process.

And that brings us to this morning. Almost. While abstinence hasn't been a problem, the longtime self-description I've used of "serially obsessive" remained obstinately true. Sometimes my obsessions have been decent. The best one was writing, and I still write. No, I write again, for I'd been coasting for a long time, calling myself a writer but not really writing. Others included genealogy, research into medieval royalty, knitting, crossword puzzles, and the latest and perhaps most troubling for the sheer uselessness of it, stupid computer games. Well, on Friday night I basically did steps 1, 2, and 3 as to stupid computer games, and I've been abstinent from them since that point. This is my third day, which is amazing considering the huge volumes of time I was spending on them. Well, I've allowed myself to do the sudoku puzzle in the newspaper, and I was working on it and got stuck. It was a simple one, and I'm good at sudoku, but I'm used to the pristine clean puzzle on the screen, not my scratchings on paper. I got stuck. I knew I could put the puzzle into an internet site and it would show me the stupid mistake I was making, but I knew that wasn't anywhere near where I needed to be. I prayed about it. Yeah, I know, I would have said that was a silly thing to pray about--before Decemeber 17. It's not, now. I asked to either be able to release it unsolved or to find the box that would make everything fall into place. No, I wasn't that specific. I just prayed to not let the delimma throw me off. And that square presented itself to me and I had the puzzle finished in less than a minute more. God cares. Even if what I'm worrying about doesn't make a whit of difference, he cares!

I've got a graduate degree in Christian Education. I'm something of an expert on things religious. But the spiritual? That came through OA. I've learned more since December 17 than in the almost 60 years before that about relationship with God. I didn't have friends before OA, just admirers or detractors, at least in my eyes. But wow, do I have one POWERFUL friend now--and lots of others many of whom are being restored to sanity, one day at a time.

Can I be of service to you?