balance · recovery

10th Step FTW

I’ve been trying to limit my time on my phone. To do so, I have deleted a lot of the apps that were cluttering up my life. The idea is, I delete as many apps as possible for 30 days, and then at the end of that period, I only add back in the apps that support my values.

I love this, but I haven’t been perfect at it. I have a tendency to download several apps on a whim. I’ll think, I need to meditate more often, and then I’ll download 3 or 4 meditation apps so I can try them all out and see which one is best.

I had a moment like that early in the month, related to my sobriety. I’m six years sober, and I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for AA and the 12 steps. I recently have been trying to step up my program – attend more meetings, increase my service to others, keep sobriety more present in my daily life. So I found myself in the App Store on my phone, searching for an app that might play some audio AA literature.

I didn’t find that – BUT I found an app that is absolutely rocking my world, and helping me to keep recovery at the forefront.

It’s called simply 10th Step, and to understand how helpful it is to me, you have to understand what the 10th Step is in the 12 Step Universe. This explanation is going to be crude and brief – there’s no way I can explain it eloquently in just a few sentences.

But, here’s my attempt: There are 12 steps. (Duh.) The first 9 steps are all about the work – and it is work! – of getting sober, turning your life around, and cleaning up the messes you made while you were drinking or using. Then, you get to the 10th Step, which is about taking a daily inventory of how you’re living your life.

So the 10th Step is a check-in. You’ve done a bunch of work, and you’ve cleaned up your life. And then you keep going, keep living your life – and the 10th Step is about checking in with yourself every single day to see if you’re keeping yourself on the path of happiness, peace, and sobriety.

The first 9 steps are about WORK. The 10th step is about MAINTENANCE. Which explains why I suck at it. I am FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC at doing something that is hard work for a brief period of time. I can give up coffee. I can train for a race. I can do a crash diet. But I have a really, really, really hard time making a habit out of doing something that’s good for me on a daily basis – meditation, for example, or yoga, or the 10th Step.

So I’m cruising the app store, downloading a bunch of apps related to AA literature that all turn out to be useless to me, and then I find the 10th Step app. And it’s super basic. I open the app, and I click Tenth Step Nightly Inventory, and I answer a series of questions about my day. Such as, did I have any resentments toward anyone? Was I kind to others today? Was I dishonest at all? Is there anything I need to discuss with someone, right now, at once?  I click yes or no, and I add a comment if I want, and then I close out the app.

THIS IS AMAZING. These kinds of questions – asking myself, am I on track, am I working my program of recovery – this is EXACTLY what I need to every evening to maintain my sobriety and keep myself on the right track./ But I’ve never been able to do it via journalling or a podcast or a prayer book.

It definitely helps that I’ve deleted so many apps from my phone, and that I’m trying to limit my phone time overall. Sometimes I absent-mindedly pick up my phone, and Facebook’s not there, nor Goodreads or Instagram or anything else distracting. But then I remember that I can do a 10th step inventory – a productive and spiritual use of phone time.

I really hope that this app continues to be useful; sometimes the novelty wears off and I slip back into old habits. But, I know how important this daily inventory is, and I feel committed to keeping it up. 10th Step app FTW!

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books + reading · reading · recovery · writing

I Heart Glennon – Part Two #mind

I just finished devouring Glennon Doyle’s memoir Love Warrior.  

I identify with so much of what Glennon writes.  To give an extremely limited snapshot for anyone who hasn’t read her books or explored her blog, Momastery, Glennon experienced bulimia and alcoholism for many years.  She had what sounds like a spiritual awakening when she became pregnant with her son in her mid-twenties and has been sober ever since.  She writes about love, family, suffering, pain, rising, God, and humanity.  Her writing radiates with strength and honesty.

I actually hadn’t even heard Glennon’s name until she married Abby Wambach, one of my fave USWNT soccer stars.  This makes me laugh.  You can be talented, successful, famous – but I won’t become a fan until you marry a gay icon.  LOL.

My story is similar to Glennon’s.  The food/body stuff.  The alcohol stuff.  There’s a lot of overlap between the things I think and write about and the things Glennon writes about.

I don’t presume to know what’s inside Glennon’s mind.  I barely understand my own thoughts.  But some of the similarities in our stories make me think about acceptance, insecurity, self-consciousness, internalizing behaviors, ways we cope.  My thoughts have been swirling ever since reading Love Warrior and Glennon’s first book, Carry On Warrior, which I actually liked even better than her memoir.

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I started my blog in 2015 when I was in the middle of a really difficult time in my life. The blog saved me a little every day.  Writing saved me a little every day.  Glennon writes, “Reading is my inhale and writing is my exhale.”  She also writes, “I am happiest when I have finished an essay that says what I mean.”

I love this.  All of this.  I also adore the way Glennon describes her creative process.  (I’m quoting her post, but you can read the full text here!

I get an idea. It feels like a little seed inside of me, taking root.

It start growing and growing and maturing and gets so big it starts pushing out of me. I love this part I love, I love, I love this part. I feel so FULL. Kind of like I really, really have to pee. Ready to explode. This is the BEFORE.

Then, when I can’t take the beautiful pressure anymore—I sit down at the computer and it comes out. It pours out onto the screen and the good news is: Now it’s out. The bad news is: It looks like crap. So I have to work. Hours and hours of work is what turns a pouring out into actual art. THIS IS THE DURING.

When it’s finally art, I read it. I see that it’s good, because I answered the call. Then push it out into the world. I give it away.

That’s it.

THERE IS NO AFTER.

It’s not time to follow my art around, making sure everyone gets it. It’s not mine to protect. I gave it away.

Now it’s time to REST.

So I rest and wait for the BEFORE TO START AGAIN. I wait for the pressure to start to build again.

All the magic of art is in the BEFORE, THE DURING, and the REST.

I love this.  I’ve been thinking a lot about how to work writing and creativity into my daily life.  And the best luck I’ve had has been following a process similar to this.  I don’t have six-hour-long blocks of time to sit down at a computer and write and write and write, as much as I’d like to.

But I can let little ideas bubble up in my mind, and get curious about them, and maybe scribble down a line or two throughout the day.  And then – and then – when I finally do get an hour with my laptop, I can let loose and let the words fly onto the page.

Here is just one more of the many Glennon quotes that I want to remember:

About spirituality and faith: “I teach them that faith is not a club to belong to but a current to surrender to.  I teach them that they’ll know they’re in the current when they are becoming kinder and gentler and more open and grateful and when they feel constantly carried toward people they fear so they can fall in love and stop being afraid.”

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books + reading · reading · recovery · writing

I Heart Glennon – Part One #mind

How did it take me so long to find Glennon Doyle Melton?

I love her.  I love her the way we love writers who could be good friends if the fates aligned.  I’ve officially added her to my list of Women I Simultaneously Admire & Envy.

giphy (2)I was recently re-reading this post from April 2015, a time when I was thinking a lot about the Women I Simultaneously Admire & Envy.  Brene Brown.  Cheryl Strayed.  Elizabeth Gilbert.  Gretchen Rubin.  Women who write – women who are all about self-discovery and personal growth – women who are honest and talented and have created lives that seem to include, from my faraway view, freedom and authenticity.

Glennon Doyle is now on the list, too.  However, I have to confess that before I started exploring her writing, I had a bit of a resentment toward Glennon.  The story of her success is one I envy – she was a stay-at-home mom and she started writing beautiful, honest messages on her blog.  Her writing was powerful and it caught fire.  She’s now a published writer who works for herself.

This made me mad.  I have similar resentments to other people – mainly writers.  If you’re younger than me and a published writer, I will experience a twinge of envy and resentment toward you.  Especially if you were able to achieve success while home wearing yoga pants.

However, when I dig deep, I know that my real resentment is toward myself, for not taking the time and energy to work on making a career as a writer.  Or not even a career – a hobby.  A side hustle.  Whatever is needed so that I feel I am exercising my creativity, expressing myself honestly and authentically through my writing.  Glennon does this.  Once I started to read her words – I finished Carry On Warrior in a day and am halfway through her new memoir – my resentment melted away, replaced by inspiration and hope.  Glennon writes, “I am happiest when I have finished an essay that says what I mean.”  I wholeheartedly agree.

So it’s not about resentment toward women writers who are successful; it’s about resentment toward myself for not following my heart.

And then.  There’s this one other thing.

The more people find success in this area – writing related to spirit, self-discovery, and personal growth – the more I am afraid that there won’t be enough room for me to have success, too.  I worry that all the good stories have already been told.  I worry that all the good books have already been written.

Ugh.  Brene Brown already told me that I have enough!  That we live in a culture of scarcity and that we need to practice gratitude and overcome our fears of “never enough.”  But I am all about scarcity and fear of the dark, apparently.  I have all the symptoms: it’s hard for me to be happy when people around me achieve success in one of *my* areas; I’m constantly comparing myself and my journey to others; and I struggle with setting and working toward long-term goals, because I secretly think they are too good to be true.

I’m a work-in-progress – progress not perfection.  Al;so, I started googling Glennon quotes while writing this and I’m pretty sure she’s watching me via some sort of candid camera, because this is the first quote that popped up:

envy

Sing it, sister.  Message received.  More on my love of Glennon to come.

family · podcasts · recovery · snapshots

SNAPSHOT #heartsoulmindbody

Time for a snapshot:

#soul – I discovered a delightful new podcast – The Mindful Kind – and I’ve been working my way through the archive.  It’s helping me to keep my focus on mindfulness and to maintain my formal and informal daily mindfulness practice.

I also got to have a really good talk with a group of wise and gentle women to start off my Saturday this morning.  Excellent #soul food.

#heart – Tee and I went on our first date since Teddy’s homecoming today!  Ice skating and dinner at an Italian restaurant, with Teddy’s aunt and uncle baby-sitting and his four cousins “helping.”

#body – I’ve gone on snowy runs several days this week – trying to get myself back on track with my running game.  When I’m running regularly, it rehonestally helps me to maintain good balance and to stay in a good headspace.

#mind – I’m taking an online writing course and have been able to carve out a LITTLE time for writing.  There could always be more – but I’m happy to be slowly building up this habit.

Life has been pretty overwhelming recently.  My professional life is pretty chaotic, and I’m waiting, wishing, hoping, and praying for guidance as to what the next right thing to do is.

I very much want my life to be a genuine reflection of who am.  Trying to balance that with making a living is proving a challenge.  But Tee and I got to have some good talks about next steps and job possibilities today.  So I feel hopeful.  Hopeful that maybe something will work out that’s even better than I could have imagined.15672769_10154307145279372_6453315953913161698_n

balance · recovery

#heart #body

Every Saturday morning, Teddy and I start the day in a room full of happy, joyous, and free women sharing their hearts.

It’s pretty great.

This week has been tough.  I started my work week on Tuesday after a wonderful weekend away in Portland with my lovely little family.  (So much #heart food!  Got to see one of my besties, Girafton, as well as one of my college roommates, and we stayed with some of Tee’s Warren Wilson buddies and their adorable two-year-old.)

Anyway – so I ca15822718_1356367461094318_8821054860644943047_nme back to Maryland relaxed and refreshed.  Work was hectic on Tuesday and Wednesday but I felt pretty zen about it all.  But by Thursday and Friday, stress eating and numbing had returned to my life.  They were not welcome, but they find their ways to wiggle in anyway.

This weekend is helping me to restore my wellness and my balance.  Today I went to a meeting, then ran some errands, came home and enjoyed a long walk on the trail with Teddy.  We frolicked outdoors (the weather was beautiful!), and I got some things done around the house.

I’m doing my best to take each day as it comes – and to trust that when a change needs to be made, the universe will gently guide me toward the next right thing to do.

recovery

Absolutely Perfect #mind #soul

I have a lifelong wish to be perfect, and I’m in recovery from it.perfectionism

I don’t look like a perfectionist – but I am.

I don’t look like a control freak – but I am.

I don’t look impatient – but I am.

I didn’t discover a lot of these things about myself until I started engaging in intensive reflection, spiritual work, and recovery a little over three years ago.  This work has been incredibly difficult, and meaningful, and valuable.

I learned that I have a lifelong desire and quest to be perfect. I didn’t notice it along the way, because I think of perfectionists as people who have exceptionally neat handwriting, keep their houses clean, file all their papers alphabetically, and make their beds with hospital corners.  I don’t do any of those things.  I’m a perfectionist – but I’m messy, and disorganized.

However, I beat myself up a lot when I make mistakes.  I get excited to start a new day, “fresh, with no mistakes in it,” a la Anne Shirley.  I eat a square of chocolate and tell myself that the day is ruined, subsequently allowing me to eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Hazed & Confused.  (Hazelnut – yum!)

And – this is the big one – I like for the outside world to see me as happy-go-lucky, sweet, and flawless.

It can be incredibly h
ard to put down the shield of perfectionism, even when you acknowledge how it cripples you.

My own variety of perfectionism is unique to me, though I’m sure there are others who suffer from similar afflictions.  For me, it’s mostly about feelings – did I say the right thing?  Did I hurt anyone’s feelings?  Did I make them feel badly?  Did I do something that will cause someone not to like me?

Ugh.  Yuck.  Disgusting.

It’s okay to be imperfect – perfectly imperfect. #progressnotperfection

Now, just tell my head.

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recovery

Taking The Steps #mind #soul

I discovered a new website, http://zencomprehensible.com/, when a friend’s Facebook post linked to something called 12 Steps For Normal People.

I was immediately intrigued.  I have experience with several different 12-step programs, and I find them fascinating and helpful.  I’ve often wished that 12-step programs were more accessible for individuals not struggling with addiction.  After all – we’re all struggling with something.  And Herb Eko Deer’s version of the steps (click here to check it out yourself) simplifies the 12 steps so that they apply to life and not just to addiction.

My engagement with 12-step programs has been limited recently, and I have been thinking that I need some more of it.  I got myself to a 12-step meeting yesterday and found it was exactly what I needed to get myself re-centered and re-charged.  Leaving the meeting, I felt a kind of serenity that I haven’t felt for weeks.

A significant aspect of all 12-step programs (I think) is spirituality – but this version (12 Steps For Normal People) leaves out all mention of God.  (Which I appreciate.)  I’m just going to depict these steps for today – I’m sure I’ll write more about these 12 steps, and other versions, in the future.

12 Steps For Normal People

1) Admit we have issues and we are un-happy because of them

Serenity-Prayer2) Become willing to do these steps, believing we can heal if we do

3) Let go of “controlling” our issues, ask for help with them

4) Make a thorough list of all the resentments we have caused or have gotten, listing our part in them as well as our issues and triggers around them

5) Share this list with someone who can support and encourage us in this process

6) List our emotional issues and triggers, taken from the 4th step

7) Ask for help with these issues

8) Make a thorough list all the people we’ve hurt, especially those mentioned in the 4th step

9) Apologize to them all, making amends appropriately, unless it would cause more harm than good.

10) Continue these steps regularly, perhaps daily, as a spiritual practice

11) Meditate and pray about this process, letting go of selfish goals

12) Help others to heal their lives