Thursday, January 31, 2008

Things are different

A woman shared today at a meeting how different her life was today than it was a year ago. Mine too, I thought! In fact, my life feels a lot different than it did just a couple of months ago. I think the antidepressants are helping, as is having a job and getting out of the house more.

But my attitude is also different and one of the things I attribute that to is I have recently started helping two other women in SLAA work their recovery programs. I was hesitant to do it at first. Given the fact that I always feel I am not good enough and also worried that I would be a hypocrite -- giving them all sorts of advice when I wasn't sticking to my own bottom lines -- I almost passed the opportunity up. But, I prayed about it, and decided to say yes. It really is making a difference in my life. In addition to wanting to continue my recovery, I also don't want to act out because I want to continue to help these two women.

Still, I think there's something even deeper going on ... I'm beginning to truly see what it means to turn my will and my life over to my Higher Power. My husband told me on Tuesday that he's going out of town for a few days in a couple of weeks. That happens to be the same time that one of my former acting out partners will be IN town and staying at a hotel just a five-minute drive away. You can imagine that my addict went into "party" mode at the thought of having three days to do nothing but run wild. But instead of picking up the phone first thing the next morning and calling that acting out partner, I asked God, "Please just help me not tell him today." And every day since then I've done the same thing. I haven't told him yet.

Tonight two of my girlfriends were supposed to come over for a get together. The weather was bad and we had to cancel, creating the perfect opportunity to reschedule for one of the night's my husband will be out of town. Then a service opportunity opened up for me in one of my fellowship programs for another night. So, God is taking care of me, I can see it and I'm acknowledging it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Where I am today

I feel so good to have made it to a recovery meeting today at lunch. It’s become much easier/less intimidating to being the only woman walking into a group of all men and share. I’ve always known I was in the right place and kept coming back no matter what, but I have been a bit worried at times that my sharing would trigger others in the room or that they would not feel comfortable sharing their stories because I was there. But today I know that I need recovery and that the similarities in our disease, no matter our gender, are much more than the differences and the person I need to be worried about is me. If God creates the opportunity for me to go to a meeting, I want to be there.

One of the things that keeps coming up for me lately is boundaries. It’s something I’ve heard a lot about in recovery, but nothing I’ve given a whole lot of thought to. But when I hear or read a word over and over again, I usually know that my HP has something for me to learn and I try to listen. The reading in today’s meeting included the story of a man who when he got into recovery he blurted everything out every chance he got. I definitely related to that – when I came into recovery, I was just so happy to be among people who understood what I was saying, who could relate to me and with whom I could finally be honest. Wow, that was refreshing. But I’m learning today that I don’t have to blurt out every detail of my past acting out and past history … because I am recovering and there’s a lot of that acting out, that abuse, those resentments that thanks to my Higher Power and the program that is no longer a part of my life. I can focus more on where I am in my recovery and share parts of my past when someone asks for ESH or when it is relative. But I don’t have to keep reliving the past over and over again.

This is not to say that it was wrong for me to blurt it all out in the beginning … I did need to purge what was inside me. It just reinforces the slogan that we are always exactly where we need to be. As I make progress in recovery, my behaviors and attitudes change and for that I am thankful.

I am also thankful that while I had decided that I wanted to get a dog to help keep me company and as a friendly companion, this new member of our family has proven to be quite a catalyst for communication and understanding between my husband and I. We are working together to meet the dog’s needs, to adjust our schedules so that they are more balanced and family focused, and through her I am seeing that my husband is able to give love and affection, and to share with him … “See, that’s what I’ve been talking about all these years. That is what I want for myself.” He seems to get it and that is rewarding.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Even a free bus pass

Reading today’s edition of Chicago’s infamous free tabloid, the Red Eye, I had to think of my fellow blogger The Junky’s Wife, when I saw an ad that read:

Heroin and Pain Pill Addiction
Same Day Dosing
Low Cost & Confidential
*Compassionate Staff
*All Public Transportation at the front door
*FREE Vitamin Pack Daily
*FREE Gourmet Coffee
*FREE Phone Use (local & long distance)
*FREE Week of Services on Your Birthday

And if that wasn’t enough free stuff … FREE Seven Day Bus Pass for Joining when you Mention this Ad.

The Red Eye’s big cover story “The Lying Game” made me think of myself and all other addicts. The story highlights a new reality show, “The Moment of Truth.”

I tried to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth one day … I lasted about three waking hours. Of course, I used to tell people I was incredibly honest, and I believed it. Thank God for recovery.

A weight lifted

About four years ago, maybe three, I wrote a letter to my stepfather asking him to tell me why he had sexually abused me for 10 years of my life. I told him that I was suffering through depression and absolute hell because of what I went through. He wrote back and said that he was very sick during that period of time, to please let him die in peace (not tell family -- i.e. please continue the lie), God had forgiven him he hoped that I could too. Not long after that, I made the decision to cut contact with him in order to "take care of myself." During these period of years, I have seen him at a few family occassions and talked to him now and then, but overall the contact has been minimal. Still, I have lived with this underlying guilt and frustration that cutting contact with him made me feel even further abnormal than I already was, and that I was a bad daughter and I was causing friction in the family. (All of these were feelings I had, by the way, about my abuse. That I had to lie about it in order not to cause discord and separation in my family, that I was always the "bad" daughter who held a secret that could hurt my family so badly.) I have always felt "less than" to the point that I think sometimes I should have worn (and sometimes still should put it on) a t-shirt with a big < on it. Now having a father (he raised me from 9 months) who was alive, but dying, who I didn't talk to and had not resolved past issues with just compounded my feelings about myself in the family and in the world around me.

Fast forward to Tuesday night when the leader of the Al-Anon meeting I attend read from Courage to Change, March 15 -- a passage which says forgiveness is not something to be used for power or as a weapon, forgiveness is something that allows me to see that I am on equal footing with all children of God. "We all do good and noble things at times; on other occassions we may offend. I have no right to judge punish or absolve anyone. When I behave self-righteously, I'm the one who suffers -- I separate myself from my fellow human beings, focus on others, and keep busy with hateful and negative thoughts. By taking this attitude, I tell myself that I am a victim, and I remain a victim. The most forgiving thing I can do is to remember that my job is not to judge others, but to think and behave in a way that makes me feel good." In the thought for today it goes on to say, "I don't know the motives or circumstances that cause another's behavior, I do know that when I hold on to resentments and blame, I occupy my spirit with bitterness. I will find a more nurturing way to fill myself up."

This reading hit me so completely, lifting the burden of forgiveness off my shoulders. Forgiveness really only means acceptance of my stepfather as a human being, a child of God, who was also a sex addict (with the mental disease of pedophilia), whose behavior, motives I don't know. And it's not mine to know. He has a Higher Power who is ultimately the one who offers true forgiveness. I don't have to carry around that burden any longer. Leave it to God. Wow, what a relief. In working my fourth step, I have learned that as long as I hold on to the resentment -- blaming him for my disease and overall dysfunction -- I separate myself from my own Higher Power and for my own accountability. Certainly there are those who would say... "You have every right to blame him." Yes, I have every right, but blaming him for my life today, only keeps me stuck in the past, and I want so desparately to move forward.

Does that mean that I renew the relationship with my stepfather? I don't know. But I feel some release in my heart, hopefully enough to let go of him, give him to his Higher Power, and focus all that energy that has consumed me in my resentments and worry and hurt and anger, on the soul that still has a chance to live, free of ties to the disease of yet another addict.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A great answer

Last night as I was sitting in my SLAA meeting of one doing some reading, the thought came to me: First, in order to turn my life over to my HP, I have to build trust through building a relationship. How do I build a relationship? The EXACT same way I built a relationship with the people I acted out with, especially those I "fell in love" with. To build a relationship with my HP, I talk to him all the time, I write to him all the time, I think about him all the time, I make every decision with him in mind. My HP has to be at the forefront of my mind. I'm not suggesting that we become addicted to our HP, rather I am saying that we (or at least I) have shown ourselves capable of doing the things necessary to build a relationship, and to turn our lives over to "something." Up until I entered recovery, and even during relapses, I sure knew how to turn my life over to someone else. I think I might be able to figure out how to turn my life over to my HP.

Recovery is a spiritual program. Filling that God-shaped hole with something other than addictive obsessions is crucial for my recovery to work.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Admitting my powerlessness

Every now and then, something crosses our eyes just long enough to "click." This morning I was reading on the online SLAA list I belong to and saw that someone had set a boundary around "obsessively checking e-mail searching for a hit." It stared at me in the way things look back when they belong to you and you can no longer deny them.

When I first started seeing a therapist after my life had become completely out of control with acting out in my addiction, I told her I was addicted to the Internet. That's what I thought. I had no clue and sex and love addiction at the time. All I knew is I couldn't stay away from the Internet for more than an hour or two at a time, and some days, even work days, I was there all day long, chatting, checking e-mail, writing e-mail and searching, searching for that next "hit." That belief that I was addicted to the Internet was what brought me into recovery, but once I got into recovery I released the idea that my obsessions with the Internet were truly a problem. And honestly, it's still not the Internet that appeals to me -- it is using the Internet to connect to others, that often leads me to my sex and love addiction, keeps me in isolation at times, and keeps my life out of balance. When I am home alone, I spend hours on the Internet, pushing aside all other interests. When I have other work to do, I am still drawn compulsively to check my e-mail, to send e-mails that I hope will get responses, to read and respond on blogs, with the hopes of getting responses as well. As I have gained some semblance of sobriety in my sex and love addiction, it is not that I am seeking "acting out" partners, but I am still looking for external validation and stimulation. I am proscratinating and not taking responsibility for the things I need to do. Using the Internet, like having sex, falling in love, caring for others or eating, is not wrong. But when not kept in balance, it can make me insane and I can use it in an unhealthy way.

So, the time has come when I have to admit the truth -- I am powerless over my addiction to using the Internet to seek connection to others and delay progress in taking responsibility for my life. I am powerless over my obsession with taking every opportunity to use the Internet to check e-mail, searching for some quality "hit." My life has become and continues to be unmanageable because of this powerlessness. I do believe that with God's guidance and help, I can set some healthy boundaries around my use of the Internet and that my sanity will be restored. I am praying today for guidance on setting these healthy boundaries and doing the difficult work of replacing this behavior.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I feel special ... I've been Tagged

Jen over at 12 Steps Closer To God has tagged me for a meme. I don't even know what that means ... or if I said it right, but I know that it means that Jen wants to know more about me ... and for that I am thankful. Although after completing this exercise, I think I must feel miserable today ... or that I only write about miserable stuff here ... because everything I've linked to links back to my pain. I'm glad to have been connecting to that pain over the past few years and look forward to connecting to hope and friendship and a sense of freedom in the years ahead.

So, according to Jen's post, the rules for this tagging thing are:

1. Post 5 links to 5 of your previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5 key words : family, friend, yourself, your love, anything you like.
2. Tag 5 other friends to do this meme. Try to tag at least 2 new acquaintances so that you get to know them each a little bit better.

Oh I get it, it's sort of like those spam e-mails I get all the time that say I'm going to have a horrible life if I don't forward it to at least 10 people! Haha. I'm only joking of course. I am happy to have the chance to share and to tag some other people to let them know they are special to me.

So here are my five posts:
1. Family - Over the past few years, I have had to come to grips with a lot of truths about my mother, but this loving tribute still stands true.
2. Friend - Interestingly, in doing this exercise, I have realized that I haven't really written about my friends here. I suppose some of that is to protect anonymity and another part is a realization that I am totally self-absorbed. However, I have elected to post Emotions vs. Thinking under this category as it deals with the friendship that is forming in my mind.
3. Myself - There is one post on this blog that completely defines the way I see my life. I wrote Parallel Lives in July 2004 and have spent the following months and years trying to learn how to reunite my wholeness.
4. My love - Anyone who has read my blog knows that over time I've had a hard time figuring out exactly what love is. I thought I once knew and this is a post about how my confusion looked on one particular day: How the Big Day Went for Me. For those who haven't been reading long, R. was a man I had a torrential one year "love affair" with. After I followed my heart and returned to my husband, R. married another woman -- the same one mentioned in this entry -- two months later.
5. Anything I like - Mine is not a blog of happiness -- though I often share a lot of hope and recovery here. My blog is a place where I have shared my story, my recovery, my awareness and my acceptance. It is through writing that I have began to understand my journey and it was through Thoughts Finally Surfacing that I began to see where a vibrant young woman who had surpressed the truth and her pain began to live in the misery of all that was coming to the surface. It may not make sense to include something so sad in the "Anything I like" category -- but I do get to include anything I like, right?

And I would like to tag:
1. Summer at 107 Madison Street
2. Vicarious Rising
3. Andrew at 4th Avenue Blues
4. Woman.Anonymous7
5. Kellee at Crossing My Bridge

One cold Saturday

It's freezing cold here, but the sun is shining, so I'm happy! It feels like it's been a long time since I've been here to write and share my thoughts. The work week went well, though I have to admit that I did have to struggle a lot with focusing on my work and I had some addictive triggers that caused me a bit of anxiety. Still ... I made it OK. Well, at least with my sex and love addiction. The food issues are exacerbated by the fact that every fast food joint in America, and a few great pastry shops have a space on the second floor of the building where I am working. Luckily after the first day or two of temptations, I became desensitized to the "opportunity" to overeat and indulge in all sorts of unhealthy foods.

I also spent some "down" time this week really grieving the fact that I have continually punished myself by bringing people into my life who perpetuate my underlying belief that I am "less than." It made it difficult to make it through one of the days at work, and with so much emotion laying on my sleeves, I was incredibly sleepy and staying focused was even more difficult. I found myself incessantly checking e-mail and writing e-mails and procrastinating in one way or another. I guess this is some of the remnants of the depression, which I continue to take medication for.

I also wasted my time listening to someone I know say that he wasn't quite sure that incest was a bad thing -- that learning about sex from someone who you love and trust firsthand seemed to make sense. He went on to say that there would probably be far fewer hangups if families talked more openly about sex. I sat in silence, feeling both defensive and misunderstood. I didn't even want to scream out, because it felt like it would be a waste of breath. It brought back a feeling I often have that no one can hear my voice.

A friend of mine recently referred to my behavior as "punishing myself." He suggested perhaps I was punishing myself for not being a good daughter ... for not maintaining contact with my stepfather. I wrote to him:
As much as it doesn't make sense, I feel bad about myself for cutting off connection to my stepfather, not calling to check on him when I know he's been in the hospital, not rushing to "clear things up" and pretend again that I am not hurting. Sometimes the farther I go into my thoughts on these things the more depressed I become. In other words, I thought I was "doing the right thing" cutting off connection to him ... and that has resulted in a whole other set of feelings -- feelings like I am only punishing him, it's not really that I am trying to take care of myself, because if I were taking care of myself I wouldn't make myself feel bad by being a bad daughter. It's crazy thoughts like this that keep me spinning. And in the meantime, I'm trying to recover from not just one but two or three lures that are so overwhelmingly attractive that the pain they cause seems better than living without them.

All of this seems a little more sad than my week actually was. My husband was very supportive and encouraging this week and it did feel really good to be among the workforce. I liked learning to use the transit system downtown and had some great conversations with a few fellow riders. The work I am doing also allows me to talk with people all over the world and that has been very satisfying as well. I enjoy meeting new people and hearing parts of their stories -- even if it is just what they do for a living.

Well, it's time to walk the dog ... on this nice sunny but cold day.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Working woman

Wow ... it's amazing that I've been sitting around for so long, bitching about not being able to find a job, wasting time acting out at times, and now all of a sudden, once again, I am a professional. It's equally amazing how much of a sense of "worthiness" that gives me. I'm not exactly sure that's healthy, but for now I'm going to count it as a gift. It's true that this job I've landed is only temporary, but it's a job and it makes me feel like I am "out there" in the world again, amongst the "normal" people who go to work each day and come home and bitch about it and feel a sense of accomplishment when they do a good thing.

Today I had a couple of great moments -- one was when I stopped to ask a man for directions for the train station and he asked if I wanted to share the cab. That showed such kindness and we had a good conversation about the work he did. On the train on the way in I also talked to a woman whose work complements the work I'll be doing for the next few weeks. God was doing some work in my life today and I'm so very happy.

Oh, and did I mention ... I don't have to be to work until 9:30 each day? Could life really be better?

Friday, January 11, 2008

The truth

I talk a lot about recovery and searching for wholeness and all that on this blog ... and that is honestly what I am reaching out for. But I need to say something honestly and get it out of me.

I think if I were not married I'd fuck every man I could and have one hell of a time doing it. I would hopefully be less inclined to married men than I have been in the past -- in my addiction I can believe that we are "just helping each other out." But without a husband and as many social "expectations" to live up to, I could see myself moving to a town where I knew no one, where I didn't care what others thought of me and just have one hell of a time. All of this because I constantly feel that I am fighting against my addict -- that part of me that just wants to go out and be wild and free. I feel conflicted in my acting out because I am married, because I could be found out, because I could hurt my husband who I love.

I know intellectually that I would feel just as empty using men and being used in that way as I do now, that the conflicts and the feeling used would be no less ... but every now and then this thought goes through my mind. The magical thinking lets me imagine that "At least there wouldn't be so much inner turmoil."

These thoughts make me worry, Do I stay married just to prevent myself from going hog-ass wild? In some ways, I think that's the reason I got married. I had started to do just what I had described above. I was becoming very promiscuous before I met the man who would become my husband. And then there he was he was so stable, so secure, so safe, so interested, so unaware.

Anyway ... I said it, my piece of truth. In some ways I want to take it back, erase it all and hide it. I fear judgment and anger over what I've said. But I'm only as sick as my secrets. Moving past this secret to a point where I love myself more than this, where I can find joy in some freedom other than this ... that is what I want. I do want the internal turmoil to stop. I hate fighting with myself 24/7. It's depressing, it's frustrating and it's tiresome. It's why I have to surrender one day at a time.

Speak to me

I wrote this in a note to someone in SLAA recovery this morning. As usual, in speaking to others God spoke to me.

You know, it's very hard for me to admit, but I have never been absolutely faithful to a man in my life. Even before my husband and I married, from the time we met, through the time we were dating, I always had at LEAST an emotional relationship with another man. I even was unfaithful to the men I was being unfaithful with. I would tell them they were the only one ... but there was ALWAYS someone else, even if it was just a "small" zing I got off a friendship with someone, or a recurring fantasy that danced in my head, taking me away from my present relationship and into the arms of someone else. Like the alcoholic who always needs that bottle stuck in the back of the laundry closet, I have lived in fear of not having someone to give me what I cannot give myself -- love and acceptance. I have lived this way because I have an addiction that renders me powerless over my cravings for another person. That addiction has almost robbed me of my life. I am in recovery to restore my life and my power by filling those voids with the love and acceptance of my Higher Power and to begin to recognize myself again as more than just my disease, but as a lovable, acceptable human being. The steps take me through this process.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Prayer for Divine Connections

This morning as I was picking up the newspapers to take them to recycling, I ran across a sheet of paper where I had taken some notes from an inspirational program I was watching on television. I had written down, "Pray for divine connections."

I love the Prayer of St. Francis, "Lord make me an instrument of thy peace." I have prayed it many times, asking God to use me as an instrument of his work. Likewise, I know that he has put people in my life, some momentarily, some for long-term, who are his instruments for speaking to me and helping me to better understand myself. Sometimes, I have done the work to "seek out" these people -- trusted servants such as therapists, a sponsor, recovery friends. Others, like the woman I spoke to yesterday in the online meeting, just appear.

This morning I pray:
"Lord, my life is yours, and I need the guidance of your wisdom today and each day.
Show me your strength, your beauty, your wisdom and your love in others and show yourself to them through me.
Open my heart, open my mind and let me lay down my weakened ego, so that I can feel and experience the daily gifts of connection you create for me.
When someone touches my hand or touches my heart, let me know that it is you. When someone opens their heart to me, let me know you have sent me a gift. When I feel fear and frustration, shame and guilt, come to me in stillness or with wild fire or a simple scene that assures me you are there.
As the wind blows, let me feel your presence, as the rain falls, let me feel your tender gentleness, and as laughter wells up in me, let me feel your love surrounding my soul, offering me divine connection too all that is in you, and all that is in me."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Today is not the day

Today I made it to an afternoon online meeting for SLAA and had the unique occassion to reach out to a woman who was going through a rough time. Our childhoods were similar as were some of the deep rooted beliefs about our damaged selves. I had never talked to this woman from half a world away before. She told me she struggled with the notion that she would never be able to have a love relationship because she was "damaged." She could at least accept that maybe she was wrong and that miracles do happen. I know myself that there are plenty of things I thought would never happen in my life that have and that I really can't predict the future. But I was able to share with her something that is ringing in my ears tonight. I reminded her that ours is a program of living one day at a time, being in the present. I encouraged her (this is a bit of a paraphrase) that instead of spending her day thinking "I'm never going to find a man," to say to herself, "Today is not the day for me to share my life with someone else. Today is my day to work on connecting to the part of me that was lost."

I firmly believe that the one reason that the 12 step programs work is because in helping others we are able to help ourselves. I believe that God gives us the opportunity to help someone else so that we can say the words we needed to hear. I had no real reason to go to that online meeting this afternoon. I wasn't Jonesing for a fix, in fact I probably went because I had some step work to do for a meeting with my sponsor tomorrow and I haven't finished it. Procrastination in any form is better than no procrastination at all. But my point is ... there are no coincidences. I needed to hear those somewhat unspoken words that came with me saying to this woman "Today is not the day ..." What I heard back for me ... focus on today, today is not the day when everything is going to happen, but today is the day when something is going to happen, be here.

One of the best gifts God has given me recently is my new dog. She's a great companion. I've had to learn to pay attention to her, to read her body language, to figure out what her barks and howls mean. And she keeps me in better shape -- I walk with her two to four times a day and when I sit at the computer for too long she comes and starts nudging my elbow and whining and howling a bit to let me know she needs something.

Today is not the day for everything to be right in the world. It's not the day for me to get a new job. It's not the day for me to do get everything done that I need to do. But it is the day for me to cook a nice supper for my husband, for me to not get angry because he's already an hour later than I had hoped, for me to take care of my dog, and for me to help someone else, so that I could help myself.

Today is also a day for me to feel some changes stirring inside me. I'm not going to project what they are, because I can't predict the future. But I will say that where there was no hope just a few weeks back, I am beginning to feel that there is hope that I will get my life back, that I am getting my life back, that I am living my life in its present form ... one day at a time.

To all my blogger buddies out there ... I am still having computer issues and haven't had the chance to read like I would like to lately. Also, the new antidepressant I'm taking has me both focusing better and not focusing as well ... Don't ask me what that means, but it does mean that I'm not getting to the blogs I like to read and the lives and recovery partners I like to keep up with. But I'll be back to visit. I hope you are all well.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Connecting to a loss of direction

Since moving here almost a year ago, there have been weeks where there have been many tasks to do each day, or weeks when I was planning my time around acting out, or participating in recovery.

For the weeks before the holidays and now the days that have followed I have had more of a sense that my life has no direction. I need direction, goals and a to do list each day. Life somewhat surrounded my husband while he was here for the holidays, and then have been focused on getting the new dog acclimated to her our home. But today it feels like there is nothing to do ... and not in a good way. I don't have a desire to act out, thank God. But I also don't have much of a desire to do anything else.

I guess there's still a bit of the depression hanging on ... I'm hanging on too, and promise to outlast it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Connecting to my feelings about food

Yesterday in my appointment with my therapist she asked me what I envisioned when I thought of when I connected to the part of me that wanted to be healthy and fit. I told her that I get so frustrated because what I really want is to just be "normal." She sort of poo-pooed that away, saying ... "Forget that, no one is normal. All women have body image issues of some sort." I was angry at her for her flippancy. So I stopped for a minute and then said, "What I am telling you is that inside my head, I have the idea that there are people out there who don't have to constantly think about what they are going to eat, when they are going to eat it, they don't think about food all the time, they can shop in any store they want." For me, normal means I don't have to battle with food and exercise issues every day of my life. I can work out every day and love it -- I don't have to worry about what people think about me when I'm at the gym, or have a constant feeling of "I can't do this. I'm too out of shape." The truth is ... I am not "normal" ... I am a compulsive overeater, and I will always have struggles with using food as something other than nutrition. I doesn't mean that I have to let it run my life, but I have to give up that pipe dream that I'm going to be "normal." And honestly, she's probably right, there are few people out there who really can just say they have NO food issues.

One of the reasons I chose "kindness" as my secondary "focus" word for the year, was because I am trying to learn to be kind to myself, including to my body. While kindness to others (when I pay attention to them) comes pretty easy for me, kindness to myself is so much more difficult. I am really hard on myself and that is something I want to work on. But I am also continuing to realize -- peeling the proverbial onion -- how little I have seen my own responsibility for myself. For all of my life I have sort of seen things as "take what you get." Whether it was my health or my happiness, even though I worked hard, I always sort of just lived life without much discipline or thought, never recognizing that part of being "lucky" in life was doing some work to prevent disease and unhappiness.

A friend sent me this in one of our New Year's exchanges. It was something she read elsewhere: If you (1) want to change, (2) decide to change, (3) learn how to change, (4) take action to change, (5) persist in your attempt to change, and (6) start again when you backslide, there's a very good chance that you will change in the ways you want.