Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One Day at a Time -- Progressively

I just looked back, expecting the last who-knows-what number of posts to reflect a struggle. I didn't find it -- primarily, I assume, because when I'm posting it's from a position of relative strength. The absence of many recent posts, then, reflects the struggle in its silence. And this post says there's strength again. It's not mine. I'm powerless over food and my life is hopelessly unmanageable -- by me. Fortunately, I can resign control and sit back and watch while the master pilot straightens the course. 

Yesterday's abstinence from food and games tore at the core. Today's has been relatively smooth. I sit here now in front of the television, wanting to play a game while watching the show, but I also know that relatively harmless behavior is just as harmless as it would be to go into the kitchen and bake cookies with the intent of eating just one. I cannot do just one -- game, cookie, box of pudding, whatever. If I were to open a game at a safe time, within three days (and probably tomorrow) it would be the dominant activity. So. No games. Not today. And my will staying in it's proper spot, not tomorrow or the next days. I actually can survive without ever again playing sudoku or spider sol or tetris or yubotu.... 

I met a 97-year-old man today who desperately wanted to go home, to "escape" the nursing home. He fully intended to continue to mow his lawn using a walker, but he was willing to hire somebody to do the edging. I made it possible for him to go home, though I limited what he could do there. But I hope at that age I'm not ready to give my life away to useless pastimes, either. He and I both have just the one day. May each of us live life fully and completely this day!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

learning what we know

The reading in For Today starts with a quote from Epictetus. Wikipedia describes him as probably a slave born in what's not Turkey, lived in Rome until exile to the northwest of Greece where he lived most of his life in the first and second centuries. He's said to have believed "To Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control, but we can accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. Individuals, however, are responsible for their own actions which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power. As part of the universal city that is the universe, human beings have a duty of care to all fellow humans. The person who followed these precepts would achieve happiness." The quote that caught my attention falls in line with that, but it still pulls me more than the rest of what I've read: 

It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows. (Epictetus)

That was my hang-up as to religion/spirituality to some extent, but it was one that once I finally got to OA was quickly overcome. I find it true now as to OA itself. I do understand OA, the principles, the literature, the Steps, the lifestyle. But I got careless, became content with the level of recovery I'd reached. Now that I realize I walked away from the real mother lode, or at lease declined to "pick up the egg," I find my self living the truth of the statement. But there is a way. It's the one Bill W. was struggling with in the early '50s. 

Influenced by the events surrounding him, Bill Wilson began and ended his portrayal of A.A.'s Twelve Steps as "a way of life" by stressing the continued necessity of the total deflation of even a raised bottom" and the persistence in even the "recovering alcoholic" of childishness, immature grandiosity, and infantile defiance.  Between these themes and derived from them, Wilson located an ancient motif. The key to the A.A. Way of Life was -- simply -- "humility."

Humility. The key to the A.A. program, "the step that separates the men from the boys," was presented -- perhaps surprisingly -- as Step Six: "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character." The point was not that only can "I" not directly achieve this removal, but even before an-Other-can, "my" main "activity" can be only the apparently most passive one of readiness, openness. Wilson's explicit exploration of the meaning of humility bracketed his indirect treatment of it in the Sixth Step. Although "often misunderstood, ... genuine humility" was presented simply and classically in Step "realism ..., straight thinking, solid honesty." Especially as "first ... consist[ing] of recognizing our deficiencies," "actual humility" eased the "old pains of ancient apartness." Thus Step Five which exemplified it "was the beginning of true kinship with man and God." (Ernest Kurtz, Not God, page 124)  

Like Micah said, even before Epictetus, what does the law required of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God?

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I passed a milestone of sorts a few days ago. About the time I started concentrating on sitting down with program literature and God each morning, I began to write the year on my For Today book, and since March 26, they now have not only an "08" scribbled at the bottom but an "09" companion. I'm not good at keeping good intentions, so to have done it for a year is momentous. I'm looking forward to that time when I grin at those on the tattered pages, knowing the intervening years didn't need the penned reminder I've been doing this for lots of years. But for now, I'll add the "09" each day. When I got Voices of Recovery I started marking the pages of it, as well, but that' more for my remembering what the date is should I pick it up before For Today. Those marks on the page begin on October 28. 

I'm settled into my third year in program, but I've struggled with myself lately, trying to wrest back control. Those old habits of many years seem to have such a strong pull. One of these years, those will be a distant memory and the meditation time just as set as they feel now, but much more welcome.

It's been an interesting week. Last Saturday we had an exciting offer of help, one that's been tough for me to take, as tough as the evaluation of a hard-fought manuscript by an expert in the field, something you know will improve your work, but it's MY work, and I don't "feel" the need for it to be improved any more than I "feel" the need to resist the pull of the old harmful habits. It means the book that began here on this blog will be delayed a few days or a couple of weeks -- that I won't have it when I go to my regional OA meeting. But the book will be better when it does see the light of day. And my humility will be strengthened.

I've done better on food today and the past two days. After I "restarted" on Monday it didn't last, but this one, beginning Thursday morning will. I know. I've come to realize the truth of a statement made on Wednesday at my OA meeting, that we can overeat on abstinent foods. Not that I've stuck to abstinent foods since I've been struggling, but I know it's more the behavior and the mindset than the food being eaten, and to work on that area, I'm going to start the Steps over. But I won't dawdle, for I know a lot of the work I need to do is later in the steps, though of course the first three are the foundation for them all. I also will start today doing a better -- okay, rigorous honesty. I'll start today consciously doing Step Ten, something I've never done on a regular basis. 

A few days ago I made a mistake trying to get an email from a friend into a particular file to save for future work in writing about recovery topics. I accidently posted it here for a few minutes until it was called to my attention, but the quote I was trying to save is worth the posting, just not the names included in the email:

Many want to change their results, but they are unwilling to change themselves...they therefore remain bound! — James Allen

I'm ready to change myself and lose the bounds.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I went to an event yesterday I expect will change me, again. The last two of these annual events have been momentous growth events, and I can see yesterday's leading me further in the right direction. These have nothing to do with compulsive eating. Rather, it's a gathering of writers. Still, the well-known writing professionals who have spoken at these meetings are inspiring human beings who speak to me on all levels. 

The central message yesterday was to claim the prize set out for us, to not let temerity or low self-esteem hold us back. He told of a childhood Easter egg hunt, of finding the grand-prize-winning egg and feeling he was too young to win the bicycle, of failing to pick up the prize, of watching as someone else claimed it. Since then, he's done a masterful job of claiming the prize laid out for him. Even as I sit here typing, I'm thinking, "I couldn't do that." 

How many prizes have I avoided because I wasn't worthy, because success scared me? I entered a contest once, a prestigious international writing one, and while I didn't win, the editor of a major imprint of a super-big publishing company wrote me a personal letter telling me how to fix my book, directing me to send the rewrite directly to her. I didn't know how. And I didn't ask people around me for advice to help me make the growth spurt she was asking for. When I finally did the rewrite, she no longer was at that publishing house and my efforts to put my book before her failed. I've sent yesterday's speaker the covers of two books out little publishing venture intends to offer in the next few weeks, accepting his gracious offer to critique them. And I'm going to grow enough to correct errors pointed out.

He said something else to me privately that may make an even bigger difference. I was the last one through the serving line, having a role in coordinating and managing the event. My food plan is heavy on protein, and I took an ample serving of brisket and sausage, neither of which are preferred foods on the plan, but they were the protein available. Besides that I had a spoon of cole slaw and a small serving of pinto beans. And he commented on how much food I had on my plate. My resentment wants to rear it's head, but instead, I'm taking it as a growth point like all the rest he gave.

A trusted friend helping me work my program suggested this week that I imagine myself not at the lowest weight of my adult life, which is true, but which has remained pretty stable for a year now. She suggested instead I think of myself as always thin and having reached this body size, which is 190 pounds or thereabouts. If this weight horrified me as much as the 300 pounds did once upon a time, wouldn't the motivation to really work this program be stronger? Yes. It would. 

And I know I'm still too heavy. My right knee has been painful the last four or five days. I've still been climbing the steps to my fifth floor office, knowing that may be stupid or may eventually help. Yesterday I wore slacks so I could have a tight garment around that knee -- but the garment was bought about 40 pounds ago, and it's not that tight anymore. 

One more facet to the growing pile of proof it's time for a new surge in spiritual awareness, in humility and in accepting God's abundance, came in the fact two trusted friends have recommended I see Shirley Valentine. One of those suggestions was over a year ago, in February, 2008, and since that time I've had a note on the dashboard of this computer that says, "Shirley Valentine, 1989 British release." I was loaned a copy last Thursday, and I've now watched it twice. And ordered a couple of copies of it so when I give this one back, I'll have one to keep and one to loan out.  

Today I am abstinent, I am claiming my Easter egg, and I'm trusting God to remove my fears and show me who he would have me be. Thank God!

Monday, March 9, 2009

To The Victorious

What does it mean, the victorious will inherit the blessings? My dictionary defines victorious only as an adjective. Of course I know it's used as a noun, not just here, but other places, though it's perhaps somewhat dated. Interesting. That's two dictionaries now. Just a minute, I'll be right back.
Okay, having found dictionaries generally agree as to the adjective status, that leaves us with an implied noun modified. We could get creative, but "person" will do. Or simply "victor" rather than "victorious person."
So, the victor inherits blessings. Look at the verb! Inherit. Pass by intestacy, pass without a will. (If there's a will, property passes by bequest, it's not inherited.) And who gets the property that passes by intestacy? Family. Spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings--it depends on the particular situation and the operative law. Those are the rules. But what's going on in this passage? God's saying all things are new. Who's the new family? It probably still includes the old family, but add in your OA family and, well, all God's kids.
So, the victorious inherit blessings. We talked about the part of speech but didn't really consider the meaning of this victorious victor. Winner. Is that like those phone calls that say I've won something, the ones I cut off because of anticipated strings? God, I hope not!
Winning, victory, takes something on my part fist -- entering a contest, running a race, producing a product -- action, commitment, participation. God could certainly make us all winners free-gratis, without the attached strings. But he doesn't because he's not a puppeteer, not a manipulator. He doesn't give us strings OR pull our strings.
Actually, victor comes closer to conqueror rather than winner when we look at the history of the word. Certainly winners have conquered -- the other racers, contestants, or competitors. Conquerors, though, need not have a human competitor. We think of conquest over Mt. Everest, or a personal goal or of an addiction. Conquerors may best fears, disease, or a tough music score.
So. To inherit from God the father, or from the children of God, we need to be victorious. Alas. We're powerless over food, our lives have become unmanageable. But it's okay. We've got an ace up our sleeve. Back about the time John was transcribing the Revelation, Epictetus over in Greece talked like we used to talk. He said, "You may be always victorious if you will never enter into any contest where the issue does not wholly depend upon yourself." But he was wrong. We can depend on a higher power!
So it's okay. We're already victorious. Paul said it in Romans 8:37:  In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us!  

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The King's Peace

In the United States when an indictment or information (the charging instrument for a misdemeanor) is issued, almost invariably it will say, "against the peace and dignity of the state." That's a holdover from the concept of The King's Peace (or actually at this point in England it's called The Queen's Peace.) It comes from the concept we innately recognize that each of us has a personal space, and if somebody gets too close and they're not special persons who can be in that personal space, we feel violated. 

Well, each feudal lord had that kind of space, called his "peace." And he controlled what happened within that space, could make rules that made him comfortable. And of course it goes without saying that the more powerful the person, the larger the personal space that person can claim. So the king's started out pretty big and kings amassed more and more area, taking away from the feudal lords. Then came the concept of "legal fiction" which means legal lie. One legal lie I've always found interesting was the source of the word "felony" but that's another (long) story. The legal fiction I set out to explain is the king's peace. His big space expanded because the king built highways, so his peace went with the Interstate Highway system (or the medieval equivalent thereof, the royal roads.) After that, it didn't take a lot more fiction to just fill all the nation with the King's Peace.

I got to thinking about the concept of the King's Peace as it might refer to the King of Kings. For God, it's not a fiction. His presence fills the world, the universe, and beyond. My concept is that God's not in the universe, the universe is in God. So the King's Peace is everywhere. God's peace is everywhere. Wherever you are, God is there and Peace is there. You just have to breathe deep, look for the peace, and, voila! it's in you!

Friday, March 6, 2009

About that Yoke

Consider Matthew 11:28-30.

I woke this morning to a recovery speaker saying he'd memorized the Third Step prayer wrong, that he was using "Thy love, Thy power, and Thy way of life." When "corrected" as the rest of the group said the prayer, he realized his need to put the love first, for the assurance inherent in the love.

Before getting out of bed I prayed the Third Step, Fourth Step ("we ask him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be"), Seventh Step, and Eleventh Step ("praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.") I knew then I needed to meditate, and I scanned my brain for a verse to meditate on, and the answer was immediate. "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." I realized the yoke's easy, but it is a yoke. It's a frame designed to be carried across a person's shoulders with equal loads suspended from each end. We don't see yokes around here, but I certainly have seen them traveling. In Nicaragua I took a picture not of a yoke, but of a man-powered transport. A yoke is a yoke. It's an impediment. It's a burden. Abstinence, abstaining from other obsessions, doing the next right thing -- is a burden. Yes, it's an easy burden. Yes, it's light. It's even joyful and freeing, but it's a burden, and when my rebellious self insists "This program's supposed to be easy. I don't have to work at it," I know that's hogwash. I have to surrender to God's will, let him direct me, and to enjoy the company as I bear the burden. And thrill in the destination.

Day two, no games, eating on the food plan only. It's a yoke and a burden, but lighter than it was yesterday, heavier than it will be tomorrow. I'm assured of the love as well as the power and the ability for God to direct me to live life his way!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Yes, it's been too long. My sponsor nudged me toward that realization, but I already knew it. I sit here today after a productive, abstinent day. I can't say that about yesterday or many of the days in the weeks just past, but today it's absolutely true. I will sit here at this desk another 20 minutes before going a couple of blocks to a meeting. My strong urge was to open that old nemesis, a computer game. I had deleted Spider Sol from this brand new computer I got in January. Unfortunately, I searched for it and found an acceptable version online. And not blocked by the filter on this system. Therefore, it's up to me to block it, just like I've blocked the cherry coffeecake in the outer office all day. I actually don't know if it's still there, and I don't know what it tasted like. And won't.
Today I've been busy. I read three devotional books and the Big Book after getting up and while getting the household ready to go with a husband somewhat under the weather. I got to work and spent the morning busy at work-related projects and looking at emails, etc., between obligations. I took part in two interviews for a job and got back to the computer with my immediate obligations met, ripe for opening a computer game. But instead I started working on a project I need to do to meet a requirement on my amends list I composed yesterday. I didn't get much done, can't figure out an excel question, but I did move the right direction. I spent the noon hour with my counselor and ran an errand for an organization, then went to my other office where I ended up talking to the manager of that site then working on a website I should have updated a couple of weeks ago. I went home to check on hubby and get his medicine from the pharmacy, feed him, and see to issues there, and I'm back at my main office. So, it's been a busy and productive day. One thing I did for my recovery, though, this morning was in response to an email poetry prompt, but it describes my intentions in working my program today and for days to come, with God's help.
Beaten Path
Some paths hold your feet,
move them along on earth
worn smooth, comfortable,
familiar your first visit.
The path of least resistance,
straying takes effort.
Some trails hint the path,
hard to detect, difficult to track,
though heart-felt right,
chosen carefully. Staying
takes effort, but once done
for long enough may yield
the right, well-beaten, path.
May your day be blessed. Thanks for blessing mine by being there to support me.