Tuesday, June 20, 2017

An ode to the demons of the Internet

Mechanical
technical
difficulties
are my nemesis.

I need the machines
in my life to work
and when they don't
my powerlessness to fix
or even understand
confronts me
with a universe
that is closed to me.

The mysteries of God
of the Big Bang
of the human heart
are as nothing
compared with
a persistent request
to enter a different password
when I know I just
put in the right one.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Trying out an antidote to depression

I've been reading the work of Martin Seligman, father of Positive Psychology, and came across one of his most successful exercises for those who suffer from depression. Fortunately, I don't have clinical depression. Most of the depressive episodes I had vanished when I stopped drinking (duh!) and although I get blue sometimes, it's in the normal course of life. But the older I get, the more interested I am in being happier so I decided I'd give the exercise a try.

It's very simple. Each night you write down three things that went well during the day AND you write down how you contributed to that success. That's it.

I've done gratitude lists before and I felt good about doing it but it never really changed anything for me. This has a different feel to it and it's the second part (our contribution) that is the critical piece. For we begin to see how we can impact our lives directly, how what we do makes a difference.

Seligman has researched this with thousands of people and just about everyone who does it for six or more weeks is happier, including the severely depressed. All I can say is that it's working for me!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A poem from April's poem-a-day challenge

Sunday leisure doesn't happen
in my home very often
It's a gym day
and my morning 300 words
on the novel occurs
without regard to the calendar
but my gym buddy
tweaked her back
and wanted rest
and I gave myself a pass too
choosing poetry over treadmill
although the blue sky
a rarity this spring
beckons after breakfast
and I stroll down the street
composing verses as I go

Monday, June 5, 2017

How a book on Mumbai is helping me understand white supremacy

A couple of years ago, I picked up $1 copy of a book called Maximum City by Suketu Mehta that I'd read about online. It was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2004 and is a journalist's experience of Bombay/Mumbai. He was a kid there, moved to New York, and then took his family back there for a few years to see what it would be like to return home. The book is fascinating and very well written  and presents a whole world of human experiences that are foreign to me.

I happened to pick the book up a few weeks ago. After the recent tragic deaths of two Good Samaritans on Portland's mass transit, like many of us I've been thinking about how someone comes to have so much hate and violence at the ready. Curiously,  Mehta's book has offered me some real insights. One of his chapters concerns gang warfare in Bombay and includes these ideas:
  • The oppressed want nothing more than to become the oppressor. 
  • Most young men (15-25) are wired with a love of strife, of fighting, of proving themselves. Young men in a minority are even more inclined in this direction.
  • When no one loves you growing up, you find some other group to belong to. 
It's not hard to imagine that young white men, like young black men, feel oppressed in our culture today. Jobs are hard to come by, money is hard to come by, acceptance and respect are hard to come by. The oppressed want nothing more than to become the oppressor, which is just what the young white man on the Max train did.

Our culture of war counts on young men being wired with a love of strife and proving themselves. Not all young men experience this, of course, but lots do. Violence is this energy sent in the wrong direction.

Jeremy Joseph Christian (the irony is not lost on any of us) is not a slick, handsome Ted Bundy. This is an overweight, unattractive young man with most likely limited resources. While it's possible he grew up in a loving home where women and animals were well treated, I doubt it. This is someone with not much left to loe who was seeking acceptance and found it in a group that espouses hatred. They took him in.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not looking to excuse anything he did. But Mehta's book helps me understand a little more how we all play a part in this. How do we provide something different for these young people in our schools and communities? How do we make up for what they most likely don't get at home? 




Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I found this post thoughtful and provocative




THE EXPERIENCE OF SUSPENDED LIMITATION

POSTED BY JEFF CARREIRA ON MAY 19, 2017 IN EXPANDING MIND, FREEDOM, AGENCY AND SELFHOOD, MYSTICAL AWAKENING 

The experience of spiritual freedom is a condition of suspended limitation. I remember a very profound moment in my life when I realized that I didn’t really know what was possible. Stop and think about that for a minute. What if you really didn’t know what was possible?

The moment of this realization was a quiet one. I was outside looking up at a beautiful blue sky and I just realized that I really didn’t know what was possible. In that moment I could see that my ordinary experience of reality was surrounded by a sense of limitation – an unspoken invisible assumption that some things were possible and others were not and I knew the difference.

I could be this kind of person and not that kind of person. My acquaintances could act in certain ways but would never act in others. The world is this way and never that way. Some things are possible and others are not and I know the difference.

When that invisible assumption of limitation fell away I was overcome by a sense of awe and wonder. It wasn’t a discovery of what was possible. It was simply the realization that I didn’t know what was possible and that meant that anything was possible.

If you slip into a state of suspended limitation you will feel dizzy with possibility.

You will see that the ideas of what is and what is not possible have always been only ideas and can’t necessarily be trusted. You will realize that it is you that either holds these ideas as true or realizes that you don’t know what is possible.

As magnificent as this recognition can be for an individual – it is a thousand times more extraordinary if it is shared with others. If a number of people manage to drop false ideas of limitation together something truly miraculous occurs. You become wedded in a direct recognition that none of you knows what is possible for yourselves, for each other, or for the world. -- 

Friday, May 26, 2017

A wonderful line from John O'Donohue

"A glimpse of beauty helps awaken and refine our reverence for the intimate eternal that dwells in us."

I love that phrase "intimate eternal."

From: Beauty, the Invisible Embrace

Monday, May 22, 2017

A poem about disappearing pots

On my January walks
bright Talavera plant pots
graced one end of the
Baja ceramics lot on Burnside
I promised myself
one, maybe two
when spring came,
imagining their blues and yellows
on my front porch
welcoming me home

Then March came
and the pots were gone
Every single one

On the second to the last day of April
I walked over to Burnside
spoke to the slacker on duty
--ignoring the oxymoron
He'd no idea what I was talking about

Had I dreamed them
to get me through the winter grays?

They're online, of course
But I wanted a live array
Dozens to touch before choosing
The one, maybe two
for my front porch

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The best question I'm asking myself

I was on retreat recently with women friends and as usual we talked about anything and everything. One of the members was headed out to find a quiet spot and make a difficult work-related phone call. I encouraged her, spur of the moment, to do whatever would increase her peace of mind. And in that moment, it struck me that that was the best question I could ask myself with every decision: Is this going to increase my peace of mind?

Is eating this going to increase my peace of mind?
Is accepting this invitation going to increase my peace of mind?
Is taking on this work project going to increase my peace of mind?
How can I handle this situation in a way that increases my peace of mind?

This is a valuable shift for me from "what do I want." Sometimes I do need to discern what I want before I can ask myself about peace of mind, but using this as a barometer for choice is proving so helpful for me.

How might asking this question ease your life?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My April poetry project

April is national poetry month and I decided this year to write 30 poems in April. I wanted to commit to writing a poem a day but I'm not rigid about that anymore and some days I wrote two or three. But it was a most satisfying experience.

I've learned to go into such a project with very low expectations, letting the doing of it be enough. So I don't commit to writing 30 great poems, just 30 poems. Here is one written at the beach.

I walked up the long gravel road
where rape is occuring six days a week
The entrance was gated
but I found my way around
and climbed the hill to an intersection
Some of the violence is old
the bones heaped high
branches akimbo
Higher up the wounded earth
is still soft, brown, raw

We hear the trucks in the house
if the windows are open
A low rumble
as they climb up empty
and come back down laden
with the toppled trees

I ache for the displaced
fox, coyote, bobcat
bird, mouse, beetle
I do not know who else
owns the land
but its inhabitants
were not offered a fair price

I apologize for my un-kind
but it seems as nothing
in the havoc we have wrought

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Poems and projects in general

I'm somebody who loves projects. Call me crazy but I like setting goals and achieving them. I like completion and checklists. I find this kind of structure really helpful for two things in my life: things I don't want to do and things I do want to do.

If I can make something I don't want to do into a project, like my taxes, I'm more likely to just get it done. I can break it into discrete tasks, make a checklist, and keep moving. This also works for some of my shoulds: floss more, stretch more, get to bed earlier. If I can commit to doing it each day for a month or two and see the visible results on a graph, I can form the habit.

Why would I need a project for things I want to do? Because some of the things I want to do, I never get around to. I think about them. I talk about them, but I don't seem to do them. Now I'm not going to make a project otu of a one-time thing, like calling an old friend. But I might make a project of calling an old friend every week. I might make a project of sending a thank-you card to someone I appreciate every day for two weeks. I might make a project of painting much more regularly. What a project helps add for me is a way to measure my fulfillment on my intention.

What might make a good project in your life?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The filter of application

I wrote some weeks ago about my epiphany around curiosity vs. judgment. How if we can stay in the former, we can stay out of the latter. I read a variation on this recently, a technique called a "filter of application." That rather than see things through the filter of judgment (good/bad, stupid/brilliant), that we can see everything through a filter of application: How can I use this to get what I want, to get where I want to go?

I'm finding this particularly useful when I listen to other people talk about what they're doing and how they're doing it. I used to just listen politely. I was interested in them, especially if they were close to me, and how they were doing, but I wasn't listening for what I could learn, for what I could use. Now I'm seeing opportunities for learning everywhere, and it's helping me give up the stance that I have to figure it all out for myself. 




Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My idea of fun doesn't have to be everybody else's idea of fun

I did another proprioceptive writing session this month with my good friend Sue and out of it came an amazing revelation to me. I've always been annoyed when people tell me that I need to have more fun. This started when I was a kid. My mother would tell me to go out and have fun with the other kids. But what they were doing was never very fun for me, never very interesting. I was much happier reading, writing stories, forcing my sisters to be students in my make-believe classroom.

And as the years have gone by, I have continued to not find what most other people think of as fun as, well, fun. I'm bored lying on a beach or by the pool. I was bored sitting around drinking even though I was an alcoholic. Drinking or getting stoned wasn't fun. It just felt tedious. Parties with small talk weren't fun.

I now understand why. Fun for me is being engaged and stimulated. I like learning things. That's fun. I like exploring ideas. That's fun. I like acquiring new skills. I like deep conversations that are about solving problems. I like workshops and creative retreats.

I was a serious kid (with a great sense of humor) and I'm a serious adult (with that same sense of humor), and I'm finally okay with that. What a relief!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Self-medicating with busyness

In talking with my coach this week, I had a big insight. I've always sort of known that I'm addicted to overworking. I like feeling productive (it's a reliable positive feeling for me) and I like being needed by my clients and doing them a good service with my editing and coaching. It's a win/win.

But over the years as my interests have broadened out, especially in the creative direction of writing and painting, this overworking habit is not serving me so well because I'm just trying to cram more in and feeling more and more stressed about it. I've set up blog commitments and writing commitments and painting commitments and work commitments and social commitments that leave me pretty ragged.

And what I saw Monday was not only is overworking a well-entrenched habit, it is a form of self-medicating. And oddly, a kind of preemptive self-medicating. I overwork not only to get the good feelings of productivity and being useful. I overwork to prevent boredom, restlessness, and any other uncomfortable feelings. In a way, this isn't a bad thing. I don't want to be bored or restless or sad or unhappy. But at the same time, I don't let those feelings come up and move through me. I'm numbing them out with work and commitments.

I don't think I'm the only one who does this, the only one who's nervous about downtime and what might show up. I do know that I don't want to be self-medicating in any way. I want to be fully in my life however that appears. So change is needed.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What would it take to make this the best part of your life?

In my decades as an intellectual cynic, I would have found this question ludicrous. I prided myself on being a realist (I focused on realist literature for my doctoral work after all) and didn't believe in personal transformation or the ability to create what we want. Now I do believe in that.

Sobriety from alcohol, abstinence from sugar and other simple carbohydrates have proven to me that we can change how we are, how we feel, how we "be" in our lives. And while we are powerless over many things, we are not helpless. We always have control over how we react to circumstances and how we respond to what life presents us.

Two years ago, I was pretty despairing. I was mired in food addiction, obese, only sort of healthy (I did have a consistent exercise program). Now I'm in better health than in a long time. I have a lot of gratitude for all the blessings of my life and a lot of curiosity as to what else can happen. I'm not sure what it might take to make this the best part of my life, but I'm sure interested in the inquiry.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bright Line Eating discounts

Bright Line Eating is starting another boot camp on April 24. I have coupons for $100 off the cost of the bootcamp. Email me at jill@lifebetweenmealscoaching.com

Monday, April 17, 2017

Getting off the fence

I got to watch a master coach last week help a woman work through her indecision about a long-distance relationship. The details of her dilemma are not important here, but his coaching was so valuable that I wanted to share those ideas. This is what I saw.

It takes tremendous energy to be on the fence. The energy we put into thinking about the issue (and most often, it's worry, not just thinking), the energy of stuckness, is energy that doesn't go into other meaningful things in our lives.

Fence-sitting drains our energy in two other ways. We often feel bad about ourselves that we are indecisive and that drains us. And we are in fear, fear that we will make the wrong decision. And that drains us.

But most important of all, we can't move forward if we're on the fence. We've usually fallen into what is jokingly called "the paralysis of analysis." We play out the pros and cons, make lists, discuss it endlessly with friends or family (who may begin to lose patience). And nothing changes.

The coach encouraged the woman to decide. To step out of the relationship and see what happened. Or to step much more fully into the relationship and see what happened. She wouldn't know, couldn't know until she stepped down off the fence one or the other.

I've lived some long stretches on the fence. I know understand why that was so dreadful.




Friday, April 14, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

An amazing article on our right to choose

In the early 1970s, I worked in Houston as a counselor for women seeking legal abortions in New York and California, where it was already legal. This article really speaks to my heart.

http://lithub.com/why-im-an-abortion-doctor-in-the-deep-south/

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A great post from my rabbi on managing expectations

Managing Expectations
As you might or might not know, I am an accomplished magician. Every year since 1979, I’ve gone to Tannen’s Magic Camp
 – first as a camper, then as a counselor, and now as a member of the senior staff.
The best magicians will always let you know before you are fooled how you are about to be fooled. They might say “Wouldn’t it be amazing if…” and give you a sense of where the magic is going to happen. They hint at it. The general rule is that you don’t want your magic to be anything completely unexpected.
Surprises undo us. Most of us dislike being completely fooled. We don’t mind if a spoon bends, and we don’t mind if the signed card is now in a wallet — as long as we were somewhat expecting that to happen. We are comfortable with our expectations being messed with as long as we are expecting our expectations to be messed with. We do not like when things happen far outside our expectations.
The recent election of Donald Trump was outside of the expectations of a majority of Americans and many people throughout the world. (I'm still quite baffled by it.)
We don’t like to be fooled.
We don’t like the world to be other than how we want or expect it.
We dislike it a lot. We really don’t like the world not to conform to what we expect.
We ask the doctor, “Will this hurt?” We ask people who have been down the road before us, “What’s it like?” We seek all types of counsel to help us control, predict, and prepare for the future.
That’s what this newsletter is about. With regard to some of the spiritual-religious aspects of your life, I help you make some better sense of this world. And, I push you, gently and with love, towards making it a better place.
 might be keeping God out of your life – no matter your understanding of the word gee-oh-dee. Observation bias underscores this notion that we tend to see the world as we think we will see the world .  For example, if you are a teacher and you think a student in your classroom is “trouble,” you will see countless examples of that child misbehaving. If you think a friend is rude and  interrupts the flow of conversation, you will see that happen.

You should be astounded, literally, to realize that what you expect to see is almost synonymous with what you see. - rB

Maybe the world is only how we see it because that keeps us comfortable?
I awoke the other day with a quote by Martha Beck in my mind: “The repercussions of one person living in stubborn gladness are incalculable.” I was struck by the word “stubborn” and decided to spend the day in stubborn gladness – and while it took work, I managed to do it.
If you want to see more love in the world, start looking for more love in the world, and you’ll see more love in the world.  If you expect to encounter wondrous things, there’s a much greater chance you are going to see wondrous things. If you are expecting to see a beautiful world, a beautiful world can be seen.  (If you want help in this spiritual paradigm shift, please ask. I would love to help.)
Perhaps the universe doesn’t want to fool you too hard by making the universe anything other than what you expect. That’s how good magic tricks work anyway.

Rabbi Brian Mayer  has a great blog on Monday mornings. You can sign up for it here: Sign up for free! rotb.org/archives -
 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Celebrating with my MD

Today I had an appointment with my doctor to review lab work I had done last week. Because I've been at risk for a number of the obesity- and sugar-related diseases (heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes) for a number of years, I do blood work about every 9 months. (There's also some genetics at play here too.)

For the first time in the 18 years that I've been seeing this doctor, all of my blood work was normal. NORMAL. NORMAL! 

My cholesterol with medication was 206. With half that medication, it's now 131.
My glucose was 108; it's now 78.
My A1C, an inflammation marker, was 5.8; it's now 5.1.

Everything else is now smack dab in the middle instead of too low or too high,

Such encouragement to stay off sugar and flour!

If you're interested in exploring Bright Line Eating and its bootcamps, I have coupons for $100 off. Email me at jill@lifebetweenmealscoaching.com

My latest book: Candy Girl: How I gave up sugar and created a sweeter life between meals.
Available at: http://amzn.to/2jST4n3

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pause to receive

As part of my quest for a richer emotional life, I've been attending to my relationship with Divine Guidance. This doesn't come easily to me. For the middle decades of my life, I was an intellectual cynic and that's a very hard stance to shake off. Eventually through the 12 Steps and recovery, I was able to soften my stance to one of not knowing. I didn't know if there was anything beyond the material realm but I was willing to stay open to the possibility.

However, the longer I've stayed sober (27 years) and now abstinent from sugar and flour (18 months) when both seemed impossible and the odds against it remain incredibly high (9 to 1), the more I've had to accept that there is something at work in my life that is beyond my own efforts. I call that Grace. So if there's Grace, if there's something else at work, then there is a chance that I can tap into the energy in more direct ways.

I know through lots of trial and error that if I show up and am willing, lots of amazing things happen. So now I'm practicing showing up in willingness. I call it Pause to Receive. Three of four times a day, I stop what I'm doing and pause to see what guidance is available to me. If I'm at my desk, I write down whatever comes to me and put it in a small cup on my desk altar. In the evenings when I do my Grid Diary writing, I make a note of it there too. It's a simple enough practice and it's very satisfying.

My latest book: Candy Girl: How I gave up sugar and created a sweeter life between meals.
Available at: http://amzn.to/2jST4n3

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Doing the footwork towards whatever it is you want

One of the many 12-step sayings that has proved very useful to me is one about effort and outcome. We are encouraged in recovery to do the footwork and leave the results up to the Higher Power. This is good advice as we mostly can't predict or control much of what happens. In the early years of my recovery, I saw this as encouragement to stop being so controlling. Now I tend to see it differently: as encouragment to keep doing the footwork no matter what.

I'm in week 6 of an online intensive art class on design and value and taking our work to the next level. There are lots of interesting principles to learn and apply and lots of challenges. But the teacher, who's great, just keeps saying, Play, Experiment, Make a lot of paintings, Don't figure it out, Just let stuff emerge. This is the footwork principle in action. Just show up and do stuff and let it unfold.

And I'm reminded that in nowhere in the 12 Steps does it say "I figured it all out."

My latest book: Candy Girl: How I gave up sugar and created a sweeter life between meals.
Available at: http://amzn.to/2jST4n3

Monday, March 20, 2017

Most of the sugar addiction blog posts have moved!

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I've been on an exciting recovery journey from addiction to sugar and flour for more than 18 months. I've lost a lot of weight (85 pounds) and vastly improved my health and well-being.

Because I'm blogging about this journey every week, I've moved the conversation from here to my website: www.lifebetweenmealscoaching.com. You can read the posts there or sign up to receive it every Monday morning.

Hope you'll join the conversation.

My latest book: Candy Girl: How I gave up sugar and created a sweeter life between meals.
Available at: http://amzn.to/2jST4n3

Friday, March 17, 2017

Proprioceptive writing for personal inquiry

I've been reading Christiane Northrup's book on divine connection and she mentions a writing technique called proprioceptive writing. I'd heard of this years ago and never practiced it, but when Northrup described it, it seemed like something to try. So I asked my good friend Sue to do it with me one day that we were spending together in a mini-retreat.

Here are the basics:

You write for 20 minutes on a topic of inquiry without stopping. You don't think too hard. You just keep writing, trying to get into what you really think or want or feel and getting it down on paper. You can make lists, use phrases or complete sentences, whatever works for you. The quality of the writing is of no consequence. The trick is to just keep writing. Then when the timer goes off, you stop and finish that sentence.

Next you read aloud what you've written even if you're alone. Then, if you're alone, you go back and read it all silently and circle what seems most meaningful to you. If you're with others, you read aloud to them and as you do, each of them writes down anything of significance they hear you say and then they read that back to you. (No one interprets your words or gives advice or tries to solve anything for you. It's a just a mirroring or reflection. )

I've done this three times now and each time it's been immensely valuable. You might want to give it a try. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Poem: Death and the Return of Spring

As I walked up the street
in the late February chill
past driving workers
and hurrying-to-the-bus workers
I heard a robin
singing his virility
singing his territory
and a sweet joy
washed over me
Spring was approaching

Two blocks further on
in front of a boarded-up garage
that seems to belong to no one
I came upon a death tableau
A Big Gulp cup
The paper wrapper
from a fastfood burger
And a large rat

I am not afraid of much
in the natural world
poisonous snakes
huge spiders
death-bearing mosquitoes
but rats are not among them
yet I shivered in fear
something deep in me
from my ancestors
springing up
before my sympathy
could arise for
a life cut short
a fellow creature
who wouldn't see
the new season coming

Jill Kelly February 2017

Thursday, March 9, 2017

What is your B?

Over the years, I've taken a number of personal transformation workshops and one of the ideas that showed up several times was to figure out what you want and then work backwards in sorting out how you will get it. Simple enough, of course, but the difficulty often is that our wants can occur as pretty vague ideas. I want to be happier. I want to travel. I want get more creative. 

If we're wanting to move from A to B, it's easy to figure out A. That's what we've got now. But without defining B, it's really hard to make an effective plan. So I've been practicing honing my Bs.

Here are some examples:

I want to be a serious painter BECOMES I want to paint every day OR I want to take two art classes this year.

I want a deeper spiritual connection BECOMES I want to develop a daily practice that will put me more in touch with Spirit.

I want the Candy Girl program to be a success BECOMES I want 500 people on my mailing list.

How would it help you to refine some of your Bs? 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Doing hand creative work

When I was cleaning out my studio closets recently, I came upon a needlepoint kit that I had I bought in 2007. At that point, I hadn't done needlepoint in 30 years. Now it has been 40. I thought about giving the kit away. I'm a painter now and a writer and if I have time to create, why not those things? But the kit was beautiful, a pillow design based on the paintings of Gustave Klimt, the great turn of the 20th century Viennese painter and so I put it out in its original packaging on a studio shelf where it would be visible and stay clean.

Two weeks later we had a bunch of snow days and after I painted a while and wrote a while and read a lot, I thought about that kit and how gorgeous it was and maybe I could remember how to do needlepoint. In the early 70s, I was quite into crafts (mostly crochet) and I did an ambitious needlepoint project on a 3-panel wooden screen (see below). While the pillow is much, much smaller, it's more intricate and and I knew there were stitching complications. However, thanks to Youtube, I sorted that out and I have had such fun doing this kind of hand work again. I'm glad I hung on to the kit.

PS The screen is looking for a home. 




Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Deciding what's important

Contrary to my own best interests, I've gotten myself really busy again. I'm taking a big online art class, I have a new coach, I'm working hard to promote my sugar recovery program, and I'm writing another novel. And that doesn't account for time with friends, household chores, and paid work!

At the same time, I remain committed to a spacious life without hurry or unnecessary stress. So in addition to staying organized, I am looking to keep in mind what's really important to me and not getting distracted by what isn't. Here's my current plan:


Physical well-being: Daily walks or gym workout, healthy meals with nothing in-between, 8 hours of sleep.
Emotional and spiritual well-being: Writing first thing in the morning, painting/creative time early in the day, journaling at night, connecting with a friend or family member, time with my cats, 12-step meetings, taking a sabbath

Financial well-being: Engaging in just the right amount of paid work, listening to my intuition when a troublesome client comes along and saying no, rather than being driven by money concerns
Service: 12-step meetings, promoting my sugar recovery program

What's disappearing: TV, social media except in controlled amounts, a lot of house maintenance and futzing, too much paid work 

Each day I make a list of possibilities instead of a to-do list. Some things I know will get done: healthy meals, sleep, journaling, time with cats, probably exercise. Those are the givens. The rest shifts as my day and energy shifts. I reserve the right to change my mind about what's important but I know what makes me happy, and when I'm happy, I'm so much better off.







Friday, February 24, 2017

Last call for the 2-week Bright Line Eating program

Bright Line Eating has extended the sign up for its 2-week introductory program until March 18. You can find out more here: https://rq263.isrefer.com/go/feb1714dcffq-bla/jillbkelly/ 

This course worked wonders for me. I recommend it if you are ready to step fully into recovery from sugar and food addition.

Jill Kelly
Candy Girl: How I gave up sugar and created a sweeter life between meals
Available on amazon in paperback and kindle
www.lifebetweenmealscoaching. com

Monday, February 20, 2017

Oliver Stone's The Untold History of the United States

When I hear about something from several trusted friends, I generally take a look if it interests me. Oliver Stone's documentary series on the the 20th century (available on Netflix) concerning historical information that mostly has not been revealed to the public came up three times and so I started watching.

As a well educated person, I know that no history is objective, that all history is slanted in a certain direction, looked at through filters and the biases of the historian. And Stone makes it very clear in the beginning that he has an agenda. And I still find what he reveals shocking and discouraging.

The racism and bigotry of Truman and Johnson and Nixon in their own words is blatant. I knew of Kennedy's struggles with drug addiction but didn't realize how deep it went. The spin on the atomic bombs on Japan was that the bombs helped us win the second world war but according to Truman's writings, he used them to frighten the Russians. The Japanese had already been destroyed, mostly by the Russians, and were willing to surrender weeks before Hiroshima and Nagasaki. None of those people had to die.

Although the documentary was done before the Trump disaster began, it's clear from Stone's work and my own deep reading for a client of America's relationship with Vietnam that America as a political institution hasn't been great for a very long time. And I know that Make America Great Again that Trump calls for is an economic power, not one of integrity, kindness, generosity, the qualities of true diplomacy.

Fortunately, every American that I know personally is rich in those qualities. Now if we could get our political act together and become a solution instead of a problem. 

Enjoy my writing? Visit me at www.jillkellyauthor.com  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Setting my intention for 2017

Every year in early January, I set an intention, a mantra of sorts, for the next year. I first did this about six years ago or so when I vowed to never be in a hurry again. I took on the intention and then began to move into actions that shifted my behavior and my attitude about time. It was so successful (I'm still almost never in a hurry) that each year I've chosen another change to make or behavior to enhance.

This year, for a reason that hasn't come clear, I've struggled to find the right intention. I started off with Do the next right thing but I quickly realized that I pretty much do that anyway, thanks to many years of 12-Step living.

So I cast around for another idea and knew that I wanted to move into being more fully engaged in what I'm doing more of the time. So that became my intention Be fully engaged. And I have been but there was something missing there too. Some things I do are just not calling me to do that. I did feel however that being fully engaged was closer to what I was looking for in an intention.

And then I had the conversation about curiosity that I wrote about in the last post. And I knew right away that this is what is most important to me now. Be curious, not judgemental. Seek information, seek solutions (something new as an answer). I'm settling into this intention and it feels just right.

Enjoy my writing? Visit me at www.jillkellyauthor.com 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The importance of curiosity in these curious times

I had a great session Monday with my spiritual director and we were talking about the stories that run us and the statements we make to ourselves. And then she related something her therapist had told her and it has been in my thoughts since then.

We can't be both curious and judgemental at the same time. This struck me as very true of my thinking. When I'm judging myself or someone else, my mind is closed. I have decided on my opinion. But when I am curious, my mind is open to considering new information, a new perspective, a shift in thinking. .

Staying curious about the political scene is proving helpful to me. I'm not curious in anything goes way. I'm curious in a what can I do way? What else can I do way?This shift in perspective has eased my anxiety some and is proving applicable in many ways.

Curious (mind open and available ) vs. judgemental (mind closed and decided)I'm voting for curious, not judgemental.

Enjoy my writing? Visit me at www.jillkellyauthor.com  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Two thoughts on taking action and doing good

Two quotes that are on my desk at the moment:

Matthew Kelly: Start by doing some good thing that you feel motivated to do. Any good thing will do. The universe will reveal more. 

John Wesley: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can.

Monday, February 6, 2017

If you're wanting to try Bright Line Eating, an inexpensive short version is now available.

Bright Line Eating, the online program for food addicts, is offering a two-week version at a very low price.

If you're interested, try this link. https://rq263.isrefer.com/go/feb1714dc2mt-bla/jillbkelly/ 


Are you on the recovery journey? I'm blogging about sugar and food addiction at www.lifebetweenmealscoaching.com

Saturday, February 4, 2017

My father's 100th birthday

My father was born 100 years ago today (February 4, 1917). In many ways, he was a typical man of his generation. Born into a family with very little, he used his charm and street smarts to move from the working class to the upper middle class over his many jobs and several careers. He worked hard, took risks, invested unwisely, went bankrupt a couple of times, got back up and built it again. He put the four of us kids college, loaned me money for grad school. He stayed married to our mother for more than 50 years and was her steadfast companion through dementia and her death when they were both 80. He married an old friend whom we all adore and had five happy years with her until his own death from complications of prostate cancer.

My father was a big, handsome Irishman who could charm and talk to anyone. He knew famous people by chance. He was the favorite of every waitress he ever encountered. He was also a hypochondriac, a romantic, a sentimental fool, and an on-again/off-again father who put earning money above domestic engagement. A liberal in his youth, he became conservative in middle age and a born-again liberal in his old age.

My father's choices taught me that men aren't very available and women just have to accept that. This set me up for a series of unsuccessful relationships. But he also taught me that all work is honorable, no matter what it is. That there is always a solution to a problem. That steadfastness is to be prized.

In 1999, three years before his death, I found a way to let go of all my old resentments with my dad and to become 100% responsible for the best possible relationship with him. Those three years were a huge gift to me of love and affection with him that I am so grateful for.

I very often feel my dad's presence and today is one of those days. I am grateful for that too. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A great post from my wise friend Rabbi Brian Mayer

Anger is ok. Hate is not.
(Please read and share)

Over the years, I have written a lot about ANGER.

I have written about the proper ways to be angry. I have written about not taking in other people's anger. I have written about how even enlightened-minded folk have anger. I have written about the natural and distorted ways of expressing anger. I have written about the harm of repressing anger.

In light of the upcoming inauguration, I want to add two things about anger.

1) The cause of anger
There are two causes to all of the anger in the world:
We get angry because we don't get what we want.
We get angry because we get what we don't want.


This is from Shantideva, an 8th century Indian monk.
I often ponder and think, wow, in the realm of human operations, nothing much has changed.

I am not getting the president I wanted.
I am angry about that.
But, I don't need to act out on anger.
I don't need to be filled with hate.
This brings me to my second point.

2) The difference between hate and anger
Anger is a natural emotion. We feel it. Babies feel it.
But, hatred, bitterness, and rage are distortions of anger. These are not something that babies – or any animal except us humans – do.
Hatred is holding on to anger.
The desire to retaliate. To make ourselves feel bigger. To act out in anger. This causes harm.
To quote Michelle Obama,
"When they go low, we go high."
Do not give in to hatred.

Buddhaghosa, a 5th century commentator on the works of the Buddha, wrote,
"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."
So, what to do instead of hate?

Take your anger, feel it. But, then find love and put it into action.

Let me conclude with words from Dr. Martin Luther King – who is celebrated today in the United States,
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
https://rotb.org/anger-not-hate/
 
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Friday, January 27, 2017

Three thoughts from Anne Lamott

"Awe is why we are here."

"Unto us, much is given. We just have to be open for business."

"If we stay where we are, where we're stuck, where we're comfortable and safe, we die there."

Monday, January 23, 2017

A wonderful and funny book on prayer

Help! Thanks! Wow! is Anne Lamott's lovely and heartfelt conversation about prayer. She's an advocate of keeping things really simple (much of her languaging comes from her 12-Step experience), and she explains that these are all the prayers we need.

  • Help! for when we're in trouble or at the end of our own abilities
  • Thanks! for what we are given and blessed with
  • Wow! for all the beauty and glory of the world
As a recovering intellectual cynic, I struggle with any kind of ritualized prayer practice. I do believe in a Higher Power, in the ineffable Mystery of creation, but I don't believe in religion. However, her practice of Help Thanks Wow is one I can get behind.

Her book is funny and straightforward and a delight to read.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Working with my 2017 possibilities

For the last nine years, I've spent the New Year's holiday on retreat with friends up on Whidbey Island north of Seattle. One of our rituals is to write a list of our accomplishments for the previous year, all the things we're proud of doing or being or completed. We include this celebration as part of our New Year's Eve gathering and I really love hearing about what my friends have been up to.

On New Year's Day, we gather in circle and create lists of what we're wanting for the next year. We used to create to-do lists, and then we shifted to goals, and now we've come to our senses and we create lists of possibilities. Possibility allows us to be outrageous in our thinking, always a good thing at the planning stage.

This year, my list has 31 items on it, 31 possibilities for projects, dreams, practices, rituals, connections. It's a wonderfully rich and full list. Here are a few items:

  • Stay abstinent from sugar, flour, and snacks.
  • Get to my goal weight.
  • Publish novel #5 (I finished the last set of revisions on retreat). 
  • Travel to Ireland and Amsterdam.
  • Change my relationship with the phone.
  • Take bigger risks in  my studio.
  • Get just the right car.
My next task is to create a list of ways and means to make these happen. So I've headed a page for each in my creative journal and I'm beginning to brainstorm those.

What's on your list of possibilities this year? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

10 Acts of Resistance for Inauguration Day

It seems most important to post this link.

http://johnpavlovitz.com/2017/01/14/10-acts-of-resistance-on-inauguration-day/

Friday, January 13, 2017

Poem evoked by South Africa



A good friend of mine travelled last fall to South Africa on what proved to be a magical trip for her. She wrote this poem and shared it with me. I loved it so much I wanted to share it with you.


DEEPLY INTERWOVEN
Nancilee Baker

As dawn awakens from undivided darkness

Look at Kariega’s cliffs like suspended prayers

Contemplate the emerald green
The quiet cilantro outcroppings

The still shades of tangerine
And canary in the wildflowers

Look at the prickly pear cactus
An invasive question mark to winding wonders

Listen to the termite tunnels
Sing silently the veld lullaby

Remember the fragrance of rain
After a thunderstorm

The earth echoes in the ebony night sky
Stars reveal the way a heart holds dreams

Distances dance deliriously
To give rise to a collision of sacred breath

Surrounded by this holy ground
Mystic sweet communion is delivered

Monday, January 9, 2017

Remembering my mother

Today, January 9, 2017, is my mother's 100th birthday. She only lived to be 80, done in by mini-strokes, too much alcohol, and the dementia that probably came from both. Her life was not what she had wanted (a career, freedom); instead she was married for more than 50 years, gave birth to five children and raised four. She struggled to find her way to use her considerable intelligence in a world that wanted women to stay home and be companions to their husbands. She was deeply loved by my father, who also wanted her to stay home, and I don't think he understood her. Maybe it's hard to get both things.

My relationship with her was complicated. I was born less than a year after her first daughter died of sudden infant death syndrome. She had no support for grieving that loss in 1945. I didn't know about the sister who died until I was 12, a well-kept family secret. My mother and I never discussed it. But I always felt wrong in my relationship with her somehow, even as a small child. I knew she loved me but I always felt tolerated, not accepted. And sadly, by the time I got sober, she was losing her mind and we got no real reconciliation.

She taught me many things: to love books and reading, to love clothes and color and beauty (although our tastes diverged wildly), to include discipline in my recipe for a happy life, to give away what we don't need, to be kind to animals, to take good physical care of myself. I also learned a great deal from what she herself was unable to do for herself.

I'm one who believes that we choose our parents, that we choose the family to be born into and so I offer my gratitude today to my mother and a fervent wish for her to be in peace.




Friday, January 6, 2017

Being Elemental: A poem for the New Year

Ethel Gullette wrote this beautiful poem last November. I asked her for permission to share it with you as I think it's a wonderful expression of hope for the New Year



Being Elemental


Be like air
living lightly on the earth,
deeply empty
but powerful in movement, in change,
hiding your glories
but spreading your grace
on all who need you.
Know how to bend
around obstacles;
disturb the still waters
when the times demand it,
and rock gently
the chairs that hold the weak.
Fly bravely through schisms
and know how to settle into stillness.
Save yourself
for the next day’s journey
and pace yourself in the dance.

Be like water,
balancing your tides
in response to the quality of light,
to the deepness of the dark.
Be buoyant for beings who need
to float and rest.
Content to be still,
be ready to ripple, even to roar,
on inevitable route toward the unifying ocean.
Do not waste your time on debris -
let it be irrelevant; push it to the side.
Gentle and resilient,
know to find ways
around, over, under, through
the barriers,
always willing to alter course.
Be sleek and soft as down,
prone to quiet,
but not incapable
of murmuring a warning,
of pounding out a roar,
strong enough to roll with rage,
cutting a gorge through mountains of injustice.
Flow with ease,
unresistant to change,
unperturbed by disturbance,
undaunted by obstacles,
clinging to nothing but freedom.
Be thankful for tears.

Be like earth,
solid, despite all changes in weather;
accept disruption,
blessing the rain, the sun, the heat, the cold.
Be willing to break up and reconfigure,
melt and congeal,
adjust as needed, without resentment.
Provide for other beings
a place to take root and grow,
nurture beauty
and soften a path for the footsteps of the needy.
Fear nothing
and welcome transformation.
Stay firm and calm in the winds of turmoil,
being patient with cracks and tears,
dislocations and realignments.
Believe in balance and restitution.
Know equanimity.

Be like fire,
burning slow, bright and true.
Shining with clarity and kindness,
knowledge and forgiveness.
Show a path to plenitude and strength,
cheering those who need the light to find a way to faith.
Be a steadfast beacon, faced with weakness and need.
Shed warmth when surrounded by despair,
by cold and loneliness.
Present an antidote to fear.
When needed, burn hot,
incinerating lies, greed and cruelty;
purify infections,
and hone intentions to the good.
Burn whitely to combat the dread of darkness,
of illusion and of doubt,
etching images and hope
of enlightenment and peace.


Ethel Gullette, November 2016