Everyone can use a little personal inventory-taking now and again…

This is from Emmet Fox’s book, ‘The Sermon on the Mount’.  This book was actually influential on the development ofAA’s 12 Steps.  It’s a fantastic book that I’m re-reading again. I thought I’d share a part that resonated with me today.

It reads:

If you want material prosperity, you must first think prosperity thoughts, and then make a habit of doing so, for the thing that keeps most people poor is the sheer habit of poverty thinking.  If you want congenial companionship, if you want to be loved, you must first think thoughts of love and good-will. Like begets like, is another way of stating the Great Law, which means that as a man soweth in his unseen thoughts, so shall he reap in what is seen.

When people awaken to a knowledge of these great truths, they naturally try to begin to apply them in their own lives. Realizing at last the vital importance of “righteousness”, or the thinking of harmonious thoughts, they, as sensible people, begin immediately to try to put their house in order. The principle involved is perfectly simple, but unfortunately the doing of it is anything but easy. Now, why should this be so? The answer lies in the extraordinary potency of habit; and habits of thinking are at once the most subtle in character and the most difficult to break. It is easy, comparatively speaking, to break a physical habit if one really means business, because action on the physical plane is so much slower and more palpable than on the mental plane. In dealing with habits of thought, however, we cannot, so to say, stand back and take a comparatively detached view, as we can in contemplating our actions.Our thoughts flow across the stage of consciousness in an unbroken stream, and so rapidly that only unceasing vigilance can deal with them. Again, the theater of one’s actions is the area of his immediate presence. I can act only where I am. I may give orders by letter, or telephone; or I may press a button and bring about results at a distance; but still, my action only happens where I am, and at the present moment of time. In thought, on the contrary, I can range over the whole area of my life, including all the people with whom I have been or am in any way concerned, and I can soar away in to the past or into the future with equal ease. We see, therefore, how much bigger the task of achieving all-around harmonious thinking, or true righteousness, is than appears at first sight.

For this reason many people become discouraged with themselves and indulge in a great deal of self-condemnation because they do not very speedily change the whole current of thought over the whole area of their lives – destroy the old Adam, as Paul says – in a very short time. This, of course, is a capital mistake and, incidentally, self-condemnation being an essentially negative, and therefore unrighteous thought, tends to produce still more trouble, in the old vicious circle. If you are not progressing as fast as you wish to, the remedy is – to be still more careful to hold only harmonious thoughts. Do not dwell upon your mistakes or upon the slowness of your progress, but claim the Presence of God with you, all the more, in the teeth of the discouraging suggestion.  Claim Wisdom. Claim Power, or Prosperity in prayer. Have a mental stocktaking or a review of your life, and see if you are not still thinking wrongly in some section or other of your mind. Is there some wrong line of conduct that you are still pursuing? Is there somebody whom you have not yet forgiven? Are you indulging in any kind of political, or racial, or religious sectarian hatred or contemp? This is sure to be disquising itself under a cloak of self-righteousness, if it is there. If it is, tear off the cloak, and get rid of the evil thing, for it is poison in your life. Is there some kind of jealously left in your heart-it may be personal or it may be professional. This odious thing is a good deal more common that would be readily admitted in polite society. If it is there, cut it out at any cost. Are there any sentimental regrets, or purposeless yearnings for the impossible? If so, reflect that, as an immortal being, the Son of God holding spiritual dominion, no good thing is out of your reach, here and now. Waste no more time repining for what is over and done, but make the present and the future a splendid realization of your heart’s desire. Is there remorse for mistakes past and gone? Then remember that remorse, as distinct from repentance, is merely a form of spiritual pride. To revel in it, as some people do, is treason to the love and forgiveness of God, who says: “Behold now is the day of salvation.” “Behold I make all things new.”

 

I’m LOVING this new ‘problem’!

When I went to the doctor to discuss my depression, she asked me the typical screening questions to see just how depressed I was. One of the one’s she asked was if I “never feel like there’s enough time in the day to get things done”. I chuckled at that and said “no”, because at that time I had no desire to do anything at all. My drive and enthusiasm for all things productive was gone.

Now I have a new problem: there’s not enough time in the day to do all the things I want to do! I love it! On January 1st, I pledged to do at least 30 minutes of exercise for the entire month. I also added vitamin D and Omega 3-6-9 supplements daily. I opted not to start the medication prescribed by the doctor until I had tried my natural approach to systemic healing. I’m so flippin’ glad I took this approach because I can say with certainty that it is not the medication that has improved my depression – it has been physical exercise and supplement s for the vitamins and minerals my body is lacking.

My February challenge is to eat a paleo-type diet, like our ancestors did. For 2 million years, they ate what they could hunt or gather, and as far as I know, didn’t have near the health problems we have now. I think it’s insane that 60% of Americans are obese or overweight. I think it’s insane that we make ourselves fat, and then go to the doctor for medication to make us less likely to keel over as a result of our poor health. I felt the same about depression. I think it’s crazy that depression is an epidemic. In my gut, I believe we’re doing it to ourselves. The obvious fact had to be pointed out to me that our ancestors of a few generations ago (pre-modernization) did not suffer the way we do from heart disease, cancer, obesity, depression and diabetes. Why not? What changed? Why, with all our amazing scientific and technological progress, are we worse off than before?  I want to know.

To test the theory that the food I’m eating is making me sick, I elected to have February’s challenge be to eat only whole foods. Nothing processed with added chemicals and preservatives. No sugar, no flour, no dairy. (The thought behind ‘no dairy’ was kind of cute. The book that served as my beacon for this month said it wasn’t likely that our ancestors captured a wild animal and milked it, so this was not likely a part of our original diet. I thought that was a pretty funny picture to paint.) The results so far: I’ve eaten as much of the allowable things as I’ve wanted, when I’ve wanted, and I lost 6 pounds. What those 6 pounds were, fat, waste build-up or water,  I don’t know.  But that seems pretty significant to me. I’m not dieting at all. In fact, I made a protein-style “In-and-Out” type burger (patty wrapped in lettuce vs. a bun) and it was delicious! My energy level is way up and my mind is firing on all four cylinders. There’s not enough hours in the day to do all that I want to do… Crazy good problem to have!

I’ve never thought to question the stuff offered to me for consumption. If it looked good in the store or on TV commercials, I bought it. But, in my search for getting better without popping a little magic pill, I stumbled on to a new set of ideas. It’s exciting and challenging, and so far, very rewarding. Hot damn, I think I’m on to something!

Looking Ahead to My February Challenge

If it’s worth pledging and starting, it’s worth sticking with for the time of the commitment. It holds its original intrinsic value, but the value of completing what I said I’d do is equally important.

I feel really proud for sticking to my commitment of at least 30 minutes of exercise for the month of January (so far). I also feel better physically and mentally. Since I started taking Vitamin D and Omega 3 supplements, I’ve noticed a marked improvement to my mood and ability to concentrate. I picked up a prescription for generic Celexa but I think I’m going to wait to start taking it. I think I’m on to something here…

The idea of taking a pill to fix my depression feels like trying to dig up a tree by pulling off its leaves. I really believe I’ve done something to create the imbalance – poor diet, lack of physical movement, negative thinking – or a combination of all three. It surely takes less effort to take a pill, but it doesn’t feel like I’m taking responsibility for my health. The possible side-effects are awful! Why would I voluntarily subject myself to those often dangerous side-effects without first trying to sniff out and eliminate the root cause? If I try this new approach and it fails to yield results, I may decide the anti-depressant is the way to go again.

So, for February, as much as I’m scared to commit to it, I’m going to change my diet to one I’ve heard is more healthful and does well to end depression (as well as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, excess weight or obesity and a host of other illnesses, allegedly) In my mind I’m screaming “no, don’t say you’re going to do that!” It’s a LOT of work. I really don’t know if I can do it. I’ve got a cook book to follow, but I’m not a very good cook! It says the recipes are simple, but any recipe for a non-cook is not simple! Plus, I don’t actually ‘enjoy’ cooking.  It’ll require me to give up processed foods, flours, most starchy vegetables and sugar for all but three meals a week. That eliminates nearly everything in my kitchen! Oh, am I nervous! That little pill would be sooo much easier! And to avoid making more than one dinner a night, I have to make it palatable for my family too.

This is a HUGE undertaking for me. The amount of time it’s going to take to meal plan and cook feels daunting. I’m a typical American that has gotten accustomed to fast and easy eating. But, I can do anything for a month, right? The possible benefit, the payoff, of feeling well is enough to motivate me to make the extra effort. If you’re curious about my motivation, check out this article.

My Secret Demon

I’m breaking my silence about my demon so that I can hopefully loosen its grip on my life.

I have depression.

There, I said it. Gulp! (Long pause, while I consider if this is a good idea or not…)

My head is spinning with so much stuff that I just want to pretend we’re sitting together on my couch and you’re letting me vent unrelentingly. Can we pretend that for a minute?

Here’s the skinny. I’ve had depression since I was about 12. I didn’t know it until I was in my early 20’s, but my bouts of isolation, deep sadness and suicidal thoughts weren’t normal. I had this weird belief that it was God’s way of punishing me for being ‘bad’ somehow, and so I accepted it. In my early recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism (going on 24 years now), one of my sponsors suggested that I might have ‘depression’ and should see a doctor. I actually thought she was wrong at the time, but doctor I saw agreed with her. I started on a medication and things improved. I wish I could say “And I lived happily ever after”, but that’s not how the story goes. I won’t go into long, drawn out details since we aren’t really on my couch and it’s not a very good story anyhow.

Bottom line: I’ve had good years and bad. In the bad times, I can’t remember ever feeling good. In the good times, I can’t imagine how I ever got depressed.

When I’m in a bout of depression l can’t think straight and I feel like I’m “broken” somehow. I constantly feel ashamed for having this ugly “weakness”. I tell myself that I should be stronger and just shake it off, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t. I’m afraid having depression will be used against me. I think that you must see me how I see myself and that ain’t good! There’s no way in hell I’m lovable. I isolate and berate myself. Obviously, it’s not a pretty scene in my head during these times. Logically (one of my guiding words for 2012,) I know the above thinking is crap, but in the throes of my depression, you can’t convince me of that.

I chose ‘exercise’ in the first month of my 12 in 12 game and so far, I have 11 successful days under my belt! This choice had more to do with treating my depression than losing weight or gaining fitness. I’m trying to accept this as an illness and self-treat by disciplining my mind, eating better and exercising. I’m also starting to take vitamin D and Omega 3. I’m scared of the side effects and expense of the various antidepressant medications, but I might just need to go that route again as well. The biggest driving force is my daughter and my desire to be her best mother. I’m missing out on a living a fulfilling life and that’s just not acceptable to me today.

So, there. I’ve said it. I have depression. I’ve been sick with it for a while now, and I would really like to be well again.

I want to reach new heights this year and I realize I can’t do it with this “secret” weighing me down. I got sober by asking for support and sharing my experiences openly. That’s the one “treatment” I haven’t tried for depression because of my shame around it. It’s time to try it out.

12 in 12

I think I’m going to play a little game others are calling 12 in 12 – Doing twelve things in twelve months, instead of one or two “resolutions” for the entire year. I’ve long heard that it takes doing something 22 or so times to make that something a habit. So, this will be a chance to see if I want to pick up a few good habits this year, or try something, hate it and ditch it after a month. I can do anything for a month, right? Here’s the ideas I’m considering. In no particular order… yet.

1) Keep kitchen clean.

2) Exercise 30 minutes

3) Meditate

4) Yoga

5) Keep my room clean and make my bed

6) Call a friend to chat

7) Go to a meeting

8) Journal

9) Organize something of mine (car, files, garage, etc)

10) 10th Step

11) Read

12) Write a letter for Alyssa to read when she gets older

13) Take vitamins

14) Drink 8 8 oz glasses of water

15) Do the writing/thinking exercises in 40 Days 40 Nights book.

I have to pull the trigger on one of these TODAY, and I’ll pick the order of the others in the next couple of days. The idea for me is to START, and then STICK TO IT for 30 DAYS at a time. Why I share these things publicly eludes me. Accountability? Nah. Misery loves company? Perhaps. Because I feel better when I express myself? More likely. I risk egg on my face, which I’ve had plenty of before, but maybe sharing for real will help me reconnect more deeply with my friends. I do miss that. (Hence numbers 6 and 7).

I’d love to have folks join me! Meet me here and we can chat about our experiences. https://plus.google.com/i/pwAzQTx02vo:hNGUy8MxdBo

Happy New Year!

Sandra

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