goals · recovery · wellness

April 2020: Wellness + Recovery

For my first post for every month of 2020, I’ve chosen a theme and made some resolutions that fit the theme. I started out big in January, with a theme of Health + Longevity and a list of eight resolutions.

Then, as the days became weeks and then months, I realized that I wasn’t following most of my resolutions. This is pretty typical Kerriann – I love making resolutions but rarely keep them. Because for me, it seems to work better to say, “Well – I’d like to try to eat better. But making a Healthy Eating Plan doesn’t work out for me, so I’m going to turn it over to a higher power and stop worrying about it.” When I do that – when I set an intention, but let go of my urge to make a detailed plan to meet the intention – I get better results. It’s weird, but it’s me, and it works.

So I’m not really doing the “happiness project with resolutions” thing anymore. But I do love a theme. In March, I chose Creativity, and all I did was occasionally remind myself that my goals for the month centered around creativity. It worked. I got back on my blogging schedule, and I’m moving forward with my novel. The unexpected flexibility with my scheduled inadvertently supported this goal, which is one of the weird silver linings of this coronavirus experience that I feel simultaneously grateful for and guilty about.

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For April, I originally planned to focus on Minimalism + Decluttering. And my focus on minimalism and decluttering in my life has been great! I’ve been discarding and organizing and limiting what I buy. This unexpected time at home has really helped with the decluttering and discarding. But in the big picture of life, it’s not what I want to focus on this month.

I’ve been worried about so many people this month. People who are especially vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus. People who are losing their jobs or their livelihood. People who might have medical needs this month and next who may have trouble accessing treatment. Local businesses who are closing indefinitely and may not reopen. People who are dying. Kids who are missing the structure and love and care they receive at school. AND – people who are trying to get sober.

I stopped drinking in July 2012, and I was able to do so because of Alcoholics Anonymous and going to AA meetings. Full stop. If there was another way I could have gotten sober, I would have tried it; I probably did try it. For me, there was no other way. And once I agreed to try AA and meetings, I got sober quickly and I’ve stayed sane and whole for almost eight years now.

When I think about people who are new in recovery, I can’t imagine how hard it must be right now to get and stay sober. There are AA meetings, because smart and wonderful people quickly figured out how to move meetings online. You can participate in meetings using a computer, via phone, or using an app on your smartphone. If you’re okay with the technology piece, or can get help with it, then in some ways, it’s great. It’s easy to “get to a meeting” because you don’t have to leave your house. You don’t even have to put pants on!

But, it’s different. And you might not get the same wraparound support that you’d get if you walked into a room full of people who were willing and able to help you achieve sobriety.

ANYWAY – this is a long lead-up to the fact that for April, my focus is Wellness + Recovery. This month, I want to:

  1. Attend at least 3 Zoom (video conference call) AA meetings a week.
  2. Continue to work on my own recovery program with my sponsor.

That’s it.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay home, everyone.

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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