I worship this lady: Louise Hay


From her Facebook page, I hope she doesn’t mind. Her achievements are those I want to model.  I think it is so important for recovery to model the people we admire. Binki
Treasure each year of your life.

I’m going to be 85 this Saturday. I choose to see my life moving in different directions, all of them equally good. Some things are even better now than the way they were in my youth. My younger years were filled with fear; my todays are filled with confidence.

My own life really didn’t begin to have meaning until I was in my mid-40s. At the age of 50, I began my publishing company on a very small scale. The first year I made a profit of $42. At 55, I ventured into the world of computers. They scared me, but I took classes and overcame the fear. Today I have three computers and travel with my iPad everywhere! At 60, I had my first garden. At this same time, I enrolled in a children’s art class and began to paint. At 70 and 80, I was more creative and my life continues to get richer and fuller.

I am constantly reading and studying. I own a very successful publishing company and have two non-profits. I’m a dedicated organic gardener. I grow most of my own food. I love people and parties. I have many loving friends. I also am still painting and taking classes. My life has really become a treasure chest of experiences.

I want to help you create a conscious idea of your later years, to help you realize that these can be the most rewarding years of your life. Know that your future is always bright, now matter what your age. See your later years becoming your treasure years.

Instead of just getting old and giving up and dying, let’s learn to make a huge contribution to life. We have the time, we have the knowledge, and we have the wisdom to move out into the world with love and power. Step forward, use your voice, get out in the world and LIVE!

Let’s affirm: I rejoice in each passing year of my life.




How to tell if you are an alcoholic

article by Sarah Hepola from http://www.BuzzFeed.com

My twentysomething social life was one long drink special. Margaritas with a crust of salt on the rim, a frosty pint spilling foam, and the always regrettable “Who wants shots?”

I had always assumed my drinking would calm down after I graduated college. Instead, it ramped up. The bars opened their pearly gates to me, and I sank into those velvet banquettes and ripped vinyl couches.

I sometimes wondered if I had a problem. I had a tendency to black out — to forget episodes from a night of drinking, even though I remained surprisingly functional (well, “functional” may not be the word for someone pouring beer on her own head) — and every pamphlet, doctor’s questionnaire, and glossy magazine quiz I took listed blackouts as a risk factor for alcoholism.

The problem with checklists for alcoholism is that they look a lot like, well, being young. Do you ever drink to get drunk? Have you ever gone to work with a hangover? They might as well ask: Have you ever been 25?

Over the following decade, I kept wondering about my drinking, as my bar bills grew steeper — Patron instead of Jose Cuervo — and my taste more refined. I continued to build the case that my drinking was normal, totally normal. See that guy over there? He’s at the bar every night. At least I’m not that bad. I had a good job, I never crashed my car. And yet, I was stuck.

There is a saying among former drunks: “At first drinking is fun, then fun with problems, then just problems.” By my mid-thirties, I had found myself in the “problems” portion of the evening.

I quit drinking at the age of 35. How did I know it was time? I arrived at a preponderance of the evidence. Some people do have a lightning flash of recognition, but for me it was more of a slow dawning. I had to sift through data, gather bits of knowledge. I took health surveys online. I talked to my therapist. I read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (the bible of AA) and many alcoholism memoirs: Drinking: A Love Story, and Lit, and Smashed, and A Drinking Life, and The Tender Bar, all of which offer compelling and varied tales of people who put the cap back on the bottle for good. Listening to other people’s stories may have helped me more than anything else. The more I heard other people’s struggles, the more I found words for my own.

The following is a list of aha moments for me. It is not an authoritative list; it’s simply one person’s experience. I can’t stress this enough. What alcoholism looked like for me may not be what it looked like for someone else, and how I define alcoholism may be different from a medical professional (they use the phrase “alcohol use disorder”) or another problem drinker. I really can’t tell anyone else if they have a drinking problem, or if they’re an alcoholic, or if they need to quit. These are complicated questions you must answer on your own. What I can do is show you how I answered these questions for myself.

Does alcohol interfere with your work?

I spent my early career at alternative newsweeklies, where beer was sometimes kept in the fridge, and anyone walking in with sunglasses and a hangover got a high-five. You see this spirit at many companies with lots of employees in their twenties: Get the work done, and we don’t ask questions.

For a long time, I was getting the work done, which is probably why none of my bosses ever confronted me about my drinking. By my thirties, I had developed some red-flag habits. In the evenings, I kept a bottle of wine by my side. I brought my laptop to the bar, and drank pints while I wrote stories. I had an insane workload, and the drinking was partly an attempt to make it tolerable. I told myself I deserved the booze, and the work didn’t suffer. But then it did.

One morning, I came into my Manhattan office at 10:30 a.m., having stayed up drinking till 4, and my deeply beloved assistant editor Gchatted me at my desk: “You might want to chew some gum.” He could still smell the booze on me, because I was still drunk. Another morning, I called in sick because my hangover was so toxic I couldn’t possibly make it without vomiting on myself in a cab or a subway. My friends at work emailed me condolences, and I felt like such a loser.

I stopped being able to write. I had panic attacks when I woke at 5 a.m. If you’ve ever had a high-pressure position, then you know these can also be part of your job description. But the data points start to converge: Drinking WAS interfering with my ability to work. I was not functioning so well anymore, and it’s debatable if I ever really had been.

Do you lie about your drinking?

Like lying about your weight, lying about your drinking is something many people who are not alcoholics do. “How many did you have, honey?” “Oh, two.” They do it for benign reasons (they forgot) and slightly sketchy ones (to avoid an argument, to maintain a perfect image). But how often are you lying? And why?

I engaged in the typical “downscaling of the number” when necessary, but I did other things. In New York, I would go out to dinner with friends, share a bottle of wine or two, and then stop by the bodega on my way home to buy a six-pack of beer. I did this because even after a night of drinking, I needed more. I would sometimes find myself dropping casual lies to the guy who worked at the bodega about how I was just hanging out with a friend at home. Why was I lying to the guy at the bodega?

Because I knew what I was doing was wrong.

I lived alone at the time, and could drink as I wished without anyone’s commentary, but I could feel the watchful eyes of those bodega guys, who probably saw my wine-stained mouth and my droopy eyes. Mostly I tried to get out of there without any interaction at all.

Other humans can be a valuable metric for our own behavior. Are you afraid of getting caught at something? It might be because what you’re doing is wrong.

Have you had regrettable drunken sexual encounters?

Once again, these can be a part of youthful recklessness. But they can also take a chunk from your soul. The first few times I had a drunken one-night stand, I was excited. Even in my thirties, I retained the idea that such a collision was adventurous, a measure of my desirability and bravado. I didn’t regret those encounters, in other words, and if society says I should, who cares?

But the scenarios grew more dangerous, more cringe-inducing. I came out of a blackout in a Paris hotel room in the middle of having sex with a stranger. They were not a measure of my bravado so much as my carelessness, a misplaced need for connection. This is one to watch, whatever your gender. Alcohol and consent can make very complicated bedfellows.

Do you constantly use the phrase “I need a drink”?

I know everyone says it. I’ve seen Facebook. It can be another way of saying “I’ve had a long day.” Or “I’m going to lose my mind.” What I found, though, was that I needed a drink in just about EVERY situation. When I was happy, when I was sad, when I was bored, when I was lonely. When I was sitting on the futon, watching Flavor of Love. (Maybe “drunk” is the only acceptable way to watch Flavor of Love.) I avoided crowded bars where I didn’t have easy access to a cocktail waitress or a friendly bartender quick with the buybacks. No hot spots for me. And when my friends said, “I need a drink,” they often went to the bar for a couple hours and headed home. I left the tab open all night.

When you start drinking, do you find it hard to stop?

For years, I would go to parties swearing I would have one drink, and then I would come out of the party having had eight. What the hell just happened? I was a person of my word, a person of (some) discipline. Well, for one thing, alcohol is a disinhibiting agent that lowers your judgment; everyone finds it hard to keep their promises after drinking. But more crucially: My body responded to alcohol differently than other people.

I have friends who pass out after two drinks. Friends who have a glass of wine, and then say they are done. (“Done”? What is “done”?) I never understood that. Alcohol was like cocaine to me, probably one reason I never bothered to try cocaine. Booze lit a match inside me; I was often up all night.

The first time I read the phrase “the phenomenon of craving” was in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. As soon as I saw the words, I knew exactly what they described, a sensation I had experienced for years. When I drank, I needed more. If I was drinking, and someone interrupted the drinking — say, the alcohol ran out at the party, or we had to change locations — I experienced the itchy dislocation I imagine daily smokers get when they need a fix. I was the person at your party scouring your liquor cabinet after the keg had floated. I was the person who hammered the wine cork into the wine bottle because nobody had a corkscrew.

“I can’t stop” is one of the key distinctions between a “drinking problem” and “alcoholism,” to my mind. Other people have their definitions, but this is mine. When you have a “drinking problem,” you have some hope of walking it back, of moderating the behavior. With alcoholism, you are done. You cannot moderate, because one drink will never be enough. That’s why your best line of defense is to never start drinking again — which is exactly what no drinker ever wants to hear.

Are you often coming up with new ways to control your drinking?

A short list of things I have done in order to manage my own drinking: I stopped drinking brown liquor; I drank only on weekends; I stopped drinking red wine and only drank white; I never drank before 5 p.m.; I drank a glass of water between every cocktail; I stopped taking shots. None of this worked. Or, rather, it worked for a week, or a year, and then I was back in the muck again.

One night, desperate for someone to save me, I called a woman who had some experience with this stuff. “But I just don’t KNOW if I’m an alcoholic,” I said to her. There was no blood test. No home kit. It was on me.

She told me to try some controlled drinking. I liked the sound of that. The “controlled drinking” experiment — for six months, you drink between one and three drinks, no excuses — is actually a marvelously practical way to test to see if you have a problem. I failed in three days, tried it again and failed it in a week. Then I stopped taking the test. Drinking only two or three beers a night felt like holding my breath underwater. I hated it. I needed more. I didn’t quit immediately after that. I still had a year of mourning and clinging to do. But it nudged me further toward defeat. It was becoming clear I couldn’t lick this thing by myself.

What is your family history?

There is a common saying in addiction literature: “Genetics loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.” My heritage is a mix of two strong drinking cultures, Irish and Finnish. (If you don’t know whether your genetic heritage tilts toward boozehoundery, take a look at this list of the world’s heaviest-drinking countries, and my apologies to those from Eastern Europe.) My parents never drank much when I was a kid, but my family trees have quite a few empty bottles underneath them. My genetic predisposition to drinking was great for me at first. I was the “girl who could hold her liquor” (though from 1 a.m. onward, I did have a tendency to spill it).

Ultimately, this was a target on my forehead. “The girl who can hold her liquor” and “the guy who parties the hardest” have a way of finding their way to metal fold-out chairs in fluorescent rooms.

Have friends confronted you about your drinking?

This was a big one for me. Until my friends started talking to me about my drinking, I had convinced myself we were all basically the same. This is how we all drink, right? Everyone thinks I’m funny when I’m drunk, right? No and no. I was lucky that instead of just cutting me off, like many people might have, a couple of my friends sat me down and told me they were worried about me. That was the phrase my friends often used: worried about you. They didn’t count my drinks, which would have incited me to argue. They didn’t even say, “You drink too much.” They said, “I’m scared something’s going to happen to you” and “I care about you.” At first, I was so angry. What the hell? They drank too. But they didn’t drink like I did. I wasn’t holding it together, and they did me the favor of telling me in gentle, loving, and honest ways.

Do you black out?

For decades, the medical community thought that blackouts were a sign you were headed straight into alcoholism. More recent research has suggested the link isn’t so direct. In a 2002 study at Duke, more than half of the drinkers had experienced a blackout. They are a common fixture in a college drinking environment defined by pregaming, shot contests, and drinking on an empty stomach (all risk factors for blackout).

So having one blackout, or two blackouts, does not necessarily indicate a problem. But continuing to have blackouts — having them over the years, or having them despite your efforts not to have them — suggests an inability to moderate, which is the crux of the whole issue. It suggests that you continue to put yourself in harm’s way, despite pretty shocking consequences. (It is incredibly freaky to have a blackout, and dangerous.) It suggests that you are consistently drinking yourself to a risky level of intoxication. Katy Perry songs are all fine and good, but let’s be clear on something: Blackouts are not funny, and they are not OK.

Are you spending an inordinate amount of time wondering if you have a drinking problem?

It’s healthy to occasionally question your consumption. But an obsession on the subject suggests less ambivalence and more denial. People who don’t have a problem rarely stay up reading everything on the internet about drinking. People who don’t have a problem rarely stay in their head for entire Sunday afternoons reading theories about addiction.

If you are that person, what can I tell you? Probably nothing you don’t already know.
I told a friend I was writing this story and asked what she would have wanted to hear, back when she was trying to quit. “Oh, I didn’t ask anybody if I had a drinking problem,” she said. “I knew I did.”

By the end, I knew too. I just wanted a different answer. I wanted the answer to be “Here is this miracle pill.” Or “Hey, drink this raw vitamin juice.” Anything, ANYTHING but “stop drinking.” If you are a drinker, you want to drink. I didn’t need another survey. I didn’t need another medical professional. What I needed was to hear from someone on the other side who could assure me that life wouldn’t be over.

So let me assure you now. The answer is: Not even close.

Sarah Hepola’s memoir, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, came out June 23 from Grand Central. She is the personal essays editor at Salon.

Spiritual Recovery – Walking a Path of Reverence

Spiritual Recovery – Walking a Path of Reverence

Kimberley L. Berlin, LSW, CSAC, SAP, NCRC1

Kimberley L. Berlin, LSW, CSAC, SAP, NCRC1

Read more about Kimberley L. Berlin, LSW, CSAC, SAP, NCRC1

When it comes to that moment of surrender, that moment when the world stops turning and time stands still and all that we know is something has to change – we have touched a deep spiritual connection that is hard to define and hard to explain.

Spiritual recovery isn’t for everyone.  But even the most hardened atheist would agree that to achieve a certain quality in ones recovery – means engaging in a spiritual process.  Many will say that the Christian rituals are the only way to go.  But as with many faiths, there are many paths.

                                                       Why a spiritual path?

Addiction does something to our core – it eats away like woodworms to an ancient piece of furniture – snaking through the warp and weave until nothing is left but a hollowed out frame.

Addiction robs us of dignity, of self respect, of self confidence and of our sense of who we are and what our purpose is. It steals like a thief in a crowded market place – while Using Christian Principles for Addiction Recoverywe are being dazzled by the distraction of the drugs or alcohol or both, it is reaching into our bag of life and taking everything we rely on to function.

One of the remedies that is emphasized by experts, long term recovering addicts, scientists, and treatment centers is to re-connect to that place or time in our life before it all went wrong.  Connecting to the knowledge of that space and bringing it forward to our current situation.  And then moving on to our future lives.

For some it is faith. For some it is a belief. Or a practice:

  • Light a candle.
  • Light a stick of incense.
  • Place a fresh cut flower in a vase with reverence.
  • Kneel in the sanctum of silence in a church and acknowledge all the gifts received.
  • Walk in nature and smell the green, breathe deep the whirring air left by honey bees or a hummingbird.
  • Sit by a river or the ocean and listen to the wisdom imparted by the water.
  • Touch your heart by touching kindness and offering it to others.
  • Step into this moment with all the grace that sobriety gives us.

Spiritual recovery engages us at the level of the divine. One merely looks out to the edge of the universe and feels the wonder of our place within it. Or perhaps, a single pebble by a brook holds the secret of millennia. That cloud hovering silently against a brilliant blue sky that catches your attention. Who is to say that these moments don’t hold a whisper to Grace?

In part it is taking a moment to be outside of ourselves; in part it is exercising the muscle of our awareness.  Stopping our busy-ness of days and the endless chatter of our internal dialogue to take a few moments to be.  Even in the noise of a major city there is quiet.

We can read a book.  We can travel to a quiet retreat.  We can offer ourselves a weekend away to learn, and grow.  We can create a space within our home that resonates with reverence.  We can wash dishes in prayer. Or pull weeds with love. Even being stuck in traffic is an opportunity to engage iPrayer and Meditation Are Useful Practiced in Recoveryn spiritual practice – blessing everyone in all the other cars who are similarly frustrated that they are going nowhere in a line of endless cars.

We go to meetings and we find fellowship.  Connecting with others, no matter who they are, is a spiritual act.   We trudge a road together that brings us to a happy destiny – one of personal renewal and growth.  We change.  It is inevitable to change when the drugs and the alcohol are discontinued, but the meaningful change that brings long lasting happiness requires work of a different kind.  It requires that we surrender to the fight of our suffering, and we embrace the compassion and love of ourselves.

There may be resistance, there may be struggle; but setting an intention toward growth, making ourselves better, and a willingness to release our preconceived notions of what spirituality is all about can actually help to end the pain of struggle and the frustration of resistance.

Challenge yourself.  Stretch your mindset.  Think outside of the box that you have created for yourself. 

We are infinitely capable and creative beings – we have begun to reach the edges of our universe.  Now it is time to reach the edges of our inner dimensions that know no end.

# # # # # #


Resources for Spiritual Recovery:

Jon Kabat-Zinn “Wherever You Go, There You Are.” Hyperion Publishers.

Thich Nhat Hanh “The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation.” Beacon Press

Karen Armstrong “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life” Knopf publishers.

Brian D. McLaren “Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in Twelve Simple Words” HarperOne Press

Jack Kornfield “A Lamp in the Darkness: Illuminating a Path Through Difficult Times” Sounds True

 Places to Retreat:


Anne Lamott – 29 years sober

anne lamott



On July 7, 1986, 29 years ago, I woke up sick, shamed, hungover, and in deep animal confusion. I woke up this way most mornings. Why couldn’t I stop after 6 or 7 drinks? Why didn’t I have an “off” switch when I had that first drink every day?

Well, “Why?” is not a useful question.

I thought about having a cool refreshing beer, just to get all the flies going in one direction.

I was 32, with three published books, and the huge local love of my family and life-long friends. I was loved out of all sense of proportion. I gave talks and readings that hundreds of people came to. I had won a Guggenheim Fellowship, although, like many fabulous writers, I was drunk as a skunk every day. I was penniless and bulimic, but adorable, and cherished.

But there was one tiny problem. I was dying. Oh, also, my soul was rotted out from mental illness and physical abuse. My insides felt like Swiss cheese, until I had that first cool, refreshing drink.

So, not ideal. The elevator was going. It ONLY goes down; until you finally get off. As a clean, sober junkie told me weeks later, “At the end, I was deteriorating faster than I could lower my standards.”

And against all odds, I picked up the 200 pound phone, and called the same sober alkie that my older brother had called two years earlier, when he had hit his coked-out bottom. The man, a Jack Lemmon type, said, “I will come get you at 11:30. Take a shower, and try not to drink till then. The shower is optional.”

I didn’t; when all else fails, follow Instructions. I couldn’t imagine there was a way out of all that sickness and self-will, all those lies and secrets, but God always makes a way out of No Way.

So I showed up. Before I turned on Woody Allen, he said that 80% of life is just showing up. And I did. There were all these other women who had what I had, who’d thought what I’d thought, who’d done what I’d done, who had betrayed their families and deepest values, who sat with me that day, and said “Guess what? Me, too! I have that too. Let me get you a glass of water.” Those are the words of salvation: Gess what? Me, too.”

Then I blinked, and today is my 29th recovery birthday. I hope someday it will be yours, too, or at least your 1st. Don’t give up on yourself. In recovery, we never EVER give up on anyone, no matter what it looks like, no matter how long it takes.

Because Grace bats last. That spiritual WD-40, those water wings, that second wind–it bats last. That is my promise to you.

Happy birthday to me, and maybe to you. As my beloved ee Cummings wrote, “(I who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birthday of life and love and wings.)”

Don’t. Give. Up. Because guess what? Me too.

How to stop beating yourself up

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Stop Beating Yourself Up: 40 Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic

Depressed Little Girl

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

If you’re anything like I used to be, your inner critic packs a powerful punch.

You’ve got a vicious voice bad mouthing you for much of the day. And when it’s in one of those moods, wow, are you going to suffer.

It’s no wonder you feel small, disappointed, and ashamed of who you are.

It’s the reason you lie in bed at night feeling like a failure, convinced you’re a nobody, certain you’re a serial mistake maker.

It was exactly why I used to just lie in the dark, a lot. Most days in fact. Not sleeping, not even thinking, just lying.

I was forever longing for my life to go away. I’d gotten so good at beating myself up that each day seemed to present more opportunities to fail, to feel insignificant and never good enough.

Alone in the dark, I could pretend that all my problems disappeared and that I was free of the stress. I could make-believe that the pressure had evaporated.

You see, I’d taken on one of those jobs, one of those supposed leaps up the career ladder. But hell, being the head of a college department turned out to be a bad life choice … given my oh-so critical inner voice.

Every day added to my imagined portfolio of failures. Every day blew another hole in my smokescreen of having any confidence in my ability. And every day, I became more fearful of being exposed as the ‘fake’ I believed I was.

I felt like I was constantly aching yet feeling numb at the same time, which became too painful to bear. I dragged my shameful self into the college and quit. I left my entire library of books on the table along with my resignation.

Four years on, even though I’d tried to move on, even changing countries, I still felt the same. No more confident and no less self-critical.

That’s when I learned that even if I hadn’t packed any belongings, I still took a devastating amount of baggage with me. Even worse, I’d allowed my inner critic to ride passenger.

That voice—that mean, vicious, ever-present voice—had to go if life was going to be worth living.

Consciously and patiently, I set out to understand why this self-critical person had become such a huge part of me. I learned how to recognize and counter the habitual negative messages and destructive behavior patterns. I learned how to beat my inner critic, for the most part.

And now it’s your turn.

Because it’s time you felt free from the pain of constant self-criticism as well. It’s time you finally stopped beating yourself up over everything you say or do. And it’s time you were able to breathe, smile, and be pleased with yourself, just as you are.

How? With one simple, small action at a time.

Some of these ideas will speak to you; some will shout. Others will only mumble. Try a handful that grab your imagination. Add in others from the list over time as you learn to build them into an inner-critic-beating habit.

1. Keep a self-praise journal. Pocket-size is best. Each time you feel pleased by something you’ve done or said, jot it down. Flip through the pages every time you feel your critical voice starting to pipe up.

2. Write a positive self-message. Use a permanent marker and inscribe it on the inside of your shoes.

3. Diminish your inner critic’s power. Repeat a negative thought back in a silly voice.

4. Update your Facebook status: “Happy to be me. Work in progress.”

5. Send yourself a loving text. Keep it, and re-read it often. Appreciate yourself.

6. Add a positive self-message to an image. Put it on your phone and laptop.

7. Draw a caricature. Give your inner critic a silly feature that makes you laugh. Stick it on your fridge.

8. Make a face or blow a raspberry—at your inner critic, not yourself!

9. Visualize your inner critic. Imagine it as an evil gremlin squatting on your shoulder. Each time it speaks up, turn and flick it away.

10. Look in the mirror. Smile and compliment yourself on one quality or trait you like.

11. Keep a list of self-forgiveness quotes. Or sign up to receive daily emails from Tiny Buddha.

12. Write a list of qualities others like about you. Keep it in your purse or wallet.

13. Write a list of qualities you like about yourself. Add it to your purse or wallet as well.

14. Remind yourself: “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.” ~Unknown.

15. End each negative thought with a positive. For example, “But I’m human and I can learn not to make the same mistake,” or, “But I have the power to change this.”

16. Jot down one thing you’d like to be better at. Then take one tiny step toward that.

17. Remember “not good enough” doesn’t exist. “I don’t know a perfect person, I only know flawed people who are still worth loving.” ~John Green

18. Ask yourself why you think you should be good at everything. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Concentrate on your strengths.

19. Find one thing each day to reward yourself for. Make it something you truly look forward to.

20. Apologize to yourself. Do this every time you recognize self-criticism (tell yourself you’re sorry out loud if you can).

21. Ring someone you haven’t spoken to in ages. Tell them how much they mean to you. The best way to feel better about yourself is to make someone else feel better.

22. Remember that self-hate is not an option. You’re the only person you can guarantee you’ll be in a relationship with from birth to death, so learn to love yourself.

23. Remember there’s no shame in messing up. You’re trying to do something, grow, and contribute.

24. Break the cycle. Admit you made a mistake and ask, “Now what can I do about it?”

25. Look at a mistake or “failure” in context. Will it really matter in a week, a year, or ten years from now?

26. Recognize that you make fewer mistakes than you think. You just criticize yourself repeatedly for the same few.

27. Drown out your inner critic. Put on your favorite feel-good music.

28. Stop trying to do too much. Strike one task from your to-do list that won’t stop Earth from revolving if it isn’t done.

29. Reflect on how you’re only on this planet for a short time. You can either spend it beating yourself up and being miserable or learn to love yourself and be happy.

30. Stop focusing on the one thing you got wrong. Focus on the many things you got right.

31. Recognize the good you do for others. The more you beat yourself up, the less good you do.

32. Keep a daily, written tally of positive self-messages. Increase this by at least one each day.

33. Physically pat yourself on the back. Do this for everything you’ve done well this week.

34. Look at a satellite image of the earth. Realize that you are an important part of this amazing creation.

35. Realize that over six billion people in the world don’t care. Only you care that you made a mistake.

36. Think of a fun, positive adjective. Adopt this as your middle name so that every time you criticize yourself by name, you’ve described yourself in a positive way.

37. Buy a houseplant. When you tend it remind yourself you need this much love and attention.

38. Note down kind words from others. Write them on slips of paper and keep them in a compliment jar. Dip into this whenever you need to counter a negative self-message.

39. Halt a negative self-thought. Use an act of self-care. For example apply hand cream, or give yourself a neck rub.

40. Stop comparing yourself to others. Remember Dr. Seuss: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You!”

Stop Beating Yourself Up Once and for All

Beating yourself up leaves you feeling horrible.

All that constant self-criticism is exhausting. It leaves you aching inside.

Small, simple actions can bring great leaps in breaking this negative cycle—for good.

Let these ideas speak to you. Pick the ones that shout loudest.

Defeat self-depreciating thoughts you’ve heard over and over with conscious, positive acts of self-compassion.

Stop letting your inner critic overpower you. Fight back with self-love.

Depressed little girl image via Shutterstock

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Laura & Mark are on a mission to help you declutter your mind and life of stress and strife. Download their Resource Guide: 5 Free Mind Decluttering Tools that Simplify Your Day and Make You Excited to Roll Out of Bed in the Morning.

Cultivating Love

Thank you to HippDippy66 for this resource.
Love and Compassion
from An Open-Hearted Life: Transformative Methods for Compassionate Living from a Clinical Psychologist and a Buddhist Nun
Reflection: Cultivating Love
To cultivate love, sit quietly with your eyes lowered or closed. Begin by breathing normally and naturally, observing your breath for a little while to calm your mind. When your mind is calm, imagine a replica of yourself sitting in front of you. Think about how you want happiness and not suffering. Reflect on what this happiness is in your own case. Contemplate its causes: making wise decisions, being generous, and so on. Then sincerely wish yourself to have this happiness and its causes. Imagine that you have them and feel safe, satisfied, and fulfilled.
Then contemplate spiritual happiness and its causes in detail. Wish yourself to have a sense of meaning and purpose in your life and to be able to fulfill these. Wish yourself to be free from disturbing emotions and to have love and compassion that extend equally to all beings. Feel fulfilled and joyful.
While you are doing this, if any thoughts of “I’m not worthy of being happy,” or, “I’m incapable of creating the causes for happiness,” arise, realize that these are illogical, self-centered thoughts. We all want and deserve happiness. We all have the ability to create the causes for it. As one of my (Chodron’s) teachers said, “If you have the potential to become a fully awakened human being—and we all do—then you also have the potential to create the causes for happiness.”
Then visualize a teacher or someone that you respect, and repeat the above steps of wishing this person happiness and its causes. Send these kind wishes out to that person and imagine that the person is filled with peace and joy as he or she receives them.
Follow that by thinking of a stranger sitting in front of you and repeat the steps.
When you have done this, think of someone you don’t get along with. Try to wish him well. Remember that the entire value or meaning of his life doesn’t lie in how he treated you for a comparatively short period of time and extend kind wishes to him. Imagine him being happy and at peace inside of himself. He would be more likeable than the disagreeable person you see him as now. Being happy, relaxed and fulfilled, he would also act differently. He would be able to express the kindness that is buried beneath the pain in his heart.
Finally, think of all living beings and contemplate the steps, imagining them all having happiness and its causes. Let your love arise and radiate to all of them. Be aware of how you feel when you are able to love everyone – to wish them to have happiness and its causes. Let your mind rest in that feeling.
In this practice and the next, if you get stuck extending positive emotions towards yourself, remember that, like all other beings, you want happiness, don’t want suffering and deserve kindness. After all, we are practicing extending love and compassion to all beings, not all minus ourselves.

An Open-Hearted Life: Transformative Methods for Compassionate Living from a Clinical Psychologist and a Buddhist Nun
by Russel Kolts & Thubten Chodron
published by Shambhala
An Open-Hearted Life is the U.S. edition of Living with an Open Heart: Cultivating Compassion in Everyday Life, published in UK by Constable & Robinson
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My favourite AF book list

I thought I would share some of my favourite books that have helped me to make the changes in my life I needed to to stay AF so far. I have read all the Jason Vale books as well as most other drink based recovery books, but he or they didn’t grab my attention if they are not in this list…different strokes for different folks I guess.

I read something for anyone of these books every day…and have been working really hard on changes I’ve needed to make to stay AF day by day.

This first list is non fiction, although not all related directly to drinking, they have made a huge difference to me and my way of thinking.

The language of letting go – Melody Beattie

In the realm of hungry ghosts – Gabor Mate MD

Recovery 2.0 Beyond addiction – Tommy Rosen

May cause miracles – a 6 week jump start.

The gifts of imperfection – Brené Brown

Beyond Co-dependency – Melody Beattie

Daring Greatly – Brené Brown

Who’s says I’m and addict – David Smallwood

And these are the novels/fiction/Memoirs that really reflect how I feel/felt about my addiction…

The good house – Ann Leary

Best Kept Secret, a novel – Amy Hatvany

Drunk mom – Jowita Bydlowska

Diary of an alcoholic housewife – Brenda Wilhemson

Drink – Ann Dowsett Johnston

Drinking, a love story – Caroline Knapp

Like I said…I’ve read lots of other books but these are the ones that really captured how I felt and also the books that have helped me stay AF so far.

I also have found the bubble hour invaluable, I listen every day…


Another favourite watch is Brené Browns TED talk:

Addiction in Its Simplest Form (Short Animation)

Thanks to Maria H on the Facebook page for Sober Women Awareness Group for this link.


Addiction in Its Simplest Form (Short Animation)



From the site drugabuse.com

This short animation created by Andreas Hykade breaks down what drug addiction looks like in its simplest form. It’s remarkably catching and has been creating a buzz around the web.

The bird-like creature is caught up and will not let go of the golden nugget. The golden nugget represents any drug of choice – alcohol, cocaine, opiates, benzo, heroin, and much more. Not only does it represent drugs, but bad habits that can’t be shaken off. Such as gambling addiction, porn addiction, binge eating, and etc.

The bird’s sole focus is to ride the high created by the mysterious golden nugget. Unfortunately, each fall after launching off into a whole new realm gets bumpier and more aggressive. Even the flight itself is short lived and does not live to its original glory. Sound familiar?

Is ignorance a bliss? Had the bird not tasted the golden nugget in the first place, it would have been on a longer journey to fix its satisfaction. Are we bound to find something else better than addiction? Will the walk be aimless?

These are some of the questions an addict or even a first time substance user experiences. It’s a slippery slope, but it can be avoided with self-restraint and a serious effort to break the trend.

What do you think?

Get inspired with a new/higher performance sport in your life post drinking

Just finished watching Ireland’s  rugby team slaughter the English… and looking for cheerful inspiration found the BBC site on getting involved in sports and recreation – great ideas if you are looking for alternatives to weekend drinking! I would love to know what sportsand leisure people are starting up, or ramping up, now they are (getting) sober xxx
How to Get Inspired
What is Get Inspired and, more importantly, what does it have to do with you?



  • Binki Laidler http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/get-inspired/29560382

    Simon Lamb has battled with being Bipolar. He explains how long-distance running saved his life.
    The 39-year-old, who tried to take his own life “quite a few times”, says the “more I ran, the better I felt”, and last Christmas ran 77 miles from London to Portsmouth.
    BBC Get Inspired looks at how exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help with a variety of mental illnesses.

    Simon Lamb has a mental illness. He explains how long-distance running saved his life.


Binki Laidler Glasgow 2014: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/get-inspired/28296965 cigarettes and alcohol to marathon man
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Meet 40-year-old office worker-cum-marathon runner Steve Way, England’s most remarkable representative at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow .
In 2007 Way’s health was suffering badly. He was overweight – 16-and-a-half stone – drank too much and smoked 20-a-day. Sporting a 38in waist and high blood pressure, he’d “lost his passion for life” and “didn’t like what he saw in the mirror”.
But steadily he turned his life around – all thanks to running. This is his story.
If you too want to get into running, here’s information on how to get started

From 20 cigarettes a day to 200 miles a week – meet…

Best alcohol blogs – can you recommend extra ones?


First posted on:


Do you have others to recommend?
Find Information, Support, and Resources

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism is a big problem everywhere. In fact, almost 4 percent of deaths worldwide are associated with drinking alcohol, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. If you’re fighting alcohol addiction, or if you want to help someone you care about, read these excellent alcoholism health blogs.

Check out the best alcoholism blogs of the year to learn how alcohol affects the body, and find stories of relapse, recovery, and living life alcohol free. If you’re battling alcoholism, these blogs will provide support and help you take the important—and brave—steps towards recovery.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) looms large in the global research community. So it’s no surprise that the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a child of the parent organization, is the largest funder of alcohol research in the world. This site has just about everything there is to know about how drinking affects people.

Learn about the basic health effects of alcohol and read in-depth reports on the latest science. The NIH has a mandate to improve the health and wellbeing of all people. This site is a good start for any alcoholism questions you want answered.
Recovery Reflections

Some people might poke fun at daily affirmations, but they really work. Certified coach and addiction counselor Tim Welch publishes uplifting quotes, poems, and stories offered by people in recovery and their loved ones, as well as images of calming and inspirational landscapes, on Recovery Reflections.

Besides the blog, you can follow this flowing stream of inspiration on many social networks. That means that unless the entire Internet is broken, there’s no excuse for missing out on these daily gemshe Spirit of Recovery

Check out The Spirit of Recovery if you’re not quite ready to attend an AA meeting in person. Blogger Ron is a 57-year-old recovering alcoholic. He’s been using the program and philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous for over five years.

The blog tells Ron’s personal story of recovery, as well as his own interpretation of each of the 12 steps and what they mean to others. This is highly recommended to inspire and motivate anyone through recovery.
The Discovering Alcoholic

The Discovering Alcoholic is a collection of engaging blog posts including essays, stories, apps, and videos. All the materials share the goal of helping addicts and alcoholics discover themselves. And best of all, the site prescribes a healthy dose of humor to keep things loose.

Blog editor Gavin has been clean and sober since 1994. He’s involved in many aspects of the recovery community. Packed with thoughtful and contemplative tips, this blog is a supportive place to spend a minute, an hour, or a day.

Drinking Diaries

As site founders Caren and Leah like to say, alcohol can be a loaded topic. They created Drinking Diaries as a forum where women can share drinking stories—everything from drinking at parties and ceremonies to abstaining—in a safe environment. Many of the stories are also available in a book called “Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up.”

Addiction Inbox: The Science of Substance Abuse

Blogger and freelance science writer Dirk Hanson maintains Addiction Inbox: The Science of Substance Abuse. This is a popular spot to learn about scientific and medical findings concerning drugs and alcohol. Posts include interviews with neuroscientists, drug policy czars, social science professors, and many others.

Hanson synthesizes complex medical information to make articles on drugs, addiction, alcoholism, and treatment therapies easy to read. In addition to the blog, Hanson is the author of “The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction.”

Guinevere Gets Sober

Follow the recovery and insights of a mom with a successful career on the blog Guinevere Gets Sober. This award-winning, top-ranking addiction blog offers news and straight talk. Topics include the meaning of addiction and common assumptions about drug abuse. Guinevere seeks to build a place where all addicts and their loved ones feel welcome.

Learn about research in the addiction and recovery space and read reviews of books and media. The author’s moving personal posts connect how practices like yoga and a best friend like a dog can support recovery.

The Immortal Alcoholic

If you’re married to an alcoholic, you know what it’s like to love them no matter their challenges. The Immortal Alcoholic describes one woman’s experiences of living with an end-stage alcoholic, her husband of 40 years.

Written with clarity, honesty, and passion, this blog expresses the rarely spoken truths about loving and living with an alcoholic. It can be difficult to read about the real limitations of what support family, friends, and the medical community can provide, but you’ll come away knowing that you’re not alone.

Crying Out Now

Moms—and those who love them—will feel at home reading Crying Out Now. This blog and web community is dedicated to helping women talk about addiction and recovery. The four women who edit it are sober who seek to break down the stereotypes of denial surrounding addiction.

Sections include a holiday survival guide and “The Bubble Hour,” an internet talk show dedicated to recovery. Anonymous posts are allowed on the blog, and the community areas are dedicated to open and supportive communication.

Sober College

“Well educated” takes on a completely new meaning at Sober College. This combined treatment center and educational campus serves young adults age 17 to 25. Program staff and students maintain the Sober College blog. It features all the latest news on addiction science.

Sober College is one of the only places in the world offering on-site college accredited courses with a recovery-centric curriculum. Students receive high school and college credits. Located near Malibu, Sober College includes activities like surf therapy.

I’m Just F.I.N.E. — Recovery in Al-Anon

Though not himself alcoholic, Syd is the adult child of an alcoholic, and he’s also married to one. A recently retired scientist living on a small coastal South Carolina farm, Syd writes eloquently about his journey to serenity. Read I’m just F.I.N.E. — Recovery in Al-Anon to discover what it’s like to recover from alcoholism by using supportive programs.

Sober Julie

Julie is the mother of two girls and the wife of a “very patient” man. She started her blog, Sober Julie, to recover from alcoholism and a car accident. Now, she challenges herself by providing information, inspiration, and innovation to those in recovery.

Posts include mocktail ideas, recovery stories, sobriety tips, life reflections, and much more. Read and be inspired by Julie’s thoughts on everything from Christianity to the best chicken recipes.

Alcoholic Daze

Follow a truly courageous path on the blog Alcoholic Daze. Here, London-based Addy describes coping with alcoholism and the early death of her husband. Addy deadpans her daily heroics combining classic British wit with insight.

In her blog, Addy touches on what symptoms to look for to gauge the declining health of an alcoholic in your life. Her site includes useful contacts for alcoholism in the United Kingdom. She’s received a long list of awards for sharing her inspiring stories.
Last 100 Days Alcoholic

Read the frenetic and entertaining stories on Last 100 Days Alcoholic if you or someone you love is having trouble facing up to the realities of alcoholism. The name of the blog comes from the author’s idea of giving himself nearly four months of “last drinks” before finally quitting for good. He presents the pain and hilarity of trying to make that happen over the years with great wit and grit.

With many success stories and some relapses, the blogger points out that blogging can be a great help for those not yet ready to face a counselor in person. And another benefit: no appointments are required.

Mrs. D Is Going Without

In Mrs. D Is Going Without, a New Zealand wife and mother of three sons documents the richness of life without alcohol after nearly 20 years of drinking. The clever Mrs. D has no problem poking fun at herself. She recounts her happy memories of both drinking and getting sober.

The blog has many sections, including one for each of her first 12 months of sobriety. Mrs. D also posts a list of books she reads, as she is now happily addicted to recovery memoirs rather than alcohol.

Read for Help and Courage

Unlike the treatment for a sprained ankle or a scraped up knee, there is no first aid kit for a drinking problem. Alcoholism often inflicts damage without the patient even acknowledging the source of the problem. That’s why these great alcoholism blogs are so helpful. From the medical effects of alcohol to stories of recovery, any reader can find the information and inspiration they seek.

Fighting addiction: help others and help yourself!

Try Helping Someone ElseAlcoholics Anonymous is founded on the concept of one addict helping another. This emphasis on service is not based on religious dogma or speculation, but rather decades of experience with what works in addiction recovery. Until recently, science has focused on discovering new medications to treat addiction. Few researchers have subjected the 12-Step principles, which have helped millions of people achieve long-term recovery, to rigorous study. As a result, many core principles of 12-Step recovery have been marginalized as “unscientific.”

Fortunately, we are on the precipice of a new era in addiction research – one that is determined to learn from the success of AA/NA and find out why 12-Step recovery has been effective for so many addicts.

Service Key to Long-Term Recovery

A new study by Maria Pagano, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, sheds light on the science behind the directive to “carry the message to others” in Step 12. Using data from Project MATCH, Dr. Pagano found that recovering alcoholics who help others:

• Reduced alcohol use

• Increased consideration for others

• Did more Step work

• Attended more meetings

This latest study adds to a body of research Dr. Pagano has been instrumental in building over the past decade. In a 2004 study, she found that 40 percent of the alcoholics who helped other alcoholics during their recovery successfully avoided drinking in the 12 months following treatment, whereas only 22 percent of those that did not help others stayed sober. In a 2009 study, Dr. Pagano showed that 94 percent of alcoholics who helped other alcoholics during the 15-month study period continued to do so as part of their ongoing recovery. These helpers experienced the added benefit of lower levels of depression. Interestingly, research shows the benefits of service accrue to adolescents as well as adults.

The Helper Therapy Principle and How it Works

The helper therapy principle, embodied by AA/NA, holds that when a person helps another person suffering from a similar condition, they also help themselves. How? In large part, by minimizing selfishness and entitlement and restoring the capacity for empathy that was overtaken by addiction. Beyond making the addict feel good, helping others combats egocentrism and self-absorption, which are common perpetuators of addiction.

“Being interested in others keeps you more connected to your program and pulls you out of the vicious cycle of extreme self-preoccupation that is a posited root of addiction,” says Dr. Pagano.

Service also guards against isolation, providing the addict with a broader sense of purpose and belonging. Fellowship with other addicts, both veterans and those new to recovery, reminds the recovering addict how far they’ve come (and how easy it is to fall back into old patterns). These bonds create a certain sense of responsibility to stay sober as a role model to others.

Altruism is empowering. Some have even referred to a “helper’s high,” the feeling of warmth and gratitude felt by those who do for others. After months or years of feeling useless and ashamed, the addict discovers that they can make a positive difference. Giving back builds the addict’s confidence to set and accomplish goals. Perhaps it is this feeling of self-efficacy, combined with staying occupied in healthy pursuits, that reduces cravings for drugs and alcohol.

Endless Ways to Serve

Many recovering addicts are willing and able to serve, but don’t know where to start. Will any kind of service do? Dr. Pagano is trying to answer this question in ongoing research. While helping other addicts may be the strongest medicine, it appears that helping anyone, whether inside or outside of AA/NA, is beneficial for long-term recovery. Here are a few ways to give back:

• Share stories of your personal experience in recovery with other addicts, whether in AA/NA, at a treatment center or informally

• Commit to doing meeting chores (such as making coffee or setting up for a meeting) or a specific service position within AA/NA

• Call members to remind them about meetings

• Welcome newcomers

• Become a sponsor

• Volunteer in a homeless shelter, soup kitchen or other community service activity

• Help a friend, neighbor or family member in distress

Just as you don’t have to serve others to be part of AA/NA, you don’t have to be part of AA/NA to serve. Anyone can do it, at any stage of recovery, and the benefits start to accrue immediately. Service doesn’t cost anything and the options are endless; there is always someone in need.

Helping others is key to living a long, happy life, not only for addicts trying to hold onto their sobriety but also anyone interested in living a better life. If you’ve had any exposure to 12-Step recovery, you probably don’t need a study to tell you that it’s wise to get out of your head and get busy helping others. But for those who need scientific evidence to get mobilized, here you have it.

David Sack, M.D., is board certified in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine. He is CEO of Elements Behavioral Health, a network of addiction treatment centers that includes Promises Treatment Centers in California, The Ranch outside Nashville,The Recovery Place in Florida, Malibu Vista, Spirit Lodge, and Right Step. You can follow Dr. Sack on Twitter @drdavidsack.

Could you be drinking too much?

Do you drink too much?


Try this quiz?  It comes from the World Health Organisation website.  Skip to questions 9 and 10 if your total score for questions 2 and 3 = 0

A score of 8 or above indicates hazardous drinking according to the WHO.

1.  How often during the last year have you needed a first drink in the morning to get yourself going after a heavy drinking session?

(0) Never
(1) Less than monthly
(2) Monthly
(3) Weekly
(4) Daily or almost daily
2. How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?
(0) Never [Skip to Qs 9-10]
(1) Monthly or less
(2) 2 to 4 times a month
(3) 2 to 3 times a week
(4) 4 or more times a week
3. How often during the last year have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?
(0) Never
(1) Less than monthly
(2) Monthly
(3) Weekly
(4) Daily or almost daily
4. How often during the last year have you found that you were not able to stop drinking once you had started?
(0) Never
(1) Less than monthly
(2) Monthly
(3) Weekly
(4) Daily or almost daily
5. Have you or someone else been injured as a result of your drinking?
(0) No
(2) Yes, but not in the last year
(4) Yes, during the last year
6. How often during the last year have you failed to do what was normally expected from you because of drinking?
(0) Never
(1) Less than monthly
(2) Monthly
(3) Weekly
(4) Daily or almost daily
7. Has a relative or friend or a doctor or another health worker been concerned about your drinking or suggested you cut down?
(0) No
(2) Yes, but not in the last year
(4) Yes, during the last year
8. How many drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when you are drinking?
(0) 1 or 2
(1) 3 or 4
(2) 5 or 6
(3) 7, 8, or 9
(4) 10 or more
9. How often during the last year have you been unable to remember what happened the night before because you had been drinking?
(0) Never
(1) Less than monthly
(2) Monthly
(3) Weekly
(4) Daily or almost daily
10. How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion?
(0) Never
(1) Less than monthly
(2) Monthly
(3) Weekly
(4) Daily or almost daily