Archives for posts with tag: attitude of gratitude

tape measure on pretty day 002

Photo courtesy of K. Farwell

This morning at Centering Prayer I was reminded of the importance of being tethered to the God of our understanding by our longing to be connected to the love of our Creator. In other words, our willingness to surrender ourselves to attain a connection with the total love that created us and is part of us is crucial in this journey we call life. If we are not willing to surrender our “I-ness,” our ego, if you will, then our own self-will creates a barrier between us and our Higher Power.

What immediately came to my mind was the realization that my surrender of wanting to be in control and to be independent (my “I-ness”) is not a one time, all or nothing occurrence. My surrender of self will is like one of those small round tape measures that let you pull out the tape measure to any length you want and then, at the push of a button, the tape measure is immediately retracted. When I surrender self and connect with God’s love I will eventually allow someone or something  to push my “ego-button” so that my connection  with God is severed and I retract back into my ego-driven isolation.

I have worked so hard and so long at not being dependent or co-dependent on any person, place, or thing that it is difficult for me to realize the God of my choosing cannot be limited to or defined by one of those categories. To not accept my total dependence on God for every breath I take is sheer insanity, but my ego keeps desperately hanging on to that denial.

My ego has been having a denial party ever since my best friend died this summer. I found myself submerged in grief, despair, anger, and the feeling that no matter what I did, I was going to die anyway, so I might as well live for the moment and stop denying myself what gives me pleasure. Fortunately, for me, that did not send me back into practicing my addiction to alcohol. However, I did start eating what I wanted to when I wanted to. Was I suicidal? No, being a diabetic, I still did not eat sugar, flour, bread, or high glycemic fruits and vegetables. But I did over indulge in protein, milk products, fats, and nuts.

Guess what happened? The usual——I gained some weight, food stopped tasting good, and nothing was filling my “emptiness.” It wasn’t until I stopped the denial/self-pity party and started weighing and measuring my foods again, saying please and thank you to God every day, and taking baby steps towards regular exercising that food started tasting good again and I started feeling “okay” again. Of course, my body rebelled and let me know it did not like “detox”—–but, being the “surrender, take it back, surrender again” type person I am, I was used to that  and it didn’t really bother me.

I guess what I am saying is I finally “got my groove back” and was in right-relationship with my Higher Power. It felt good. It felt like, as I heard a friend put it at a meeting recently, “I just stopped fighting the water and turned over and started floating on my back.”

I think I did so just in time because last night I had another medical crisis that kept me awake for several hours and convinced me once again that God is in control when all else fails. I experienced symptoms for several hours that usually either put me in the ER or in the hospital for a week or so or both, and I knew I had to surrender and trust God. I was able to stop fighting the pain,  to accept it, to take my prescribed medicine, and to turn myself, my will,  and my pain over to God with the understanding that I might still need to go to the ER if the medication did not work. God and the medicine worked their magic—–I was able to sleep for a few hours, and when I awoke the pain and nausea were gone.  The relief is indescribable, and I am most grateful for God’s gift of another day of life. God bless and keep you.

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tool box

Image courtesy of Gualberto107/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve done gratitude lists and God Boxes to support my recovery, but now I’ve been introduced to a new concept that I think will be most helpful. The new tool is a “Happiness Jar”—-an idea originated by Elizabeth Gilbert ( accessed 1/2/14 at: http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/lets-talk-about-those-happiness-jars). This wonderful yet simple idea basically consists of writing a simple description on a scrap of paper of your happiest moment for the current day along with the day’s date. Then you drop the paper into a container (jar, basket, bucket—-whatever one wants to use). The idea is when you’re feeling down you can pull a slip out at random and re-live a happy memory. The therapeutic value, however, goes further than that. It introduces one to how rewarding it can be to realize each of our days has a moment of happiness in it—–and it starts ingraining an “attitude of gratitude” into our minds and souls.

I like things simple, and I like concrete reminders of where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing. I started a “happiness record” table  in document form yesterday, but it didn’t have the “magic” hand’s on feel I was looking for. So, I went out today and bought the biggest, cheapest yet moderately attractive jar I could find. Putting the slips of paper for yesterday and today into that jar actually felt like palpable magic. I thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert, wherever you are for introducing me to this tool to keep and use in my “recovery toolbox.”

Then, on the way to my 6th &  7th Step Meeting last night, NPR had a news clip on about how one can write about any issue that is bothering you, past or present, for 15 minutes a day for four days —–just writing and not worrying about logic, grammar, or spelling. The point is to to get what is bothering you out of your mind and on to paper. A bit of magic happens with this, too. Thanks to information NPR shared, I found more specific information  on a University of Texas web page (accessed 1/1/14 at: epage.psy.utexas.edu/HomePage/Faculty/Pennebaker/Home2000/WritingandHealth.html).

James Pennebaker (Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas) has developed this model of journaling and done extensive research about its outcomes.  He says to write for 20 minutes a day for four days. According to yesterday’s NPR  All Things Considered program (Editing Your Life’s Stories Can Create Happier Endings by Lulu Miller, accessed 1/2/14 at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/01/01/258674011/editing-your-lifes-stories-can-create-happier-endings),  writing about personal issues this way  has the following result “As you write about the troubling, confusing event again and again, eventually you begin to make sense of it. You can put those consuming thoughts to rest.”

And that, my friends, is probably why I blog. However, this suggested writing technique is a private affair lasting a matter of days, and you will not be subjected to it in my blogs. I think I may try it with the issues I discovered last night during that step meeting I mentioned. Our discussion led me to ask myself what is it that is bugging me to the point that I am flirting with depression again?  My Higher Power sent me the answers. As always, my emotional upheaval has to do with not being able to control something and needing to accept life on life’s terms. Specifically, I realized I am afraid of my father’s deteriorating mental status and my own pending full retirement/loss of professional identity  in a few months.  Now I know what I need to write about for myself.

I hope the “happy jar” idea is a helpful one for you.  For those of you who use journaling as a tool of recovery, I hope the writing method discussed on NPR last night is a helpful one too. God bless and keep you.