June and July Events
Space is available in the new Living In Recovery Program. Week 2 begins Sunday, June 11th. Call the ACORN office to register.  941-378-2122

Monsey, New York!   Bradenton, Florida!   Bristol, Vermont! 
ACORN is offering several events in the next few weeks in several locations. Start your summer with Abstinence and Recovery. We are registering NOW for the following events:

Women’s Health Month
May is Woman’s Health Month and as it has just ended I have taken a bit of time this morning to reflect on my own health and what I have done to look after myself over the years.

The term “looking after myself” has had very different meanings at different times in my life. For the majority of my life it meant doing what I wanted, how I wanted, when I wanted followed by feelings of guilt, shame and resentment. It meant doing things for other people that I really didn’t want to do and then walking around feeling angry at them and everyone else. It meant cancelling social commitments to stay home and watch TV and eat because I needed to “rest.”  It meant feeding my body whatever food I wanted so I wouldn’t feel “deprived.” It meant spending money I didn’t have on things because I wanted them and “deserved” them and then feeling self-pity because I “should” have more money. I thought looking after myself was doing exactly what I wanted and what I thought felt “good.”

This way of thinking didn’t get me very far or, more accurately, it didn’t get me very far in living a meaningful, successful life full of love, gratitude and purpose. But it did get me far into morbid obesity, far into debt, far into depression and anxiety, far into anger and resentment, far into self-pity and far into self-hatred. I think I was a little confused on what the true meaning of “looking after myself” actually meant.

Today I believe “looking after myself” means doing the things that are most in line with who my true self is. What are the things I can do each day that bring me to a place of true joy, true gratitude, true love and true service to others? Many times this includes doing things that I would rather not do. It includes doing things that feel really hard at times. It includes doing things that don’t always come easily or naturally to me. And yet, at the end of most days I now go to bed with feelings of acceptance, peace and gratitude.

Here are the six things I do these days that truly are “looking after myself”:

  1. Be Abstinent – The most important thing I do every single day is to follow my personal food plan that allows me to be free from the bondage of food obsession, allows me to be free from carrying around 150-plus pounds of excess weight, and most of all nourishes my body so I can think and be in the world as I was meant to be. If I stop doing this for any meal, I stop living the life I was put here to live. For me, to stop being abstinent means spiritual, mental, emotional and, eventually, physical death.
  2.  Morning Reflection – Every morning when I wake up I take a few minutes before I do anything else to get quiet and present. I pray for a day full of love and peace, I pray that I can be of service to others, and I pray for the willingness to continue to move forward, taking the next right step. Then I set my timer and “meditate” for a few minutes. Meditation, for me, means sitting in a comfortable position, in a quiet place, with my eyes closed and being still, letting thoughts drift into my mind and letting them pass, being aware of any messages that seem to be coming from the universe or something outside of myself, a power greater than me.
  1. Evening Reflection – Before I go to sleep at night I take some time to review my day. What did I do well today? What could I have done differently? I remind myself that this is not time to beat on myself; rather it is a time for me to look at what I did well. If I looked objectively at my waking hours – and I’m sure you are no different – I find that they are filled with many successes, and now is the time to acknowledge them. I also observe the moments when I struggled throughout the day. Again, if look at these objectively, they can be viewed as one of my greatest assets of the day as they are growth opportunities, lessons for ways I can show up differently the following day.
  1. Connection – Every day it is vital for me to connect with others. This connection may come from chatting with an old friend and laughing until we have tears streaming down our cheeks and our belly’s ache, or it may come from spending a sweet moment looking for worms in the dirt with my 4-year-old niece (my FAVORITE person in the world). Or it may come from sitting in a coffee shop and striking up a conversation with the barista and finding out about their life…all of these connections are critical to my health.
  1. Support – I have seen and experienced first-hand that I cannot successfully do “life” alone. It is vital for me to get and give support to others every single day. This support comes in many forms. Today, I get my support from attending 12 Step meetings, attending support groups that allow me to share openly and honestly with others who “get” what I am talking about and daily one-on-one check-ins with people who are my partners in recovery. These support systems are a great reality check for me and are essential to my daily well-being.
  1. Gratitude – There are so many amazing things happening in my life, and it is important for me to stop and recognize these every day. For a lot of my life I fell into that “poor me,” “why is this happening to me” style of thinking, always wanting things to be different than they were.  This negative thinking leads me to self pity and negativity and I can’t afford to wallow in those feelings for very long these days. So, before I go to sleep each night, I take a few minutes to write down what I am grateful for at that moment. It may be something as simple as I have a comfy bed to sleep in, or that I saw a beautiful flower on the side of the road, or for the helpful sales clerk at the grocery store or it may be for my beautiful niece, or the rolling-on-the-ground laughter I shared with my mom that afternoon. Or it may be for the tough piece of feedback an honest friend gave to me that morning. There really are so many amazing gifts that I receive every day and, if I don’t stop and notice them, I can once again easily trick myself into believing life is just too hard again…and I definitely don’t want to go back there! Writing down a minimum of 5 things I am grateful for each day requires a tiny amount of effort in relation to the enormous payoff I receive from living with an attitude of gratitude…it is life changing.

Above are practices that are drastically changing my life. Yet there are many other things that are important to looking after myself, such as getting enough sleep, having a work-life balance, spending time with family and friends and getting outside and moving my body…every day.

Let me know what “looking after yourself” means to you.

Wishing you all an abstinent June full of health, fun and gratitude,