Monday, November 23, 2015

Holding the food (and alcohol) conundrum

There are a number of paradoxes that are involved in recovery from any kind of addiction. I learned the first one in the alcohol treatment center in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1989. That we live our recovery one day at a time, always focussed on today. At the same time, we don't ever drink again. So we must learn to hold this conundrum of only for today and every day from now on. In my early days this angered me. While I appreciated that I had to focus on getting through the day each day, one day at a time seemed like BS. There wasn't ever going to be a tomorrow when I could drink.

In some ways, I find myself with the same conundrum in Bright Line eating. There is a strong focus on staying within the bright lines just for today, not to worry about tomorrow and the long future ahead. Plan your food for the next day, stick with your plan. Plan your food again, stick with the plan. At the same time, I know that I am building habits that can carry me into that long-term future. Because there is no tomorrow when I can safely have a piece of cake or a bowl of ice cream. For me as a proven addict, who always ends up right back in the jackpot of weight and bingeing, that isn't going to happen. Moderation with sweet foods is just not going to happen for me.

I still have choices. I can choose the misery again. It's always available. but I sure hope I don't.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Finding a way to give back to recovery

As part of the money course I took recently, we created a philanthropy plan. One part of my plan involves giving 30 of my original paintings to the Letty Owings House here in Portland.
Since 1987, Letty Owings has provided residential drug and alcohol treatment in a six-month program to women who have infants or young children. It is one of only a handful of treatment centers in the country where the women can have their kids with them during treatment. These women are mostly young, uneducated, and  homeless or street sex workers. The Letty Owings house is warm and friendly but very shabby. So I am delighted to be putting my colorful art on the walls of the residents’ rooms.
My current challenge is to raise about $4,000 for the framing. I'm invetigating online frame shops and local framers as well who might discount me for this project. 
If you feel moved to support this project, I’d love a donation (check to 1932 SE Ash, Portland 97214) and I’ll send you a tax receipt from Letty Owings. And if this project doesn’t sing for you, then that’s fine too. Many thanks for your consideration. 
PS Feel free to share this post with others who might be interested.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Saying goodbye to the second food addiction stepchild: The anesthetic

Giving up the Party in My Mouth is hard enough. But in order to fully embrace recovery from food addiction, I have to give up what is perhaps most important about my relationship with overeating sweets and carbs and fat carbs and salty carbs and sweet fat: the numbing experience.

Sugar and fat have been my remedy for anxiety, boredom, restlessness, grief, anger, tedium, disengagement, abandonment, fear--you name it--for over 60 years. When I got sober and gave up the anesthetic of alcohol, I went right back to sugar and fat. They weren't quite as effective as alcohol but it was a useful substitution. And for the last 25 years, with some pauses for dieting, I've had a pharmacy for numbing my feelings in my pantry and freezer that was reliable and foolproof.

Now I've stepped into a program that asks me to give up sugar/any sweeteners and all kinds of flour; this just about cuts out everything that was in that pharmacy. So in embracing this program, I have to embrace being fully awake. Of course, that's the point of life: living it, experiencing it, showing up. And I've learned to do a lot of that since I got sober from alcohol. But now being sober from food is taking it to a whole other level. More grief and some real fear.    

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Saying goodbye to the stepchildren of sugar and food addiction Part I

As I come to the end of the fourth week of Bright Line eating, I'm doing a fair amount of grieving. Just as with my journey in recovery from alcoholism, I'm having to change a lot of tangential things to create a solid program of recovery from sugar and flour addiction. 

One long-term side effect of my addiction is what I call the Party in My Mouth. I am addicted to eating lots and lots of things that give me great gustatory pleasure and I have a long list of favorites: ice cream, hot doughnuts, ice cream, clam dip and potato chips, ice cream sandwiches, great chocolate, ice cream sundaes, caramels, ice cream bars, gum drops, pie with ice cream, cake with ice cream, cookies with whipped cream, chips and nacho cheese, pudding with whipped cream, ice cream. 

I've known for some time that food has been the primary (and solitary) form of entertainment for me. I recognized that fully two weeks ago on a late Friday afternoon when I had no plans for the evening and a strong desire to go to the store and stock up on the above mentioned party foods. But embracing a plan that calls for lean proteins, fruit, and a crapton of vegetables with no sugar, no flour, and almost nothing processed means that my Tasting Party days are behind me. 

Don't get me wrong. Real food tastes very good but it's not the same experience. And grieving those old experiences seems right. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

A question to ask every day

We recently had the last weekend workshop and the last webinar of the money program I've been involved in for two years. It was a wonderful experience and a lot has changed for me around money and my relationship with it. And one of the most profound things for me happened at that last workshop.

Dave Ellis, one of the facilitators, showed us a framed quote that he has on his office wall, an idea that he says guides his days and his life. It's a question that deeply resonated with me.What is the best use of this life of such good fortune?

The question encompasses purpose and gratitude, appreciation and awareness, possibility and a call to action. And if I modify it a little (what is the best use of this day in this life of such good fortune), it keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. It keeps me looking for small ways to be of service. The question has helped me find a new daily guide: Kindness in all things.

How might this question be of use to you?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Poem #296

The old woman stood near the corner
of 82nd and Stark
on the sidewalk
of the salon that advertises
tintes y cortes
She was tall and too thin
a too-big trenchcoat
pulled snug around her waist
an umbrella
and a sign
Please help

I was in the wrong lane
and the light turned green
I went on through
the intersection
but I couldn't leave
it like that
so I changed lanes
and circled back.

I got out a 20
and as I rounded the corner
she moved along the sidewalk
towards the salon
and I thought I'd missed her
but the light was red
and she came back
towards the street.

I put out my hand
and she said,
I had to check the time.
It's getting late
And she took the 20
and her eyes widened
and she said
That's very generous of you
and I said
It's 5:15
for lack of anything else to say
and she thanked me again
and I repeated
It's 5:15
and I hope she heard
You're welcome
and I drove on
wondering how
this woman with her straight back
and carefully brushed hair
came to be begging
on an October Saturday.

Monday, November 2, 2015

More on figuring out what I'm committed to

At the final workshop for our money course, we did an exercise called Cleaning out the Closet. The first part was making a list of our promises and commitments and seeing which ones were languishing for lack of attention. We were then asked to put those in three "piles": no longer of interest (Goodwill pile), maybe in the future (back of the closet pile), and ready to go forward (hang in the front of the closet).

For the second part of the exercise, we were asked to refresh our current list of commitments and then work with a partner. The partner pretended to be an alien who was observing a human's activities. The alien listened while the human recounted a typical day's activities and the alien wrote them down. At the end of the exercise, we got to look at our daily activities and if they aligned with our commitments. In other words, was our time going to what we were committed to?

I was glad to see some big yes answers as I am writing and painting most days. But watching TV all evening doesn't forward much for me so I'm taking a look at reducing that amount and doing something I'm more committed to some evenings.