Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Sugar Monkey

The Sugar Monkey – Together

There is always another layer and perhaps another addiction worth looking at. Click on the link above to read a great article in Together about sugar and candy addiction. And how perfect for this week. Peppermint Bark anyone?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

God's Voice

I wrote this in my journal in 1995. I heard this from the woman who was my spiritual director at the time. She said: “God’s voice is very subtle. Each day in prayer look for the one thing in the day before that struck you as an impulse, a thought, an image or an idea. Train yourself to see and hear and feel the subtle.”

To do this, she said, you have to get quiet. Get a more quiet life.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


After a while we begin to see recovery messages everywhere. This week I finished reading the new book, “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. She writes about World War II and the American Pacific soldiers and prisoners of war. It’s a tremendous piece of history and a page turning narrative.

It’s also—surprise—a book about spiritual change and miracles and belief and faith. The title’s keyword, unbroken, has multiple meanings as the story unfolds. And there is also a most moving section on becoming free of addiction.

Hillenbrand delivers some great bites of wisdom that we might hear in any 12 step room. Here’s one we could add to any meeting on resentment:

“Resentment nails every one of us to the cross of his (her) ruined past.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ebby and Bill

Today is a special day in AA history. On this day, December 14, in 1934, Ebby Thatcher came to visit his old drinking buddy, Bill Wilson, and in Bill and Lois’s Brooklyn kitchen Ebby gave his testimony and took Bill Wilson through the Oxford Group conversion process. What we today call steps 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. It was Ebby’s gift to Bill and the gift that has been passed on to all of us. In the Oxford Group one could take all of those steps in one evening: The inventory, the confession, the examination, and then making the list of people harmed. Then one went out to make restitution—later called amends. Ebby was Bill’s sponsor. It began here—one drunk helping another. Bill was willing. He saw something in Ebby. He wanted what Ebby had. From this start we get Bill W. committed to sobriety. From a cold flat in Brooklyn to the rest of the world. We know that Ebby later struggled. But he was well used by God. Thank you Ebby.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Looking for Signs

I laugh now at how many times in my life I have prayed for a sign to let me know if I was on the right path or for help in making a decision. In very difficult moments I have begged for skywriting from the universe and just last week I told a friend that I’m still waiting for an envelope from God with my name on it. Maybe I watched too many episodes of Mission Impossible as a kid, but part of me wants instructions that spell out exactly what I should do with my life.

I know God doesn’t work that way, but I also know I’m not alone in wanting him to. Some people flip coins or watch birds or follow the crude metals index. Others keep psychics in business and ensure that books on spiritual guidance top the bestseller lists. I’ve tried it all and I’ve been to Tarot readers, thrown the I Ching and I have a well-worn set of Rune stones.

Years ago when people close to me were dying and I was tearfully demanding to know God’s will, a friend who was more experienced in grief chastised and reassured me by saying, “Gods will is what is”. The simplicity and profundity of that statement silenced me for a while.

But I come back again to wanting to know, and often it’s at this time of year and there’s a good reason. As the winter begins and we are faced with dark and cold there is a pull from deep in our bones that drive us to seek light and answers. The need for light at this time of year is so great that we adapted culturally to give it to ourselves. We've had Hanukkah, now Solstice and  soon Christmas, all great stories about finding light.

The part of the Christmas story that has always meant the most to me is that of the three wise men making their journey, traveling on a hunch, a belief, and their deep wanting. They had studied the sky for years and then they saw their sign.

In his poem, Journey of the Magi T.S. Eliot wrote: “At the end we preferred to travel all night, sleeping in snatches, with the voices singing in our ears, that this was all folly.”

Of course that is the problem with star following. You just don’t know. We see this most painfully now looking at the news. Stories of young men and women as heroes in war and others, the same age who commit terrible crimes. All of them following their stars. But how do you know until you show up whether there’s going to be a baby or a bullet?

So the wise men’s lesson is all about faith: We do our best, we study, we consult with others, we try to be wise men and women, but we have to get on our camels, bring our gifts and hope we are doing good.

This is solstice week and these are our darkest days. We cope in the most ancient of ways. We go toward the light--to neon and the mall, to crowds of shoppers, even as our ancient relatives were drawn to stars and the fire.

Through all of this we’ll read our horoscopes. We’ll hope our loved ones will be spared the only thing that no one can be which is death. We’ll look at the night sky and try to believe. No wonder a baby born in a barn is a great story. No wonder we look for signs.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Self-less or Self-more?

Conflicting voices in my head. Conflicting voices from program and from therapy and from Oprah too. Do you have this battle in your head? It’s hitting me hard now with a new job and the holiday season and it goes like this:

@ Be of service

@ Be selfish

@ Think of others before--or instead--of yourself

@ Take care of yourself first

@ Let go of what others think of you

@ First impressions matter

@ Think less of yourself

@ Put your self care first

And on and on…I’m trying to find the middle ground. Some days I sort of have the balance, I think, but other days the pendulum swings too far to self, others days too far to putting other people’s needs or expectations first.

How do you balance this? How do you find the middle?