Saturday, September 20, 2008

Addiction Awareness Means Freedom

I have had a variety of addictions in my life, most of which involved food. They appear periodically, then seem to run their course and then disappear. I have been addicted to certain types of sweet things like Swedish fish and Peppermint patties; salty crunchy things like Cheez-Its or Flipz (the half cracker/half pretzel); creamy things like smoothies and ice-cream sundaes. I'm sure these addictions appear at times when I am in need of emotional support. When the need for support is passed, the desire for these comfort foods passes as well.

I have also gone through addictions to television shows, Cd's, books by certain authors, and even articles of clothing. These addictions would distract me from something I wanted to avoid or just make me feel good in the moment.

I have never considered any of my addictions to food, television shows or articles of clothing to be very serious. I have never required treatment and never participated in anything that was bad for my overall health (although if I kept on my sundae addiction, that could have done me in).

I just discovered I have a serious addiction I was unaware I had until yesterday. Yes, it's true. I am a computer junkie.

My computer crashed and although I held out hope it would be an easy fix with the tech people talking me through a series of things to click on and make everything okay again, that did not happen. My worst nightmare of pulling out the wires and taking my tower to the computer hospital came true.

What I noticed when I returned home was it felt like a piece of me was missing. I noticed how automatically I would gravitate to the computer desk with an impulse to check to see if I have emails or to email someone else. I recognize much of my impulse was due to habit, yet I also realize how much of my life revolves around use of the computer.

I email daily for my business. There are tons of files on my hard drive that are vital for my business. I often rely on the computer to shop. I stay in touch with friends all over the world by email. I find recipes, get answers to questions and pay bills online.

It has been 24 hours and I am learning to cope. I am noticing I can overcome this addiction. The world has not imploded. My businesses still exist. My friends have not abandoned me. I am learning to accept what is around this issue.

Now that I am aware of how dependent I have been on my computer, when it returns home in a few days, I will be more awake and responsive to what need it is filling. Is it simply to make my life and work easier to manage, or am I using it as a means to make my life important? Do I use the computer to distract me from paying attention to things I'd prefer not to do, or am I using it to actually serve me?

What will probably be different for me is that I will practice more mindfulness when I am sitting in front of the monitor. I will practice remembering it is there to serve me, not me it. When I manage that....I will let go of this addiction and enjoy freedom.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Pod Shuttle for Life

Most mornings I go out for a 2-3 mile walk. I enjoy this routine and quiet time of day as I loop around town. Part of my routine is to take my I Pod along and listen to music or inspirational speaking presentations. Lately, I have chosen to just hit shuttle which allows random selections to rotate through. Since my I Pod has a capacity for 1000 selections, it's fun to see what may come up.

This morning as the shuttle took me from a selection from the soundtrack of Grease, to Josh Groban, to Carly Simon, to Bach, to Gary Renard to the Beatles, to James Taylor to Elvis etc. etc., I was enjoying the element of surprise. I love not knowing what is coming next. I love shifting my mood and attention to what is present in stereo in my ears in that moment. If something shuttles in that I really was not in the mood for such as John Denver's White Christmas, I shuttle ahead to the next piece.

Music inspires me. I love the feelings that come up depending on the words of the song or the tempo of the music. Some artists hold great appeal, no matter what they are singing. I notice when a song has a faster tempo, it seems to pull me up hills. Some softer selections, create a very peaceful feeling. Some words simply touch my heart. Some selections make me laugh.

Of course, I could not pass up the metaphor of this experience to see if it matches how I live life. The result of my pondering this question, is "Yes", I enjoy being surprised! Although at times, I like knowing what is coming next and will purposefully make a choice that fits my mood (both musically and in life), I generally love that feeling of anticipation in the short pause between songs or experiences. For me, it adds a bit of excitement since I have the opportunity to respond accordingly when that next song or that next experience occurs.

Whether it is music or life, I always have choice. The choice may not always be to fast forward to the next selection, but it is to respond to whatever is "next" in a way that feels good.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Perfect Connections

To follow on yesterday's theme, there is more to say about Connection. Today, I experienced a very joyful one.

I traveled to Danville, PA this morning for a post cancer surgery check-up. I have made several visits to this very large medical center since my surgery in June, 2008. Each time, I meet new people, receive very kind and efficient treatment and then leave satisfied with my trip.

At the time of my last visit and again today, I made a really remarkable connection. My nurse practitioner, Christina, and I hit it off like we knew each other for our whole lives. At the time of our first meeting, she immediately connected with me on a very real and human level. She was not only very thorough in checking me out physically, she checked me out emotionally and spiritually too. Of course, I loved that kind of connection and attention and felt very comfortable with her.

Before today's appointment, I really looked forward to seeing Christina again. She shared that she knew I was coming and also looked forward to seeing me. We greeted one another with a hug. Once again, I received a thorough exam, reassurance that all is well and deepened our already lovely connection.

The truth as I see it about connection, is it does not have to come only with those whom you have known for an extended period of time. You don't have to know one another's histories, family origins, likes, dislikes, dreams or failures. As shown by the example I described above, Christina and I connected immediately, purely by who we are right now. Maybe it's because we are both open to really seeing people as they really are. Whatever the reason, I am happy and grateful to have made this connection. We will reconnect in 4 months when I return.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I have a tendency to always look for qualities that are shared by people universally. As I look for common bonds that connect us, I can't help but notice all the things that are different about us (us being members of the human species).
We have different interests, different gifts, different skills, different desires and different fears. We're different ages, we live in different environments, we have different life-styles, we have different histories, different political opinions and we come from different cultures. We have different taste in foods, style and manners. We come in different sizes, shapes and colors. We have different stories of our pasts and different dreams for the future.

I can go on and on here, but I would prefer to look at a very basic truth of what makes us the same, and that is a desire for connection. Regardless of our age, color, history or dreams, we all want to belong. Although many of us prefer to live or work alone, we want to know we are connected to others at some level.

In my work with Project: Inside Out,, I see teens of varied backgrounds, cliques and GPA standing, come together not to compare their differences, but to focus on what they share in common. Differences are seen as unique, individual qualities, rather than things to compare. With knowing ahead that all students in the program agree to be respectful and kind, each teen feels safe to be authentically present. Ironically, it is the acceptance of the differences that allows for deeper connection.

Imagine a world where we of all ages, colors, shapes and backgrounds live together peacefully, creating deeper, more meaningful connections as we celebrate and learn from our differences.

As I watch students open up, allowing themselves to be seen, it gives me hope that connection will some day matter more than the things we believe keeps us separate.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The First signs of Fall

It is almost Fall here in northern Pennsylvania. There are many hints that let me know it's near.

The first sign appeared last week....this is the sock sign. After wearing sandals all summer, it was chilly enough for me to wear socks. I chose to celebrate by wearing a flashy pair with multi-colored stripes.

The second sign was I needed a sweatshirt to walk in the morning. I love it when it is cool enough when I am exercising that I don't sweat. (I don't particularly enjoy sweating....never did)

The third sign was some change of color in the leaves. There is just a hint here and there at this point, but I know it won't be long until I will be surrounded by reds, oranges, yellows and rusts.

I feel like baking. Chocolate chip cookies were the inspiration on the day that this first hit me.

There are more tourists in town.

I look for the opportunity to take a nap....even if I'm not tired. I think it's because I love covering myself with my beautiful warm, soft blue blanket.

I'm looking for new recipes to make, giving me a reason to turn on the oven.

When I'm in a department store I gravitate to the Fall colored items.
I turn on the gas fireplace in the evening.

I start thinking about how I will celebrate "me" on my birthday.

I read more than usual.

I have started to stack my books I want to read through the cold months.

I pulled out the dead petunias from my window flower box.

I look longingly at pumpkins at roadside stands...( it is still too early for me to buy one.....that is reserved when Fall is reallllly here)

I start planning dinner parties with friends.

I make soups.

I buy Mums for the front steps.

I've been eyeing up the bread making machine still in its box in the mud room.

I feel like a kid.

Yes, this pre-Fall time of year is great, and in my mind it is only out-done by the real deal, Autumn. It is probably my favorite time of year, partly due to the list above (although these activities continue for months), and mostly due to the feeling I get inside (that is inside me). There's a warm-cuddly, curl-up-on-the-sofa, breathe-the-crisp-air, kick-leaves-when-you- walk, kind of feel. I guess another name for it would be JOY.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Many Hats

In the busy lives we live, we are required to wear many hats. Sometimes we change our hat several times within an hour, sometimes we can wear one hat for an extended period of time. All of this hat changing can confuse us as to who we really are.

Some of the hats I wear on a regular basis are my wife hat, my mother hat, my coach hat, my leader hat, my daughter hat, my sister hat, my friend hat, my business partner hat, my business owner hat, my neighbor hat, my mentor hat, my workshop leader hat, my community member hat, my citizen hat, my client hat, my cancer survivor hat, my nurse hat, my actor hat, my walker hat, my Game Girl hat (don't ask), my supporter hat, my rabble rouser hat, my donor hat, my audience member hat, my CEO hat, my volunteer hat, my writer hat, my pet owner hat, my cook hat and my spiritual student hat.... to name the ones most visible on my hat rack.

When I am focusing on the hat I am wearing and am redefining myself as I change hats, it can be very confusing and exhausting. The truth is, although the roles change as I change hats, who I am does not change. You see, who I am is changeless.....who I am goes way beyond the roles I play or the things I do. Who I am is constant and consistent and it doesn't have a hat to go with it.

Now, this may throw you a bit, but imagine seeing yourself and defining who you are without considering any of the hats you wear or the roles you play. When you look at yourself then...what do you see? How would you describe yourself?
I know I am love. I am joy. I am understanding. I am patience. I am compassion. I am inspiration and enthusiasm. I am spiritual. I am authentic. I am fun. This list is not's just the things that first came to mind.

If you notice you are thinking it is arrogant of me to use these terms to describe myself, I would counter with the question...."Why aren't you seeing these or other wonderful qualities in yourself?" How does ignoring or being embarrassed to own your positive qualities help others?

Now, I am not suggesting we go around bragging about or comparing our qualities. That would not serve anyone. I am suggesting however, that you look beyond the hats you wear, to the center of your being where who you really are resides. Once you make that connection, whatever hat you happen to be wearing, you will always be comfortable and you will always be happy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Wonderful World of Metaphors

If you have read any of my previous blog entries, you already know I love a good metaphor. I am never at a loss to find one when I am in need of deepening my understanding of something going on in my life, or when I'm trying to explain how I feel, or for just the sheer entertainment and fun of it.

I went out for a drive again today for the sheer entertainment since there may not be too many more top-down days before Grace (my car) goes into hibernation for the winter. As I drove out to a local landmark, The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, numerous metaphors came to mind.

One metaphor came to me when a tractor carrying a big load of hay pulled out just ahead of me. Due to the curves of the road, it wasn't safe for me to attempt to pass, so naturally I had to slow way down. Sometimes things just show up in our lives, that cause us to slow down. Many times, like today, we are forced to slow down when we don't want to and that can have a negative effect. At first, I noticed a bit of impatience and then after a short time, I accepted my slow pace and began to enjoy the perspective from that place (and slow speed). Eventually, I came to a safe area to pass and I sped on ahead. That was another metaphor for me to pay attention to....sometimes opportunities show up and we have the choice to take them and move ahead, or stay where we are. Sometimes, if we aren't paying attention, we miss some opportunities to move ahead.

After awhile, my husband and I stopped for lunch and I saw another metaphor.....the menu. There were so many choices. I looked it all over and then checked in with myself to see what I really wanted for this meal. I asked myself "what food will taste good right now?" In looking at the menu of life, it would be a similar question...."What life choice would feel good right now?"

My meal choice was delicious ( I even had leftovers to take home), and it left me feeling happy and satisfied.....yep, you guessed it.....another metaphor.