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:

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:

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: 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:

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.