Thursday, July 30, 2009


“The tulip is the introvert of flowers”. I wish I had written that, but alas. I believe it though. Solitary, strong, still, existing briefly, bold color but never spilling, enclosing mystery, but never shy. Quiet, still, observing. But never shy.

This is my flower, the tulip. In recovery I had to give up feeding them gin, which the bulb flowers like crocus and paper white and tulips love so much. (It does give them excellent posture) but still, even a sober tulip is pure elegance.

What is your recovery flower?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just My Face

No make up today. This happens about once a month; I just don’t want to do it. Something about seeing my own real face, and maybe it’s also that while I do like make-up and all things girly—I want it to remain an option, my choice. I admire woman who never leave the house without lipstick or eyeliner. Very French, very polished. But I never want to reach the point where I can’t leave the house with out lipstick.

It’s also interesting to see other people’s reactions. On my no make-up days I forget that it’s an unadulterated face but then I see someone looking too carefully at me and I watch their careful reactions.

Today someone said, “You look tired.” and I said, “No, this is just my face.”

Monday, July 27, 2009

Making Lists

I have always been a list maker. A friend once teased that, “Her lists have lists.” But the joke was true. I even have a master list of packing lists for all kinds of trips: there is the New York City Packing list and the Cape Cod list and the Kripalu or Retreat list and the Camping Trip list. I mean, really, these are vastly different undertakings, no?

Another list memory: my first husband—and this may be why he is an ex-husband—once wrote on my daily to-do list: “Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale….”.

But even at that I have defended my lists. Outer order balancing inner chaos perhaps. But my defense has always been that I get a lot done.

But yesterday reading a new wonderful novel called “April & Oliver” by Tess Callahan I read this line:

“Lists are for people who don’t do what they want.”

It struck me to the core. If I was doing what I relay wanted would I need a list?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tip Toe Past Your Fear

This week I read about taking baby steps to accomplish goals. Nothing new there; we’ve heard this: take baby steps; chunk it down; break your goal into manageable pieces. But what was new to me was this: When we set a big goal, the flight or fight part of our brain is activated. The reason to take teensy tiny steps is to bypass the fear center of the brain—so it doesn’t react by scaring us into procrastination or into over-drive in the wrong direction.

So sneak up on yourself. Teensy tiny baby steps. Sneak past the fear.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Growth or Addiction

Marion Woodman, the fabulous Jungian analyst, says that the natural gradient in us is toward growth. Whatever we use repeatedly, and compulsively to stop that growth is our addiction.

So in addition to alcohol and food I am also using worry and work and fear thoughts as my addiction. They stop me from growing and they distract me from my natural gradient toward growth.

What stops you? Even after years of recovery from drugs and alcohol is there a behavior or thing or way of being that is stopping your growth?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

No Becomes Yes

Today a setback at work. A company that I thought would be a good partner said no. My coworker was disappointed, but I said to her, “Better a clear No than a maybe; No gets us closer to Yes.”

It’s true in my personal life too. He says no, or I say no. Maybe its time to end a relationship, or I try for a client and the answer is no. Not fun to hear but a clear no is always better than maybe.

Every no gets me closer to Yes!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Why Women Love Bull Durham

The past couple of nights I have been watching Bull Durham. This is the movie from 1988 with Kevin Costner playing an aging catcher in the minor leagues. This is a movie that appears to be about baseball life with its travails and hopes and the desperate desires of men who want to play ball for a living. It is seemingly a men’s movie with all the swearing, ass slapping and drinking and real life baseball lore. But no, this is really THE all time best chick flick.

Yes, we love Kevin Costner from the first moment he arrives in the locker room wearing his navy blazer, rumpled white shirt and khakis that are the perfect shade of tan with a hint of olive. He’s a manly man who in the first 20 minutes gives the fabulous, if too artful, monologue about his beliefs which includes, “I believe in the cock, the pussy,, the small of a woman’s back…that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap”, and which ends with his belief in “long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days”.

Yes! You had us at “long, slow and deep”—and yes, at the Susan Sontag part too.

But there is a later scene that truly grabs woman because it’s something we really want.
“Do you want to dance?” Sarandon asks Costner, sitting in the kitchen late at night. He says yes, but surprises her by not dancing but instead by sweeping all the food and dishes off the kitchen table onto the floor. He spins Sarandon onto that now empty table and they go at it rolling and clutching.

Oh, yes, what he does is part of it; We want a man to want us that much; we want a man who wants to make love a second time and who will go for it on the kitchen table. We want that kind of passion in our lives. But, there is something else in this scene that is a woman’s dream come true. What most women truly desire is not what Costner does, but what Sarandon does NOT do. As all of her dishes and the leftover food crash onto the floor Sarandon allows herself to be swept onto that table instead of diving for a broom, or a dish cloth and saying to her lover, “Hold on a second, I’ll clean up this mess and then meet you in the bedroom.”

No, she is in the moment and desires this man and this sex more than she desires a clean floor or neat kitchen. She wants the rapture of this man and his body even with cereal and milk oozing under the fridge. And she is not saying, “Oh dear God that was my mother’s china bowl.” Nope, she’s on that table screwing her brains out.

Oh, to be that kind of woman. We assume the power is in the man, that to be taken that way would free us. But what we see in Bull Durham is a woman who CAN be taken. She is not thinking, “When did we last wash these sheets?” while a man is dutifully going down on her.

Oh, we may wish for a partner to love us with such sweet abandon, but Sarandon, in Bull Durham, shows us a woman who can abandon herself.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Home Making

“Home is a force that shapes our daily lives—Home is an emotional center that nourishes us and supports our innermost dreams. By taking care of your home you are taking care of yourself. Improving your home has a therapeutic effect. It makes a difference in the way you think and feel about your self.”

from the book Apartment Therapy

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Stop Signs

I’m still working on stopping the fear. I don’t believe the saying that God and fear cannot occupy the same space. I know people mean well when they say that but I can believe in God and be scared at the same time. So can you. So what’s a girl—with a million years of recovery—to do?

This is also humility folks: I looked up obsessive thinking and found tons of resources on yes, thought-stopping.

Now I’m making this into a game. This is a way to use my character defects to improve my character. I like to compete and I like to win and yes just a teeny tad of perfectionism here too. So apply that to thought stopping and you get a contest:
Can I catch the scary thoughts when they are forming or overtaking my head?
Can I interrupt them in creative ways: stop sign, airplane, ocean waves, man running up to tell me I won a MacArthur Grant and the New York State Lottery
Shift my thinking to what I’ll do with all that money and all that time.
Reward myself—oooh the rewards—when I am successful at stopping the fear.

Friday, July 03, 2009


“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think.”

--David Foster Wallace, Commencement address Kenyon College, 2005

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Compassion directed to oneself is Humility.

--Simone Weil, First and Last Notebooks

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Lessons from Drumming

In 1994 until 1996 I studied African dance and had the opportunity to dance with live drummers. It is the best way to dance—feeling the percussion as it enters the body not just the ears.

In my notes from 1994 I found this note to myself that I wrote down after an African dance class at Omega Institute. It says:

Listen for the beat under the beat.
Listen for the break—for the signs and signals that tell you to change or to stop what you are doing.

There is a dance lesson for the heart, for the lover and for making choices in a relationship.