I'm getting ready for the November 2017 women's retreat at The Wilson House in Dorset, Vermont.
This year the retreat will be from Friday night November 10th through Noon on Sunday November 12th. The theme of the retreat is "Taking Recovery to Work" and that means we'll examine many manifestations of work: from being a "worker among workers," finding a sober career, discerning your calling, and to how to have a productive, healthy and happy retirement--and all while working the steps.
We say that "we practice recovery in all of our affairs" and that also means the parts of our life where we use our creativity and deepest selves. You may be starting a career, or discerning whether to make a change, or planning what your retirement will be like, or you may be years into retirement and you want to apply principles of recovery in a new way. How do you work your program and stay happy, joyous and free across all these stages of recovery?
This is your retreat, and you'll share it with women from across the united States who come to the birthplace of Bill Wilson for inspiration, new ideas and an invigorating investment in their recovery lives.
The retreat includes two workshop seminars each day, optional sessions on recovery yoga, writing, journaling and spiritual direction. We share meals each day--and we laugh a lot! And there is time to walk, nap, visit the nearby sites of AA history and make new friends as you rock and talk on the historic Wilson House porches.
The retreat fee is $125 per person--includes meals and all workshop supplies. Housing accommodations are separate.
To register: First, call The Wilson House to reserve your room--at the House
or nearby motels and inns. Then, email me to secure your retreat/workshop spot.
Each year, women come alone or with friends. It's a great time out for sponsor--sponsee time as well.
I look forward to seeing you November 10 to 12 at The Wilson House in East Dorset, Vermont.
Sunday, July 16, 2017
Monday, June 26, 2017
I have to give myself this little reminder every day, ”Don’t miss summer.” It’s on a sticky note on my calendar and in my very own voice on the micro recorder in my car where I track more things “to-do” as I drive.
Yes, perhaps you can see that Work is way ahead of Play in my life. Lists, reminders, recorders. It’s all about productivity.
I’m looking more closely at that drive this year. I’ve finally come to see what others saw long ago: I work hard, I do a lot, and yes, I get a lot done. I neither defend or apologize for this part of me, but I also know it’s about recovery, and a little bit about making up for lost time and lost creativity.
I don’t regret the past—exactly. But I do wish I started writing earlier, sending work out sooner, and publishing a long time ago. Working hard at both my career in nonprofits, and at my career as a writer brings me so much joy.
There is a bit of grief in this too perhaps. In my addictions, I was buried in both substances and in fear, and I couldn’t focus, and couldn’t find what I now know to be, my dharma.
But even in this hard work, ultra-productivity, there is this voice in my ear this season that says: “Don’t miss summer.”
Winters are long in Upstate New York, and my long recovery is stable. I can trust a day off now, and a weekend away, and I can trust that stepping away from my desk doesn’t mean going down a ten-year rabbit hole as it did once long ago.
So, a gift of recovery is meeting my hard-working self, and the second gift is meeting the parallel part of me that can learn to relax and play. And I want to do that this very summer.
There is more on making a great life in long recovery in the book: "Out of the Woods--A Guide to Long-term Recovery" published by Central Recovery Press
Monday, June 12, 2017
Letting Go is a topic I can never hear about enough. I love it when it’s the topic at meetings, and I really love it when people talk about how they let go—what exactly they do that helps them.
Letting go is probably the answer to 99% of my questions. (What should I do in my relationship? Let go. What should I do about that cranky relative? Let go. What about the future I am worried about? Yes, let go of that too.)
But still, and often, just as in my newcomer days, I can sigh and say, “But how?” and I try to keep the whiney tone out of my voice.
So, I love the advice on letting go from the amazing Melody Beatty. Beatty is a recovering woman, recovery writer, and a recovery role model. I highly recommend her books especially the day meditation book called, “The Language of Letting Go.” My first sponsor gave me that book in 1983 and I still read from that dog-eared, underlined, tear-stained copy every day.
So here is her advice on how to let go:
*If you are holding onto a worry or a problem or a person—think of that as holding onto a baseball.
* If you have tried to solve a problem three times (and worry doesn’t count) then stop yourself. Let go. Throw the ball.
*If someone asks you for advice, you give them the advice one time. Then throw the ball to them. Let go. Say nothing more.
*If a person has not asked for your advice, or if you offered some advice and the answer was “No thanks,” there is nothing to throw. Let go. The ball is not in your hands.
It might be helpful—if you are really struggling with an issue or a person—to get a small ball to hold, name, and then toss. Let that ball go off the cliff, into the river, let it roll down the road or anywhere away from you.
That’s what letting go looks like. Let it go.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
There is a value at looking back in recovery. Where did you come from? How did you get here? Addiction and recovery move in circles and cycles. Even though we say, “Look back but don’t stare” and there is value and sometimes efficiency in looking at your own story.
The book, “Women Who Love Too Much” by Robin Norwood was such an important
I was desperate and desperate enough to turn the pages even though what Norwood was revealing was very painful. I was on every page.
And then, like a pinball machine, I felt every bell and buzzer go off when Norwood linked relationship problems to alcoholism, drug addiction and eating disorders. Dam her! And yes, thank her! --her book saved my life. Because of that relationship book I found AA and a couple more Twelve-step programs, and a therapist, and a group.
And now, 31 years later, I can hardly believe that was me. Except…
Today it’s not alcohol, drugs or food that can undo me. But my thinking still needs work. And I still need to look at issues like scarcity, fear, control, desire, and the addict’s mantra “More” …. yes, I still want more: more shoes, more work, more energy, more recognition, more comfort, more confidence, even more yoga, and things that are seemingly good for me. But there is a fine balance between desire and dependence.
So, when I did dip back into Robin Norwood’s miracle book, “Women Who Love Too Much” I find this paragraph--it's underlined, starred, and highlighted, and it’s still very relevant:
“Total commitment to your own recovery requires that you suspend your own use of alcohol and other drugs. Mind altering substances mitigate against your fully experiencing the emotions you are uncovering. It is only through deeply experiencing them that you will also gain the healing that comes with their release.”
Sunday, May 14, 2017
If productivity was down in your workplace this week you can blame your mother. Across the city workers were lingering through their lunch hour in card stores reading and sighing. Buying a Mother’s Day card is not easy.
For some, the card that says, “Mom, Thanks for being perfect” is fine, but for the rest of us, with complicated mothers and complicated relationships, the search for the right message is tough.
But even as children–of all ages--struggle to summarize their
What is a good mother? Do we measure up? On this day that celebrates kindness, patience and sacrifice many of us squirm remembering our less than ideal maternal moments; We wonder if we’ve done something really bad along the way and worry whether our worst day as a mother damaged our kids.
Mothers who hurt their children is a painful topic. The reality of mothers’ hostile impulses against their children is old news in psychological circles and parenting books, but we rarely allow parents to admit those feelings.
Thank goodness, most of us don’t act on our thoughts, but some mothers have struggled with the limits and lost. When we hear about them, many of us know--in the privacy of our hearts--that it was just the grace of God, good friends, a reliable baby-sitter and money in the bank that kept us from taking their place.
So maybe we should, especially on Mother’s Day, have some compassion for the mothers who lost it, those women who did the unthinkable; they hurt their own child. If some mothers weren’t so newsworthy for their sheer failure at mothering the rest of us would not know where to draw the line in self-judgment.
We can count ourselves lucky and a little grateful that most of us have slapped but did not scald, screamed but did not hit, or cursed but did not kill. When we react to a child-abuse horror story with the common, “Can you imagine?” the truth is that most of us can.
We owe a debt to those mothers because they give us the outside limit from which to measure our parenting. The “bad” mother relieves us of the shadowy fear we all carry.
We can’t talk about bad mothers without mentioning Medea; the mythological woman who killed her kids to punish their philandering father. But Medea got to her breaking point after a world tour of abuse, abandonment and humiliation.
After being dumped in a strange country with no way home, she lost it and she killed. Medea’s story is a myth but, as with all myths, it points to something real in the human psyche. When we read about women who hurt their kids a healthy mother has to stop and ask herself, “How did that woman get there?” Nobody starts out wanting to kill their children; nobody starts out thinking scalding is reasonable discipline. It’s baby steps all the way.
Every mother who lost it at least once, or who did something she swore she’d never do, can be grateful for everything that keeps her from crossing over to the territory of the terrible mother.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist, wrote: “If only there were evil people somewhere committing evil deeds, and we could separate them from us and destroy them, but the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” That includes yours and mine.
So for Mother’s Day let’s thank the good mothers and show a moment of compassion for the “Medeas” of the world, who in their tragic solution to life’s problems show us where we ought not to go.