Monday, June 28, 2010

Serenity Experiment Update

"Bullying myself into recovery won't work. Loving myself into it will." -HOPE FOR TODAY

I think this quote says it for me. My experiment in self-discipline as a way to serenity did not work out because the way I do self-discipline is a lot like bullying. Making choices based on love for myself and other people is the way to go for sure. For example, having the discipline to get up every day at 5:00 a.m. just because it's the right thing to do is what I had in mind. The only problem is that my body apparently is still recovering from being hit by a car and multiple surgeries, etc.

Making a decision about when to get up based on love - I want to be up in time to have a whole day while at the same time honoring my body's need for rest. So, I will do all I can to get to sleep at an early hour by listening to a restful sleep CD, not having the tv on in my room, having a bubble bath before bed, giving myself a foot rub, etc. I will set the alarm for about 30 minutes earlier than I generally wake up, adjust to that time, then set it back 30 minutes more, etc. If I've had a very active day and feel extremely tired, I won't set the alarm at all and just sleep as much as my body needs.

Sure enough I have had the "discipline" to do most of the things that work for me and as a result I'm usually up by 8:00 a.m. Sometimes I wake up earlier than that if I've slept well. I have more to do on getting myself to sleep early, and I'm not using "bullying" to get myself to do it. I'll bet this love thing would work on some other areas where I need more "discipline."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Unacceptable behavior

I have heard a lot about unacceptable behavior from people (including myself) who are griping about someone else's behavior. I've always wondered what the definition of "unacceptable behavior" is. For a long time I thought it was anything someone was doing that I didn't like. From listening to other people, I think a lot of the time that's what they mean too. That can't be right, though. There are a lot of things people do that I don't like. The trouble is, they probably think they're doing the right thing. Hmmm. For right now, I've decided unacceptable behavior is behavior that injures me in some way. Even that is a little fuzzy, though. Maybe I've misinterpreted something someone said and got my feelings hurt. Am I injured? Probably not.

So I'm thinking that if I'm physically injured, lost a lot (for me) of money, lost my reputation because of something someone said about me that's not true, etc. - that would be unacceptable. So then what? I'm still going to have to look at myself. It may be that I trusted someone I knew better than to trust. Maybe I've allowed the behavior because I'm afraid of losing the relationship. There could be a lot of ways I had a part in it. Maybe if I stop my part, I won't be harmed. Sometimes I just need to stay away from the person. In any case, consulting another knowledgeable person before I do anything, is absolutely necessary.

For sure, for stuff that's just annoying but not harmful, every bit of effort I've put into being at peace with annoying stuff has paid off big time. It's pretty simple. I just bless the person in my mind and think about something else. With practice, I get better and better at this!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Forgiveness or Trust

I've heard a lot of confusion about what it means to forgive someone. I used to be confused myself and felt really guilty about being so unforgiving. I could really carry a grudge. I built a lot of muscles that way. Over time, in recovery, reading books, talking to people, etc., I came to the realization that forgiveness doesn't mean saying, "Oh well, it's all right." It means that I've stopped plotting revenge, telling other people over and over what the person did to me, and stopped re-thinking it all the time. It doesn't mean I have to let the person have the opportunity to do whatever it was to me again.

If the person is close to me, it would make sense to work something out with him/her, so that we are on good terms again. That's going to require trust which is way, way different than forgiveness. For me to trust again, the person is going to need to apologize, show me that he/she is aware of the harm he/she did, and tell me what he/she is going to do to make sure it doesn't happen again.

I'm okay with realizing that I'm probably going to love quite a few people who aren't that trustworthy. Love and trust are not the same things either. I can be close and loving with someone who doesn't keep their word, is oblivious to what they do that is painful to me, etc. I just stop trusting in areas where the person isn't trustworthy. Of course, if the person is really dangerous, I will have to put distance between us, but if it's something like the person is critical,
I will just walk away from the criticism. If they don't do what he/she says he/she will do, I just won't count on it.

Living and loving in peace with people doesn't turn out to be that hard. I still want to open my mouth and bawl people out, but for the most part I restrain myself. Truly it isn't about me.

Friday, June 25, 2010

New Food Plan

Since I am the most un-self-disciplined person in the world, I welcomed the news that there was a new way of managing food that did not require dieting where you ate only what you actually wanted to eat. Geneen Roth is the author of several books on this topic. I read her last book which was a best seller (Oprah again!) but although it explained the background for this way of eating, it didn't have instructions - or at least the instructions were sketchy. So I bought one of her earlier books which had more instructions.

Turns out it's a little bit more complicated than I had hoped. Yes, you only eat what you want, but only when you're hungry. So you have to learn how it feels to be hungry and stop eating on a schedule. You have to eat slowly so you'll know when you're full so you can stop eating. This is all based on the premise that your body has not forgotten what you knew as a very young child - what your foods your body needs and when it needs them. But your mind is getting in the way by giving you cravings for foods that you think will satisfy emotional needs while simultaneously telling you that you are an evil, bad person if you eat them. No wonder almost all of us are over weight!

The whole process consists of becoming aware of hunger, cravings, which is our minds and which is our bodies. A lot of work. The author says that she and the other people who practice this gain weight at first as they eat only what they want - which usually begins with something like chocolate chip cookies. Then as they learn, they realize they mostly wanted the chocolate chip cookies because they had forbidden themselves to have them. Once they let themselves have them, they really stopped craving them. Eventually they lose weight and stay at a normal weight.

Then comes the process of eating only what you want. What if you're at a restaurant and when your food comes, and you don't want it? She says - pack it up to take home and order what you do want. What if you wake up in the middle of the night really wanting an ice cream cone bad? She says if you're really sure you're hungry and not just mentally wanting it, get up and go get yourself one. If you try to eat something else, it won't satisfy you.

I love and hate this thing at the same time. It sounds like a lot more introspective work than I want to do. Time consuming. Perhaps confusingly uncertain. I love it because the idea of only eating what my body wants is such a great idea. I already have experienced the feeling of eating what my body wants and it really is a great feeling. I'm trying it now. I do hope I don't gain.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

365 Project

A great big amazing cloud coming into Tulsa from Dallas after the big birthday bash. I saw another pic of this on Facebook - someone else thought it was gorgeous too.
Oklahoma sky on the way home from Dallas (just coming into Tulsa)

Wish I could remember what Sofi (Aaron's girlfriend) is holding, but I don't. Something to do with the birthdays we were celebrating, I'm sure.
Adam left the party for a minute and Thein is keeping Adam's pipe going. Sofi is making a face about something.
Bec is astonishing Thein at the birthday bash.
Bec looking beautiful at the birthday bash. (taking a break from texting)

The birthday swimming party - Adam and Thein

Co-cooks, Adam and Thein, making the fancy salad for birthday dinner.

Thein is making something yummy for the birthday bash.

Fred is making pancakes for everyone on the big birthday weekend. (Adam and I on the 11th and Aaron on the 12th.)
Oklahoma sky after Tuesday night meeting.
Never saw anything like this before - it's a car seat for a small dog - there's a seat belt there some place.
Here's Julie, Bridget's program coordinator, at the training for people who work with people with hearing and vision loss. She's trying to figure out what her partner is trying to communicate without formal language.

Here we are doing a blindfold exercise at the training for people who work with individuals with vision and hearing loss. Everyone is trying to communicate without talking or using formal sign language. It is very hard.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Non-Violent Communication

A friend mentioned a couple of books when a group of us were just standing around in a parking lot after a meeting. I was fascinated with the titles and immediately asked the library for them. So, after having read them, I'm going to have to buy one of them for my library. I was a little irritable at first when I started reading - I saw that the author had cobbled several ways of communicating into one and called it non-violent communication. I've seen some of it in books on assertiveness, conflict resolution, and in one particular book on negotiations ("Getting to Yes without Giving In). But as I read on I saw that he had put the methods together in a unique way.

Here's what I got out of the two books - and, of course, I know it isn't really possible to summarize two books in a few sentences, but, for me, summarizing books this way is how I internalize what I've learned and, I hope, use it. When my summary isn't enough, I can go back to the book.

Summary: What most of us do is argue with each other to try to solve problems. We point out how we're right and the other person is wrong. In fact, not just individuals do this, political parties, organizations, businesses, nations, do this. It doesn't work and it never has and it never will. People, organizations and nations do what they do to try to get their needs met. All of our behavior and communication has the purpose of getting needs met. The only thing that could possibly work is for us to identify our own needs and other's needs and find better ways to get both sets of needs met in better ways than fighting and arguing about who's right and who's wrong.

We will have to begin by becoming aware of our feelings and the needs we are trying to meet. Instead of judging ourselves, we will need to be compassionate with ourselves, and then, of course, be compassionate with others and try to understand their feelings and needs. We will need to open ourselves up to do this even when the "other" is yelling and calling us names. None of this will be easy and it will be a lifetime job. But what are we going to do instead? Keep doing what we've been doing and get what we've been getting?

At 69 it's a little late to start practicing this. But whatever. I've got nothing else important to do. I'm thinking of all the conflicts I've had with people in my life and how completely clueless I was as to what my needs were, let alone what theirs were. In recovery I've been taught a lot about caring about other's needs and understanding other's points of view, so I've actually done some of this in some ways. A lot more needs to be done.

The books: "Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life." "Speak Peace in a World of Conflict." Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.

Here's my plan: I will work on noticing when I feel "out of sorts" with someone instead of just trying to ignore my feelings. I will identify what I'm feeling and what needs of mine are not being met. Instead of being a doormat or a witch, I will try to just politely ask for what I want without making the other person feel criticized. (This one is the tough one). I will try to guess what they're feeling and what they need and ask them if I'm right. I hope this will start a conversation that will end in both of us getting our needs met and I hope bring us closer.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


(My internet connection has been out for several days, and I was too busy to call Cox and go through all the effort to figure out the problem. Today I got around to it and it seems my wonderful cat companion has been exploring among the wires and cords and loosened something up. So now I'm playing catch up.)

I think most of us have a "code of honor" that tells us what our duties are. I've tried not to have one plenty of times but it just doesn't go away. I'm not sure where it comes from and for a long time I thought it interfered with self-care. But that's the last thing it does! Paying my bills on time, filing my taxes - all of those "duties" prevent bad things from happening to me. Other kinds of duties -like responsibilities for other people - like the many advocacy chores I do for my son and daughter with disabilities - are sometimes very difficult, energy-draining, and time consuming. But when I've done them I feel more like my true self, the person I really want to be. Taking care of these duties is essential for my spiritual growth and self respect.

"I don't want to do this, but I feel it's important to do because..." "Even when we don't want to be doing what we must, we may find ourselves almost enjoying ourselves..." Ignoring our duties piles up guilt and anxiety. Fulfilling true duties energizes us. It feels good in the end."

- Melody Beattie. 52 Weeks of Conscious Contact.

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