From A-Z Why Recovery is Easier than Addiction

Ultimate Freedom

Acceptance and Awareness

Better perception of reality

Clarity

Doing what you dig

Experiencing emotions

Freedom from fear

Growth (mental, emotional, spiritual)

Having choices

Intelligent decisions

Just being yourself

Kindness toward yourself and others

Laughing comes easier

Mindfulness

No hangovers

Open to life

Playfulness

Quiet mind

Restful instead of restless

Surrendering to what you have no control over

Terrific sleep

Unity with yourself and others

Valuing yourself

World opens up for you

X marks the spot for new beginnings

You (underneath all those layers)

Zeal for life

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Is Your Direction Purely Consumption?

Consumption

We are a generation of insatiable consumers.  Everywhere we go there are advertisements working overtime on our human desires in order to get us to buy something we probably don’t need.  Commercials take up a third of our show’s airtime, and companies who have money to spend (like Apple and Pepsi) advertise their products right inside the shows we watch.  We are not only consumers of products, we are consumers of entertainment.  This is probably the worst form of consumption because it comes across so sparkly and harmless (most of the time).  The problem is, when we are constantly needing to be entertained, we lose ourselves in things outside of ourselves.  This is exactly what addiction is, and it comes in the form of many faces.  Some addictions drag you through the mud and rip your life apart, but many addictions are subtly and slowly removing you from yourself.  So what’s the problem you ask?  I don’t know – perhaps I think too much about the day I die and having regrets about things I didn’t do while I was alive (because I was too busy trying to fill up the empty spaces by consuming, instead of enjoying the precious moments of my life).

Lucky me – I know a lot of people who simply enjoy their lives, who are not the mainstream type of consumers.  This is refreshing.  I’ve been on both sides of the equation, and I still love my shows – they make them so funny now that it’s difficult not to watch them.  Not that watching shows are bad, but it’s how much time many of us spend zoning out in front of the television, or with anything that takes us away from ourselves.  I enjoy good writing, and I watch shows and films with good writing because it is inspiring to me – not just entertaining. I read books that inspire my craft. I enjoy beautiful artwork because it lifts my spirits. Not that I am immune to zoning out in front of the TV. I do that too.

Consumption is not a direction in life, however.  It’s a filler.  If you have direction and you know where you are headed, I would say that a little TV is probably ok, but like anything in life, there has to be a balance.  If you’re finding yourself unhappy when you don’t have people, places and things keeping you distracted from yourself, then it may be time to take a step back and re-evaluate your life.  What do you want out of your life?  Where do you want to go?  Where do you see yourself five years from now?  What are you missing out on because you have lost touch with yourself?  If you continue doing what you are doing, where are you headed?  If what you are consuming isn’t inspiring or assisting you toward your dreams or goals, then it probably isn’t worth your time.

I know what restlessness feels like and how disturbing it can be when you are left alone with yourself with nothing to do but spin your wheels.  It’s a terrible feeling – I KNOW, but it’s often a good place to be because without anything to relieve your restlessness, you can discover a lot about yourself.  What is your ingenious brain telling you to do while your feeling restless?  What does it desire?  What is it begging for?  What does it crave?  When I am feeling restless, I find out (really fast) what distractions are calling out to me, and it can be a brutal space to hang out in, but once I get past the squawking parrot in my head (the consumer), everything becomes incredibly settled and calm.  I realize all of that squawking was nonsense.  I don’t DIE, or end up disappearing when I don’t feed into the restlessness.  In fact, I become much more aware of myself, and of the deepest part of myself that longs for space to simply feel alive, rather than feeling numbed out all the time.  Even feeling emotional raw these days has such an advantage over feeling nothing, because at least I know I’m ALIVE.

I used to be bored all of the time.  I can tell you after three and a half years of sobriety and in knowing which direction I am headed in my life, I have not experienced boredom in most of those three-point-five years.  I can’t even imagine being bored anymore – even if I am just sitting on a couch staring at a wall.  I am not bored because I know who I am, where I am going, how amazing silence can be, and I am truly happy.  Life is not always a cake walk, but I am truly happy, even during off-days.  This is because I stopped filling the void and finally allowed to void to be.  I write about this a lot, but the void was simply my Self, desiring me to come home.  Once I entered into the void, I found out that I was everything I ever needed.  I recommend this course of action.  It is much better than living a life trying to keep that void filled.  You can never fill that void because (again) it isn’t a void at all.

Though many people are quite satisfied in their lives by simply living a day to day routine and enjoying the moments as they come, some of us have dreams and ultimate desires for ourselves.  If you’re one of those people, then take action toward your goals.  Make a bucket list and go for it.  Ask yourself if what you are doing throughout the course of the day is creating steps toward your goals, or taking you away from your goals.  I used to get caught in this trap of thinking that it was going to take me WAY too long to get where I wanted to go, and also, I was not up for the work that was required of me.  I suppose recovery has taught me something valuable.  Once you step toward a goal, and place your energy toward that goal, the momentum toward that goal picks up exponentially, and the spiritual, emotional and mental growth during the process is what will give you strength to continue on.  Once you get on the path, and you’re serious about the path toward your goals, the whole universe will conspire for you to reach those goals (haven’t you read ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho?  Well, you should if you haven’t).  It’s certainly not as daunting as you’re probably making it in your head.  Even after several years of writing books and not finding a Literary Agent or a major publisher to represent me (one of my goals), I am still going strong.  If it takes me another decade to get where I want to go, I’m not giving up.  I’m going to continue writing.  I will only grow better as a writer and learn more about myself, and life, in the meantime.  The path toward getting there has been that incredibly fulfilling to me.  And if I never reached my goals, I would not consider myself a failure, because at least I tried.  A failure is someone who gives up on themselves before they even try.

I have been blogging a lot for the last year, but some things have shifted in my life that require me to place my focus on completing the manuscripts I’ve started.  I write mostly in the morning because it’s the quietest time of day.  I decided to blog about once a week, and to fill the remainder of the mornings, writing my manuscripts.  For those of you who read my blogs everyday, don’t think I have given up. On the contrary. I have written a lot on this blog and I feel incredibly satisfied with LushNoLonger. I will continue blogging, just not as often.
In the meantime, I have a promotion going on from now through the end of October (2014).  If you download a copy of ‘Majestic Wonderbread – Earthbound and Seeking Hidden Treasure,’ http://www.amazon.com/MAJESTIC-WONDERBREAD-Earthbound-Seeking-Treasure-ebook/dp/B00DGZPXPI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413208837&sr=8-2&keywords=majestic+wonderbread

Then like my FB page https://www.facebook.com/MajesticWonderbread

and write an Amazon review about the book – email me with you full name and address (Articulatingmagic@gmail.com), I will send you an autographed copy of the book.  It’s a win-win.  It is a really good book and it’s the first of a series.  I believe in this book, so I’m promoting it – it’s part of my own path toward one of my life goals.

If you need more inspiration to follow your own goals, here is a link to ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho (I highly recommend this book):  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_13?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the%20alchemist&sprefix=the+alchemist%2Caps%2C466

Nurture Your Body, Your Mind and Your Soul with Food

Vegan

Walking around the Sunday Farmer’s Market is delightful. I thoroughly enjoy the live music, organic food and the cheerful disposition of vendors as they offer their home grown goods to locals. Honey in jars appears to be liquid gold and bunches of bright, colorful flowers are impossible to resist. I buy a bouquet of sunflowers as an offering of love and friendship unto myself. How can I not feel happy when sunflowers are lighting up my living space? Tea leafs in tin cans promoting good sleep and ultimate health is difficult to pass up after I inhale its earthy aromas, and I never pass on a piece of vegan dark chocolate. I love interacting with this community and it’s even better having a friend along who tells me the different names of vegetables I’ve never encountered, while informing me how to cook with certain peppers and spices. Produce never tastes better than when it’s grown with love and in consideration of the well-being of our planet. A juicy piece of an organic tomato right out of the ground is a bite of paradise, and it’s right here practically in my own back yard.

A couple of years ago I made the decision to become Vegan. It was a slow process of eliminating meat, poultry and fish from my diet out of concern for the well-being of the animals who are abused, neglected and pumped with hormones as we continue trying to feed more people on Earth than have ever walked this planet before. I knew nothing about cooking Vegan or why I was so gung-ho to be a non-meat eater. I sincerely enjoyed fish, meat and barbeques just like most Americans, but something within me tugged to live more consciously, and this included what I put into my body. It has been over a year that I have been Vegan, and I’m not a perfect Vegan. I still splurge on ice cream once in a while, and I do eat organic, range free eggs for breakfast. I put honey in my coffee instead of sugar, and god-forbid if I ever have to give up my dark chocolate, but no animals are dying or neglected so that I can survive, and this was the most important thing when I made this life changing decision.

As I’ve moved along in my Vegan lifestyle, I’ve migrated to a county that promotes organic living and I’m meeting people like myself who are consciously choosing to eat for health reasons more so than to fill some kind of emotional void. I’ve been known to pour comfort food down the ole hatch when I’m feeling out of control or stressed, but the more I learn about myself and pay attention to my emotions and my body, the more I understand why I crave certain foods and how it affects me negatively when I am stuffing myself full instead of nurturing myself. Recovery to me means re-aligning with the natural flow of my life (re-covering… re-cover). The bottom line is that we eat for survival. It is pleasurable to taste good food, but in the long run, is it going to affect my well-being? Of course it is. What you put inside your body affects your entire being, including your emotional and mental state. Because we are electro-magnetic beings as well (soul and heart), eating electric foods (raw fruits and veggies) is also very important. When we choose foods, we should be aware that we are nurturing all of ourselves, and because I’ve chosen to practice self-love, my diet is incredibly important to me, although I sometimes get weird looks and disapproving comments from those who enjoy their meat.

I certainly do not judge others for their food choices. This is my gig, and it is not an easy diet. I often crave burgers and salmon and all the delicious foods I’ve been raised on, but discipline is part of my lifestyle now. Because I’ve been so self-indulgent in the past, I practice a lot of self-discipline now. I’m getting older and as I look around at the people in the world, I notice those who have nurtured themselves, and those who have neglected their bodies. Because I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m going to be one of those people who will live well into my nineties (we have a stubborn family with good genes), I have decided to nurture my body starting now. I just want to feel my best and to live a good quality of life as I age. The truth is, since I have been more conscious of what I put in my mouth, I have much more energy, I feel incredible and I enjoy natural foods so much more than processed foods. There is life in a mouthful of a good home-grown tomato. There is electricity in a carrot and in those beautiful leafy greens. I’m all about natural living, sunshine and the well-being of the planet. I also like supporting local farmers and businesses, which puts a lot money back into our economy if we would all do this.

I have a long way to go until I can say that I live a completely organic lifestyle, but each day I am conscious of what I place into my body, is a day that I am practicing conscious living. Recovery is about self-love, and self-love extends out into the world. When I am in alignment with myself, I am in alignment with the universe. It all connects and it is very relevant. I am not just nurturing my body when I place food into my mouth – I understand that I am nurturing my soul and my mind as well, and these parts of me are not separate. I love the wholeness of me, and that’s why I choose to eat food that grows right out of the Earth. Living a healthy lifestyle is a major part of my own recovery.

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JLForbes

Red, White and BLUE Without a Drink?

After three years, I’m perfectly ok to be the only one not drinking on the Fourth of July. I have always been a little “different” in a crowd. I drank for years, merely to fit in, but you know how the ole story goes – I always drank too much, and there I was again, standing out like a moth at a butterfly gathering.

Last night I went to bed excited about the holiday without even considering what it would be like to drink, yet I was offered a brutal drinking dream, so here I am awake now shaking off the horrible feeling of relapsing, although it was only a nightmare. Those dreadful drinking dreams still come up for me, and I feel like it is simply my body (emotional, spiritual, mental) releasing old toxins – old energies and patterns of thinking seeping out of me in my sleep. In this dream, I carried a bottle of bottom shelf vodka and took sips out of it all day long, trying to maintain a buzz without getting too drunk. I accepted that I’d relapsed, and decided to forget about the recovery memoir I’d written – it was useless to anyone now because here I was drunk again. (Such a waste). People all around me knew what I was doing, and I still tried to hide the bottle while covering up my breath with gum, mouthwash and food. (What a high maintenance addiction – it’s so much easier to just maintain sobriety). In my drinking dream, I knew I was failing myself, yet I was stuck in the old, hopeless cycle. Upon waking up, I felt shame, fear, and then relief as I came to. Dreams about drinking are a reminder of why I do not want to go there again.

Two years into my sobriety, I decided to go completely vegan, so today I will probably be the only American at our campsite barbequing vegetables and drinking bottled water instead of enjoying a hamburger with a beer in hand. So what? I’m a little different – always have been. I’ve become completely comfortable with doing my own thing. I’m so incredibly grateful for my life. I love spending quality time with my family, especially my children, while being lucid. Staying awake instead of passing out during the fireworks, is so enjoyable. The sun is out and I’m not going to be dehydrated today because of too much booze. None of my differences take away from my experience of the holiday – in fact, my sobriety enhances the experience because I get to be all up in it! I get the full treatment of this fabulous American holiday. The aroma of barbeque, the sun beating down on my body, children’s laughter, adults relaxing, a spectacular fireworks show, the campfire afterward, and I’ll still be wide awake. I’ll close my eyes when I decide it’s time for bed. I am no longer a slave to the drink in my hand. I’m in control now. This is my life and I’m doing what I love doing, and being myself without shame, guilt, fear or self-destruction. This is a reason to celebrate.

When we were kids, we weren’t even thinking about anything but having fun during this holiday (during any holiday for that matter), so why do we think we can’t enjoy the festivities without a drink? That’s complete nonsense. If you feel uncomfortable today, recall what it was like to be a child during the Fourth of July and become that child again. If you are surrounded by adults who are drinking, find the group of kids and hang out with them. I guarantee you’ll have a lot more fun. I do it all the time. Find a way to enjoy this day and practice getting comfortable in your own skin. Soak it all in – be present and tap into your gratitude today. BE different. BE yourself. There is nothing more liberating than the gift of recovery, and after all, isn’t liberty what this day is all about?

Restlessness – How to Settle the Inner Storm

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Restlessness is a sure sign to me that I am not in my body.  Even after three years and a couple of months in recovery, once in while I still become restless.  It is rare, but it does come up for me.  Yesterday even after meditation, a steadily busy day at work and an hour walk with a friend, I was still splitting at the seams.  A drive home in more traffic than usual, an unexpected encounter, an apartment that was too hot to cook a good meal for myself in – all more reasons to come even more undone.  I had hours before it was time to go to sleep and nothing I focused on could keep my attention for long.  I had to figure something out because this will last a few more days if I don’t get myself back to center.

I understand why I am feeling restless, which is good to know.  I just moved.  The break-up is final.  My daughter is gone for a couple of weeks.  Most of the time when I’m feeling restless, it’s a cue to take really good care of myself.  Back in the old days, the restlessness would vamp me up and I would turn into a self-destructive, unpredictable wild person.  Luckily the opposite of that is true for me today and I am able to see that I need some self-care.  I’ve been going to a lot of meetings and they help a little, but when it gets to a point where I am thinking about getting a tattoo (which probably could ease me back into my body, actually), I know that I’m in a bad space.  Tattoos are ok.  I have one.  I just don’t want anymore, especially one that isn’t planned out very well.  I can just imagine Jon Hamm’s face on my forearm holding a ‘Mad Men’ banner, or something even more outrageous.  I really needed to place my attention elsewhere, so first things first – I ate a healthy meal.  Nutrition and exercise are so important in recovery, but sometimes it isn’t enough, so what else can you do during times of restlessness an/or boredom?

Self-care during restlessness is the opposite of self-destruction, so that’s what I did last night.  There is a quaint little massage therapy place close to where I live.  They were slow last night, so I made myself an appointment and offered myself a little pampering.  It absolutely helped.  Afterward, I was in a different space and I slept very well.  Upon waking up today, I feel more centered.  The place I go is not expensive, which is great, but in the beginning of my recovery I may not have been able to afford any type of massage.  I know how that can be.  During these times, I would take myself to an artsy movie, or walk to a farmer’s market and engage with the people.  Sometimes they offers massages for a dollar per minute at farmer’s markets.  Massage is a great solution, especially if you can find someone who gets in tune with your body and feels what you need.

If you can’t get a massage, I encourage you to take care of yourself no matter what.  Bake yourself your favorite dessert.  Make yourself a delicious meal.  Watch your favorite comedy – laugh out loud.  Whatever you can do, or whatever you can afford to pamper yourself – do it.  Talk to people who are also in recovery.  This is a good time to do service as well, but don’t forget that you need some self-care too.  Even buying a new item of clothing, or getting a haircut and color will change things up enough to loosen that discomfort in you.  It’s important that you don’t spend money you don’t have, because that would be self-destructive.  Spend what you can afford, and if you can’t afford anything, perhaps you can take a swim, or spend an evening with friends.  Go somewhere new.  Take a long walk and listen to soothing music.  Pick yourself some wild flowers and put them in a vase.  Take a bubble bath with lavender to sooth your restlessness.  Love yourself and honor yourself back into your body.  This has really helped me in the past, and it certainly alleviated the discomfort last night when I had a massage.

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Restlessness is part of life.  Any big changes, or even the slowness of life can trigger this experience.  For addicts, however, this is a trigger to use or drink.  Remember that recovery is doing the opposite of what we know, so instead of splitting into several parts of yourself and destroying everything in your path, reign it in and pull yourself together by taking really good care of yourself in these moments.  If you are too busy to do anything for yourself (which is probably an excuse), just remember that this too shall pass.  The restlessness is not eternal.  It will flee at some point, but do not resist it.  Find harmony within it.  Allow to be with you and get curious about why it’s there.  Learn something about yourself while you are experiencing the discomfort, and be present with it.  Tell yourself it’s going to be ok, and then be good to yourself.  Take one moment at a time and don’t judge yourself for being human.  Peace be with you today.  Remain sober (no matter what) and this too shall pass.

I’m Not Immune to the Savage

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I do recall

Those savage ways of the drunk

A clueless chap

Without regard to one thing or another

Except the next drink

Each moment to him

Was fleeting and shameless

So he got away with things

Without a conscience

Only concerned about the next drink

And when the drunk lost his way

He decided to replace the drink

With serenity

Something sustainable

Without the effect of malice

And it’s been several years

Without a drink

But once in a while that awful drunk

Of a person

Comes out to wreak a little havoc

In the midst of serenity

And serenity sees him clearly

Ashamed of this un-departed drifter

A jackal, a fool, a scarcity of a soul

Still a savage

Only without a drink

But there is a way to beat him

At his own awful game

Her name is humility

I embrace her this time

Rather than resist her

She is comforting

Although she comes across

As scolding

And I tuck her in my pocket

Declaring her as my hero

And the drunk as the villain

Reminding myself once again

That I’m not immune

I’m not immune

We move forward together

Humility and me

Facing the drunk

Then leaving him behind

Without a drink

Knowing that one day

We’ll unexpectedly meet again

Merely as a reminder

Of where I’ve been

To keep me grounded

In the moment

Rather than flailing through 

My life

Without  regard to my own precious

Vulnerability

 

 

 

 

The Void We All Experience, is an Unopened Trove

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The infamous VOID that we’re constantly trying to fill, cannot be filled because it is already full and the lid is tightly sealed.  I know this from experience.  Everything I tried to fill myself with eventually brought more emptiness.  I don’t need to go into this because we all know about temporary fixes.  What we don’t all know about is that the void is wreaking havoc on your life because it’s yearning to be explored.  There is nothing more cavernous and beckoning than the void inside of each human being, but rather than give it our full attention, we try to shut it off because we secretly think it’s going to kill us.  On the contrary.  That cave inside of you is the richest part of your human experience.  If only you would sit with it for quite some time and learn to acknowledge it; you will discover that there is a treasure inside of you simply waiting to be opened. 

One of the men at my home group has been coming back as a newcomer for weeks.  He gets thirty days and spoils it.  Over and over.  He is in a lot of pain.  I’ve been there before and I hear him speak about the void that is inside of him and how he used filled it with women, but now he’s filling it with God.  I understand all of this.  I understand that many of us think that God is the one who is supposed to fill that void, but I will tell you something that I don’t think I’ve ever said before.  God never stopped me from taking a drink.  God never stopped me from self-destructing.  Filling my void with God didn’t remove the cravings, nor did God remain in there so tightly that it filled up my void completely.  Like sealing cracks around a window, the air always finds its way through, and God never took up all of that empty space inside of me.  There is nothing that can fill that space because it’s not a space at all.  It’s a place of yearning.  Its a place of essence.  It’s the very core of YOU, and its begging for your exploration.

You’ve ignored yourself for several years.  There is so much entertainment, too many distractions, a bazillion people wanting your attention.  You spend your energy trying to achieve their approval and acceptance.  There is a career, possibly there are children, and so many relationships require your time.  If you’re religious, Jesus needs your attention too, and if you’re into technology, then you’ve kept yourself occupied with plenty of computer stuff.  Movies, games, meals, sex, TV shows… it’s enough to draw anyone away from themselves for decades.  And the void seems to get louder.  It’s aching inside of you and it’s begging for your attention, so you fill it with even more outside stuff and suddenly you discover yourself in a self-destructive cycle.  WHAM!  Then you’re finally left with nothing except for you and that disturbing, terrorizing void.  You can cry over that void because it makes you miserable.  It’s irritating and longing for one thing only.  That one thing is not God.  It’s you.

 Hang out with your emptiness and learn about that space inside of you.  It’s not going to kill you to feel lonely, or to desperately ache.  That feeling of void is the neglect that you have offered to yourself throughout your life.  It’s sadness.  It’s pain from being abused by you.  It’s your own self longing for your friendship.  Haven’t you ever wondered why there is a void?  Perhaps it’s not a void at all.  What if it is everything you’ve ever dreamed about, wrapped up inside a beautiful box just waiting for your arrival?  And it was getting louder and louder because it has been waiting for so damn long?  Come back home… it calls to you.  Love me… it beckons.  Like a little child missing a long lost parent. 

The void is not emptiness longing to be filled.  It’s a rich trove, begging to be opened.  Walk down into that cavernous space of yourself and discover what it’s like to open a treasure that fills up every crevasse of your being.  Stop running.  Stop fixing.  Stop pretending you aren’t aching just like everyone else on this planet.  The only difference between you and the person who is filled with serenity, is that they finally stopped fighting their emptiness and accepted the gift that was yearning to be discovered.