Tag Archives: Twelve Step Recovery

A Wave Tossed in the Ocean

Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Inspirational Music, Gospel, Christian, Concerts, Public Speaker, Bookings, Christian, Twelve Step Recovery, GuitarThe Flip-Flopper!

One of my worst character flaws is what I call the ‘flip-flopper’ a/k/a chronically changing my mind, when agreeing to do a favor without addressing my calendar, and after I’ve said, “Sure, I can do that.”, finding, I just can’t do what I promised because I didn’t count the cost or take a minute to pause and consider my calendar. In fact, flip flopping extends to my food plan. Here to I have flip flopped with all of my yellow light foods, making them red light and then re-considering that they might not be red light!  “I can’t eat rainsins, they trigger me.” Three months later, “Oh, I can have a few raisins in my oatmeal!” I don’t drink coffee, it hurts my stomach and leads to GERD. Then, I flip-flop and “Oh, I can’t give it up, it tastes so good!” Well, I can’t give it up. I need Power and My God HAS Got it. 

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Cliff Walking!

Good is the Enemy of the best!

The holidays are here and for many, as it was for me in past years, the focus will be on their struggle with food instead of time with family. I remember a morning, sitting on the rug in my bedroom, worrying about the coming holidays.  The worry was not about money or emotional expectations. It was about how much damage I might do with the food and my weight before this holiday season was over. It was Halloween morning, I was thirty-something. I sat thinking,’Tonight is Halloween and I have a decision to make. Will I begin a two month binge tonight with candy, as I have done on many other Halloweens?  It won’t stop, the feeding frenzy, until some time after the new year. In fact, it might not stop untill after Valentines day. I could gain a lotWalking on the edge of a cliff!Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery of weight.’ I sat there thinking, I could go on a fast instead and loose the 30 pounds I need to lose. Or, I could take myself back to my twelve step program and do it with group support and a program of one day at a time. I didn’t know about the power of the AA Big Book at that time, or the real significance of the steps and how they would lead me to a right relationship with and a healthy dependence on God. I made the right choice. That night, I went to a meeting. That was ‘day one’ of a five-year abstinence from Sugar and flour and some respite from the disease of compulsive over eating.

Good is the Enemy of the best. Precarious sobriety vs Entire Abstinence is like that. While I have not had any sugar or flour for two and half years, for the last few months,  I have felt more and more that I am walking on the edge, the tip of the edge of a cliff, balancing to not fall off. I’m speaking of my abstinence. It’s not that sugar or flour are any kind of temptation. I’m neutral where they are concerned, thank God! For two and a half years, no ketchup, no ice-cream, no pizza and a resounding ‘No!’ to many other things. I don’t miss it! I’m free and it feels good. But I have friends who have wound up back in the food after years of abstaining from sugar and flour and they seem to be lost as to how it actually happened. Is it because they had a precarious sobriety (Pg. 21 of AA 12 &12) and they were not entirely abstinent (Pg. xxx, AA Big Book)?  Yes, abstinent from food they know they can’t handle like sugar and flour, but sloppy with regard to other things. Can you identify with what I’m saying?

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Bless Them, Change Me!

Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist, sallyatari@gmail.com, sallyatari.com, Study

  God,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot CHANGE,
the courage to CHANGE
the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference!

For over thirty years, I have focused on the words serenity, courage and wisdom when praying this prayer, just as this picture highlights the same words. How about you? But there has been a shift in my thinking of late. The key word has become change! This word is the crux of the matter for me! I needed to change. Let’s consider what the A.A. Big Book tells us about change; this word is used in a profound way and helps to  define ‘Recovered’ and what that looks like.

From the moment I first heard the word, “Recovered”, I wanted to go there! I wanted it so badly, it was like a splinter entered my skin. I wanted to live free, be free; to be set free! I was in a prison of sorts, I know that if you’re a “normee” (a normal eater) you think, “That’s weird! What is she talking about?” I don’t expect you to understand. But for all those who have struggled with addiction, you understand! From the start, for some reason, I considered ‘recovered’ a place to go, to reach; a trip that I must take! An island in the sun where I could walk free of the non-stop compulsive thoughts that swirled around my head about food and my next compulsive bite. And if I wasn’t thinking about food, I was thinking about what you and everyone else was thinking about me and worried, restless and irritable and so discontent with life. There was no peace. My mind was a back ally and so, I used food to get numb. Bill W. used alcohol. He, too, was in a quagmire, and it was of his own making too. His mind, like mine, was sick. How many walk around in this condition. I was one of the lucky ones who woke up. How many are sound asleep and have moments of lucidity from their stupor, be it ice-cream or gin? I’m not saying that eating ice cream is bad, but it was my drug of choice.

When I think about going to a far away land, I think about the many changes I will be confronted with: a different monetary system, a different language, a different time zone and even the need to change my watch settings and sleep patterns: a different culture and way of doing things, a change in how I drive, whether it’s on the opposite side of the street and/or cars with a change in the location of the steering wheel.    When we put ourself in a strange place, a strange land, we have to acclimate and make changes, to grow and work with new circumstances.  This is the essence of the changes that are required to become well  and live in the land of recovered.  This is what is required to get on the straight road as opposed to the crooked path we’ve been on! When Bill sees how his friend Ebby has changed, he says, “I saw that my friend was much more than inwardly reorganized. He was on a different footing. His roots grasped a new soil.” (Pg. 12-13) Could it be the land of Recovered that he spoke of?

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A Timely Pause!

Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist, sallyatari@gmail.com, sallyatari.com, Study, The Power of a Timely Pause!

Pause, Ponder, and Pray!

“No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” (Twain) When I was younger, I remember thinking, ‘the idea of waiting on God’ is, for me, not a happy place to sit.  I’m impatient and impulsive so waiting and pausing requires energy and even, concentration. Does anybody like the waiting room?   “As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves, many times each day, ‘Thy will be done’.” (A.A. Big Book Pg 87)

Breaking this down, I see a few important steps that lead to “Thy will be done” and an honest surrender of our will to do God’s will; a good solid trade for an infinitely wiser will, God’s will! Here are the steps to this piece of the puzzle:

1. Pause: this indicates not just a slowing down but the action of stopping! I’ve hit the pause button many times on machines. I haven’t hit the button on my lips as often as I should have. “We pause when agitated or doubtful…” There’s no better time to pause than when upset as the words spoken can be damaging and can’t be taken back!
2. Ask (Pray): this indicates prayer. We ask God for the right thought or action. Here is the turning point where instead of doing things impulsively or seeking an outcome that I willfully want-impatiently doing what I want, I turn, I ask God. Wow! This is new territory for me.
3. Remind myself (Ponder): Hello! Your best thinking got you here! Why not try something new; God’s will. Reminding myself is remembering or pondering my past and the many times I’ve tried things my way!(For more on pondering, see BB Pg. 10 and Pg. 56) and  What an opportunity to do things another way; pausing gives me time to stop and practice conscious contact and pray and then listen for a possible different way to respond or act. I’m not running the show anymore! I’m not playing God and I’m not the director of my life. I fired me! I’m choosing to stop running the show.
4.  Say: “Thy will be done.” White flag flying high, I surrender.

It’s interesting that sixteen years after these words were written,  the coauthor wrote another book (The A.A. 12 & 12, 1952) and said almost exactly the same thing! “In all times of emotional disturbance or indecision, we can pause, ask for quiet, and in the stillness simply say:”God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Thy will, not mine, be done.” (12 & 12, Pg. 41)

So much is said in the A.A. writings about the importance of guarding our mouth and the words that come from our tongue. We are warned over and over not to fight or argue (they are talking about what we do with our words!) On many of the pages of the Big Book, we are told, “the more we fought and tried to have our own way, the worse matters got. As in war, the victor only seemed to win. . . ” (Pg. 66). “And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone, even alcohol.” (Pg. 84) “Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like the plague.” (Pg. 98) And “. . .we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to!” (Pg. 103) This is why we have to practice pausing. We have to! What I mean is,  I have to! It takes practice because my mouth has always been like a car in gear, ready to run! But i’m refining the changes that are so needed. I’m practicing the pause! (It’s like practicing the guitar; it takes hours of practice!)

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Early will I seek you!

Wait, What time is it? 

One morning, upon waking up, I was bleary-eyed. (Because I suffer with ‘dry eyes’, I put eye ointment into both eyes before sleep that leads to a significant blurry condition in the morning.) I washed and dressed and went to eat breakfast and make Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist, sally.atari@yahoo.com, sallyatari.commy lunch and finally, wide awake, that’s when I saw the stove clock. It said, 4:44! In the words of Charlie Brown, ‘AAUGH!!! What? “I’m exhausted!” That’s funny, I wasn’t exhausted ten minutes ago when I thought it was 5:30 AM? Our minds play such funny tricks on us!

Why is it so scary to wake up really early and then fret that we won’t live through the day because of anticipated exhaustion?! Yes, fret over what will happen if I don’t get more sleep. Well, I was happy to be up and have time to prepare my meals; my breakfast and lunch, my back pack and have time in God’s word and more – all in the course of a morning. I was tired long around 3pm and after finishing a full day of work, went home, crawled into bed and had a lovely nap! And it was all worth it!

As I’m reading in Exodus right now, I noticed that over and over, Moses is told to “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: “Let my people go, that they may serve me.”” (Ex. 8: 20, 9:13). In fact, the words, “Rise Early” is a common start to instructions presented by God.

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